Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Philip Shaffer, Early Settler of Muskingum County, Ohio

Philip Shaffer, father of Louisa (Shaffer) Bayles, was born in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey in about 1789. According to some genealogies, he married Suzanna Drake in 1810. The Shaffers lived in Pennsylvania, where their two oldest children, Stephen Drake and William H. Shaffer were born. At some time between 1814 and 1817 the Shaffers headed west, to Ohio.

Note that Shaffer (and its variants Shafer, Schafer, Schaefer, etc) is a very common surname. In some cases we don't know if the records list our Philip Shaffer or not.

The oldest of the Shaffer daughters, Laura Ann, was born in Ohio in October of 1817. It isn't known where the Shaffers were living at that time.

In the 1820 Census, there was a Philip Shaffer living in Hanover Township, Butler County, Ohio. In his household were one man and one woman age 26-45 (could be Philip and Suzanna), two boys and a girl under age 10 and one young man and one young woman age 16-26. Two in the household were involved in agriculture. Based on the known birthdays of the Shaffer children, the two boys would have been about 7 and 6, and there should be two girls, ages 2 and a few months. It's not clear why the youngest daughter would not have been counted. The identify of the 16-26 year-olds is also unclear - they could be relatives or hired help. This Philip was a distiller in Millville.

More research is needed to show that it was our Philip living in Butler County in 1820. (Note that there is a different Philip Shaffer living in Licking County, Ohio in 1820. The ages on that census entry do not appear to match our Shaffer family at all, however). No Philip Shaffer was listed in either Butler or Licking when the 1830 Census was taking.

Move to Muskingum, Ohio
It is not known when exactly the Shaffers moved to Muskingum County. In 1823, Philip Shaffer "of Muskingum" purchased land in nearby Knox County, so we know he had arrived by that time.

By 1830, Philip and his family were living near Frazeysburg, in Jackson Township. According to the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio: Jackson Township:
The people of Jackson are healthy and contented; they love their fine sill-side scenery, and the traveler winding his way up the slopes in long stretches sees at each summit a new and pleasant landscape. The early settlers of this township were allured hither by the fertility of the lands in the valley of Wakatomaka Creek, like those who settled nearest to the valley of the Muskingum.
The 1830 Census lists Philip and his household as: one man and one woman age 30-40 (Philip and Suzanna), one boy under age 5 (John Calvin, newborn), one girl age 5-9 (Mahala 6), two girls age 10-14 (Laura 13, Elmira 10), and two boys age 15-19 (Stephen 17, William 16).

An 1832 Plat Map shows Philip's property northeast of Frazeysburg (in the upper right corner, in square labeled 9). You can see the same area on a present-day Mapquest Map.

Philip was an active member of the community.
Squire McCann recalls an old log shanty used for school, church, and singing, which stood two and a half miles from Frazeysburg. Philip Shaffer was an early singing teacher, having taught in 1831 and 1832.(Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio: Jackson Township)
Suzanna Shaffer died in 1837, two weeks after their youngest child, Simon, was born. Philip never remarried.

He continued living in Jackson Township for almost twenty more years. Then, at some time between 1850 and 1860, Phillip and his younger children, including his married daughter Louisa (Shaffer) Bayles followed the National Road west to Fayette County, Illinois. Louisa died in Howard's Point, near St. Elmo in 1864. Her older brother, John Calvin Shaffer, returned to Frazeysburg with his family.

It is not known if Philip lived the last years of his life in Illinois, or eventually returned to Ohio with his son. Hopefully, we'll be able to find that information.

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