Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chenery Puffer (1804-1877)


   A resident of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, Dr. Chenery Puffer was a prominent 19th century physician in Franklin County, Massachusetts who served one term in the Massachusetts General Court. Little information could be found on this obscure man, excepting a small write-up in the Descendants of George Puffer of Braintree, Massachusetts, 1639-1915, published in 1916. All of the information on Dr. Puffer contained herein was discovered in the aforementioned work, as was the portrait of him shown above.
  Chenery Puffer was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts on December 29, 1804, the son of John and Ruth Willis Puffer. Chenery was the eighth and last child born to the couple, who were married in 1786. He attended school in the Dummerston, Vermont area and at age 21 migrated to Three Rivers, New York to begin a teaching career. He soon returned to Vermont and began studying medicine under a certain Dr. Knapp of Dummerston, and eventually graduated from the Harvard Medical School. 
  Puffer established his first medical practice in the town of Coleraine, Massachusetts and resided here for some time. He married in 1834 to Lucy Alden, and the couple eventually had four children: Henry Marvin (born 1835), Samuel Willis (born 1837), Charles Chenery (born 1841) and Lucy Maria (died at age 4 in 1846). Of the four Puffer children, Charles Chenery Puffer can be regarded as the most notable, as he became a prominent businessman and manufacturer during the late 19th century.
  Dr. Chenery Puffer eventually removed from Coleraine to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, where he resided until his death. In the years following his removal to Shelburne Falls it is mentioned that he enjoyed "a large and lucrative practice....achieving great distinction with his work." Puffer's inclusion on the blog here rests on his service in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives, which he was elected to in 1863. He served one term in this body and during his term served on the Committee on Roads and Bridges.
  
                           A roster from a Manual of the General Court of Massachusetts from 1863.

    In addition to his medical practice and legislative service, Dr. Puffer was also active in civic affairs in Shelburne Falls, serving on the town school committee for a few terms. He later served as President of the Franklin County Medical Society and is also mentioned as a founding member of the local Baptist church. Dr. Chenery Puffer died at age 73 on March 6, 1877 at his home in Shelburne Falls and was subsequently buried in the Arms Cemetery in Shelburne. His wife Lucy survived him by fifteen years, dying in 1892 at age 82. As a testament to his stature in the Shelburne Falls community, the Descendants of George Puffer memorialized him as "universally respected and beloved in the community he served so faithfully."

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