Bio: Cliff, Joseph John (1845 1909)

Contact: crystal@wiclarkcountyhistory.org

Surnames: Cliff, Butler, Fairchild, Johnson, Anderson, Winger, Martinson, Christiansen, Western, Bigelow, Whittaker, Daniel

----Source: History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin (1914) pages 680-682

Joseph John Cliff, deceased, was preeminently a self-made man. Beginning life with no capital other than his native ability, he by perseverence, industry and the force of a strong personality, attained to a place among the influential and substantial citizens of his community. A native of Ohio, he was born October 1, 1845, and while yet a boy of tender years, his father was lost at sea, and before he was ten years of age his mother died. Thus thrown on his own resources, he worked for a farmer in Ohio until he was thirteen and then started out in life for himself with only a change of underclothing tied up in a red handkerchief. He found employment among the lumber camps of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, and finally came to Wisconsin, locating in the southern part of the state. He later moved northward, and finally settled in Washington township, Eau Claire county. During all this time, he was working in the woods, and gained a thorough knowledge of the lumbering business, and in 1870 he engaged in logging and lumbering on his own account, and at one time operated as high as five camps and had in his employ 200 men. He had 25 to 30 teams of oxen and horses and was one of the few men who owned their own equipment. During his logging operations, he purchased from time to time 360 acres of land, and in 1894 discontinuing his lumbering operations, he moved to his farm in Washington township which he improved with a fine residence and other buildings, and at the time of his death, March 14, 1909, had brought the land to a high state of cultivation, and besides his farm, was the owner of large tracts of timber land in Canada and the Dakotas.

Mr. Cliff was one of the enterprising and progressive men of his town. In all his relations and dealings, he was actuated by manly motives and such was his demeanor that he maintained the confidence and esteem of all his acquaintances. He was one of the founders of and a stockholder in the West Eau Claire Ice Company, a stockholder in the Eau Claire Concrete Company, and was one of the organizers and directors of the Eau Claire Driving Park and for a number of years was a member of the Knights of Pythias.

Mr. Cliff married Cora E. Butler, daughter of Henry W. and Adelia (Fairchild) Butler, who was born May 10, 1859, and whose many womanly virtues endeared her to all who knew her. She died June 20, 1895, and was the mother of three children, Newton, born December 14, 1880, died February 13, 1882; Russell H., born June 14, 1883, a well known farmer of Washington township, married Nellie Johnson, the daughter of Erick and Anna (Anderson) Johnson, of the town of Washington, and has three children, Lloyd H., Richard and Jaunette E. and Earl H., born January 3, 1890; is now in the employ of the Northern Pacific Railroad, at St. Paul. He married Inga Winger, and has one child, Lenora. In 1897 Mr. Cliff married Ida Martinson, a woman of charming personality, culture and refinement, and to this union two children were born, as follows: Jessie Inga, born January 20, 1900, and Joseph Edward, born August 8, 1906.

Mrs. Ida Martinson Cliff, since the death of her husband, has carried on the farm of 360 acres and employs a number of hands who work under the direction of a foreman whom she has to oversee the work. The father and mother of Mrs. Cliff, Ole and Rena (Christiansen) Martinson, were born in Christiania, Norway. They emigrated to America and were among the pioneers of Northern Wisconsin. They now reside at Chetek, Barron county, where he lives at the age of 80 years, retired from active farming. This family consisted of twelve children, as follows: Ida, Sevil, Ole, Frederick, Henry, Andrew, (deceased), Martin, Annie, Tena, Ella, Cora and Richard.

Henry W. Butler, father of the first Mrs. Cliff, was born in New York State, October 19, 1826, the son of Augustus Butler, a native of Connecticut and of English descent. Henry Butler who was fourth in a family of seven children, attended the district school until he reached the age of seventeen and then started out for himself, working on a farm and later engaging in farming on his own account, an occupation he followed during his active life. In 1843 he came to Wisconsin with his parents who settled in Dodge county. In the Spring of 1856 he came to Eau Claire and purchased a farm of 245 acres in section 5, township 26, range 9, in the town of Washington, and there carried on general farming until his retirement. During the Civil War in 1864, he enlisted in Company K, 36th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and fought in many battles, including Cold Harbor, where he received a wound in the left hand and was honorably discharged from the service June 3, 1865.

On July 4, 1850, he married Adeline L., daughter of William and Abigail (Western) Fairchild. To them were born three children who grew to maturity, Christabell I., born March 8, 1857, married Charles Bigelow, and had two daughters, Pearl and Annie. Pearl married Charles Whittaker, and Annie married Harry Daniel, and all reside in Los Angeles, California; Cora E., deceased wife of the late J. J. Cliff, and Mortimer E., born September 18, 1868, died February 1, 1882.

 

 


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