Friday, February 10, 2017

Harshbarger line: Johan Niclaus Shaffer, Immigrant 1674-1758

Sometimes when I think of what our ancestors went through, it is almost more than I can bear.  I wonder if they thought they were having it really tough, or if they just took it one day and a time and trusted God for that day only.  One of these ancestors, or rather, two of them, are Johan Niclaus Shaffer and his wife, Maria Catharina Suder.  Both of those last names have many variant spellings, it seems, so don't be disturbed if what you find isn't what I wrote.  It could very well be the same person. 

Johan Niclaus was born in Relsburg, Kusel, Rheinland-Pfalz; in the western part of what is now Germany.  This was a small village, but it is also where he found his wife, and where their children, Johann Michael, Anna Barbara, Caspar, Peter Nicholas, and Johan Jacob were born.  Shortly after Johan Jacob's birth, the family emigrated to New York.  The information I looked at does not clearly state whether this was part of the group that was sent at Queen Anne's direction, but they ended up at Livingston Manor and then Schoharie, N.Y., which is the route the impoverished immigrants sent at the Queen's direction took.  Johan Niclaus traveled with his two brothers, Johann Michael and Johann Friederich and their families, so at least they had someone to rely on in their difficulties.

The Shaffer's stuck it out in Schoharie for about 10 years, and then left-basically escaped-to Tulpihocken, Berks County, in Pennsylvania. This was about 250 miles through the wilderness, with wild animals, lack of supplies, and native Americans to worry about every step of the way.  It wasn't an easy trip but it appears that all the family members survived, which means the men of the party deserve great respect.  They must have been good leaders, and the women willing followers and help-meets.  They were some of the first settlers in Tulpehocken, although more and more families from Germany eventually settled there, too. 

The next fact I've been able to learn about Johann Niclaus is his death, in July of 1758.  He lived a long life, especially considering the hardships he faced.  It appears that his wife, Maria Catharina, died two years later, so she also had a long, if hard, life. 

I'd love to know more about this couple.  Where exactly did they live in Tulpehocken?  What religion were they, and what church did they attend?  Did they ever regret their decision to come to America, or were they content, knowing that they had given their children a chance for a better life than they would have had in the old country?  Did they learn English at all?

We might be able to find the answers to some of these questions, but some will remain a mystery.  What we do know is that this was a remarkable man. 

The line of descent is:

Johan Niclaus Shaffer-Anna Catherina Suder
Johan Jacob Shaffer-Maria Barbara Kobel
Anna Maria Shaffer-Jacob Whetstone
John Whetstone-Maria Magdalena
Catherine Whetstone-Henry Cook
William Cook-Elizabeth Brown
Barbara Cook-William Withers
William Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants