J. M. ALTAFFER                                GRAVESTONE PHOTO                      

Biographical sketch from

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL. 

CAROLYN WARD, instructor

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J. M. ALTAFFER, farmer, P. O. Independence, was born in Rockingham County. Va., January 19, 1845. He was raised a farmer. September 23, 1861, he entered the State Militia of Virginia as a substitute for a brother. April, 1862, entered the Confederate Army, in Company H, Twelfth Virginia Cavalry (as a substitute). He served until the close of the war, and was paroled and returned to his home. In June, 1866, he was elected and commissioned Lieutenant in the One Hundred and Eighth Regiment, Virginia Militia. In 1867, he came West as far as Quincy, Ill., where he worked nearly two years for the Quincy Bridge Company. He returned to Virginia in the fall of 1868, and in the spring of 1872 came to Kansas, locating on a farm, three miles south of Independence, in the Township of same name, and has been engaged in farming and stock raising since. He is a member of the Masonic order. He was married, January 19, 1869, in Rockingham County, Va., to Miss Lucy J. Williams.


Biographical Sketch


  John M.  Altaffer was born in Rockingham county, Va., January 19, 1845, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Altaffer and died in Independence, Kansas on December 12, 1929.  His father was a grandson of a Swiss settler of Pennsylvania.

  Mr. Altaffer enlisted in September, 1861, in the state militia and was later mustered into the Twelfth Virginia cavalry under General Ashby.  After the war he spent two years at home and then two years in bridge work on the Mississippi river.

  On January 19, 1869, he was married to Lucy J. Williams who came to Kansas with him in March, 1871.  She died in October, 1908, and he was again married in December, 1909, the second marriage being to Margie Van Lear.  To this union two children were born, Margaret and Bessie.

  For over thirty years Mr. Altaffer kept the government weather records for this section, being succeeded by F. L. Keboyer.

  During President Grant’s first term, Mr. Altaffer was appointed to the job of making monthly reports to the department of agriculture on crop conditions, yields per acre, weather records and other information of value.

  Mr. Altaffer had just reached maturity when he enlisted in September of 1861, in the militia and in 1862 was mustered into the Confederate army.  The regiment of which he was a member was a part of the army of Northern Virginia, and under the command of “Stonewall” Jackson.  It participated in the heavy campaigning of that chieftain.  It was stationed at Harper’s Ferry, after the Union forces surrendered there, and went next into the valley of the Shenandoah and met Sheridan’s forces at Cross Keys and at Travellion Station.

  During the last months of the war he was in Wade Hampton’s corps, Gen. Rosser’s division, and took part in the great cavalry fight, when the final movement out of Richmond took place.  Mr. Altaffer left the regiment, after the fight at High Bridge, on the retreat from Richmond, and was at his home, fifty miles away, when the final dissolution and surrender of the confederate army took place.

  After the war Mr. Altaffer spent two years on his mother’s farm, straightening matters up and restoring the old home.  It was following that period of time that he entered into bridge work, being employed on the Quincy, Ill., bridge.

  For years the veteran attended the annual Confederate reunion and proved himself to be an important factor in the community of which he lived.