Rock Island is an exceedingly prosperous and well governed city. Its municipal prosperity must be attributed in a great degree to the business like and economical administration of the city’s affairs. Its good government must be attributed likewise to the enforcement of law and the preservation of order, so essential in every well regulated community, by the city’s chief executive, Mayor Henry C. Schaffer, the subject of our present sketch.
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Henry C. Schaffer was born October 16, 1851, at Baltimore, Maryland, his parents being Conrad and Mary (Hoffmeister) Schaffer. Both his parents were natives of Germany. Their son received his education in the public schools of his native city. One incident of his boyhood is noteworthy, as showing the early development of those traits of character which were to become so pronounced in the man. When the Confederate General, Juba’ Early, threatened the City of Washington with an attack, Henry C. Schaffer was a lad thirteen years of age. He was a drummer boy in the Baltimore Home Guards, a comp-any similar to that organized in almost every city of any size at that time. The threatened destruction of Washington threw Baltimore into a frenzy of excitement. The company of which Henry Schaffer was the drummer boy was mobilized, together with many other Maryland companies for the purpose of repelling the threatened Confederate invasion. The lad, too young to accompany his comrades without parental consent, which it was impossible for him to obtain, ran away from home to enter the service of his country.
After the completion of his course in the Baltimore Public Schools, Henry C. Schaffer took up a commercial course and became an expert accountant. This profession he followed for a number of years in Chicago. In 1878 he came to Rock Island with O. H. Watson, the owner of the Rock Island Glass Factory. Here he was employed as a bookkeeper at the glass factory, and later was promoted to superintendent of that industry. This latter position he held until the factory was purchased by the Glass Trust and closed. In 1892 Mr. Schaffer entered the employ of John Volk & Company as bookkeeper Here he remained until 1899, when he was elected city clerk. From that time until the present Mr. Schaffer’s life has been essentially a political one, and to continue our sketch in an orderly fashion we must now take up his political career.
Mr. Schaffer’s political affiliation is with the Republican Party, in whose ranks he has done much effective work. His political career in Rock Island began in 1885 when he was elected a member of the City Council. He served two terms as alderman, retiring from the City Council in 1889. As has been stated, he remained in the employ of John Volk & Company from 1892 until 1899, when he was elected city clerk of Rock Island. To this office he brought a thorough knowledge of accounting and an aptitude for systematizing. This latter quality especially has saved for the city many thousands of dollars. He systematized the collection of water rents, and as a result the revenues of the Waterworks Department have been vastly increased. As city clerk he husbanded the city’s resources, insisted strenuously upon economy in expenditures and stood firmly against the incurring of obligations where the way to meet them did not seem clear. He held the office of city clerk from 1899 until the year 1907, when the people of Rock Island showed their confidence in the unswerving integrity of the man, and their appreciation of his services as city clerk, by electing him mayor of the city by a handsome majority. As mayor, Mr. Schaffer is quietly, and in his usual unassuming manner, carrying on those same well-founded’ policies of systematic economy through wise expenditure that made his administrations as city clerk a success. He is giving Rock Island an effective, clean and sane administration, an administration of which every citizen of Rock Island, regardless of politics, may be proud. Mr. Schaffer’s career as mayor was initiated by the bringing about of some much needed reforms in the municipal government. Those reforms, however, have been not merely spasmodic, but have been carried on consistently and conscientiously.
On December 26, 1878, occurred the marriage of Mr. Schaffer and Miss E. F. Delveaux at Indianapolis, Indiana. Five children were born of this marriage, two daughters and three sons, Ida Hawkins, Esther Elcock, Harley W., Carl B., and Henry C. Schaffer. The death of one of the sons, Henry C. Schaffer, his father’s name-sake, occurred September 30, 1891. Mr. Schaffer was bereaved by the death of his wife August 23, 1891. On September 19, 1895. Mr. Schaffer was united in marriage to Miss Catherine J. McQuade of Rock Island. One child, a son, C. Harry Schaffer, has been born to them.
Mr. Schaffer is an adherent to the Lutheran faith, and is a member of that church. In his fraternal connections he is a member of the Elks and the Knights of Pythias. But little more can be said of this man’s honorable career, which is now in its zenith. He has enjoyed, is enjoying and will continue to enjoy the confidence and respect of the people of his city. The citizens of Rock Island have repeatedly shown their sincere appreciation of Mr. Schaffer’s untiring industry and sterling integrity. He was an ideal city clerk and he is an ideal mayor. He has the reins of city government firmly in hand, and his administration so far has been a wise and just one. There is every reason to feel assured that there will be no departure from that course. His executive ability is of a high order. Both in his official and in his private life Henry C. Schaffer deserves and has the highest esteem of his fellow men.