About the Proffer’s – Some of the original settlers in Southeast Missouri!

grandpa_and_grannyRev. Maurice Clifton (Shorty) Proffer was my grandfather.  He married my grandmother Ruth Ellen Eaker both of Bollinger County. They were the parents of Ruby Aileen; Melvin Clifton; Odis Elvin (my father); Wilburn Maurice; Everett ‘Odell’; Emma ‘Kathleen’; Opal Loretta; and Ada Fern.

I never did get to meet Shorty, but I know he was an honorable fellow.  Sadly, Shorty died in a ‘swimming’ accident in the Castor River, trying to save his son-in-law from drowning.

Ruth re-married Rev. Milas Rhodes in 1947 and bore my uncle Luther.  It is Milas I remember as he was a minister and a ‘fiery’ one at that!  That is where my uncle Luther got his calling.

Logan Sanders Proffer was Shortys’ father.  He died in Marquand, MO in 1942.  His father was John Alexander Proffer of southeast Missouri.  His father was Rev. Peter Proffer of Stoddard County, Missouri. His father was George Proffer Sr. of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.  And finally John Proffer ‘the Pioneer‘ of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

John Proffer – The Pioneer

The following information was written by Alice Proffer- Spillman, in her book entitled “A History of the Cape Co. & Stoddard Co. Proffer Family and its Antecedants and Descendants.” (1976) (Ref 1, 2, & 3)

John Proffer was the pioneer of the Proffer family in Missouri. He was born in Germany in 1758 and came to America as a boy, bound to a blacksmith. (Information from Immigrant Information Society) In the olden days, if you were bound to someone, you would work for them, and they would teach you their trade. This is how John Proffer became a blacksmith. He arrived by ship in Pennsylvania, probably at a seaport in Pennsylvania. There is no record of John Proffer on any passenger ships of German immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania. Since he came to America as a bound person, he was probably included as member of the family with whom he arrived. The name of this family is unknown at this time.

In adulthood he married Margaret Helderman. She was also born of German descent in 1760. Since marriage records for Pennsylvania were not issued until 1833, we assume they married before that date. Thus, there is no definite proof that his wife’s maiden name was Helderman. However, we know his wife was, indeed, named Margaret from her tombstone. As his son, George Proffer, was born in Pennsylvania in 1781; therefore, this marriage probably occurred around 1779 or 1780.

Shortly after the birth of this son, John Proffer moved his family to North Carolina where he lived for several years following his trade as a blacksmith and farmer. His other known children were born in North Carolina.

After the summer crops were harvested in the Fall of 1817, the family once again packed their belongings. This time they journeyed to Missouri where they arrived the following Spring (1818) in time to clear land and plant crops for the next year. They journeyed in covered wagons, pulled by oxen. According to hearsay, the most valued item in John Proffer’s wagon was an anvil which he used in his trade as a blacksmith.

The family settled in Cape Girardeau County, near a spring at what is known today as Crump, Missouri. He lived the remainder of his life in that location, dying in 1838, at the age of 80 years. His wife died the previous year in 1837, at the age of 77 years. Both of them were buried on a nearby hillside overlooking the valley of Crump in what later became known as the Proffer Cemetery. A monument was erected in later years to mark their final resting place.

Their children came to Missouri in the same wagon train as their parents. The age differences of these children suggest the likelihood of other children, perhaps daughters whose married names are unknown at this time.

(1) “A History of the Cape County and Stoddard County Proffer Family and Its Antecedents and Descendants” by Alice Proffer Spillman, 1976; and continuing “The Proffer Family History” by Opal Proffer Goslee”, 1982.

(2) Chasteen Family Tree, by Paula Street-Eubanks, eubanks@dexter.net,http://members.tripod.com/kithandkin_2/proffer.html

(3) Dale Sifford, 9247 FM 59, Athens, Texas, 75751-8148, windal@cox-internet.com, Siffordle.GED, 5 Aug 2004

This story was published in the Southeast Missourian in June of 1976.


I am so proud that I spent the last twenty-two years of my life being an Internet Pioneer as genealogy sites can help us shed light on our roots!