John and Harriet (Craig) Shaffer

Let me begin this post by screaming, “Help me!” The information I have on John Shaffer and Harriet Craig is limited. Information has been hard to come by, but I’m hopeful that someone has the information (documented) that I need to move on with this family.

My information began with the two names John Shaffer and Harriet Craig, parents of Peter Shaffer. Harriet Craig was noted as being the daughter of John and Mary “Polly” (Unknown) Craig. That’s all the information in the family papers. No birth dates or locations. The only thing my father-in-law could add was that he “thought” Mary (Unknown) Craig was from Maryland, but the others were all from Pennsylvania.

He did tell me that Peter had a sister named Martha Jane who married Nancy M.J. Beatty’s brother William James Beatty.

Based on this limited information and the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census records, I can put together the following family group.1,2,3

John Shaffer born abt. 1815 in Pennsylvania
Harriet (Craig) Shaffer born abt. 1823 in Pennsylvania
Mary Elizabeth abt 1843
Nancy abt 1846
Eximinia abt 1851
Peter (1852-1934) previously discussed.
James Quinten abt. 1855
Martha Jane (1858-1891) previously discussed in Beatty posts.

Based on the birth of Mary Elizabeth, they appear to have married in about 1841/42. I have not yet found a marriage record for them.

In the 1850 census, the initials C.D. appear behind John’s name. This is the only census record with initials. The other two simply list him as John. Harriet never appears with a middle name or initials. These (1850, 60, 70) are the only census records that I can clearly attribute to this couple. There are several records later, which may or may not be John or Harriet.

I have been unable to locate any document concerning their deaths, or any newspaper articles concerning them. So, I will have to resort to my least favorite ways to track the existence of people – tax and land records. I’m not giving up on this family – I will find them. However, it will have to wait for my Salt Lake City trip this summer.

As for their children – I found limited records of their marriages, so I followed the clues provided by the family trees on Ancestry. None of those trees were documented, but there was some well sourced information in other places. If anyone has the appropriate documentation, please contact me.

Mary Elizabeth (5 Feb 1843 – 16 Sep 1885) I have seen several online trees list a marriage to George Koch, but they were not sourced and I was unable to locate any “hard” records with that information. Other trees listed a marriage to Henry Frailey, and I did find evidence of that relationship. Her tombstone is in Elderton Cemetery, next to Henry Frailey (Jan 1841 – 30 Apr 1916) and Henry’s second wife, Rebecca (Unknown). I have not yet found a marriage record or obituary for Mary Elizabeth.

Mary E. Shaffer Frailey

Henry and Rebecca Frailey

Nancy (Jul 1846 – after 1920) Several trees showed a husband of James Stark. I found a Nancy married to James P. Stark (abt 1844 – before 1900) in about 1873. I was able to follow her through the census records in 1920 in Kittanning, Armstrong, Pennsylvania. They had four children: Laura J., Robert Bruce, William Edwin, and Harvey. I found no obituaries for any of the Starks on NewspaperArchive or GenealogyBank.

Eximnia “Minnie” (abt 1849 – 9 Oct 1897)4 She married John Lefevre (1847 – aft 1920) on 3 Jan 1870.5 They had four children: Ella A., James W., Alice G., and Charles M. The History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895 has a small biographical sketch of John Lefevre and provides Eximnia’s parentage. She is buried in North Side Cemetery. I have requested a photograph of her stone.

Peter (12 Jan 1852 – 1934) Covered in his own post.

James Quinten (abt 1855 – aft 1880) James married Sophranna A. Blystone (abt 1857 – ) on 4 September 18746 and they had at least one child: Ida. I have found no records after the 1880 census for James Quinten, nor have I found a death record or obituary for him.

Martha Jane (abt 1858 – 27 Jan 1891) Married William James Beatty. She is covered in the posts about the Beatty family.

Since I have no idea of when most of this family died (or where), I don’t have any further information. Please contact me with any information regarding this family.

1. 1850 U.S. census, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Plumcreek Twp., p. 342A, dwelling 120, family 120, John Sheaffer; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 20 Dec 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 749.
2. 1860 U.S. census, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Plumcreek Twp., p. 728, dwelling 991, family 879, John Sheaffer; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 20 Dec 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm roll 1069.
3. 1870 U.S. census, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Saltsburg, Armstrong Twp., p. 13B, dwelling 184, family 192, John Shafer; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 20 Dec 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm roll 1350.
4. Butler, Pennsylvania, “Death Records of Butler County, Pennsylvania 1893-1905,” Eximnia Lefevre.
5. History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895 (N.p.: Brown & Company, n.d.), 799
6. Married, “Shaffer-Blystone,” The Indiana Weekly Messenger, 30 Sep 1874, p. 3, col. 6; digital images, NewspaperArchive ( : accessed 19 Dec 2011).


  1. Doing Geneology on John & Mary (Polly) craig; purchased a farm in 1821 – listed as Plum Creek Township Armstrong Co. PA – children: JoHN D., William, James. Jesse, Harriet, Eximina,…..

    My G-G-Grandfather John D died in Civil War is on the courthouse wr memorial in Kittaning, PA I want to trace John & Polly origins back to scotland ……..

  2. Good luck, Bob. I’ve been working on John and Mary (Polly)Unknown Craig for a number of years and have had very little luck. They appear and disappear with no real documentation. Any help is appreciated.

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