First Families of Huron County, Ohio (Pioneers) - Marjean Holmes Workman # 166

    ELIAS SHAFER, son of Lambert Schafer Jr. and Sophia Lemm was born 22 November 1808 in Sharon, Schoharie County, New York.1 He was baptized as Elias Schafer on 3 March 1809 at the St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church of New Rhinebeck, Town of Sharon, with his parents named as Lambert and Soffia Schafer. His parents also acted as the sponsors.2 He died sometime after 22 January 1881, when he transferred property to two of his daughters.3 His death probably occurred in Marion County, Illinois since this is where he was living at the time of the land transfer.
    Elias was a true pioneer, qualifying and being entered as an ancestor for First Families of Huron County, Ohio, First Families of Allen County, Indiana and First Families of Paulding County, Ohio.
    He married first ANN MARIA BENTLEY, daughter of William Bentley and Lydia Parker, on 31 December 1829 in Huron County, Ohio.4 She was born 2 February 1812 in Sparta, Ontario (now Livingston) County, New York.5 She died, in Adams Township, Allen County, Indiana, 9 October 1841.6 In the Whitney Burial Ground, section 6, Jefferson Township, Allen County, Indiana is a small footstone type marker with the initials A.M.S. near stones for the Bell family.7 It is possible that A.M.S. is Ann Maria Shafer since they did own land in Jefferson Township near this cemetery , and her brother Morgan Bentley, and his family are buried there.
Elias married secondly; 13 April 1842 in Allen County, Indiana to SEVENIA (HOLMES) NORBON OR NORTON.8 Sevenia was born in December 1807 in Pennsylvania9 and died 17 March 1878 probably in Marion County, Illinois. She is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Kinmundy, Marion County.10 It is unknown if Elias is buried next to her, but no gravestone exists for him in this cemetery, and apparently even Sevenia's is now gone.
    Elias and Ann Maria cannot be found in the 1830 census, although it is probable they were living in Wakeman Township, Huron County, Ohio with William and Lydia Bentley, parents of Ann Maria. They may have continued to live with the Bentleys until they could afford to purchase their own farm. In 1836 the Shafers sold the land they owned in Huron County, and it seems likely that they moved to Indiana not long after. We might speculate they moved to Allen County, Indiana due to the Wabash and Erie Canal, the first ground being broken for it in Fort Wayne in 1832.
Elias and Ann Maria purchased their first land in Allen County on 20 January 1838. Soon after, Elias entered the hotel business, building a hotel on a lot he purchased in New Haven.
    "The site of New Haven as it was platted first occupied a section of woods know as "Gundy's Deadening" a man named Gundy having once undertaken the clearing of the tract by the method popularly employed by the settlers..... Great prosperity was expected for the new town owing to its location on the canal, and a hotel was erected by Elias Shafer, and not far away, the first store was opened by Henry Shafer.”12

Elias sold this hotel lot in 1843, but continued to live in Allen County until the 1850 census. Soon after the census was taken he moved the family across the border to Paulding County, Ohio where they became one of the early settlers of Paulding.
    "Among other early settlers in the township {Paulding] the following may be mentioned: William Haney, Elias Shafer, Eber Bamhouse, Fielding Hughes, Byron Norton, Bennett Savage, Joseph Cable, T. W. French, Philip W. Hardesty, Nephalian Gregory, Jacob Long, Daniel Kaufman, Thomas Gregory, Theodore Merchant, Amos F. Hardesty, and Levi M. Barnes..... The organization of the township took place 1851, and the first election was held the same year in the school house in Paulding.....At this election seventeen votes were cast; only a part of their names can be given;  these are John Fisher, Ethan Burwell, T.S. Latty, Elias Shafer James Chaney, Theodore Merchant, and William Haney…Elias Shafer built the first grist mill in the township in 1855. It was a small frame building with one run of buhr stones, and was situated on Crooked Creek in the village of Paulding. It was run by water-power but is no longer in operation..... The first house in Paulding was built by Elias Shafer in 1851. It was a double logged cabin, and stood on the southwest comer of Jackson and Water streets. Two terms of court were held in it, prior to the building of a Court House."13
Almost the same text appears in a later county history on Paulding Township - also naming Elias Shafer as an early settler, as voting in the first election in 1851 and it adds,
    "The first grist mill in the township [Paulding] was built by Elias Shafer in 1855. It was located on Flat Rock, at the foot of what is now South Main street in Paulding. It was a small frame, with one run of buhrs; was operated for a few years and then went to decay. Portions of the old dam and frame of the building are yet to be seen, and are pointed out to the visitor as pioneer relics of a now thriving and bustling village."14
"The county seat is near the center of the county and where it should be. Upon the removal of the seat of justice to Paulding a few log cabins were hastily constructed for the occupation of the county officers. The first house erected was a double logged, one-story cabin, on the present site of Dr. Flavein's residence and was built by Elias Shafer.  In this cabin two terms of court were held, prior to the building of a court house. It was afterward occupied for several years by T. W. French as a residence.  Among the first frame buildings erected were the Exchange Hotel by Isaiah Richards on the site of the present Thompsen House, the Paulding House, by John Crosson, Mrs. B. Savage's residence, on the comer of Main and Jackson St. and a building standing on the bank of Flat Rock, a few rods above the old bridge"15
"The pioneer merchant of Paulding was Elias Shafer.  About the year 1857 he opened a small general store in the front part of his dwelling, which stood on the present site of J.B. Brodnix's residence.”16
    Note that the Paulding House mentioned above was later run by Elias and Sevenia. In addition to being a miller, merchant and hotelkeeper, Elias was a gunsmith in the town of Paulding. Perhaps he considered this his true profession, for in all census records after 1850 he is named as a gunsmith. Elias Sharer appears in the book Gunsmiths of Ohio 18th and 19th Centuries, Volume One, by Donald A. Hutslar. I have spoken to Mr. Hutslar and he confirms that the information in the book about Elias, previous to his appearance in Paulding County, Ohio, is incorrect.

    About 1876, Elias and Sevenia Shafer, along with their only son, Christopher and his family, moved to Marion County, Illinois.


1"Baptism of Elias Schafer, " 3 March 1809, St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church Records, New Rhinebeck, Town of Sharon, Schoharie County, New York 1802.1854. Transcribed by the Montgomery County Department of History and Archives in 1956. FHL Microfilm No.0185480. Photocopy in possession of the author.

2 ibid.

3 "Deed of Sale from Elias Shafer to Amanda M. Pursel and Anna R. Savage, " 22 January 1881 ( recorded 17 February 1881 ), Paulding County, OH, Deed BK 29:207-208. Photocopy in possession of the writer.

4"Marriage Record of Elias Shafer to Ann Maria Bently," 31 December 1829, Huron County, Ohio Marriage Records 1:115, FHL Microfilm No.041 0258. Photocopy in possession of the author.

5Dr. F.E. Weeks, History of Wakeman Township. Huron County, Ohio. (n.p.: n. pub, ca. 1917), p. 57. A photocopy supplied to the author by Henry Timman.

6 ibid.

7 Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana, Adams. Jefferson Township Cemeteries. (Fort Wayne, Indiana: Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana, 1983), p. 216. Abstract supplied by Margery M. Graham, 13431 Ernst Road, Roanoke, IN 46783-9651, in letter to author, August 1991. This Bellfamily is related to James Bell, husband of Eveline (Bentley) Bell, a sister to Ann Maria.

8 "Marriage Record of Elias Shafer to Sevenia Norbon or Norton, " 13 Apri11842, Allen County, IN Marriage Records 1 :07 Printed Copy, FHL Microfilm No. 1266725. The marriage record gives her name as Norbon or Norton, but the children by this marriage list their mother as Sevenia Holmes. It is likely that her maiden name was Holmes and that she was married previously. No children are yet known to have existed from this previous marriage to Norbon or Norton.

9 The 1850, 1860 and 1870 census list her birth in Pennsylvania.

10 Richard Jackson to author, 16 August 1991. Original in possession of writer.

12--------, History of Allen County. Indiana. (n.p.: n. pub., n. date), p. 599. Photocopy supplied to author by Allen County Library, August 1977.

13 H.H. Hardesty & Company, Publishers, Historical Atlas Illustrated, History of Northwestern Ohio and History of Paulding County, Ohio (Chicago and Toledo: H.H. Hardesty and Co., Publishers, 1882), pp. 215-216. Photocopy in possession of author.

14  0. Morrow and F. W. Bashore, comp., Historical Atlas of Paulding County. Ohio. Containing Maps of Paulding County, Township, Town and Villages, (Madison, Wisconsin: The Western Publishing Company, 1892, Reprinted for the John Paulding Historical Society in 1978 by Taylor Publishing Company Dallas, Texas), p. 19.

                15 ibid., p. 32.

                16 0. Morrow and F. W. Bashore, comp., Historical Atlas of Paulding County. Ohio. Containing Maps of Paulding County, Township. Town and Villages, (Madison, Wisconsin: The Western Publishing Company, 1892, Reprinted for the John Paulding Historical Society in 1978 by Taylor Publishing Company Dallas, Texas), p. 24.