Jacob Schafer (1817-1880), early settler of Lake County, was born near the Rhine River in the small village of Alflen, then a part of Prussia. Educated in Germany and reared on the family farm, he soon became interested in the land of America, and prepared his family for the trip to a new country.
Jacob, his wife Anna Mary (Schoenerock), 1821-1897, and family left their farm home in Prussia about the year 1855 and sailed the Rhine River to the North Sea, then on to London, England.
They embarked on a sailing ship on which they spent seven weeks before reaching the Port of New York. They experienced very heavy seas on the Atlantic Ocean, cooked their own meals and endured many other hardships before reaching the shores of the United States.
Upon arriving in New York, the family purse contained only two dollars, but they were fortunate to find a friend who furnished free transportation to the village of Springfield Hollow in New York State.
The family was in a strange country, unable to speak English, and with very little means of support, but with honest industry and determined labor they soon found a substantial and honorable place in their new home country.
The family remained in New York State for a year and one half, then decided to move to Wisconsin. On their way, another stormy and perilous voyage was encountered aboard a sailing ship as they crossed Lake Michigan. Jacob soon found work building a custom house in the city of Milwaukee, where he earned a dollar and twelve cents a day, the work lasting three years. Their next move was to an area near Beaver Dam, Wis., in Dodge County, where they purchased forty acres of land for farming and stock-raising. Soon the farm was sold and Jacob came to Chicago, Ill., where he found work in a lumber yard. He stayed for about a year, after which he decided to purchase land in West Creek Township in Lake County.
The Schafer's first home in West Creek Township was on the east side of Parrish Ave., near 151st Ave. Rev. Timothy Ball visited their home on his rounds of preaching and while writing his history of the area.
Jacob and Anna Mary Schafer were the parents of six sons and four daughters. In 1904 Ball wrote that only two of those ten children were living at that time.
According to cemetery records, the following could be a part of the family: Anna Maria, 1857-1879; Wilhelm, 1864-1882; and John N., 1866-1882. Jacob and Anna Mary were members of St. Martin Catholic Church (now Holy Name Church in Cedar Lake). Of the two living in 1903, Ball mentioned Edward Schafer, who had moved to Chicago and was an engineer on a lake steamboat.
The other surviving son was Nicholas Schafer, the second son of Jacob, who was born along the Rhine River in Prussia on Jan. 12, 1846, and died in 1914. Nicholas was only nine years old when he experienced the tough trip across the Atlantic Ocean and still a lad for the Great Lakes adventure on the way to Wisconsin.
He was educated in the English language, but could read German. At the age of 12, Nicholas began working for four dollars and a quarter per month, and from these wages, the first cow and the first pair of steers owned by the family were purchased. Farming was his occupation for most of his life.
On Oct. 9, 1883, Nicholas Schafer was married to Mary Massoth, a member of a pioneer family in Hanover Twp. Mary was born there, the daugher of Adam and Johanna (Hack) Massoth. Her father was born at Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, in 1833 and died in 1899. Johanna Hack Massoth, mother of Mary, was the first Caucasian child born in St. John Twp. Her father, Adam, came to America as a young man and, with his mother, purchased 40 acres of land near Cedar Lake.
Nicholas worked with his father on the farm and took over the family homestead after the death of his father in 1880. Nicholas and Mary Shafer became the parents of nine children: Adam, Henry, Cecilia, Katherina, Ida, John J., Marie, Marguerite and Frank.
The oldest son, Adam Schafer (1884-1961), who married Lena Miller, was a well-known businessman at Hanover Center, at the corner of 133rd St. and U.S. 41.
Adam was in the business of house-moving and teaming, and also operated the first gas station at Hanover Center. He was also a car dealer, selling Model T Fords at the astounding price of $350.
His wife, Lena Miller Schafer, was known for her fine food in a little restaurant on the corner. The filling station and restaurant buildings still stand, connected and remodeled, as an insurance office.
About the year 1912, Adam and Charles Schreiber were the owners of an implement shop there. Adam's daughter, Junella, and her husband, Bernard Wornhoff, still live in a house near the corner.
Henry (1886-1962), second son of Nicholas Schafer, married Matilda Stark in 1909. They took over the family farm about that same year, after a larger farm home was built on the west side of Parrish Ave. at Creston Rd.
His father moved to Hanover Center to live in the Massoth homestead, which housed four generations of the Schafer family until it was torn down in 1971 to make way for a car lot. Henry stayed on the farm until illness forced him to move to his son's home in Waukegan, Ill., in the 1940's.
Henry and Matilda Schafer were the parents of four children: Henry "Bud" Schafer, who lives in Anaheim, Calif.; Florence (1910-1975), married to Ray Loyce; Ethelrita (1915-1982), who married John Holte; and Henrietta, married ot Harry Geib of Springfield, Ore., mother of Arlene Geib Clark. Arlene Clark graciously provided some of the information for this story.
Cecelia (1888-1957), eldest daughter of Nicholas and Mary Schafer, married Carl Kenning, who farmed just south of the intersection of the old village of Hanover. They were the parents of seven children: Edward, Clarence, Milford, Bernice Becker, Dorothy Huseman, Marie Wilkening, and Wilmer.
Katherina "Kate" (1891-1965), another of Nicholas' daughters, married Louis Kenning, who worked at the Lowell branch of the Wilbur Lumber Co., and at the Letz Mfg. Co. in Crown Point. Their daughter, now deceased, was Ethel Thiel.
Ida (1893-1969), daughter of Nicholas Schafer, married Emil Bixeman, a well-known businessman at the corner of what is now 133rd and U.S. 41. Her brother, John J., was born in 1895 and passed away during 1950, leaving two children, Judy and James.
Marie (1897-1976), daughter of Nicholas and Mary Schafer, married Henry Sauer, a contractor and architect who built many homes in Cedar Lake and other Lake County areas. Their children: Lorraine Harper, Henry Sauer, Judy (Bill) Lueder, and Mary Jane (Wilbur) Stoll, who patiently answered many calls from the Old Timer to help with this story. Henry and Marie Sauer and Emil and Ida Bixeman built homes near the Schafer house at Hanover Center.
Marguerite (1899-1977), youngest daughter of Nicholas, married Harry Bixeman, who operated a grocery store at the Hanover-Cook corner for many years. Their children are Ruth (Ralph) Klaas and Robert Bixeman.
Frank Schafer (1902-1984), youngest child of Nicholas and Mary Massoth Schafer, farmed near Cook in earlier years. worked in the steel mills, sold monuments, and was elected trustee and assessor of Hanover Twp. He and his wife, Elizabeth Rascher, were the parents of four children: Nicholas, Francis, Carol Korman, and Rose Ewer.
Long ago an old school building on the Schafer farm near Creston was used as a grain storage building. The family stored their crop of pears in the oats to keep them through the winter. The origin of that school house is unknown to Schafer descendents.
Today the Schafer family is no longer represented on the old Parrish Ave. homestead, but the large home still stands proudly on the gentle hill at the intersection with Creston Road. Many of the Schafer descendants, however, still live in the area of 133rd Street and U.S. 41 in Cedar Lake.
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