Sheaffer family heads west
The Sheaffer family has deep roots in South Central Pennsylvania dating to before the Revolutionary War. When they arrived, for the most part have never left. It has made my research easy as everything is in the same general location where I live and to which my ancestors lived, but one Sheaffer family decided to pull up stakes and go West to Kansas in 1878!
Jacob Sheaffer 1815-1897 and his family dared to make the move west to Kansas in 1878. I had heard for some time that there were Sheaffer families that had moved to Kansas in the 1800’s but never had any detailed information outside of the Census record of them in 1880. Kansas was where my 4th great-grandfather Henry Sheaffer had died and was buried. I had always wondered why would a man at the age of 63 who by all accounts had made a comfortable life farming and owning some 300 acres of land decide to pack it all up and move out west? I had thoughts of he and his family travelling in covered wagons making the trek to Kansas on trails and prairies as seen in the old western movies. I was soon to discover that they had planned this out well in advance along with several hundred persons and travelled as a colony by train! I had found an article in the Carlisle (Pa) Herald listing all the heads of families of this colony which included Jacob his wife and 5 of his children, 4 sons and a daughter whom all left Shippensburg, Pennsylvania on April 2, 1878.
Jacob in the 3 years preceding trip was selling off his land most of which was bought by his remaining son John Wesley Sheaffer in what appears to be a well thought out plan to move west. They would eventually locate to Ness City, Kansas and according to a grand-daughter’s recollections in a letter in her later years they Jacob and sons lived off the land in makeshift huts in the center of the land they ought and worked it until they could afford to build homes. They eventually prospered to where Jacob became the postmaster of the town and would remain there the rest of his life where he died in 1896. He lost one son in 1887 out there while all but one of the remaining children would all move back to Pennsylvania. Somewhere around 1880 my 4th great grand-father Henry Sheaffer and his son William Henry Sheaffer had moved out there as well. Henry died that year at age 70 and sometime later William Henry located to Los Angeles where he died in 1897. His familiy would re-locate to Washington State and settle there. I really have to admire the strength and resolve of these ancestors to make such a drastic lifestyle change in a faraway place. I don’t know if I could have the same willingness to make such a drastic change myself especially going to such unsettled area 1878 Kansas. Jacob Sheaffer’s wife Mary Gettel Sheaffer is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Ness City Kansas which I would also assume is where Jacob is buried as well.