Among the honored residents of Yellow Springs was numbered William G. Confer, now deceased. He was born at Hagerstown, Washington county, Maryland, December 29, 1823, and was a representative of an excellent family, his parents being George and Elizabeth (Bowman) Confer, the former a native of France and the latter of Hagerstown. Maryland. George Confer emigrated to the United States with his father, wbo settled in Maryland, and in 1802 came to Greene county, Ohio, locating on the land which was for so many years the home of our subject. This farm of two hundred acres was secured from the government at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. The farm labors of the grandfather were at one time interrupted by his enlistment for service in the war of 1812, but with the exception of this period he followed agricultural pursuits throughout his life. The parents of our subject were married in Hagerstown, Maryland, and after residing in Ohio for a time they returned to the former state, which was their place of abode until 1834. In that year they again came to Ohio, where they spent their remaining days, the former dying in 1857, and the latter passing away in 1870. They were the parents of five children and were most highly respected people.
William G. Confer was a lad of fourteen years when he left his boyhood home in Maryland and accompanied his parents on their second removal to this state. Here he entered the public schools, pursuing his studies in a log school-house in which were a puncheon floor, slab seats and greased paper windows. He remained upon the home farm until the death of his father and until after his marriage. That important event in his life occurred on the 29th of December, 1857, the lady of his choice being Mary Jane, a daughter of Philip F. and Jane (Wolf) Cost. Mr. Confer built a log cabin which he and his family occupied until 1866, when he was enabled to erect a more modern residence. In 1876 he built a large barn at a cost of several thousand dollars and numerous other structures on the premises, indicating in a marked manner the enterprise and thrift of the owner. In addition to the improvement upon the place Mr. Confer carried on successfully the work of tilling the soil and raising crops. He also invested considerable capital in the village of Yellow Springs, erecting the postoffice building here and also a livery stable.
Unto our subject and his wife were born five children. George B., their first born, died in October, 1887, at the age of twenty-eight years. Elizabeth J. is the wife of Jacob S. Cosler, a resident of Miami township, and they have five children, Elsie J., Lewis W., Mary F., Russell H. and Georgiana. Mr. Cosier is a farmer and a very prominent man. John P. resides upon the old home place engaged in the raising of Jersey cattle and in conducting a dairy. He wedded Mary Jacobs, a daughter of A. Jacobs, of Miami township, and they have two adopted children, Gertrude Alexander and Harry Gross. Frank resides at Yellow Springs and is agent for the Springfield Laundry. He married Maude Bailey and they have one daughter, Ruth. The fifth member of the Confer family died in infancy.
In 1894 Mr. Confer left the farm and removed to Yellow Springs, where he lived a retired life until his death, June 11, 1902, He was a member in good standing of the Reformed Presbyterian church in which he served as elder and deacon for many years, and to which his wife also belongs. He became identified with the church when fourteen years of age and his life was ever in consistent harmony with its teachings and principles. In politics he was a Republican and for two years he was a member of the school board of his district, while for several terms he served as supervisor. He remembered many interesting incidents of the early times. From 1809 until 1812 his father hauled flour from Cincinnati, six barrels making a load, and it required six barrels to pay for a barrel of salt. He saw the first ferry-boat plying from New Orleans to Cincinnati, it taking seventy-five days to complete that journey. In early life Mr. Confer became familiar with the hardships and trials incident to the establishment of a home on the frontier and bore his part in the work of development and progress here. He took a deep interest in the welfare and upbuilding of the county and throughout the long vears of his residence here was ever known as a loyal and valued citizen.
From History of Greene County, Ohio, by George F. Robinson (S. J. Clarke Publishing Co, 1902)
Among the comparatively few men who are remaining to tell the story of pioneer life in Ohio, Mr. CONFER remains as a conspicuous figure. He looked upon this section of country when it was in it wildest form and has been a witness of the remarkable transformation which has converted the wilderness into the abode of a civilized and prosperous people, and he may justly feel that he has borne no unimportant part in the great change which has been effected. He commenced at the foot of the ladder in the acquirement of a competency, and after years of hard labor found himself on the highway to prosperity. He is now practically independent, financially, as the result of persevering industry and good management. He stands as one of the old landmarks, who has weathered the storms of many a gale, and whose name will be remembered long after he has been gathered to his fathers.
A native of Hagerstown, Washington County, Md., Mr. CONFER was born December 29, 1823, and came with his father to Ohio in 1834, when a lad of ten years. His early education was acquired in a log cabin schoolhouse, with puncheon floor, greased paper for window panes, and slab seats. He was at an early age taught to make himself useful and remained the assistant of his father on the farm until the latter’s death. He still remained there afterward until his marriage. This most important event in his early manhood was celebrated December 29, 1857, the maiden of his choice being Miss Mary Jane, daughter of P. F. and Elizabeth (WOLF) COST.
The young people commenced their wedded life together on their own farm in a manner corresponding to their means and labored together with the mutual purpose of getting on in the world and acquiring a competence. Their first dwelling was a log cabin which they occupied until 1866, and then Mr. Confer was enabled to put up a more modern residence, expending thereon about $5,000. Subsequently, in 1876, he erected a large bank barn, 72x44 feet in dimensions, at a cost of about $2,000. He has also another bank barn, 30x50 feet in dimensions, which cost him $800. Numerous other structures on the premises indicate in a marked manner the enterprise of the proprietor. These include a stone milk-house, a cider press, a corn-shed, also a straw-shed and all the other structures necessary for the shelter of stock and the storage of grain.
In addition to the improvements of his farm Mr. CONFER has invested considerable capital elsewhere, putting up a livery barn at Yellow Springs, costing $1,500, also the post-office building there, 32x22 feet in dimensions, costing $465, and a small stable, costing $200. In 1864 he put up a house on the west part of his farm at a cost of $300.
Mr. CONFER is the offspring of an excellent family, being the son of George and Elizabeth (BOWMAN) CONFER, the former a native of France and the latter of Hagerstown, Md. George CONFER emigrated to America with his father who settled in Maryland, coming in 1802 to Greene County, this State, and settling on the land now owned and occupied by his son, William G. This land, two hundred acres in extent, he secured from the Government at $1.25 per acre. His farm labors were at one time interrupted by his enlistment as a soldier in the War of 1812. With the exception of this he followed agriculture all his life. The parents were married in Hagerstown, Md., and after living in Ohio for a time they went back to Maryland and resided in that State until 1834. That year they returned to Ohio where they spent the remainder of their days, the father dying in 1857, and the mother in 1870. They were the parents of five children, four of whom are living, namely, George, Jr., Hannah, Elizabeth, the wife of Dick PARTINGTON who was a lawyer of Xenia; now deceased, leaving one child, a son, Edward; and William G., our subject. Their parents were people highly respected in their community, living honestly and uprightly and leaving to their children the heritage of a good name.
The parents of Mrs. CONFER removed from Maryland to Ohio at an early day, where the father operated a distillery and amassed a large fortune. He is still living, being now eighty years of age and making his home in Osborn, this county. The mother departed this life at the old home in 1878. Of the six children born to them five are now living. Mr. and Mrs. CONFER are the parents four children, the eldest of whom, a son, George G., who became an expert telegraph operator, died in October, 1887, at the age of twenty- eight years; Eliza Jane is the wife of Jacob S. COSLER; they live at the home farm and have two children; John P. and Frank are also at home. Mr. and Mrs. CONFER are members in good standing of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in which Mr. CONFER has served as an Elder and Deacon since 1856. He became identified with this church at the early age of fourteen years. He takes an active interest in politics, affiliating with the Republican party, and for two years has been a member of the School Board of his district. He has also served as Supervisor several terms.
The landed possessions of Mr. CONFER embrace three hundred and thirty-one acres of choice land, all under a good state of cultivation and with first-class improvements, including two residences. His property in Yellow Springs is valued at $5,000. He remembers many incidents of the early times. From 1809 to 1812 his father hauled flour to Cincinnati, six barrels marking a load. A barrel of salt cost what he would get for the six barrels of flour. He saw the first ferry-boat plying from New Orleans to Cincinnati, when the trip occupied seventy-five days and it took seventy-five men to pull the boat up the river.
Portrait and Biographical Album of Clark and Greene Counties, Chapman Bros., Chicago, published 1890