Family Accounts - Descendants of Anna Rosine Fetterman & Heinrich Gernhardt

Magdalena Gernhardt Shafer (3)
February 6, 1773 - May 8, 1834

“Magdalena (3), the first born of the ten children of Heinrich and Rosine, when 23 years of age married Andrew Shafer, in Lehigh Township, February 11, 1794, just fourteen months before her parents disposed of the family birthplace in Northampton County. She and her husband almost immediately after marriage migrated, as already stated, to Turbot Township, Northumberland County, as is evident from a baptismal record we found in the possession of her grandson, John Shafer, which shows that his father, Henry, their firstborn, was christened in that township on the 8th day of December of that same year. Precisely where they lived—Turbot was at that date a large territory, comprising what now forms half a dozen townships—has not been ascertained, but it is presumed that they resided in what is now Delaware Township. Many Northampton County Germans had then already settled in this section, as already mentioned, and it is believed that Magdalena and her husband followed some families hither with whom they were already acquainted.

“About 1812, after having resided in Turbot Township eighteen years, when their son and daughter, Henry and Elizabeth, were respectively aged 18 and 15, the spirit of migration once more moved them, and they now followed the strong tide of German settlers of Pennsylvania that had for some years been steadily flowing to the fertile lands of central and western New York, then widely known as the ‘Seneca’ and ‘Genesee country,’ once part of the domain of the powerful and troublesome Six Nations. Jacob, Magdalena’s brother, as will be mentioned further on, had already eight years before migrated to Seneca County. They concluded to go further west and finally settled in the town—or township, as we say in Pennsylvania—of Sparta, then a district of Ontario, but since 1821 a part of Livingston County, about four miles north-east of the village of Dansville, on a tract of land now owned by their great-grandson, Franklin Monroe Shafer (6), and which seems likely to remain in the family name many years longer. The family now consisted of five persons, including the little orphan niece, Catharine, mentioned in Heinrich’s will, who had been given to Magdalena by her brother Philip, being the only child by his first wife. A small log cabin was their home and furnished shelter for years, while breaking the land and enduring the usual hardships and privations of pioneer life. But the life-struggle was no longer also subject to the dread of the tomahawk and scalping knife, as during the period when Magdalena was a little girl and Indian depredations and murders were common events.

“Andrew Shafer was born in Germany, January 31, 1758, and died in Sparta, April 2, 1846, at the advanced age of 88 years, 2 months and 2 days. Magdalena died May 8, 1834, in her 64th year. The bodies of the twain, who in life were as one, lie mouldering side by side in an old graveyard near the center of Sparta, one mile or more north of the place on which they had lived, and which place had been bought and bequeathed to her by her father. Elizabeth, their only daughter, was born March 17, 1797, died September 18, 1816, and was never married. Fortunate it was for Magdalenda, therefore, that she had kindly adopted the bereveaved child Catharine into her family. Henry (4), her only son, was born December 8, 1794, and died June 14, 1878, in his 84th year; and it is through him alone, therefore, that the Magdalena branch of the Gernhardt family is perpetuated. He was twice married, first to Maria Magdalena Kline, August 8, 1820, who died September 10, 1832, and next to her sister, Susanna Kline, Feb. 7, 1833, whose death occurred June 9, 1866. All are buried in the M. E. Church ground, one mile north of the first mentioned graveyard. Henry’s six children, sixteen grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren constitute the oldest, but also the smallest, of the existing branches of Heinrich’s and Rosine’s great family tree” (from Heinrich Gernhardt and His Descendants, published 1904, pp. 89-90).

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