Patrick J. Gaffney, also known as P. J., was born on July 2, 1879, in Mitchell, Ontario, Canada. He came to the U.S. as a boy, arriving in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in 1896 at the age of 17. He began working as a cook in lumber camps at length, eventually working to become a full-fledged lumberjack. He homesteaded an area on Little St. Germain Lake, later selling the property in 1903, moving to the town of Eagle River to start a barber shop with his friend, Frank Adams.
Prior to his move to Eagle River, P.J. married Elizabeth McCartin of Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1901. To this union, eight children were born, Lawrence, Evelyn, Thomas, Robert, Gilbert, Francis, John, and Arthur (Bill). P.J. provided for his family through a wide, varied, and prosperous career. He operated a barber shop with Frank Adams for twenty years. In 1903, P.J. took a course in embalming, passed his state boards and began an undertaking business, the Gaffney Funeral Home. He added a furniture store to this business in 1904. He served as register of deeds from 1919 to 1920, was sheriff of Vilas County from 1921 to 1922, and county coroner for more than forty years. He was active in several civic and fraternal organizations including the draft board for World War I and the Eagle River Village Board. He was awarded a certificate for fifty years of service in the late 1950s. Patrick J. Gaffney died January 2nd, 1965 at the age of eighty-six.
Thomas, one the P.J.’s sons took over his business in 1957, after his father’s retirement. The business had remained prosperous, but in 1965, he decided to sell off the furniture portion of business. He then moved the business from a brick building on Wall Street to the Frankel home on First Street. Thomas Gaffney’s son, Tom Jr., began working for his father in the family business and eventually purchased the business in 1972. He constructed a new funeral home on the corner of First and Division streets in 1996. The Gaffney Funeral Home remains in business today, continuing to be run by the Gaffney family.