Sunday, December 05, 2004

Samuel Sheffler 1844-1937

Samuel Sheffler was born on the 27th day of December in the year 1844. The place of his birth was Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania. His parents were Phillip and Mary (Bowman)Sheffler and his Grandparents were Johannes and Elizabeth (Heil) Sheffler. When Samuel was 7 years old he came to the Center Township with his parents on March 12th, 1851.

He began going to Sunday school at the Lutheran Church, "Luther Chapel" in Coral in 1851. When he grew up he served as a member of the Church Council and as a Superintendent of Sunday School. He was known to teach a Bible Class well into his eighty-eighth year.

At the age of 12 he began helping his father in their blacksmith shop and went to school when his father could spare him. In those days there were only three months of the year set aside for schooling. When Samuel was eighteen he enlisted in the army for a short term. The first enlistment was for only three months, but he re-enlisted in February of 1864 and served until the war ended in 1865. The first part of his service was spent in Ohio and around Pittsburgh. He was then sent to New York and from there by transport to Hilton Head, South Carolina where the command was kept for two weeks. They went from there by sailing vessel to City Point, Virginia at the mouth of the James River and marched to Bermuda Hundred and fought in their first battle. Their second engagement was at Drury's Bluff and after three days they had to retire in defeat. The casualty list included four hundred men and all of the field officers. To top it all off the remainder of the regiment was ordered to Cold Harbor, where one of the bloodiest battles of the war would take place. Samuel's regiment wintered along the north side of the James River until March of 1865 when they were ordered to Hatcher's Run, south of Petersburgh on the Weldon railroad where they watched General Robert E. Lee's movements until his surrender. Samuel was attached to Company F of the 55th Pennsylvania Volunteers, was in seventeen engagements all told, and was in the hospital for about six weeks during his enlistment.

In 1872 he bought a farm near Coral, Pennsylvania and on September 14th of that year was united in marriage to Rachel Bracken. They had two children. The first was a daughter, Edith Cecilia Sheffler, born on March 14th, 1875. The second child was a son, Jasper Ernest Sheffler, born on May 13th, 1877. Samuel and Rachel spent many years farming near Coral and even operated a Feed Store and Chopping Mill. He was also fairly well known for his Flour.

Samuel was a Republican and voted the party ticket starting in 1866 when he cast his ballot for General U.S. Grant for President of the United States.

Samuel was a Justice of the Peace for Center Township for sixteen years, School Director for two years and Postmaster for Coral, Pennsylvania for 2 years.

Samuel Sheffler was the last surviving member of Post No. 533 of the Grand Army of the Republic at Homer City and Center Township when he died at the age of 92. The date of his death was February 2nd, 1937. His wife, Rachel, preceeded Samuel in death when she died on January 1st, 1934. They both were laid to rest in a mauseleum in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Trip Back to Pennsylvania - 2004

In June of 2004 my niece was graduating from High School near Washington D.C. My wonderful, beautiful wife, Linda, and I flew back to celebrate with her and her family. While we were there I reserved one day to drive up into Pennsylvania to see if I could track down some information on my ancestors that had lived in Indiana County.
My Great-Grandfather Jasper had left Pennsylvania about 100 years before and moved to Montana/Idaho. Jasper Sheffler's father Samuel, was a Justice of the Peace, and was the oldest living Civil War veteran prior to his death at the age of 92. Samuel's father Phillip Sheffler was a wagon maker and blacksmith. Phillip's father John Sheffler was a farmer and blacksmith. John was the son of George Sheffler. We don't have any solid information about George's parents and where they originated. We do know that George was a veteran of the War of 1812.
I wanted to get an early start. It was going to be about a 4 hour drive from D.C. so I set the alarm for 4 a.m. I actually woke up at 3, couldn't sleep, and took off early. I had learned on the internet that the Indiana County Historical Society in Greensburg, Pennsylvania had a file labeled Sheffler. The first thing I wanted to do was look in that file. Greensburg was a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be. I had the Historical Society's address, but had no idea how to get there. I pulled into a parking garage on the main street. It was time for breakfast and I could ask someone how to get to the Historical Society. When I came out of the parking structure there was a Newstand across the street and I went in to see if they could give me some directions. "I'm here from California," I said to the cashier, "and I'm trying to track down some information on my ancestors. I have this address for the Indiana Historical Society, could you tell me how to get there?" The cashier looked at the address that I had and informed me that the Society had recently moved. "Can you tell me how to get to the new address?" He smiled, pointed to the ceiling, and said, "It's here, upstairs." Wow, what a great way to start my search. After eating breakfast, I came back and looked in the Sheffler file. I copied everything in the file folder and started looking through the many books that lined the shelves. There was just too much to look at and I only had one day.
I copied off a few more things and decided to head north to find my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandparents John and Elizabeth Sheffler's grave site. I had found the location of the cemetery on the internet. It was located in a small town called New Alexandria. I walked through the cemetery and found their gravestones. I will post pictures at some later date. It was a beautiful setting and it meant a lot to me to be able to stand there and pay my respect to this couple that made my life possible.
My next stop was Indiana, Pennsylvania. I knew that my Great, Great Grandparents Samuel and Rachel Sheffler were laid to rest in a mauseleum there. I found the cemetery and located the mauseleum, but it was locked. I found a gentleman that was doing some maintenance and asked him if there was a way that I could get into the mauseleum. He told me that only the relatives were allowed in and that they already had keys issued to them. I showed him my identification and told how my part of the family had left Pennsylvania around 100 years ago and that, as far as I knew, I was the first to come back. "Well then," he said, "we need to get you in there. I'll unlock it for you, and when you're done lock it back up before you leave."
The last stop of the day was a genealogical society in the town of Indiana. I found another Sheffler file and in it there was a wonderful picture of Samuel.
One day is just not enough time to do what needs to be done. There is a wealth of information out there that may be lost if we don't track it down. If I were to go back to Pennsylvania I'd do much more preparation. You really need to plan out where you want to go and what you want to look for in the books. I have recently found a map that shows exactly where Phillip and Samuel's property was near Homer, Pennsylvania. I would want go there and see if there was anything left, artifacts, buildings, the blacksmith shop? It would be cool to find a wagon wheel made by my long lost ancestors. What would people think when it came off the luggage carousel at the airport?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Importance of Genealogy

I grew up thinking that my ancestors came over from Europe around 1900. I was proud of being American, but didn't feel very 'connected' to the early history of the U.S. After a year on the Internet, writing to people all over the country, and traveling to Pennsylvania, I now know that my family has been actively involved in the birth and building of this country. They were there, and participated in, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Why did I have to find out all of this information on my own? Why wasn't this family history passed on from generation to generation?
Don Sheffler, from San Diego, California, has done an amazing amount of work on the Sheffler family history. His site, www.sheffler.org. is a plethora of information. I would like to try to add a few chapters to that story. I have many interests, hobbies, responsibilities, and often find myself spread thin. I will do my best to keep the information flowing, but would encourage other members of the Sheffler clan to join Don and I in researching, exploring, recording and even adding to the amazing history of the Shefflers. Happy Thanksgiving, 2004!