Biography of Lewis Heffner

LEWIS HEFFNER. A substantial business citizen whose history has been commensurate with that of Elwood from the time this flourishing and prosperous city was but a small, struggling village, Lewis Heffner has played no small part in the great growth and development here during the past forty years, during which time he has been intimately identified with some of the city’s largest business interests, His life has been one of industry and perseverance, and the systematic and honorable business methods which he has followed have won him the support and confidence of his fellow-citizens. Mr. Heffner was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, October 5, 1839, and is a son of Daniel and Mary (Schmeck) Heffner.

The history of the paternal grandparents of Mr. Heffner has been lost, but on the maternal side his grandparents were John and Miss (Heckmann) Schmeck, natives of an old Berks County family which settled in Pennsylvania long before the Indians had left that section, Both reached advanced years, Mrs. Schmeck being past ninety at the time of her death, and they had a large family, among whom were Catherine, Mary, Lena, Hannah, Elizabeth, Lydia and Daniel. Daniel Heffner was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and for many years resided about seven miles from Reading, where he was the proprietor of a blacksmith shop. His death occurred there when he was seventy-nine years of age, and he was widely known and highly esteemed in his community. He married Mary Schmeck, also a native of Berks County, who survived him for some time, and was about seventy-nine years of age at the time of her demise. He was a Lutheran in his religious belief, while she adhered to the faith of the German Reformed Church.

Lewis Heffner was reared in Berks County, Pennsylvania, where he obtained a common school education, and as a lad was engaged in assisting his father in his blacksmith shop, When twenty years of age he began learning the mill-wright’s trade, which he followed for four or five years at Lewiston, Pennsylvania, and while living there cast his first vote, which he gave in support of Abraham Lincoln, In 1860 Mr. Heffner came to Indiana by way of Chicago, stopping off at Logansport for a time and going thence to Lincoln, where he erected a sawmill for a Mr. Wright. He remained at that place for seven years, and then purchased a piece of land in Tipton County, on which he erected a sawmill, continuing to operate that business during the next seven years, Subsequently, he came to Elwood, then but a small village, Bringing his sawmill here, he continued to operate it successfully until 1908, in addition to which he conducted a small planing mill, In the meantime, in 1865, he had engaged in the lumber manufacturing business, and in 1908 he embarked in dealing in coal, and now employs a large force of men in handling coal, lumber and all kinds of building material. He has seen Elwood grow and develop, and has not been a mere spectator, for he has done a great deal of building, and has in many ways assisted to forward the progress of the city of his adoption, In 1911 he erected a garage, which is occupied by an automobile concern.

On May 15, 1867, Mr. Heffner was married to Miss Sophia Emeline Ferguson, who was born at Shelbyville, Indiana, daughter of James and Esther (Gibson) Ferguson, the former a native of Little York, Pennsylvania, Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson had children: Mary, Jane, Lafayette, Emeline, Retta, William, Margaret, Rebecca, Wilkison, Louise and Amelia, Seven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Heffner: James Daniel, who married Miss “Bert” Lewis, and died in 1906; Winnie, who became the wife of Lewis W. Whipple, of Elwood; Abby, who married C. L. Bruce, of Elwood, and has children,-Winnetta, Lewis, Glen, Margaret, James, Esther, Roberta and Dorothy; Robert Lee Lewis, who lost his life in a railroad accident at the age of seventeen years; Charles, who died in infancy; Benjamin, who died when aged about eighteen months; and Odeta, who also died young.

Mrs. Heffner is a member of the Methodist Protestant Church. Mr. Heffner supports the principles of the Prohibition party. For a short time he was a member of the city council of Elwood, but resigned before the expiration of his term, A man of upright life and honorable dealing, he has gained and retained the respect and esteem of his fellow-citizens, and his career is worthy of emulation by those of the younger generation.



Madison County IN,

Forkner, John. History of Madison County, Indiana: a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests. Chicago: The Lewis publishing company, 1914.

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