Beaverton Historical Society
Gladwin County Obituary/Death Notice
Ephraim Charles Diffin
WAS RESIDENT OF GLADWIN COUNTY 41 YEARS
WARM POLITICAL TIME WITNESSED CHANGE
FROM PRIMITIVE FOREST TO FINE FARMS
The death of Ephraim C. Diffin Sept. 19 removed one
of the early pioneers of the county. Coming to Gladwin
county in 1869, he had been a resident of the county
for 41 years, and had seen the crooked, narrow log
roads give place to regular highways and farms
responding bountifully to the husbandman's toil where
first he knew the virgin forest.
EPHRAIM C. DIFFIN
In his early days Mr. Diffin was occupied in
lumbering, and conducted large jobbing operations.
During these days he became intimately acquainted with
Wellington R. Burt, Major Butman, the Rusts, Arthur
Hill and other men who afterwards became "pine
barons." Forcible and kindly, his relations with these
men were such as to create a mutual friendship. When
the county was organized in 1876. Mr. Diffin was
chosen its first county clerk, which position he held
for two years. After this he was elected supervisor of
Gladwin township, which then comprised the whole north
half of the county, subsequently being elected for
The early history of Gladwin county was a long
struggle with grafters. The building of the courthouse
formed a rich field. With only three supervisors the
organized townships were Gladwin, Grout and Billings,
two men could combine and put through any scheme. The
situation reached its climax in 1879, when an
organized movement of non residents and resident
taxpayers asked for a new deal and a reasonable amount
of honesty in public affairs. Gladwin township became
the crucial point of the battle, and two men appeared
claiming to be the supervisor from that township. The
reformers were represented by Marvil Secord, and
behind him fighting vigourously was Ephraim C. Diffin.
Two boards of supervisors were organized, the one
which finally succeeded in controlling being organized
by Adam Scrafford of Grout and Mr. Secord, with S. S.
Townsend as clerk.
Vigorous methods were instituted by this board, and
the Gladwin County Record, under the direction of the
present senior editor, a boy who had not at that time
reached his majority. To quiet the Record its office
was surreptitiously entered on the night of July 2,
1879, and its type and forms pied. Much tedious labor
followed, but the Record continued to be issued, while
Mr. Diffin and Mr. Foster armed with guns were on
guard for several nights thereafter to keep off
intruders. He was the first nominee on the Republican
ticket for county treasurer, but was beaten in the
election by Oscar R. Dow, who resigned in 1885. Mr.
Diffin was then appointed as county treasurer to
succeed him, and in 1886 and 1888 was re-elected, thus
holding the position five successive years.
At the time of surrendering the office of county
treasurer, it was discovered upon the settlement that
he was short in his accounts. He promptly turned over
his property for the satisfaction of his shortage to
the county, and it was amply protected from any loss.
Mr. Diffin then went upon a new piece of land, and
with no capital but his industry and a heart big with
courage made for himself a good farm, which he
recently sold for a sufficient sum to have guaranteed
him a home for his old age.
It was always Mr. Diffin's belief that he had been
wrongly dealt with by assistants in the office, and
that good bookkeeping would have revealed conditions
in his favor. Certain it is that no one familiar with
the facts believed that he had profited in any way be
having held the office. In 1886 there were elected
besides Mr. Diffin as county treasurer, John McCormick
as sheriff, Isaac Hanna as probate judge, W. E. Barber
as prosecuting attorney, W. H. Berry as register of
deeds, C. H. Pearson as circuit court commissioner and
George Freeman as surveyor, all of whom preceded him
to their final resting place.
Mr. Diffin at one time was a member of the Gladwin
city council. He was one of the liberal contributors
to the building of the Gladwin M. E. church. In his
prosperous days his pocketbook was always open for any
worthy enterprise or individual need. Those who knew
him well can have but the kindliest memories of him.
Mr. Diffin was born in the state of Maine, Dec. 21,
1835. He was united in marriage with Caroline Brown,
March 21, 1873, and she survives. She has been an
invalid for years, and was always his first care. His
last thought was for her comfort. No children were
born to the union, but they reared adopted ones. One
brother and two sisters reside in Maine. Mr. Diffin
served as a Michigan volunteer in the Civil war, and
was a pensioner. He was a life long Republican. He was
a member of the G.A.R. and I.O.O.F.
PVT CO E 1ST REG US MI LANCERS
Gladwin County Record