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Schaefers Here, Schaefers There, Schaefers Everywhere

by Betty Miley Ashley


I could not have chosen any more common names than were dealt to me in my ancestry. My four grandparents possessed the names of SCHAEFER (shepherd), MUELLER (a miller of grain), MILEY (which js a contraction of MEIER with the Swiss diminutive ending "Ii", dairy farmer) and PULLEN (chicken farmer). When I first began researching my Volga German granddad's surname line I discovered that there were GR colonies with almost entire populations of SCHAEFER families!

At the present time (January 1999), I know of six SCHAEFER families (connections to each other unknown) who came to America from Wiesenmuller. I shall explain what is known to me about the following groups:

(#1) JOHN SCHAFFER, born 11 June 1868 Wiesenmuller, died 6 Nov 1960, Fresno, California.

(#2) ELISABETH SCHAFFER, born 24 Aug 1874 Wiesenmuller, died 13 Jan 1937, Bison, Kansas.

(#3) JOHN GEORGE SCHAFER, born 16 June 1877, Friedenberg, died 18 July 1923, Delta, Colorado.

(#4) GEORGE HENRY SCHAFER born 1880, Wiesenmuller, died 1960, Portland, Oregon.

(#5) JOHANN CHRISTIAN SCHAFER born 6 Jan 1873, Gnadenthau, died 1947, Greeley, Colorado.

(#6) JOHN JACOB SCHAFER, born 22 Apr 1866, Kratzke, died 14 Oct 1939, Bison, Kansas.

When Fred George SCHAFER (son of #4 George Henry above) first wrote to me, he said, "If your SCHAFERs had not lived in Colorado, and mine had not lived in Portland, I would think they were the same family, because the names!" Get your aspirin ready as you hear of the attempts to sort and find relationships. Perhaps something will ring a bell, and if so, please let me know!

Knowledge of the first named JOHN SCHAFFER (#1 above) was found in Fresno County, California Records: Petition for Naturalization submitted in 1953. The record showed that John was a retired farmer, born Wiesenmuller. He was 85 years old, complexion ruddy, eyes blue, hair grey, height five feet 5112 inches, weight 170 pounds. He had lost the end of his left thumb to the first joint. He had married on 2 Nov 1895 at Wiesenmuller, MARGARET FLOHR who was born 25 July 1878 at Mergel / Merkel, Samara, Russia. They entered the United States at Philadelphia on16 April 1911 under the name of Johann SCHAFER on the vessel S.S. Friesland. He had one child, EMANUEL SCHAFFER, born 27 April 1907 who resided in 1953 in Fresno, California.

His son, EMANUEL SCHAFFER, resided in Kerman, California at the time of his application for citizenship in 1936.

He was also a farmer. He stated that he was born in "Magritzka" Russia. (The Russian name for village Frank was Medweditza, the closest I could find to the village name stated by Emanuel.) According to the description, Emanuel was of fair complexion, grey eyes, light. brown hair, height 5 feet 9 inches, weight 160.pounds. He had married KATHERINE WILT on 28 Dec 1926 in Fresno, California. She had been born in Fresno. on 31 May 1909. He said that his last foreign address was "Vezamiller, Russia.” ·He entered the United States as his father had declared.

He had two children by 1936. They were .ANNA MAE.SCHAFFER who was born 5 July 1927 in Kerman, California and WILMA E. SCHAFFER born 28 ApriI 1932,.also in Kerman. Witnesses to the declaration were KATHARJNA SCHAFFER (his wife), and PHILLIP ENGELMAN (his brother-in-law who was married to Katharine's sister.)

Emanuel died 5 Dec 1984. I spoke to him only one time- about 1975. His grandparents were JOHANN and MARGARET BROWN SCHAFER. The grandfather had died in Russia as a young father of three children; two had died. The grandmother had remarried to one Herr HOOP. She died in Wiesenmuller.

In America, John and Margaret FLOHR SCHAFFER first went to Scottsbluff, Nebraska where Margaret's father lived, But after a terrible tornado in 1912, the family of three came on to Fresno, California, where other FLOHR relatives lived. The STUCKERT family from Wiesenmuller were very close friends. JOHN SCHAFFER died 6 Nov 1960 and MARGARET FLOHR SCHAFFER died 3 July 1956. Emanuel's wife, KATHARINE, died in Fresno on 8 June 1992.