Posts Tagged Terre Haute

52 Ancestors: Week 9 – Solomon Shaffer

Mar 1st, 2014 Posted in Shaffer and Zirkle Descendants | no comment »

For the first blog of #52Ancestors on my new site, I thought I would try a new idea. Much of my work in school right now centers around the Shaffer cemetery in Terre Haute, Champaign county, OH. Many of my Digital Humanities blog posts will be about this cemetery, I am writing a paper that includes this cemetery, and I am about to embark on a journey to try to get this cemetery restored. So I think for the next 30-31 weeks, I will blog each week about someone buried in the Shaffer cemetery, and how they are related to each other and to me.

Shaffer Cemetery by Craig Shaffer

Shaffer Cemetery by Craig Shaffer

Last week I blogged about Noah Zirkle and I truly believe he and his wife Lydia are buried in this cemetery, and I hope to find them along this journey. It’s only fitting, then, that I start with Solomon Shaffer, as I believe the cemetery is located on what was once his land. (Waiting for a copy of the deed that will confirm this…)

Solomon Shaffer was the youngest son of Jacob Shaffer and Otillia (Odilla, Otilla) Schmid. Jacob Shaffer was born and raised in Germany, and came to America as a small boy and settled in Berks County, PA. Otillia was his third wife. They were married in PA, and at some point moved to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. I’ll blog about them more in depth after I finish the people in the Shaffer cemetery.

Solomon (my 4th great grandfather) was born 7 April 1791 in New Market, Shenandoah, Virginia. He was baptized in the Old Pine Church on 29 May, 1791, and his sponsors were Johannes Bord and his wife Catherine. (Source: Wust, Klaus, Old Pine Church Baptisms 1783-1828 p. 20) I don’t know much about his childhood, but I know that the Shaffer, Zirkle, and Roush families lived near each other and I hope to explore that a bit more in depth at some point. Many of the Shaffer, Zirkle, and Roush men served together during the Revolutionary War, and these three families were very tightly interwoven by marriage.

In the early part of 1800, some of these family members headed west to Ohio. Abraham Zirkle (another 4th great grandfather, mentioned here) was a pioneer in what would become German, Clark county, Ohio. Solomon married Sarah Zirkle, the daughter of Abraham’s brother George and his wife Catherine Roush. They were married in Shenandoah on 18 September 1816. On the 1820 and 1830 Shenandoah county census they were still living there. According to several sources, at some point in the mid 1800s more of the Shaffer, Zirkle, and Roush families along with friends and neighbors, packed up in their wagons and went to the Ohio wilderness. Most settled right on the border between what is today Clark and Champaign counties.

According to Early Settlers of Champaign County and Surrounding Areas Vol 1 by Pat Stickley and June Kiser of the CCGS,  Feb 2000, Zirkle Pioneers of Terre Haute:

“In 1829 David Miller with a group of Virginia families, John Good, Abram Zerkle and Soloman Shaffer came in a four horse conestoga wagon and all settled near Terre Haute. Soloman Shaffer had 100 acres within a half mile of Terre Haute just southwest of town. Abram Zerkle’s 110 acres adjoined Shaffer on the west. John Good had a quarter section just east of town which later became part of the town. There are two other Zerkles, George and Jacob, who according to deed records owned farms in the immediate neighborhood and at the same time. I am at a loss to tell whether all were brothers or father and sons. Abraham Zerkle sold one-fourth acre in 1847 for a site of the Lutheran church. There is a Zerkle cemetery on the Abram Zerkle farm and a Shaffer cemetery on the Soloman Shaffer land. Another called the Rouze cemetery adjoins the southwest part of town. This land was owned by John, Levi and James Rouze, all of it in section 25 just west of town.” (Source: Ancestry.com) -I  take this 1829 date with a grain of salt, the 1830 census still has Solomon and Sarah living in VA; and other sources say these families all moved in 1850.

Solomon and Sarah had the following children:

Helena (1818-1899)
Lydia (1820-unknown) – married Noah Zirkle
Jonathan (1822-1905)
Samuel (1824-unknown)
Reuben (1826-1908)
Rebecca (1828-1914)
Catherine (1830-unknown – she might be the Sarah Catherine buried in Shaffer cemetery, I will check that out when I get to Sarah Catherine)
Joseph (1834-1868)

There is a mention of Solomon, Sarah, and several of their children in Evan Middleton’s 1917 publication, History of Champaign County, Ohio, Its People, Industries and Institutions (Indianapolis : B.F. Bowen, 1917), found here on page 500 in his discussion of the Zerkle Lutheran Church. He stated that they left Abraham’s church and formed another church (and from his description it sounds like it was on Solomon’s property) in 1848 in “connection with the joint synod of Ohio.” Among the names he lists are Solomon and Sarah and their children Reuben, Jonathan, Samuel, and Noah and Lydia Zirkle. Because Middleton only lists first names, and many of these families named their children the same thing, I cannot be certain that the Reuben, Jonathan and Samuel are the same as the Reuben, Jonathan, and Samuel that were Solomon and Sarah’s children, but there’s a very strong likelihood that is the case. Why wouldn’t they follow their parents? At any rate, by the time of Middleton’s publication, that church had disbanded and the building was being used as a barn. Abraham Zerkle’s Lutheran church would go on until the 1980s!

Anyway, from 1840-1860, the Mad River township, Champaign County, OH censuses showed Solomon and Sarah living there and farming until Solomon passed away on 22 March, 1865. He is buried in the Shaffer cemetery. Sarah followed him in death 4 years later.

Visualizing and Mapping Cemeteries

Feb 23rd, 2014 Posted in Public History | no comment »

Initially I was agonizing over this project. I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to express it exactly (even after reading the first four chapters of The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship – Bodenhamer, David; John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris). I found a pay site called www.namesinstone.com but since it’s pay for use, I couldn’t decide whether their format is useful or not for mapping cemeteries. Supposedly they have software you can use to map any cemetery. So that didn’t help with my idea, which follows:

Eventually this is something I’d like to do on a larger scale (meaning, lots and lots of cemeteries – a big project [as opposed to the definition of scale in GISci, referred to on p. 33 of the aforementioned book]), but I will start with three cemeteries that I have spent way too much time trying to analyze and understand from far away and using only the resources I can dig up online and here and there. They all reside within a few miles of each other in the township of Mad River, Champaign county, Ohio. Two are family cemeteries and have not had burials in over 100 years, and the third is still used today. My ancestors from this county are buried between the three. One is the Zerkle Cemetery, off Coffin Station Road and Thackery. (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 40.0428363 and Longitude: -83.8979884) The next is about 1/2 mile away, the Shaffer Cemetery, same cross streets. (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 40.0467251 and Longitude: -83.8849324) The final cemetery is the township cemetery, Terre Haute Cemetery, off Storms Creek/55. (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 40.0522805 and Longitude: -83.8807657).

I have lists of burials from the Shaffer and Zerkle cemeteries from the DAR, the WPA, the Champaign County Genealogical Society, Find-a-Grave, BillionGraves, FamilySearch, US GenWeb, and probably other places. For Terre Haute, I haven’t spent much time on it. It is maintained by the Mad River Township Trustees, so I assume I can acquire a list from them. If not, I know there are several of the former sources that have a listing for Terre Haute, I’d just have to take into consideration the time frame the list is from, since there are still on-going burials in the cemetery. My idea is to create a database of all these lists that first reveals differences between the lists (who’s missing, etc); and then create a map of the location of each burial ~ which will reveal (hopefully) who is missing and where there are gaps in the burials.

I wasn’t sure how to do this but then I found a website discussing a 4-H project done in Iowa for a computer company to develop cemetery mapping software. (See here for the full story and pictures. ) The kids plotted the GPS coordinates and three months later found out that was not what the company wanted. They then had to go back and start over, with the help of their county GIS coordinator. They had to create shape files, use aerial photography, and it took them 5 years to complete the first section of the cemetery.

That being said, I realized my little Ohio project is not something that 1) I can accomplish before mid March or 2) that I can accomplish unless I physically go to Ohio., because in all these cemetery lists there are no designations or coordinates for the exact locations for the burials. So for this phase of the project, I need to pick a local cemetery. My first thought was the Pioneer Cemetery in Phoenix.  I know they have been taking photographs of their cemetery – they were doing that the last time I was there – but am not certain for what purpose. I guess I can get in touch with them and propose my idea. I think that I will have to take a much smaller piece to work with to get it done in time. But as far as what this will tell me, I really don’t know, as I am not familiar with the cemetery other than I’ve been there before. I don’t know what records they might have, or whether they’d even be interested in something like this.  Second choice, if they are not interested, I thought possibly of All Faiths Memorial Park in Tucson. This will be a little harder to do, due to distance, but I thought it might be interesting to map the Our Lady of the Desert mausoleum. I’m sure THAT has never been done! But I’m pretty sure I have no idea what that would tell me. I could create a virtual tour of the mausoleum though, it’s not very big. I at least would find that interesting, as my parents are buried there; not sure if anyone else would.

Anyway, I will hopefully be working on getting the Ohio version of this project off the ground over this summer. Wish me luck.