Pearl Elmer Shafer & Alma Delight Kellogg

(Midwestern migration)

* Pearl Elmer SHAFER was born to the family of Charles Elmer Shafer and Elsie Easton on 31 Dec 1887 in Lawrence, Van Buren, MI {D2}; died on 14 Jul 1960 in Hartford, Van Buren, MI; buried on 18 Jul 1960 in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Van Buren, MI.

Pearl Elmer SHAFER (age 25) married Alma Delight KELLOGG (divorced, age 22) on 25 Dec 1912 in Hartford, Van Buren, MI, the services were conducted by F.L. Niles, Minister. Witnesses to the marriage were Dell Shafer and Ruth Kellogg.{D3}; They had the following children: Kellogg Pearl (b. 1914), Harry Dwight (b. Sep 1916), ♥ Hazel May (b. 18 Mar 1921), “baby” SHAFER (b. ABT 1922).

[Photo above, 30 March 1913: Standing L>R: Ruth Kellogg, Alma Delight (Kellogg) Shafer, Front row, L>R: Alma’s daughter Eloise, and Pearl Elmer Shafer. Pearl and Alma were my maternal grandparents.

#1. Pearl, wife Alma and her daughter, Eloise, and most of the other members of Pearl’s parent’s family moved to North Dakota, at or about the same time, ca 1913. “For the first couple years after their marriage Pearl and Alma lived in a sod house in the Dakotas. When the farm failed because of weather conditions, Pearl’s family moved to northern Michigan, where for awhile, he became a lumber jack.”{D1}

HISTORICAL NOTE: a) Pearl’s parents, Charles Shafer and Elsie Easton, moved to Renville County, ND in 1913, and then in 1916 removed to Wolf Point, Montana where they homesteaded; b) Pearl’s brother, Vern, had a child born at Glenborn, North Dakota on 18 Nov 1914; c) brother, Dell, married Alma’s sister, Ruth, in “Cookston Co., Minnesota” (probably Crookston, a town in MN) on 9 Sep 1914 and taught school during 1914 – 1915 in Glenburn, Renville, North Dakota (about 17 miles north of Minot), they had a daughter who was born at Glenburn, North Dakota, on 17 Aug 1915; d) brother, George and his wife lived 1 year in North Dakota, ca. 1914-1915.
See post, Charles Shafer and Elsie Easton: North Dakota land rush.

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: A 1913 photograph of Pearl (above) shows a handsome young man 26 year of age, with an average build. His, light brown hair is cut short, parted on his right and combed almost straight across his head. He has a light complexion, freckles and a small cleft in his chin. Later photographs of him show that his somewhat oval shaped face appears to have become squarer with age. Photographs taken of Pearl while he is at home, invariably show him in his farm work clothes, while photo’s from anywhere other than on the farm, show him dressed in a suit with white shirt and necktie.{D4}

CHARACTER: Bee keeping and gardening were Pearl’s hobbies. He is characterized as being serious, stern, gruff, a good conversationalist with other farmers, never went to parties, honest, trustworthy, considerate, courteous, liked to playfully tease others. He never complained, gossiped or ‘made a mountain out of a mole hill’. Pearl loved his children, but didn’t show it. He would curse only when fixing the auto engine or when the horses wouldn’t work. He played cards for awhile before and after his marriage, he didn’t read much, but when he did read it was the newspaper or The Saturday Evening Post, he did not go hunting, fishing or camping. Pearl was not particularly organized; he didn’t particularly care if yard work was taken care of or not, felt house work was not his job and didn’t care much about working. {D1}
From my childhood, I remember grandpa Shafer as a quiet man who liked to play little tricks, give a kid a pinch that would make you jump or maybe pull your ears. He was not mean, but he did like to play around, though for a kid it seemed a little rough. He could wiggle his ears. He loved watching “The Red Skeleton Show” on television that was his kind of humor. {D4}

HOME: About 1925 Pearl and Alma moved back to Hartford from northern Michigan and settled down on the farmland owned by Alma’s parents Fred Kellogg and Eloise Farrington. {D1} They built a house about 75 to 100 feet from the Kellogg house. All that remained of the Kellogg home by the late 1940s was a hole in the ground where the basement had been. By 1989 the Pearl Shafer house had been burned, its basement filled in and an orchard planted covering a large part of the property including the homesite and yard. There remains no above ground trace of either house. {D4}

LIVELIHOOD: He was a farmer. On the approximately 40 acre Hartford, MI farm, his crops were: cherries, peaches, dew berries, black caps, field corn and alfalfa; there were smaller fields of squash, sweet corn, potatoes, red raspberries, gooseberries and of course a garden and pasture. He also had quite a number of tall white bee hives (perhaps 21 hives). Pearl was not afraid of the bees and could walk amongst the hives and remove a cover without a head net, smoke or gloves, he was seldom stung. Every year he sold many gallons of honey. For several years, his son-in-law (my father), Robert F. Pierce, sold over 30 gallons of honey at his place of employment. EVENT: Pearl was only 58 yr. 4 mo. old when his wife, Alma, died of a stroke. He never remarried, but lived out the rest of his life on the family farm, essentially alone.

EVENT: When Pearl had become old and not quite unable to care for himself, his son Kellogg P. Shafer put him in a ‘rest home’. The original need for this special care derived from the fact that Pearl had reoccurring urinary tract infections. Once he was institutionalized for medical care his situation grew worse. As it was told to me: Either the entire rest home, or all the elderly persons bedded in Pearl’s room, were Negroes. Pearl was very upset about being placed in an all Negro room. Negroes were considered inferior at the time, so he was greatly insulted and perturbed by the treatment.{D1} Soon thereafter, his son Kellogg, wrested control of his father’s estate, by having Pearl declared legally incompetent. The Probate file states, “…he is mentally incompetent to have charge, custody and management of his person and estate, and that it is necessary that a guardian be appointed of his estate; and the facts upon which said allegation is based are as follows: ‘he has become physically violent, imagines people are playing pranks, he has struck his doctors and nurses and has bitten the nurses arms attempting to care for him. He is now in a special isolation quarters at Borgess Hospital; he is confused, unoriented and his present condition requires institutional care for his own safety and those caring for him…”{D5}
Four months before his death, Pearl was moved to the Riley Rest Home in Hartford.
I saw grandpa, Pearl, only a few years before this and as I recall he never was the kind of person that would do the things described above. I do know that his son, Kellogg, was angry because Pearl was Willing the farm property to his brother Dell, thus reuniting the divided halves of the old Fred Kellogg farm.{D4}

DEATH: After living in various rest homes for over a year, Pearl died at 2:00 PM on 15 July 1960 at 72 years of age. His death was directly caused by a “Cerebral Arterial Occlusion” which set in 2 hours earlier; other contributing factors were “Generalized Arteriosclerosis” and a 3 week old “Urinary infection”.
Kellogg Shafer sent a brief telegram to his sister, Hazel May Shafer-Pierce (my mother) in Pasadena, California, briefly and pointedly stating:
“Dad gone funeral 2:00 July 18 Kellogg Shafer”{D4}

BURIED: Pearl, his wife Alma, and her child, Eloise Besmer (by first marriage) are buried side by side at Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford, MI. Pearl’s brother Dell and Alma’s sister, Ruth, are buried in an adjacent plot.

1. Recollections of daughter, Hazel M. Pierce, 1988; with “Characteristics” taken from “A Personal Characteristics Profile” of her parents.
2. Certificate of Birth, Record Number 142, Local File No. Liber C-91; Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, Van Buren County, MI.
3. Copy of Record of Marriage, Record Number 7459; Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, Van Buren County, MI.
4. Recollections of grandson, Larry F. Pierce, 1994.
5. Petition for Appointment of Guardian, Record Number: Liber 165-Page 124, Van Buren County Clerk, Van Buren County Probate Court, Paw Paw, Van Buren County, MI.
6. Certificate of Death, State File Number 358, Local File 70; Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, Van Buren County, MI.
Individual source: Descendants of John Shafer 1810 – 1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer of Union City, IN, printed 1967, about 100 pages.

Photograph above taken in 1926: Pearl (39) and Alma (Kellogg) Shafer (36) fooling around behind their farm house in rural Hartford, MI.

* Alma Delight KELLOGG was born to the family of Fred Dewit Kellogg and Eloise Farrington on 2 May 1890 in Big Grove Twp, Kendall, Illinois: she was the 5th child born to her family{D2}; died on 10 May 1946 in Watervliet, Berrien, Michigan; buried on 13 May 1946 in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Van Buren, Michigan.

1. Alma D. Kellogg was first married to Earl Branch. This marriage was dissolved by Alma on 28 Oct 1911, at age 21 yr. 5 mo., in Circuit Court at Paw Paw, Van Buren County, Michigan due to conditions of “Extreme Cruelty”. Alma was given custody of Eloise Branch, their daughter (named after Alma’s mother). Since Earl owned no property there were no property or dower rights to determine. {D3}
2. A year later, on 25 Dec 1911, at age 22 yr. 7 months, Alma married Pearl Elmer Shafer.

EVENT: Alma’s sister Ruth L. Kellogg, married Dell Shafer, brother of husband, Pearl E. Shafer. Ruth and Dell lived on the farm next to Alma and Pearl. The Fred Kellogg and Eloise Farrington family farm was divided with half left to each daughter, Alma and Ruth.

LIVELIHOOD: Besides being a farm wife and mother, Alma work many years as a foreman in a wreath making factory.

CHARACTER: Alma is remembered as being a good cook and working long hours. She had a good memory, was industrious, relaxed, easy to get along with and neat in habit and dress. She was honest, trustworthy, understanding. Alma liked to read ‘love stories’ and the Saturday Evening Post. She was the kind of person who could laugh, see the bright side of things and enjoy today. She loved her children.{D4}

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: In her younger years, Alma was an attractive woman. A photograph taken of her in ca. 1926 shows that as a young woman she was tall, slender and perhaps somewhat of a ‘tomboy’. Her physique probably was inherited from her father, Fred, who was also slender. Another photograph taken of Alma, at age 52, showed a thin woman, standing about 5 foot 8 or 9 inches tall. She was wearing thin wire frame glasses. She had high cheek bones. The skin about her neck looks a little loose; her hands and legs are not bony, but thin. At this age, her hair was already grayed, this combined with a thin face, made her look years older than her chronological age. All her adult life her hair was parted in the center combed gently toward the sides then back and fixed behind her head. Her face looks pleasant and friendly.

EVENT: Alma had a stroke while attending the movies with her husband Pearl and grandson, Alan, in late April 1946, Hartford, MI. An account of the event passed from Pearl to daughter, Hazel, and to her son, Larry: “While watching the movie Alma had a stroke. She was eventually able to move her arm and drop it on Pearl’s leg. Only now did he notice that something was wrong. She was removed from the theater by stretcher and taken to the hospital.”

DEATH: Alma died on 10 May 1946, 15 days after the onset of her stroke, at 5:00 PM on a Friday, in the Watervliet Hospital; age 56 years and 7 days.{D1} Her death certificate lists a Hemorrhage of Circle of Willis as the cause of death, with an Aneurysm of Circle Willis as a contributing cause.{D1} Her eldest daughter, Eloise, died one month later of cancer.

BURIAL: Alma Delight Kellogg and husband, Pearl Shafer, are buried side by side in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford, MI. Dell Shafer and Ruth Kellogg are buried in an adjoining plot. Pearl’s parents Charles Shafer and Elsie Easton are buried a few hundred feet away on a hill in the cemetery.{D5}

1. Copy of Certificate of Death, State File No. #461, Berrien County Clerk, Clerk of Circuit Court, Berrien Co., MI. Michigan Department of Health, Bureau of Records and Statistics.
2. Kendall County Clerk, Kendall County, IL; Register of Births #1 Page 182, Number 2370.
3. Decree For Divorce; Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, Van Buren County, MI.
4. Recollections of daughter, Hazel M. Pierce, 1988; with “Characteristics” taken from “A Personal Characteristics Profile” of her parents.
5. Recollections of grandson, Larry F. Pierce, 1994.
Individual source: Descendants of John Shafer 1810 – 1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer of Union City, IN, printed 1967, about 100 pages.

Note: The continuing genealogical descent from Pearl Elmer and Alma Delight (Kellogg) Shafer can be followed through their daughter Hazel May Shafer, in Line A, Settlers and Migrants, Pierce Family, ‘Robert Francis Pierce and Hazel May Shafer’

[Photo at right, Fall 1942: Pearl(55) and Alma Shafer(52) holding grandson, baby Larry Pierce (me).]


Filed under My family in history, __4. Midwestern migration

5 responses to “Pearl Elmer Shafer & Alma Delight Kellogg

  1. Stephen G. Shafer

    You have done a great job on these pages, Larry. I am your second cousin, Stephen Shafer, son of Dell Shafer and Ruth Kellogg. I still live in Hartford, Michigan and remember your grandfather very well. I would like to talk to you more about our family.

    • Hi Stephen,
      Would love to chat about our heritage. Rather than talk here, please e-mail me at
      I stopped in at Pearls farm in 1989 and found the house gone and the yard planted to fruit trees. I remember running around and playing in the long front yard -with a tall weeping willow down front. Also remember (vaguely) when my grandmother Alma died. There were several other small children there and we played out by the road…I wonder if one of those might have been you? I was maybe 4 yo at the time.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Larry,
    The new information you’ve shared about the three families is very interesting. I am a granddaughter of Jay Frank Shafer (son of Martin Jackson Shafer), daughter of Clyde and Ruby (Pitcher) Shafer. My husband and I live north of Hartford near Rush Lake. My brother, Clayton, owned the John Joseph Shafer home and the Shafer School ground near Shafer Lake for several years. The most impressive item in the house was the huge fieldstone fireplace in the living room. When Clayton & his family moved to Tucson, AZ in 1974, he gave the log “smoke house” to our cousin, Tracy Shafer, and his wife still has it on the property west of Hartford.

    Were your parents missionaries in Arizona? I remember my mother saying sometimes “Bob & Hazel” had stopped to visit she and my dad when they were in the area.

    Avis Shafer Hill

  3. Hello Avis,
    Thanks for writing. I stopped by Pearl and Alma (Kellogg’s) old, Hartford homesite/farm in 1989-then orchard. Also stopped out at Shafer Lake, but didn’t know where the John Joseph Shafer’s house stood, nor the site of the Shafer school. I do have a digitized photo of my Mom (Hazel) and other kids standing in front of the school ca. 1927.
    Yes, my parents, Bob abd Hazel, were missionaries on the Navajo reservation for probably 20 years then did religious work along the US boarder with Mexico for about a decade. They ‘retired’ and moved to Iowa, ca 1988. My mother, Hazel Shafer, dau. of Pearl and Alma, died last winter. My father, Robert (Bob) Pierce is turning 90 yo in a couple months and still lives at home alone, unassisted.
    If you go to the Genealogy tab at the top of the 4dtraveler. net blog home page, there is a list of family lines who will all eventually be posted. I have the genealogy finished, it’s just a matter of posting the data, stories and including my photographs or ones from the Internet as supplemental information. The heart shaped icons mean the genealogy has been posted under the Family history category.
    If you have a picture of Martin Jackson Shafer/wife or John Joseph Shafer/wife and or their old homes I would love a digital copies. Any digital pics I might have are likewise at your disposal, I have a few more images than what have been posted. Its nice to touch bases with you Avis.
    Cousin, Larry

  4. deb shafer gibson

    My name is Deborah Shafer Gibson and Harrie Dwight Shafer was my father. I am so glad to see this. I wanted to say thank you for posting this info. It touched my heart when I read it. Smiled from ear to ear about Pearl wiggling his ears and his favorite show being Red Skeleton. My Dad to a T! I am posting my email adress. Lets get in touch.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s