Friday, January 31, 2014

52 Ancestors Week 5: Mary E. Shaffer Swartz (If that's really who you are!)

I am supposed to blog for class this week and I can't get my brain to focus on that topic. So to get myself in research mode (and to justify to myself and my husband why I'm doing genealogy and not my homework!), I am going to write this week's blog. (Last week I said I'd be early....oh well, such is the promise of a grad student!)

I've come back to this woman several times. I get frustrated and stop. But last week, when writing about her mother, Elizabeth Lambert, I came back to her. I managed a bit of clarity, and now I am putting it out to the digital world. (Refresher: Absolom Shaffer and Elizabeth Lambert are my 2nd great grandparents)

Based on the 1870 Mad River twp, Champaign, OH census, which lists "Mary E. Shaffer, 5," I know Mary was born approximately 1865, and she was born in Mad River, because I know her parents (Absolom Shaffer and Elizabeth Lambert) had been there since the 1850s. She's listed with them in 1870 and also listed with them in the 1880 census.

The next item is purely conjecture. This is a marriage license from Champaign county, of one Mary Ellen Shaffer to Cyrus E. Swartz in 1886. That would make her about 21, the record says Mary was not under 18, ok, it fits. But how I long for that 1890 census!!

Mary Ellen Shaffer and Cyrus Swartz mariage 24 Dec 1886 - from Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994
Champaign Marriage records 1884-1892 vol J

The reason I say the above is conjecture is because there's nothing there that tells me this Mary Ellen is the same as my Mary Ella/Ellen. I *do* know that this Mary Ellen 1864-1949, that married Cyrus E. Swartz, is buried here, in Newson cemetery, Christiansburg, Champaign, OH. Someone on links her to Absolom and Elizabeth as her parents.

There's a lot of information out there, and a lot of it is confusing and hard to sort through. There are a lot of family trees out there with incorrect information about this family as well. It might be strange to think that there may have been more than one Mary Ellen Shaffer in the area, but I think there is. Case in point: One tree has the following -- and I had to lay this all out visually to figure it out, so I am not saying this person is anything more than confused and maybe just hasn't looked at their tree objectively lately. 

On the overview page here are the issues:
Mary Ella Schaeffer, dau of Absolom Shaffer and Elizabeth Lambert
First issue:  Married in 1880 to Jacob Harry, and the following children:
1881-Lavina Pearl
1886-Wilber Forrest
1889-Paul William
1892-Frank S.
1897-Barbara Rebecca
Next issue: Married in 1881 to Lemuel Vanlandingham Clark
Last issue: Married in 1885 to Cyrus Edgar Swartz
- I am all for multiple marriages, but if she married Lemuel in 1881 why was she still having children until 1897 with Jacob Harry? If she married Cyrus in 1885, again, why was she still having children with Jacob Harry? I think Lemuel and Cyrus are married to a different Mary E Shaffer. 

Let's visit the censuses this person has:
1870: Mary Shaeffer, age 6, living in German, Clark, OH - Tremont Station. HOH: Adam Shaeffer, age 43. Other HH members (all Shaeffer): Catharine 36, Michael 19, Barbara 17, Elizabeth 15, Margaret 13, Catharine 10, Adam 9, George 7, Clara 1.
-  Ok, this is valid, perhaps this Mary Shaeffer went on to marry Jacob Harry. As far as my Mary Shaffer is concerned, this census is not the Mary E. Shaffer that is the daughter of Absolom and Elizabeth (Lambert) Shaffer. This, to me, is Mary Shaeffer, daughter of Adam and Catharine Shaffer.

1880: this person has the same 1880 census that I have, Mary E. Shaffer, age 15, living with Absolom and Elizabeth Shaffer in Mad River, Champaign, Ohio. Parents both born in Virginia.
- this is not the same person as the Mary in the 1870 census. Parents are different and born in different places.

1900: Marie Harry, age 35, living in Piqua, Miami, Ohio; married to Jacob Harry; her father b. PA, mother b. OH. Children are Perl, Wilbur, Paul, Frank and Barbara.
- Is this Marie/Mary the one from the 1870 census? I don't know.

1910: Mary A. Harry, age 46, living in Newberry, Miami, OH; wife of Jacob A Harry; her father b. PA, mother b. OH; children Wilbur, Paul, Frank, and Barbara.
- same as the 1900 census

1920: Mary Harry, age 57, in Newton, Miami, OH, wife of Jacob Harry, Frank living with them. 
- same as above

1930: Mary Shafer, age 66, living in Dearborn, Wayne, Michigan; widowed; her parents born in Ireland; and she is the mo-in-law of Edward E. Elder age 48, and Winnie E. Elder, age 39.
- likely not the same woman, why would she be Shafer again if she's widowed? And her parents were born in Ireland. So she doesn't match either of the other two Mary options. Likely this lady was Mary McCann or something and she married a Shafer.

So now what? I have three Mary possibilities. I desperately wanted this tree to be right, because they have pictures, and I have no pictures of anyone. However, likely those photos belong to the Mary that married Jacob Harry, and whoever her parents were. Maybe Adam and Catherine. But not Absolom and Elizabeth. (sniffle)

Well, it gets more complicated than that even. Several trees have Mary Ellen Shaffer married to Lemuel Vallendingham Clark in 1881. But he does not die until 1938, and goes on to marry a couple more times, according to the original tree I found. None of these trees have a source as to why they think Mary Ellen Shaffer married Lemuel V. Clark and no exact date. Not sure if that's true, and I really don't care. His obit is available at the Rutherford B. Hayes center, if I feel like looking into that more. Maybe I will, if only to see if it mentions Mary and what happened to their marriage. 

What do I know?

Well, I do know that on Jun 5, 1882, a daughter named Estella Eradia was born to Lemuel V. Clark and Mary Ellen Shaffer in Terre Haute, Champaign, Ohio. Some of the trees have her as Nevada Estella. Take a look at the birth record and tell me what you see. Maybe she changed her name later to Nevada. Either way, a baby was born to Lemuel and Mary.

And I do know for sure that the Mary Ellen Shaffer that is the mother of Nevada Estella is *MY* Mary Ellen Shaffer because of this:

 And this:

Charles and Sarah were Mary Ellen's siblings. Neither married. It stands to reason that Nevada E. Arbogast would be a relative. So why couldn't she be their niece? You might ask, why not Mary Ellen herself, if she didn't die until 1949? Well, I don't have an answer for that yet. 

Furthermore, Nevada Estella Arbogast died in 1933 at the age of 51. Her death record
lists her father as Cyrus Swartz and mother Mary E. Shaffer. Informant was her husband, L.A. Arbogast, so maybe he didn't know her father wasn't Cyrus. Plus:
- Nevada/Estella's birth record doesn't specifically state a last name. (all the other children listed on the page are listed with their last name. She's not. Hmmmm - perhaps her parents were not married?)
- If Mary and Lemuel were not married, and I can't find marriage record online (doesn't mean there isn't one), then it stands to reason that when she married Cyrus, he took over the fathering of Nevada/Estella. Either way, she was little when Mary and Cyrus married, so he was probably the father to her.

And while I was searching for some of these answers, WOOHOO - I found Mary's death record, and it proves that Mary Ellen Swartz, wife of Cyrus Swartz, was the daughter of Absolom Shaffer. 

Now I'm pretty convinced that my Mary Ellen Shaffer was one and the same as Mary Ellen who either married Lemuel V. Clark or at least had a child by him, and then married Cyrus Swartz and had a bunch of kids by him. Aren't you?

But here's a couple of miscellaneous items:
-There's a Fred Swartz that married a Mary Ellen. I ordered the obit for Mary Ellen from a newspaper, thinking maybe Cyrus E. Swartz was supposed to be Cyrus F. Swartz. Anyone researching him and want it? I haven't gotten it yet but I suppose it's on its way. 

It was a long shot and I figured it was not the right Mary but I tried anyway. But they also have Fred's estate paperwork, which can be yours for $40, go to the Rutherford B. Hayes site and search his name. When they gave me the price, I declined. That's bit much when I wasn't sure! Apparently it's a pretty big file. Cool for someone who is related to him!

Well, that's my story for this week. I feel like I really know Mary. Now I kind of want to research her kids, and the Arbogast family marries into the Shaffer family more than once, so I am interested in that tidbit too, but for now I don't have the time.  


  1. Jenn, I have some Swartz and Zirkles that married into my family. Don't know if they are related to Mary's in-laws or any of your Zirkles. The Zirkles are through an uncle by marriage, but the Swartz line married at least one direct ancestor.

  2. Hi Paul! That would be interesting. I'd love to find some of Mary's descendants! :)