Beaverton Historical Society
Gladwin County Obituary/Death Notice
Ephraim Charles Diffin


   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.


   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 several terms.
   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.
Personal Information
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Gladwin County Record
P:1 C:3
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January 2005
Tom Ladner
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