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Notes for John Christian Schafer and Maria Louisa Klink

Notes from Jack (John Francis) Schafer, Ottawa, Kansas, 3-7-1993 (edited and typed, 3-29-2003): Today we have driven from Dalhart, Texas, thus from one end of Kansas to the other. Fourteen months ago we made a similar trip from Elkhart, KS--on highway 56 while today mostly on highway 54. These are part of our several recent annual trips from Minnesota to spend the winters in California. I think back on the many trips around Kansas when we lived here, just over 20 years ago, including some presence in all 105 counties.

But I also think much further back to when Grandfather and Grandmother Schafer homesteaded in north central Kansas in 1872. One may be on a horse, maybe walking, or possibly in a wagon. What do you look for in choosing land? How far can you go? When do you make a decision as to where you may live the rest of your life or look further for something possibly better?

I guess the first thing is reasonably good looking land--no soil testing lab nearby. Maybe even more important is access to water. Who knows when you might dig or drill a well? Certainly a little stream going by and smooth, grassy land without obvious rocks would seem great.

It now seems almost capricious that a couple from southwestern Germany--near Stuttgart--would spend most of their adult lives and raise a family on a farm in Jewell County in north central Kansas. What factors provided motivation and led to various decisions?

I believe both grandfather and grandmother were born at Nellmersbach, near Stuttgart, he in 1839, she in 1850. Grandmother immigrated as a child with her family, the Klinks, in the mid-1850s. They came through New Orleans, apparently in the midst of an epidemic, possibly malaria, yellow fever, or even cholera. I am not aware that they were affected. They proceeded up the Mississippi and then the Missouri to St. Joseph where they had relatives, and settled there.

Grandfather must have come about the same time, but by himself, as a teen-ager. He came from the same place there to the same place here where they apparently had intermarried relatives. By 1861, Grandfather was 22 years old. He served in the Union Army, likely through the full period of the Civil War. As far as I know he stayed in the Missouri area, possibly in the battle of Wilson Creek.

After the war, he went west and prospected. Two of his younger brothers then immigrated, and the three may have prospected together. After some years of this, grandfather returned to St. Joe to marry and settle down. He must have searched for the homestead during 1870 or 1871, likely by foot. He settled for land in Jewell Co, in the northern tier of counties along the Nebraska state line. It was about four miles west of Jewell City, along Brown's Creek. This provided him with water. I believe that he spent much of the winter in a dugout along the bank of the creek. Almost a century later, when my Dad visited us in Manhattan, Joyce and I took him out there and we explored the banks of the creek, with Dad reminiscing about his childhood there.

Just when or how a house was built, I am unaware. In any case, Grandfather returned to St. Joe where he and Grandmother were married on February 18, 1872. (Dad was born on this date 12 years later, the third of five sons.) Following their wedding, they proceeded by wagon to their claim in Kansas. From my experience, they could have had bright, sunny beautiful Kansas winter days or they could have had snow and rain, or they could have had all of these on the trip from St. Joe to Jewell. Having driven across Kansas in March of this year and January of last year I know that these could be cool but very nice days. I even recall one day in late February when we lived in Kansas that it got up to a record 88 F. Although lovely today (March 7), we saw many residual snow banks along the road in southwestern Kansas.

Census Notes:
1880 Census, Calvin Township, Jewell County, Kansas: John Schaffer (age 40, farmer) with wife Mary L. (age 29, housekeeping) and son Charles F. (age 5, at school) (John and Mary and their parents born in Wurtemberg, Charles born in Kansas)

1900 Census, Calvin Township, Jewell County, Kansas: John Schafer (age 60, born July 1839 in Germany, married 28 years, year of immigration 1854, farmer, both parents born in Germany) with wife Mary L. (age 49, born Sep 1850 in Germany, married 28 years, both parents born in Germany, 6 children, 5 living), sons Charles (age 25, born Nov 1874 in Kansas, farmer), William (age 20, born June 1880 in Kansas, farmer), Edwin (age 16, born Feb 1884 in Kansas, at school), Benjamin (age 11, born Aug 1888 in Kansas, at school), Raymond W. (age 10, born Jan 1891 in Kansas, at school), and nieces Gertrude (age 18, born Dec 1881 in Missouri) and Matah (age 14, born Oct 1885 in Missouri, at school) Schaeffer. 

1910 Census, Calvin Township, Jewell County, Kansas: John Schafer (age 70) with wife Mary L. (age 59, married 38 years, 6 children, 5 living) (both born in Germany with parents born in Germany) and sons Benjamin H. (age 21) and Raymond (age 19), both farm laborers born in Kansas. 

1920 Census, Jewell City, Jewell County, Kansas: J.C. Schafer (age 80) with wife Marie L. (age 69) and brother-in-law Cris F. (age 71). Date of immigration 1954 for all three, date of naturalization 1863 for J.C. and 1856 for Marie and Cris. Cris is a laborer with the city. 

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