William Buffham (1801-1871), inventor and manufacturer of scientific instruments.
Buffham is noteworthy for being a maker of optical and astronomical equipment at a time when there were only a few manufacturers of scientific instruments in the United States. While three of his sons worked the family's 140-acre farm, William and his eldest son, William Sharpe made microscopes and telescopes.
Microscope made by William Buffham in 1842. Photo by Mark Wallenfang/Shooting Start Studio (BBDM 97.26.3)
Buffham also made a collection of biological slides to view on his microscope, and built a cabinet for the slides. Shown is one of Buffham's glass slides of an algae specimen made in 1846. The enlargement of the algae (shown in circles) was made by Baxter Healthcare for the museum.
Gregorian telescope made by William Buffham in Millburn, Illinois, circa 1855.
Photo by Mark Wallenfang/Shooting Start Studio. (BBDM 97.26.1)
This detail of the Gregorian telescope is engraved
"Buffham, Millburn, Lake Co., Ill." (BBDM 97.26.1; Photo by Mark Wallenfang/Shooting Start Studio)
The Buffhams moved to Racine, Wisconsin in 1868 when his eldest son bought a painting business there.
Buffham continued to make microscopes and optical instruments in Racine, presumably until his death in 1871.
William Buffham's monument at Mound Cemetery, Racine, Wisconsin.