Hiram Q. Shaffer

Hiram Q. Shaffer was a son of George Shaffer. The family of George Shaffer was entwined with ours, living beside them in Van Buren County, Iowa, and a possible relation married with our family. They and family and neighbors had a kind of exodus from Harrison County, Ohio to Iowa in the late 1840s, another group of relations and neighbors moving a state further over to the Great Nemaha Reserve in Nebraska.

The Shaffers are found in several Van Buren, Iowa censuses beside our Hackneys.

Posted by Fran Hunt to Van Buren Rootsweb Forum, May 19 2000. From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890.


Hiram Q. Shaffer, a pioneer settler of Van Buren County, engaged in farming on Section 27, Lick Creek Township, has lived at his present home since 1846, and from a forty-acre farm it has been increased until now three hundred and forty-three acres pay tribute to his care and cultivation.

A native of Ohio, Mr. Shaffer was born in Harrison County, March 21, 1826, and is a son of George and Margaret Shaffer. His paternal grandfather John Shaffer, was a native of Germany, and died in Van Buren County, Iowa, October 17, 1851. His father, George Shaffer, was born in Pennsylvania, where he grew to manhood, receiving a good education. He served as Lieutenant in the War of 1812, and was present at Commodore Perry’s victory. Leaving his native state, he removed to Ohio, where he became acquainted with and married Miss Margaret Saltzgiver, a native of Adams County Pennsylvania. They began their domestic life in Harrison County, Ohio, where Mr. Shaffer engaged in farming in connection with work at his trade if carpentering. In 1845 he came to the Territory of Iowa, bringing with him his family and his aged father. Making a location in Lick Creek Township, he entered a quarter section of land form the Government, which in consequence was in its primitive condition, not a furrow having been turned or an improvement made, but he built a cabin thereon, and as week by week passed the amount of improved land grew, until at length a finely cultivated farm supplied the wants of his family. Thirty years it continued to be his home, and he then sold out to his son, removing across the Des Moines River to Pittsburg, where his last days were spent, his death occurring on May 18, 1875. His good wife had died on July 16 of the previous year. They were the parents of nine children, five sons, and four daughters: Mary, widow of William Pickens, of Wapello County; Hiram, of this sketch; Henry, of Oregon: John is living in Kansas; Jane, whose home is in Jacksonville; Jacob and Peter, who reside in Kansas; Mrs. Elizabeth Bergen of Texas; and Matilda, deceased. The father of this family was a faithful member and active worker in the Lutheran Church, in which he served as elder of many years. While living in Ohio, he served as Justice of the Peace for nine years, and filled the same office two terms in Van Buren County. He was first a Whig, and then a Republican, and took an active interest in political affairs, being an influential member of the county conventions. His sagacity and good judgment made him a successful businessman, and an upright life won him the confidence of all, so that his work was as readily received as his bond.

We now take up the personal history of our subject, who upon his father’s farm in Ohio was reared to manhood, and in the subscription schools of that day was educated. He had attained to mature years when he came to Iowa, and for some time after his arrival he worked as a farm hand, but in 1851, began life for himself. On May 5, 1853, he married Miss Nancy Johnson, who was born in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania on March 16, 1835, and is a daughter of John and Catherine Johnson, who removed with their family from Ohio to Iowa in 1836. Her father was a native of Ireland. She has two brothers living, but the other members of her family are now deceased.

After his marriage, Mr. Shaffer settled upon a rented farm near Kilbourn, which he operated two years. During that time, by the practice of industry and economy, he accumulated a small capital with which he purchased forty acres of raw land. He had first to clear away the brush before he could erect a house, and the land all had to be broken, but a short time sufficed to work a complete transformation, and in the years which have since come and gone, the boundaries of his farm have been extended until now his landed possessions, aggregate three hundred and forty-three acres. He is also engaged quite extensively in stock raising, breeding a good grade of horses. The greater part of his farm products he feeds to his stock, which fact alone shows that his business in that line is not very limited.

Mr. and Mrs. Shaffer have no children of their own, but have reared an adopted son Stephen, who was born January 23, 1867. He has been an inmate of their family since he was six weeks old, good educational advantages were afforded him, and he has received all the care and attention of an own child. They are also rearing a girl, Eva, now thirteen years old. Mr. Shaffer is a progressive and enterprising citizen, and manifests an interest in all that pertains to the welfare and building up of the county. The cause of education finds in him a special friend, and he served as Treasurer and President of the School Board until he would no longer accept the office. He cast his first Presidential vote for Zachary Taylor, and was a supporter of the Whig party until the rise of the Republican Party, when he joined its ranks.

Forty years have come and gone since Mr. Shaffer’s arrival in Van Buren County. When he came to Iowa, the flourishing city of Ottumwa contained but two houses and a blacksmith shop. Wild deer were yet plentiful, and the Indians in many localities were far more numerous that the whit settlers. Although hardship and trials attended the establishment of a home in a new community, many of the citizens of Van Buren County today would give much for the honor of being numbered among its pioneers.

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