Biffle Researchers

Family Group Record: Valentine Green Biffle and Matilda E. Berry

Information supplied by: Michael Miller and Janet M. Roseen e-mail adress

If you have additional information or corrections to this report on this family, please contact the editor.
As always, use this information as a guide to your own research, documenting as you go along.

Some of this information in suspect.

   Valentine Green Biffle  
   Born: March 4, 1858(1) Place: Patton, Bollinger Co., Missouri
   Married: September 12, 1883 Place: Marble Hill, Bollinger County, Missouri
   Died: before 1927 Place:
   Parents: Johnson Lacy Biffle and Mary Ann Hill
  A birth date for him is also given as March 20, 1858.

   Matilda Emmaline Berry  
   Born: September 9, 1864; an alternate date is Dec 9 1864 Place: Crooked Creek, Bollinger County, Missouri
   Died: before 1910 Place: Bessville, Missouri; she is buried in the Berry Cemetery, Bollinger County, Missouri, along with her parents
   Parents: Francis Marion Berry (1833-1897) and Mary Cathryn Bess (1835-1920)
See Berry Family Records, Madison County, Missouri


1 Emory Claude Biffle
Sex Born: July 1884 Place: Bollinger County, Missouri
  M Married: Place:
   Died: Place: Marquand, Bollinger County, Missouri; The Shoe Cobbler's Kin says he lived near Buffalo, New York.

2 Ira Oris Biffle See also Ira O. Biffle
Sex Born: September 14, 1886 Place: Patton, Bollinger County, Missouri
  M Married: Alice DeNormandie Place:
   Died: April 7, 1934(2) Place: Wesley Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia (see below)

He left Patton, Missouri, ca. 1908.
     The following account of his life and death is from the Bollinger County Banner Press(n.d.). "It became known here this week that the man who taught Col. Charles A. Lindbergh to fly, and who died penniless and almost blind in Chicago a few days ago, was none other than Ira Biffle, native of the Patton community, and well known in Fredericktown and Madison County.
     A sister, Mrs. I.D. Francis, lives at Marble Hill now. Biffle, then a mere youth, left his Bollinger county home about 24 years ago to go out into the world and become one of America's "first pilots," and numbered among the most famous aviators of the age among his pupils.
     Biffle, as a mere boy, was a queer character, and was scarcely understood either by membesr of his family or by his friends. He was uncommunicative, and after leaving this vicinity seemed to have no desire to keep in touch with family and friends.
     For several years his health has been failing, and in recent months he has been nearly blind. At the height of his career, he is said to have accumulated more than $100,000, but died in abject poverty.
     Penniless and nearly blind, the once famous aviator passed away after suffering from nephritis (an infection of the kidney [ed.]) and a heart ailment. With him as the end came was his wife. Shortly before his death he groped for her hands and mumbled, "I'm afraid I can't make it." His friends had moved him to the hospital a few weeks ago when he was found, almost penniless, in a public hospital. Col. Lindbergh, on learning of his former instructor's plight, was among the first to aid him.
     Mr. Biffle was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Biffle of near Patton and spent his first 18 years on the family farm. He left 24 years ago and had been heard from only at intervals since that time. As early as 1915 he became a skilled pilot, and was known as a leading aviator when planes were "crates."
     Mr. Biffle first went to Lincoln, Nebr., and became an expert at handling planes, which were also known then as "sky coffins." He was an instructor and an early air mail pilot.
Lindbergh, in his book We, referred to Biffle as "the most hard-boiled instructor the Army ever had during the war." He became a member of the Army Air Corps at San Diego when it numbered but four persons.
     It was while Mr. Biffle was at Lincoln that Col. Lindbergh first appeared for flying lessons. The veteran aviator's comment later was that Lindbergh was a queer looking kid. He first appeared at the field without a change of clothing, wearing a leather jacket, a pair of kahaki pants, a shirt and cap. He was a darned good student--intelligent, quick, and nevry, much above the average."

  • Photograph is originally found at: Picture #20 is Ira Biffle.
  • According to his death certificate, his last residence was at 7460 S. Vincennes in Chicago. It gives his birth place as Centralia, Illinois. I'm assuming this is in error because it also give Centralia as the place of birth for both his parents. He was employed by C.H. Wallgreen just prior to his death. The death certificate also lists Oakwoods Cemetery as the place of burial (April 10, 1934); he was later buried at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
  • 1910 U.S. Census, Philippines, Camp Keithley, Mindanao, with the 6th Infantry, Company E., T624-1784, p. 102; he is listed as a musician

3 Ida Ellen Biffle
Sex Born: Jan 14, 1889 Place: Missouri
  M Married: Place:
   Died: Mar 21, 1889 Place: Crooked Creek, Bollinger County, Missouri

4 Frances Marion Biffle (Frank)
Sex Born: ca. November 1889 Place: Missouri
  M Married: 1st: Nettie Bell Hall; 2nd: 1916, Sarah/Susan Ellen Wright Place:
   Died: ca. 1917 Place: Mississippi County, Arkansas
  At one time may have lived at Libourn or Dexter, Missouri

5 Valentine O. Biffle(3)
Sex Born: October 8, 1894 Place: Missouri (1900 census gives date as 1896)
  F Married: Fred Lee Willeford Place:
   Died: October 23, 1988 Place: Arvin, Kern County, California
  In 1976 they lived at 209 Laurel, Arvin, California

6 Della Iretha Biffle
Sex Born: June 30, 1895 Place: Lutesville, Bollinger County, Missouri
   Married: 1st: John Pulliam; 2nd:1917, Isaac David Francis Place: Marble Hill, Bollinger County, Missouri; 2nd: Lutesville, Bollinger County, Missouri
   Died: October 16, 1964 Place:

7 Unknown
Sex Born: before 1900 Place:
   Married: Place:
   Died: before 1900? Place:

  1. Donna Byerley, 1870 Federal Census of Bollinger Co., Missouri (Albany, Ore.: Linn Benton Gen), p. 24. Millie Biffle Kirk has his birth date as March 20, 1858.
  2. Old Bollinger: A Collection of Historical Articles Taken from the Pages of the Banner-Press, Bollinger County's Weekly Newspaper and Published in Celebration of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution, p. 39. Obituary: New York Times April 7 and April 8, 1934.
  3. Bollinger County, 1851-1976, p. 863
  4. Old Bolinger, v. 12, p. 2
  • 1880 U.S. Census, Crooked Creek, Bollinger County, Missouri, T9-0674, p. 440D, Matilda Berry is living with her parents
  • 1900 U.S. Census, Crooked Creek, Bollinger County, Missouri, M623-839, p. 176; children with the family are Emory C., Ira, Francis, Vallie, Della; This census says they had 7 children with 5 living. I show the death of Ida Ellen Biffle in 1889, but which other child died before 1900.
  • 1910 U.S. Census, Bollinger County, E.D. 1, p. 21B, Valentine Biffle is living with his sister, Mary May Biffle Ward and brother-in-law William A. Ward; his daughter Valley O. is living with John W. Stanley family; his daughter Della is living with Levi S. Yount family; Frank is in Montrose Co., Colorado with a Berry family; Ira is in the Philippines with the army; where is Emory Claude?
  • 1920 U.S. Census, Bollinger County, E.D. 1, p. 4B, Valentine is no longer with the Ward family.

From: The Shoe Cobbler's Kin: Genealogy of the Peter (Ecker) Eaker, Sr. Family, Volumes 1 (1976) and 2 (1985) compiled by Lorena Shell Eaker (Mrs. Odis C.), Church Hill, Texas: SCK Publications comes the following. Some if it is in question, especially the account of Valetine's death (since he is found in the 1910 census).

Text from the book:
p. 135: Author's note: When I prepared Vol. 1, I pieced this family together. Flora Francis recently sent a much more complete record and I choose to record it here [in Vol. 2]. More can be found pg 184-185 of Vol. 1. Both Mytilda and Valentine (Valley) died ca. 1898 [ed. NOT TRUE]. Flora Francis' note: Aunt Vallie Biffle Williford told me for years that she did not remember anything about the family. In recent years she has told other notes about the family which might be of help. Her grandfather (Johnson Biffle) died sitting by a tree at a church. Her father Valley Biffle went to school to study astronomy and taught at a college in Colorado. Her mother and the children stayed on the farm in Missouri. The parents both died leaving the five orphans to be passed from family to family, not always relatives. Della lived one winter and Vallie three or four years with John and Louvenia Killian Yount. Della then lived with her grandmother Berry and heard more talk of family. Vallie, at age 8, went to Marquand, Missouri, to live with some of her father's college classmates, and did not see her sister again for four years. She then returned to the Patton community to live with a family named Starkey in a more pleasant situation, until she was married. Frank (Francis) was boarded out with another family but came to see Vallie often. Family was not discussed with her, and they all seemed as strangers to her. She felt as though no one wanted her, and it seemed she was a little lost sheep. The two older brothers, Claude and Ira (aged ten when his parents died) went to Colorado to go to school and to work. There were seven children, but only five accounted for.

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