The subject of this sketch, the late venerable George Shafer, one of the old pioneers of Cloud county, came to Kansas in the autumn of 1867, and was in the Solomon valley during the turbulent Indian raids. He was born in the "Keystone" state in 1818, and has always been a tiller of the soil. He was of German origin. His parents were John and Susan (Kellar) Shafer. When one year old his father moved from his native town, Hamilton, Pennsylvania, to New York, and settled in Allegany county. In 1850, Mr. Shafer emigrated to Illinois, and later in the same year entered land in the state of Iowa, when that country was very sparsely settled.
Seventeen years subsequently he came to Kansas and homesteaded the land upon which he resided at the time of his demise. With his wife and nine children he lived in a dugout until the Indian raid on the 14th day of August. He had lumber on the ground for the purpose of erecting a dwelling. As the militia, that had been formed to protect the settlers, rode up the building burst into flames. They could get no water as the Indians had cut the well rope, and their dugout and its contents, including the lumber on the ground were destroyed. A large can of kerosene was supposed to have been poured over things which aided them in burning more rapidly. The family of E.J. Fowler was with the Shafers' when they discovered the band of marauders roaming around, and, knowing there was immediate danger, threw a supply of bedding and provisions into a wagon, huddled together in the one vehicle and drove rapidly away. As they did so they saw five Indians approaching and the fire was the result of the latters' visit to the dugout. The two families joined the stockade at Minneapolis, thankful to have escaped with their lives. Mr. Shafer lost property to the amount of $1,200, including a horse stolen by the redskins. This was a severe blow to the family's prospects, and it was several years ere Mr. Shafer regained what he lost in the raid. Later the settlers established another stockade on Gilbert creek, where they would club together, plant and till their crops and return to the place of safety at night.
Mr. Shafer was married, October, 1848, to Laura Belcher. They lived forty-eight years and seven months of happy wedded life together, and to this union fourteen children were born, all but one of whom are living, - ten daughters and three sons, - viz.: Alpha J., wife of J.G. Lancaster, a farmer and stockman of Lincoln county; Eliza Ann is her father's housekeeper, and is an industrious and excellent woman; Mary Lovina, wife of J. Harshbarger, a farmer and stockman of Lincoln county; Susan Helen, died at the age of five years in Iowa; Lucy Elmira, wife of W.P. Doty, a farmer of Cloud county; Olive Adell, wife of J.R. Clarke, a farmer, stockman and railroad man, and at the present time depot agent at Milo, Lincoln county, Kansas; George Washington; Rachel Irene, wife of J.B. Sage, an extensive farmer and stockman of Lyon township; Emma Lucretia, wife of O.C. Harris, a miner of Jamestown, Colorado; Frances Arvilla, wife of A.C. Greeley, a farmer near Longmont, Colorado; Oliva Amadella, wife of W.M. Clark, a farmer and stockman near Delphos (Mrs. Clark was the first child of the family born in Kansas); Laura Luna, wife of E.C. Greely, a miller of Goldhill, Colorado: William Henry, a farmer of Lincoln county, Kansas, married Emma Jones; John Freeman, the youngest child, is a farmer and married Bertha Diehuel.
The Shafers were members of the Congregational church, but when they settled in Iowa the church of their choice did not exist there and they joined the Methodist Episcopal church. After locating in Kansas they joined the congregation of United Brethren. It became disorganized and they united with the Christian church, and are regular attendants and active workers.
By the death of Mr. Shafer a long and useful life has been brought to a close. He was a man of many admirable traits of character. He lived an honorable life of four score and four years ere he joined the hosts of the unknown where many of the snowy-headed pioneers have gone on before, and where his wife preceded him on June 7, 1898. He was a devoted friend of every good cause and in his passing the community lost one of its most highly respected citizens.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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