Biography of Henry H. Danneffel

Source: Biographies of Van Buren Co., Michigan Residents in 1912 from A History of Van Buren County Michigan
By: Captain O.W. Rowland Volume II
Published by The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1912

Henry H. Danneffel is the eldest of a family of seven children who comprised the family of John Danneffel and his wife, Hannah Green Danneffel. The fatherwas a native of Germany, who came to America when a young man, in company with his brother. They made the voyage in a sailing vessel and landed in New York, with less than five dollars. John came at once to Michigan and secured work at the munificent salary of five dollars a month, at farm labor. As he was thrifty and knew what he wished to accomplish, he managed to save a little from the first and by the time he was married was able to pay a part of the purchase price on the farm which is now owned by his son Henry. The first home which he built was an unpretentious frame house but in time he was able by strict economy and hard work to add the comforts and even the luxuries of life to his scheme of living. He identified himself with all the interests of the county and did everything in his power to improve conditions in it. He was a Republican in politics and had been baptized in the Catholic church. He attained material prosperity and the respect of all his acquaintances. His death occurred in 1899 at Benton Harbor, Benton Harbor township on July 26, when he was sixty-four years of age. The wife of John Danneffel was born in Van Buren county December 7, 1845. Her present residence is at Benton Harbor, although she spends a great deal of time with her children, three of whom are now living. These are Mrs. George Yerrington, of Keeler township, where her husband is owner of a fine farm; Mrs. Omer White, who also resides in Keeler township, and Henry, our subject. Hannah Green Danneffel has been a devoted mother and is known far and wide for her kindness to the needy. The poor have an unfailing friend in her.

Henry Danneffel was born December 9, 1865, in this county and received his education in its schools. Until he was twenty-one he worked for his father on the farm and then started out as a wage earner. He continued to work for others until his marriage to Miss Etta M. Elgas, on the last day of December 1889, when he had passed his twenty-fourth birthday. He and his wife began their married life as renters, but after some time they purchased forty acres of partly improved land. This they later sold and bought another tract of the same extent. They followed the same plan with this and when they had bought the third forty kept it and added seventy acres to it. On their present farm of one hundred and ten acres they do general farming, stock raising and fruit culture. In 1895 they replaced their original dwelling house by a handsome two story one, which is as tasteful and comfortable in its interior as it is beautiful in its exterior.

Clara H. Danneffel, the daughter of Henry and Etta Danneffel is a graduate of the eighth grade and of the class of 1911 in the Hartford high school. She has studied music and will continue to take higher instruction in this branch. The two boys, Jed and Elga J., are in school, the elder in the eighth grade and the younger in the seventh.

Mrs. Danneffel is a native of Bainbridge, Michigan, and was born April 13, 1870. She is the youngest of a family of eight children whose parents are Wendel and Clara Von Deschwanden Elgas. One of the household is dead; of the others, two, Frank and Wendel, are farmers in Bainbridge. The former is married, but not the latter. Joseph and John are both married and both pursue the occupation of agriculture, Joseph at Cadillac and John at Benton Harbor. Dr. A. Elgas is a veterinary surgeon at Hartford, Michigan. He is a graduate of the Valparaiso Normal and also of the Toronto, Canada, Veterinary Institute. He, too, is married. Charles Elgas lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he is one of the most successful business men, being at the head of the Aetna Insurance Company. At the time of the earthquake in San Francisco he was one of the adjusters. He is a self made man and has made good at his work. His education was acquired at night school. The youngest of this enterprising family, Mrs. Danneffel, is no whit behind her brothers in native talent and she has found ample scope for it in assisting her husband and in bringing up her family.

Father Elgas came to America from Germany in a sailing vessel, spending ninety days on the water. He was without funds when he arrived and he first settled in New York state. Here he married and shortly afterwards moved to Michigan. In addition to farming he was also a miller. He owned a farm of ninety acres of fine land at the time of his death and was prominent in the district, having served as treasurer of the township for many years. Politically he favored the policies of the Republican party. His wife died at Bainbridge on December 8, 1874 and is buried at her husband's side, their resting places being marked by beautiful monuments, not to perpetuate their memory, for that is not necessary to their children, but as an expression of the love and respect of their family.

Mr. Danneffel has been for years a school district director and has the welfare of that greatest of our institutions at heart. Politically he is a Republican. He holds membership in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and in the Knights of the Tented Maccabees, his tent being No. 623, at Keeler. Mrs. Danneffel belongs to the Ladies of the Maccabees, Bainbridge Hive, No. 660. Their beautiful home, " Lawn Hill Farm," is situated three miles from Keeler and seven miles from Hartford. It is a thoroughly modern estate in all respects and is worthy of the pride of its owners, who have acquired it by their own work. They are eminently fitted to preside over so hospitable a domain, being in all ways representatives of the most progressive and substantial of our citizens.