Category Archives: __4. Midwestern migration

Shafer, Easton, Kellogg, Farrington

Martin Jackson Shafer and Arvilla A. Dyer

(My famiily in history/4. Midwestern migration/Shafer family)

* Martin Jackson SHAFER
BIRTH: Martin was born 16 October 1837 in New York state to the family of John Joseph Shafer and Lydia A. Dodge.
The 1860 census of Lawrence Twp, Van Buren Co, MI listed Martin as born in OH, his death certificate and obituary stated he was born in NY state. {D1}

“While yet a boy of sixteen, he came to the then almost unbroken wilderness of Van Buren County, Michigan and settled with his parents in Hartford in 1855, where a major portion of his life was spent and seeing what was an unbroken forest grow into a veritable fruit garden…” {D2}

Martin Jackson Shafer and Arvilla Ann Dyer were married on 24 March 1860 in Lawrence or Hartford Township, MI {D3}. “…he was married to Miss Arvilla Dyer a young lady of Hartford, where they continued to live…”{D2}
They had the following eleven children: Jay Frank (b. 10 Apr 1861), ♥ Charles Elmer (b. 25 Apr 1862), Mac McClellan (b. 16 Mar 1864), Ulysses S. (b. 7 Oct 1865),  Clementine A. (b. 6 Oct 1866),  Larue Glen (b. 13 Apr 1868), Metta Maud (b. 24 Aug 1870), Emory F. (b.12 June 1872), Bert B. (b. 22 Apr 1976), Marion Judson (b. 20 Dec 1880), Altha (b. 6 June 1884). {D3}

[Main Street Hartford, MI, late 1800s. A sight common to several generations of the Shafer family]

Martin and Arvilla, raised a family of eleven children while living in Lawrence and Hartford Twps. In 1885 after several of his children were grown, Martin moved the family to Elbridge Township, near Hart, MI, where he purchased land. Three of his adult children, Glenn, Marion and Altha lived in Elbridge.
[Martin Jackson Shafer and Arvilla Ann (Dyer) seat at table, with children around. My ancestor Charles Elmer Shafer is seated to the left of his father Martin, hands cusp)


“… Martin was a quiet unassuming man, working hard to make his way in the world…”{D2}

“…At an early age was converted and united with the Baptist Church.”{D2}

After the death of his wife Arvilla in 1909, Martain spent his last months living with his children. In 1910 Martin died of “Canceronia of Intestines” while staying at the home of his son, Glenn, in Elbridge Township, Oceana County, MI. . {D1} {D2} Martin died in 1910 of cancer. {D3}

Elbridge Cemetery with wife Arvilla.

1.  Certified Copy of Death Record, Record Number 2150; Oceana County Clerk, Oceana County, MI.
2. Martin Jackson Shafer obituary, Elbridge (?) newspaper, Oceana County, MI, obituary clipping was found in the Shafer family Bible.
3. Descendants of John Shafer 1810 – 1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer of Union City, IN, printed 1967, about 100 pages.

* Arvilla Ann DYER
Arvilla was born in New York state on 3 April 1843. Her family moved to the near wilderness of Hartford, MI, where she met her future husband, Martin Jackson Shafer.

Arvilla was married to Martin Jackson Shafer on 24 March 1860, at age 16 years, 11 months and 21 days.

Arvilla died of “Heart Disease” at age 66 years, 1 month and 2 days, in Elbridge, Oceana Co. MI. and was buried at the Elbridge Cemetery {D1} {D2}

1.  Certified Copy of Record of Death, Record Number 1978; Oceana County Clerk, Oceana County, MI.
2.  Descendants of John Shafer 1810 – 1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer of Union City, IN, printed 1967, about 100 pages.

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Fred Kellogg and Eloise Farrington

(Midwestern migration)

Fred Dewit KELLOGG was  born to the family of George Kellogg and Harriet Eastmanin ABT 1857 in Lisbon Twp, Kendall, IL.

At the time of Fred’s birth, the George Kellogg and Harriet Eastman family of Millington, IL lived a mere 24 miles SW from the Jonathan K. Pierce and Statira Curtis family of Batavia, IL (See Jonathan K. Pierce summary). Hazel M. Shafer, great granddaughter of George Kellogg, and Robert F. Pierce, great grandson of Jonathan K. Pierce, would meet and marry in Michigan some 3 generations  – 83 years later.

Fred Dewit KELLOGG married Eloise FARRINGTON on 4 Jan 1882  in Big Grove, Kendall, IL. They had the following children: Charles KELLOGG (b. ABT 1878), Effie KELLOGG (b. ABT 1882), ♥ Alma Delight KELLOGG (b. 2 May 1890), Harry D. KELLOGG (b. ABT 1892),  Ruth Leota KELLOGG (b. 30  Jul 1893), Vesper F. KELLOGG (b. 1896), Fred D. KELLOGG Jr. (b. 1898).

Fred and Eloise applied for a marriage license at the Kendall County Courthouse
at Yorkville, IL, on 3 Jan 1882. {D1} They were married the next day, on 4 Jan 1882, in Big Grove, by H.N. Stoddard, Minister of the Gospel. Charles and Jane Wilkins were witness to the marriage.{D2} Fred wrote on his marriage license that his families place of residence was Millington, Kendall Co., IL. In 1993, Millington is a small town of under 1000 population, located on the Fox River, about 9 miles SW of Yorkville, in Kendall County.
From a photograph of Fred when he was about 25 years old, ca 1882, perhaps his wedding picture: Fred is seen as a slender; devilishly handsome man with a long face; trimmed mustache; short light brown hair that is parted on his far left and combed across his head; he has a long neck; light colored eyes, probably blue, green or hazel. He appears quick, smart and alert. He is wearing a suit with a soft, silken looking hand tied bow tie.

Prior to their marriage, Eloise was living at home in Big Grove, Kendall, IL, Fred was living at home, farming in Millington, Kendall Co., IL{D2}
In June 1896 the family was living in Big Grove Twp, IL. and are listed as having 5 children.{D3}

Fred was a farmer.

The family lived in Kendall County, IL until about the end of the century, then moved to Hartford, Van Buren Co., MI. where they bought a farm.

Sometime after Fred’s death, the Michigan farm was divided between the families of daughters Alma and Ruth who had married the Shafer brothers, Pearl and Dell.

1. Marriage Affidavit, Kendall County clerk, , IL
2. Marriage License of Fred D. Kellogg and Eloise Farrington, registered at County Clerks ofc., Yorkville, Kendall County,IL.
3. Kendall County Clerk, Kendall County, IL; Register of Births #1 Page 182, Number 2370.
4. Petition for Appointment of Administrator, File #5455, Roll #360, Probate Court, Van Buren County, Paw Paw, MI 49070. Fred D. Kellogg Jr. died while serving in the US Army overseas. His sister, Ruth Kellogg-Shafer, handled her younger brothers $400 estate.

Eloise FARRINGTON was born to the family of Charles Farrington and Eunice Barker in ABT 1863 in Big Grove,Kendall, IL.

From a photograph of Eloise taken when she was about 18 years old, ca 1882, possibly a wedding picture: My first impression of Eloise from her picture is of a bright eyed, alert, attractive young woman, full of vitality and spirit. She has a pretty, with an oval or heart shaped face and large eyes that seem to capable of a lot of expression.  In the 1880s her hair had curls that seemed to run in rows across her head from front to back; this is not a hairdo I’ve seen during the last half of the 20th Century. Later in life, she gently combed her hair back and wound it into a bun on the back of her head. Her hair remained parted down the center all of her adult life. In a younger photo she is wearing a nice dress with considerable ruffled lace about the neck. By circa 1909, some 27 years later, Eloise has grown into a soft, pretty, happy and calm looking,  woman in her mid forties. She appears neat and well dressed.{D2}

When Eloise was married in 1882, at age 19 years, she listed Big Grove, Kendall, IL, as her place of birth and current residence. {D3}

About 1925, daughter Alma, and son-in-law Pearl Shafer, moved to Hartford and settled down on the farm owned by Alma’s mother, Eloise Farrington-Kellogg. They built a house about 75 to 100 feet from the Kellogg house. All that remained of the Kellogg home by about 1950, when I was an 8 yo child, was a weedy hole in the ground where the basement had been. {D1}

1. Recollections of granddaughter, Hazel M. Pierce, 1988.
2. Recollections of great-grandson, Larry F. Pierce, 1994.
3.  Marriage License of Fred D. Kellogg and Eloise Farrington, registered at County Clerks office, Yorkville, Kendall County, IL.

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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

Charles Shafer & Elsie Easton and the North Dakota land rush

(Midwestern migration)

* Charles Elmer SHAFER

BIRTH: Charles Elmer Shafer was born on 25 April 1862 to the family of Martin Jackson Shafer and Arvilla A. Dyer. “…Mr. Shafer was the second son of Jackson and Arvilla Shafer, pioneer residents of Lawrence Township…” {D5}

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Charles and his great grandson Larry F. Pierce [me] share almost identical upper facial features (See image below, right). Comparing photographs of both during later adulthood: cover the lips to chin and both look the identical from the lips up, including nose, cranial shape, hair, eyes, cheeks, eyebrows, its uncanny.(lfp)

MARRIAGE: Charles (age 23) married Elsie Easton (age 18) on 20 Mar 1887, Van Buren Co., MI.{D1}{D4} They were married in the residence of Minister Levi Dewey.{D3, D4}

Charles Elmer SHAFER married Elsie EASTON on 20 March 1887. They had the following children:  ♥ Pearl Elmer (b. 31 Dec 1887), Vern Alorn (19 Aug 1889), George Luther (b. 22 Dec 1890), Dell Earnest (b. 30 Mar 1893), Dale (b. 15 Aug 1894)

LIVELIHOOD: Charles was a farmer, auto livery owner-operator.{D4}

HOME: 1. “They (Charles and Elsie) lived in a shed roofed shack type of house on a farm he owned south east of Hartford, about two and a half miles, where his children were born.”
2. “In 1900 he built a modern type home for those days, with running water and bath.”
3. “In 1906 sold the farm and moved to a farm on west side of road just north of the old Shafer School house, that stood on north east corner of crossroads, and where his children went to school.
4. “In 1907 he bought the first Ford touring car in Hartford Twp (about $1000).”
5. “In 1911 or 1912 he moved to Hartford and operated the first auto livery there.”

[Internet image: This is a photo of a bustling downtown Hartford MI looking west toward Watervliet.
Date is unknown, however, is believed to be about 1911. Note the 1907 Ford Touring car, the only car in the picture and remember,
Charles bought the first car in the township just 3-4 years earlier. Is there a chance he’s in town and one of the men seen here talking.]

6. In 1913 the extended Shafer family moved to ND where they homesteaded. {D7} See Historical Note, below.
7. On 29 June 1915 Charles and Elsie were living in Ensign Township, Renville County, North Dakota. Members of this household included: Charles E. Shafer; his wife, Elsie Easton; their sons, Dale and Dell; and Dell’s wife, Ruth Kellogg. 8. The families other sons, including Pearl Shafer and his wife Alma D. Kellogg, were not found (census search) living in Renville County, North Dakota, they were apparently homesteading in townships of adjacent counties.{D6} During this period, son Pearl and his wife Alma, lived in a sod house in North Dakota.{D7}
9. In 1916 the families North Dakota farms failed because of the weather and the extended family broke up. Charles and Elsie moved to Wolf Point, Montana where they continued homesteading – still using the same Ford, which they had already made two trips to Florida in. {D2} Their son, Pearl, and his wife Alma, moved to northern Michigan where Pearl became a lumber jack for several years. The other Shafer sons and their families worked their way back to Hartford over the next few years, after holding jobs for a few years in Detroit, Minneapolis, etc.
10. “Due to illness in 1923 they returned to Hartford, MI.” {D2}
[Photo above: Adults, Charles and Elsie (Easton) Shafer, their son, ♥ Pearl Elmer Shafer at left.]

1. Charles Shafer and Elsie Easton, moved to ND in 1913, and then in 1916 removed to Wolf Point, MT where they homesteaded;
2. Their son, Vern, had a child born at Glenburn, ND on 18 Nov 1914;
3. Their son, Dell, married Alma’s sister, Ruth, in Crookston, MN on 9 Sep 1914 and taught school during 1914 – 1915 in Glenburn, Renville, ND (about 17 miles north of Minot), they had a daughter who was born at Glenburn, ND, on 17 Aug 1915;
4. Their son, George and his wife lived 1 year in ND, ca, 1914-1915. See the article, “The North Dakota Experience ca 1913 – 1916: The Charles Shafer and Pearl Elmer Shafer families.”

EVENT: “…Mr. and Mrs. Shafer formerly resided for many years on a farm in southeast Hartford, but for many years had resided in North Dakota and Montana. They returned last fall, Mr. Shafer being in ill health, and went to Detroit to spend the winter with their sons, where the death occurred.” {D5}

DEATH: April 1924; “The body of Charles E. Shafer, aged 62, was brought here Saturday evening from Detroit where his death occurred last Saturday following a long period of ill health.” {D5} Charles died of stomach cancer.

BURIED: Charles and Elsie are buried together on the hill in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford, MI

1. Latter Day Saints, IGI Micro Fiche, LDS Tucson, AZ, p. 8,741.
2. Descendants of John Shafer 1810 – 1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer of Union City, IN, printed 1967, about 100 pages.
3. From a newspaper article pasted in the Pulaski Easton family Bible, 1856 edition.
4. Certified Copy of Marriage Record, Record Number 5318; Van Buren County Clerk, Van Buren County, Paw Paw, MI.
5. Obituary of Charles E. Shafer; Hartford newspaper; article found in the Shafer family Bible.
6. 1915 South Dakota State Census, Renville County, Ensign Township; census data collected 29 June 1915.
7. Recollections of granddaughter, Hazel M. Pierce, 1988.

* Elsie EASTON

BIRTH: Elsie was born to the Pulaski Easton family on 31 July 1869. {D1}, 30 July 1869 {D2} at Hartford, MI.

HOME: She was raised in a farm family.

MARRIAGE: Elsie Easton, age 18, of Hartford, married Charles Shafer, age 23, of Lawrence, a farmer, on 20 March 1887. {D3}
EVENT: When son, Pearl, married the once divorced Alma Delight Kellogg, on 25 Dec 1912, Elsie decided she’d have nothing to do with Pearl’s family. When Pearl and Alma’s children were born and the family would visit Elsie, she rejected these grandchildren by pushing them away and exclaiming. “Get!”. When Pearl’s daughter, Hazel May Shafer (the future wife of Robert F Pierce) was a child, she’d been to the hospital or doctors office to have her appendix removed. After the surgery and still being too ill to be taken home, she was left to stay with her grandmother, Elsie (Easton) Shafer in Hartford. As Hazel was recovering, Elsie told her in a hostile manner, “You talk too much! I’ll be glad when you go home.” Sixty years later, as Hazel (my mother) recounted this story to me, I could see in her face, voice and gestures that her grandmother’s attitude and behavior still hurt her. {D5}
Note: Elsie Easton was daughter of Pulaski Easton. As a young man, Pulaski traveled west as a California Gold Rush ’49er, see post.

DEATH: 15 October 1940. Then widowed, Elsie died of “Organic heart disease”, at age 71 years 3 months 20 days, in Hartford, MI.{D4, D6}

1. Date taken from handwritten notes made in the Pulaski Easton family Bible, 1856 edition. The Family Records appear to have been written primarily by Pulaski Easton with several later additions by another person.
2. Certified Copy of Record of Birth, Record Number 1703, Van Buren County Clerk, Van Buren County, Paw Paw, MI.
3. Certified Copy of Marriage Record, Record Number 5318; Van Buren County Clerk, Van Buren County, Paw Paw, MI.
4. Certified Copy of Death Record; Van Buren County Clerk, Van Buren County, Paw Paw, MI.
5. Recollections of granddaughter, Hazel M. Shafer-Pierce, 1988.
6. Descendants of John Shafer 1810 – 1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer of Union City, IN, printed 1967, about 100 pages.


The North Dakota Experience ca 1913 – 1916:
The Charles Shafer and Pearl Elmer Shafer families.

In 1913 or 1914, the Charles Shafer family with its grown and married sons, traveled from rural Hartford, Van Buren County, Michigan to the vast open plains near Glenburn, Renville County, North Dakota.
Among those in the extended family who moved to North Dakota were: the parents, Charles Shafer and wife Elsie Easton; their son Pearl and his wife Alma Delight Kellogg; a second son, Vern, and his family; a third son, George, and his family; and a single son, Vern, who married Ruth Kellogg, Alma’s sister, during the families several year residency in “the Dakotas.” Little has surfaced in regard to the family’s reason for leaving Michigan or their attempt to settle on the arid northern plains. The following dialog will shed some light on the early 20th Century public perception of North Dakota and hint at conditions encountered by the family.

Railroad building in the late 19th and early 20th Century brought a population boom to North Dakota and completed the settlement of the state. As the railroads extended their branches, lines of villages and towns sprang up along the new track. From 1900 to 1910, 137 new towns were incorporated, where as only 75 had been incorporated prior to 1900. In 1906, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and Labor started a promotional enterprise known as the “North Dakota Magazine”. By 1910 they had distributed 170,000 copies of the magazine, 265,000 folder type maps of the state, 10,000 wall maps and 370,500 folders and circulars.
[Internet image above right: Typical North Dakota grasslands.]
A mania to secure land seized people, while political leaders in Great Britain and the USA said that the growth of population and the end of unoccupied and tillable land meant a shortage of food, because food consumption was increasing faster than food production. These trends, they said, would mean scarcity and high prices; they would make the farmers the most prosperous class. Both the businessmen of the new towns and railroad employees caught land fever. They filed on homesteads, built claim shacks, slept in them long enough to comply with the law, and hired others to plow and seed the required acreage. The average value of farm land per acre, in North Dakota, rose from $11.00 in 1900 to $26.00 in 1910 and to $35.00 in 1920.

The railroads advertised for settlers. After 1909, although the boom was slackening, the Great Northern alone moved 64,000 new settlers into the state. By 1910 almost 51% of the farmers were foreign born. During the span of the boom, from 1898 to its end in about 1915, North Dakota’s population grew from an estimated 270,000 to 637,000, which was the number counted in the 1915 state census.
These latter day pioneers soon dotted the unsettled countryside with their shacks. On the open prairie, the newcomers often built 14’ by 16’ – foot sod houses, laying up tiers of sod. Windows were small. The walls sometimes 2.5 feet thick, were often boarded on the inside and whitewashed. Many had floors of cottonwood slabs or boards. Occasionally, settlers hauled lumber from a railroad station and built a 14 by 14 foot claim shanty covered with tar paper, often putting sod outside the walls for greater warmth. Sometimes sun dried bricks were used to construct thick walled houses of two or three rooms which were plastered inside and out with marl and then whitewashed, some were sheathed inside and out with boards. [Above Internet image of a typical old sod house.]

The acreage planted to wheat doubled during the period; wheat production during half of those years was greater than the amount produced in Kansas. The First World War increased the price of wheat, but the state did not benefit much from it. In 3 of the 6 years from 1914 through 1919 North Dakota had poor harvests due to drought.
Rural schools usually had poor teachers. They often taught a term of seven months for $260, about 62% of the yearly wage of a domestic servant in North Dakota. Most of them were farmer’s daughters holding second grade elementary certificates. In 1916 their average teaching experience was two years, so that each fall half the rural teachers were beginners.
Many settlers homesteaded land unsuitable for farming; others found that their farming experience in humid regions was not much help on the semiarid plateau. Many speculators left without ever having farmed; others farmed a while but soon gave up and sold out to their neighbors. Some had never farmed before; some lived in town, still plying their trades as teachers, carpenters and businessmen. Gradually the smaller farmers sold out to the larger ones and left.

On 29 June 1915 Charles and Elsie were living in Ensign Township, Renville County, North Dakota. Members of this household included: Charles E. Shafer; his wife, Elsie Easton; their sons, Dale and Dell; and Dell’s wife, Ruth Kellogg. Note: Renville County is on the north side of the state boardering Canada.
After 1915, it almost became a folk saying in the state that, “North Dakota’s greatest export was people.” The extended Shafer family came late in the land rush. By the end of 1916 the family had departed North Dakota, all making their way back to Van Buren County, Michigan.
They were but a single group amongst many thousands of families who came and found the land overpopulated for its dry and sparse resources, and whom then moved on. By 1920 some 71% of the owner operated farms were mortgaged. When the land price bubble burst in the early 1920s, many farmers lost their land, banks failed and the optimistic time of settlement passed to a long period of stagnation that was eventually followed by the Great Depression of the 1930s. The settlement of the Dakotas was a finalizing period which closed the book on the frontier experience in the continental United States. The country was filled from coast to coast with an underlying, basic culture: farming. Farming had been king since the colonial days, now growth would shift its focus to the cities and a national infrastructure.

•  History of North Dakota, copyright 1966 by Elwyn B. Robinson, published by University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE.
•  Descendants of John Shafer 1810 – 1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer of Union City, IN, printed 1967, about 100 pages.
•   1915 North Dakota State Census, Renville County, Ensign Township. Enumerated 29 June 1915.

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John Shafer and Lydia Dodge: early Michigan settlers

(Midwestern migration)

John Joseph Shafer: A Life story, 1819-1895

John Joseph SHAFER was born 22 April 1810 in New York at a location  believed to be near Albany.
John was first  married at about age 19 years, in New  York state, unfortunately the name of his wife has not been either located or preserved. This union produced two daughters: Hanna  Maria, born in 1829 in New York  and Harriet B., born before 1837.

It is believed  that John and his first wife separated in Pennsylvania before 1837.
Still in Pennsylvania, John married his second wife, our ancestor, Lydia A. Dodge. Lydia was born 2 May 1813, in New York  state. John and Lydia  remained together for the rest of their lives.

Little is known of John’s early years; children were born to him and his first wife in New York state; it is  said that he had worked on the Erie Canal,  which opened in 1825. Information gathered from the Lawrence Township, Van  Buren County, Michigan census of 1860 showed the family had moved to Carlisle  Township, Lorain, Ohio around 1836-37, where their eldest son, ♥ Martin Jackson was born 16 October 1837. Lorain is located twenty eight miles west of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on the coast of Lake Erie.

Birth records show that the family moved to Ingham County, Michigan between March 1849 and February 1851 where the last of their children were born.

In 1855, the family moved to Lawrence Township in Van Buren County, Michigan. John Shafer was one of the first white men to settle in that area, which was west of a lake on the township line next to Hartford Township.  The lake was named, Shafer Lake after settler John Shafer. In the year 2011, the lake still bears the Shafer  family name.

John acquired a considerable tract of land in Lawrence and Hartford Townships. A piece of this land was donated for a school on Lawrence Township. The Shafer School, as it came to be called, was built on the property, located on the northeast corner of the crossroad that runs to the south of Shafer Lake.
The building was “The Shafer School, Hartford andLawrenceTownship’s Fractional District No. 7”.

[Howard Leroy Shafer wrote the following account in 1967]
“John Joseph Shafer the one this history is about, the writer well remembers the tellings of his first settling in Lawrence Township, Michigan.

How they cleared the forest land of Beech, Maple, Walnut, Cycamore Whitewood (better known as Yellow Poplar or Tulip trees) and many others, by cutting them down and piling in great heaps, all the logs with the brush, then set them on fire (logs like these would be a prize today), so they could till
the land between the stumps.”

“A section of very large Sycamore log which was hollow was used as a smoke house for meat. By standing it on end, cutting a door in the side to walk through–so they could hang up their meat to be smoked on metal hooks…a roof made of boards fastened lengthwise to the sloping cut of the top end of the log. They used Hickory wood for the smoke. After his death his youngest son, John W. Shafer used it for many years- later it was returned to the old home place, which is now owned by one of the descendants, Clayton F. Shafer (R.R. 2, Hartford, Michigan)”

“Crops raised were beans, corn, hops, oats and wheat. The last two were harvested with cradle scythe, tied with a few stalks of grain into bundles, which were stored in the barn to be threshed; this usually done in cold weather.
Beans were pulled by hand when ripe. All were thrashed out with a flail–a wooden instrument made of a long pole, about eight feet long and about one and a half inches in diameter and a two and a half long pole, fastened to the end of the other with rawhide. It could be swung into a circular motion and
let fall on the grain which would spread out in thin layers on the floor, thus knocking out the grain. On cold frosty days was the best for this, the items being threshed would seem to pop out of its hulls. The grain and beans then would be cleaned by running them through a fanning mill which was turned by hand, with a crank.”

“Hops, a vine that grew several feet long, was raised on poles into the ground. They would have cone shaped blooms which were picked at a certain time, these were steamed and dried in what was called a hop house. They were used in making yeast for bread, balance sold for use in malt for liquor and narcotics.”

“How they use to catch wild pigeon, now extinct, with large trap nets, set out in the fields where they came to feed.. Sometimes flocks were so large they would darken the ground as if a cloud were in the heavens. When these traps were sprung often they would catch them by the hundreds. They would take them in to town where they would sell them for as little as  fifty cents a dozen, to be sent to the larger towns of city. They often would roost at night in the woods nearby, and sometimes they would be so many on a single large limb it would break the limb off.”

In 1860 or shortly thereafter, John a Lydia’s youngest daughter, several  year old, Lodema, died of TB. It was thought at the time that the disease gained access to Lodema’s system after she had breathed hot steam (!) through he mouth and into her lungs from a boiling tea kettle when she was a small child.

“…some of the Pottawattamie Indians (the tribe use to live around Lake Michigan’s southern shores) use to come in summer months and put up their teepees along the roadside and then work for the farmers. As late as 1906 the writer remembers them along the road about a mile and a half south of the old Shafer homestead, and not far from where the writer lived they picked huckleberries in the swamps for the owners.

When not working for others they would make baskets from Black Ash logs, which they usually stole from nearby woods. They made cloths baskets, hampers with covers, market baskets and many others in many sizes. They would beat the log with a maul to remove the bark and a hard layer of wood, while the log was still full of sap. This allowed the soft layers to be mashed so they could
remove each layer at a time, in long strips as long as the log. They would cut this into desired widths they wanted for the many styles of baskets. They stained some for decoration with natural stains they would gather–blue, green, red and yellow most common used.”

“The writer has attended Indian picnics and dances given by them to raise money to keep up the
church and burial ground they used,. Located in a thicket on the south bank of Rush Lake, north west of Hartford, Michigan about four miles.

They put on a War Dance, used bow and arrow, and boomerang. Also dance for all who wished to. The church has long been gone; few markers were used for the dead and remain.”
End of Howard Leroy Shafer’s account.

In the  years  after 1860, the Shafer family cabin burned down. John Sr. and his youngest son John Wyman Shafer Jr., who’d became a carpenter, built a new house just north of the  Shafer School.

Some  of John Joseph’s children and many of his descendants, including Howard Leroy  Shafer, attended the Shafer School.
The school house burned down twice and thereafter was not rebuilt. The old home place and school ground was in 1967, still owned by a Shafer descendant.

John’s wife, Lydia, died 26 April 1882 in Lawrence Township at age 68 years 11 months and was buried in the New Lawrence Hill Cemetery.

John was a prosperous farmer who loved nice horses. One day he hitched a colt to a sulky in order to break him in for driving. They headed east on the road to Shafer’s Lake where the colt ran away with
him-going off the road and throwing him against a tree. The injury received by 84 year old John J. Shafer caused his death shortly thereafter on 5 February 1895. John was buried alongside his wife in the New Lawrence Hill Cemetery.

A large monument has been set at their grave site with their names and a verse inscribed:

“No pompus marble to
their name we raise this stone
Bespeak their praise
Potential fondness
did their life attend,
A tender mother and a
faithful friend.”

Some time before his death, John deeded parcels of about 28 acres to each of his heirs. On 20 February 1895, John W. Shafer Jr. petitioned for an administrator to divide his father’s  personal property which had an estimated value of about $900. Elijah M. Shafer, another of John‘s sons became administrator and listed the heirs to receive  their share. The Will was not probated.

The Shafer family descended through Martin Jackson Shafer, to his son Charles Elmer  Shafer, to his son Pearl Elmer Shafer, to daughter Hazel May (Shafer) to myself, Larry and daughter Jane Elizabeth.

John  Joseph Shafer: A Life story has been, taken  from the 93 page family genealogy book, Descendants of John Shafer 1810-1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer, who was born in 1898.

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Pulaski Easton: A California 49’er

(Midwestern migration/Easton branch)

Pulaski EASTON was born to the family of Daniel Easton and L. Vanway on 12 May 1826 in Oswego, Oswego, NY; died on 22 Apr 1901 in Hartford, Van Buren, MI; buried in the “old cemetery”, Hartford, Van Buren,MI.

Pulaski EASTON married Sarah CARLETON on 25 Apr 1857.
They had the following children: Frank C. Easton (b. 6 Jul 1858), Luther C. Easton
(b. 15 Dec 1860), ♥ Elsie Easton (b. 30 Jul 1869), Arthur Easton (b. 1 Mar).

“This soldier has Blue eyes, Light hair, Light complexion, Five feet Eleven inches high.” {D2} Also, “Hazel eyes.”

1845 At age 19 years, Pulaski moved from Oswego, New York to Van Buren County, Michigan.
1848 Age 22 years, he traveled to California in search of gold. (See Historical Note)
1851 Age 25 years, left California and returned to Oswego, New York.
1853 Age 27 years, he left New York and returned to Van Buren Co., Michigan.
1857 Age 31 years, Pulaski married Sarah Carleton in Michigan.
1864 Age 38 years 3 months, he enlisted in the Union Army and was engaged in the Civil War.
1866 At age 40 years, he was Honorably Discharged from the Union Army at Detroit, Michigan.

The greatest gold rush in the history of the United States began with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on the American River in northern California on 24 January 1848. The great rush was fully underway in 1849. The first mining region was in the mother-lode region of the Sierra Nevada from Sutter’s Mill south to Mariposa. The earliest placer miners sought the eroded gold in the form of dust, flakes, and nuggets. Found in stream beds and in gravel’s laid down by ancient rivers, this supply of gold was exhausted quickly by more than 150,000 gold seekers that came in 1849 and 1850. Having arrived in California by a long arduous journey up the Oregon Trail, through the Rocky and Sierra   Nevada Mountains, the only acceptable route home was by water. Many tens of thousands of lucky and unlucky gold seekers returned home by ship via the Isthmus  of Panama during 1851 and 1852.{D6} See also, the following article, Pulaski Easton – Gold Seeker, 49er.

Pulaski Easton and Sarah Carleton was married Apr 25th 1857“{D1}

“In 1845 he came to this township, bought a piece of land then in a dense wilderness, built a log house, cleared a small piece of land and worked in the vicinity for three years, then he took a trip to California, where he spent three years more in search of gold. He then returned to his old home in New York, where he remained a few years, when he returned to Michigan. In 1857 he was married to Miss Sarah Carleton of Three Rivers. They moved into the house he had built 12 years before, where they commenced their battle with the forest. They patiently endured the privations, trials and hardships incident to pioneer life…until the dense and gloomy forest was removed and in its place can be now seen broad fields, thrifty orchards and fine buildings, the marks of this industry…” {D4}

Pulaski was a farmer.{D2}

1.  On 12 Sep 1864, Pulaski volunteered for a 3 year enlistment in the Army, at Decatur,MI.
2.  He Mustered In on 30 Sep 1864at Kalamazoo, MI, where upon he was assigned as a Private to Capt. Eri Beebe’s G Company, 28th Regiment, Michigan Infantry Volunteers. The Regiment was completed with an enrollment of 886 officers and men, Colonel William W. Wheeler commanding.{D2}
3. The 28th Reg’t. left Kalamazoo Oct 26th for Louisville, KY, and upon arrival was sent to Camp
Nelson, TN, where it took charge of a wagon train enroute for Nashville,  TN…The regiment took  a gallant part in the battle of Nashville, Dec 12 to the 16th, in repelling the Confederates under Gen. Hood, who was defeated with great loss, and driven in confusion out of the state. {D5}
4. The 28th Reg’t. was assigned to the XXIII Corps and sent to Louisville,  KY where on Jan 1865 they were ordered to Alexandria, VA where they embarked on transports to Morehead City, NC. They then cooperated with Gen. Sherman’s army marching through the Carolinas.{D5}
5.  At Wise Forks the 28th Reg’t. was engaged for 3 days, the enemy making determined assaults on Union lines, but were repulsed in every instance. The 28th was in the thickest of the fighting…On the 21st January the 28th Reg’t. was assigned duty guarding the Atlanta and North Carolina railroad.{D5}
6.  2 Apr 1866, Pulaski requested 30 days furlough, “to attend to his private business  in Michigan.” {D2}
7.  3 May 1866, Pulaski reports to Head Quarters Dept. of the Ohio for transportation back to MI, He is instructed to report to the Chief Mustering Officer of his state for discharge.{D2}

Pulaski Easton died in Van Buren Co., MI at about 74 yr. 11 mo. 9 days of age, on 22 Apr 1901 from “Organic Heart Disease”{D3} also “dropsy”{D4}

Pulaski’s obituary reported that he was to be buried in the “old cemetery”, Hartford, Van Buren Co., MI

1. From handwritten notes made in the Pulaski Easton family Bible, 1856 edition. The Family Records appear to have been written primarily by Pulaski Easton with several later additions by another person.
2.  Military Service Branch, National Archives and Records Service, 8th & Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC. Provided several various military service records of this individual.
3. Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, MI; Certified Copy of Record of Death Record No. 4646.
4. Obituary of Pulaski Easton probably from the Hartford newspaper, Van Buren Co., MI, shortly after his death.
5. Book Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War 1861-1865, by the Michigan Adjutant
General’s Office; Pulaski Easton’s service is listed on page 23.
6. The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience, copr 1981 by J.S. Holiday, published by
Simon and Schuster, NY.

Sarah CARLETON was born on 30  Aug 1837 in Three Rivers(?), MI.

Pulaski Easton – Gold Seeker , ’49er
Compiled by Mr Larry
From the Obituary of Pulaski Easton (in bold italics):

“In 1845, at 19 years of age, Pulaski Easton removed from his home in Oswego, Oswego County, New York to Hartford Township, Van Buren County, Michigan. Here he bought a piece of land, then in a dense wilderness,  built a log house, cleared a small piece of land and worked in the vicinity for three years.”

Meanwhile, across the continent in distant California: The greatest gold rush in the history of the United States began with the discovery of gold in the millrace at Sutter’s Mill on the American River
in northern California on Jan.  24, 1848. Once the movement began it spread rapidly.
On March 7, some six weeks after the discovery, Sutter reported that his entire staff, laborers and overseers alike, had joined the rush to the foothills, and left me only the sick and lame behind.”

By April, a delegation was sent from the village  of San Francisco to visit the spot and learn what all the talk of a gold find was about. By May 8th, San Francisco’s townspeople were rushing pell mell to the diggings.
On May 20th people began arriving from Pueblo de San Jose.
By July, the scene at Sutter’s Fort was one of frightful confusion. “Men on horseback and afoot were milling around outside the walls, while loaded wagons were moving in and out the gates, some bringing goods from the Sacramento River landing, others taking them to the different mining regions. The open spaces within the enclosure were piled with heaps of merchandise being offered for sale, and the noise made by the crowd of buyers was such that one would have thought himself either in a Turkish bazaar or in one of the most frequented market places in Europe.”
On August 8th a St. Louis, Missouri, newspaper printed part of an article brought overland from San
Francisco, where it had appeared in the April 1 issue of the California Star. The news told of gold collected at random and without any trouble on the American River.” Other major newspapers
printed similarly colorful letters and reports from “the gold regions.” City folk and farmers who were discouraged by their prospects, those who were restless and others who were weary of marriage or fearful of growing debts found these first reports enough to send them off with expectations of quick fortune.

“In 1848, at age 22 years, Pulaski Easton left his cabin and small farm in Van Buren County, Michigan and traveled to California in search of gold.“

After December 5th and through the winter and spring of 1849, there appeared in literally every newspaper in the country continuing reports of the ever increasing emigration to California.
Week by week the news gathered force, men and their families agreed that if they could get to California success would be assured. The frugality of generations gave way to a contagion of optimism and ambition, responsible family men found their jobs and prospects unrewarding when set against all that California could provide.

Perhaps 25,000 left by sea that winter, bound for Panama and the hazardous journey across the isthmus or for the equally dangerous voyage around Cape Horn. For those who lived inland and had farming as a background, a voyage around South America or a tromp across the Isthmus of Panama seemed fearful, the overland trails on the other hand seemed practical, even familiar.
The well known history of travel from the Missouri frontier to Santa Fe and to Oregon increased their confidence. During the winter and early spring of 1849 tens of thousands of men throughout the
United States prepared for the overland trek that would begin with the first good weather in April or May. To raise money to join an overland company or purchase a wagon team and other fixings, gold seekers mortgaged or sold homes and farms, took out life savings, or borrowed from friends and father-in-law.
In cities and country villages they organized joint stock companies, each member paying an equal amount to provide funds for the company’s purchase of wagons, teams and provisions. Local newspapers often printed each company’s membership lists. Some company’s issued uniforms, elected officers with military titles and drilled their members.  On March 27, 1849 a newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan, estimated that $30,000. had been taken out of Wastenaw County alone, with each man spending an average of $400. to pay for his outfit and transportation to the frontier.

Pulaski Easton lived in Van Buren County, a mere 110 miles west of Ann Arbor.”

Those living in the central and upper Midwest packed their gear in their wagons and rolled down the nearest road, headed for the Missouri river towns of Independence and St. Joseph, Missouri.
At least 30,000 men, with possibly 1,000 women, traveled to the Missouri frontier, while other thousands went by other routes during the summer of 1849. Never before had this country, or any other, experienced such an exodus of civilians, all heavily armed, mostly young men on the road for the first time, many organized into formal companies, others alone or with a few friends from their
neighborhood. Impatient, curious, somewhat fearful of the uncertainties and dangers ahead they were not unlike a great volunteer army traveling from all parts of the nation to mobilize on the frontier.

In the spring of ’49, travelers just west of Independence, Missouri could see for miles across the ocean like swells of prairie. The trail ahead was marked to the horizon by an undulating line of white topped wagons and to the rear back to Independence.
No dust obscured the astonishing scene. At night the glow of campfires nearby and far off to the west gave everyone a sense of security.

About 40 miles west of the frontier the old Oregon Trail turned northwest. Entering “Indian Territory”
the gold seekers first encountered the now peaceful and poor Shawnee.

[Note: Recall from the biographical summaries of Jacob Seybert and his daughter, Margaret Seybert – Janes, that in 1758 a Shawnee war party slaughtered its captives, including the Seybert family adults, at Ft. Seybert, Pendleton County, West Virginia  and had taken all the Seybert children captive, back to Chillicothe in Indian Territory, across the Ohio River, in “the Ohio”.
After the defeat of the Northwest Indian Confederation by the US Army in 1794, the Shawnee were pushed out of “west” Virginia and Ohio. Then, with the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, the northwestern Indian nations ceded to the United States much of what became Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.]

The emigrants next passed through the fierce Pawnee Indian lands, again without problem. The Pawnee had been weakened by frequent attacks by their old enemies the Sioux and in the summer of 1849 they suffered 1,200 deaths from cholera, brought by the first much smaller wave of gold seekers in 1848. Having so long anticipated the danger of Indians and consequently equipped themselves as if an army, most gold seekers experienced the ironic disappointment of not seeing any “wild” Indians.

Life on the overland trail was an astonishment, because of its contrasts with their more orderly home routines; there was guard duty in wind and rain at night; food cooked by careless, impatient, grumbling men; the crude, loud campfire talk of men without women and a sense of freedom afforded by the traveling life. There was little charity along the wilderness trail.

The wagons continued northwesterly up the Little Blue River in Nebraska to Ft Kearney. Between the first week of May and mid June 1849, officers at Ft. Kearney counted 5516 covered wagons pass which included some 29,000 people.

Although they moved about 20 miles each day, they could not escape the sight and sound of hundreds of other emigrants. In the mornings as they crawled from their damp blankets, they could hear and see on all sides the great crowd of city folks and farmers. Nearby they heard the friendly banter of campmates, farther away the angry yells of strangers in argument, the impatient cry of the cook for
more firewood, the stamping and pushing sounds of mules and oxen corralled within the ring of company wagons, the bark of a dog chasing a horseman in pursuit of a vagrant team. While the mornings duties were performed one could hear in the distance the punctuated sound of the rifle fire of hunters target practicing in anticipation of seeing a herd of buffalo along the day’s route. After dark, their songs and fiddle playing aroused thoughts of wives and sweethearts.

The Oregon Trail continued along the Platte River in present day Wyoming and through 100 miles of rugged Black Hills country. Most companies had lightened their wagon loads at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, but the process continued as the country became rougher and harder on teams and wagons. The trail side became littered with all manner of gear, personal items and food, to say nothing of the corpses of dead draft animals and broken wagons. At South Pass, in the Rocky Mountains, the gold seekers crossed the Continental Divide. For the next 400 miles there were several trails and cutoff’s which all led westward across north-south rivers and smaller mountain ranges. The emigrates spread out amongst the various trails thus putting less pressure on forage, fuel and wildlife.

After traveling on routes that passed either to the north or south of the Great Salt Lake, the California trails descended some 300 miles along the Humboldt River through an arid, hostile wasteland from the northeast corner of present day Nevada to the Reno area. Most company’s moved along this leg of the trip during part of July or August. The nearly three weeks spent moving down the arid Humboldt
Valley intensified all the worst of the trek west. The emigrants wearily walked day after day under
scorching sun; breathing and tasting dung pulverized and mixed with dust; there was an increasing disgust with meals that looked and tasted shriveled and dry; and the incessant complaining and cursing of messmates, the squealing and groaning of the oxen; the monotony of sandy plains rising onto sage covered hills that blended into naked mountains; the dreariness of it all… Edible provisions no longer littered the trail side as they had in the high plains. So much had to be thrown away as they traversed the Black Hills, that food supplies were now fearfully short. More and more, backpackers were seen trudging along some distance from the dust stirred up by the passing teams and wagons.

In the evenings the gold seekers visited each other’s camps because they felt reassured when they could compare disappointments and problems and talk over the latest rumor about the trail up ahead or reports of Indian attacks. Camp visiting also allowed for trading to obtain what the cook did not have. By September the sounds of music were not common as the heat had either ruined the instruments or voices were too sorrowful to sing.

During September and October the wagons and their weary crews were either working their way south through the mountains, from Goose Lake, California, or driving right through the Sierra Nevada range on either the Truckee or Carson Trails.
None wanted to be caught in the High Sierras by snow and all knew the misfortune of the stranded Donner Party in 1846.

By early fall the mountain altitudes were cooling and there were flurries. Toward the end of the season,
trailing emigrants found themselves fighting mud, slippery rock, freezing rain and snow.
Between summer and late November, the overland emigrants came stumbling into the Sacramento Valley. Behind them lie 200 miles of mountain trail covered with drifting snow, collapsed wagons, deserted flapping tents, bloated carcasses and treasured possessions, trails that all had once promised a quick entry into the gold fields.

Meanwhile, by the summer of 1849, Sacramento had become “quite a flourishing place containing some 300 canvass houses and with lots in the business section bringing $600 to as much as $20,000“…and  there were a forest of ship masts lining Sacramento City’s embarcadero. “Vessels of every type and size capable of navigating the winding river channel were arriving daily, each loaded to its fullest capacity. Immediately on landing, most of the passengers hurried off to  the diggings, to be followed after a day or two by the bulk of the ships’ cargoes, which had in the interim been unloaded and transferred to the backs of pack animals.” News of the gold discovery had spread rapidly and was arousing keen interest at places far removed from California.

The great rush, by those hoping to strike it rich, was fully underway in 1849. By all overland routes at least 42,000 gold seekers reached California between late July and the end of 1849. During the year, 697 ships had entered San Francisco harbor delivering more than 41,000 Americans and foreigners, of whom fewer than 800 were women. Most of the ships were deserted by their crews and left to rot on mud flats or creak at anchor. California’s population grew from about 14,000 in 1848 to 100,000 in 1850.  The 89,000 gold seekers were not settlers or pioneers in the tradition of America’s westward migration. These people came as exploiters, transients, ready to take, not build. They found themselves surrounded by crowds of hurrying men concerned only with how to make the greatest amount of money in the shortest time.

Arriving in the goldfields, the men of  ‘49 were dismayed to see so many miners along the banks of the American, Feather, Mokelumne and other rivers. They faced a reality that some must have anticipated and feared: too many gold seekers had come to El Dorado. Some mining partners built stone or log cabins, with only a doorway to provide light and fresh air. During rainy cold periods these temporary quarters were dark and dank. Others survived in canvas-walled shacks or dugouts covered with brush. In this masculine world of primitive housing, ignorance of cooking, and unconcern for appearance and
hygiene, with liquor, gambling, and an occasional fight the only distractions from their weary work, the great moments were when they heard the “expressman” (mailman) was on his way.

The first mining region was in the mother-lode region of the Sierra Nevada from Sutter’s Mill south to Mariposa. During 1848 there was a maximum of 6,000 men working the diggings. By December of 1849 there were at least 40,000 miners in the same area. Those arriving in the fall of ’49 found many of the rivers and their tributaries already claimed. The earliest placer miners sought the eroded gold in the form of dust, flakes, and nuggets. Found in stream beds and in gravel’s laid down by ancient rivers, this supply of gold was exhausted quickly, and miners were forced to turn to other techniques
requiring greater cooperation, sophistication, and expenditure. Deep mines, however, required huge amounts of capital, forcing the individual placer miner to either work as a wage laborer, or return home. While 40,000 worked small claims another 40,000 were in the settlements and growing cities near the gold mining region either preparing to enter the mines, seeking their fortune in other
burgeoning business opportunities or giving up their hopes and planning to return home.

By the early spring of 1850 it had become apparent that their original expectations of quick riches were wrong. That promise still seemed possible, but they knew its fulfillment would require far more time and effort than once imagined. For those already in the mines, their small success’ justified staying on through the summer of 1850.

The miners read several month old, eastern news papers with concern: The pages were still filled with stories of booming California cities and the fortunes in gold being found and delivered to eastern ports by steamship. Worst of all, they read to their astonishment, that great numbers of Americans were planning to travel overland toCalifornia that very summer.

As the newspapers had promised, more new emigrants came during the summer and fall of 1850. Officers at Ft Laramie on the main overland trail counted 39,650 men and 2,421 women with 609 children.

Meanwhile, the miners had been wading in icy water up to their waists all summer, their legs ached from the cold, their hands were bruised and blistered from moving and piling rocks, their boots rotted. From the last of September, through October 1850 was a rainy, muddy period in the mountainous mining region.
Throughout the settlements and camps there were great numbers of men sick with chills and fever. In mid October, Cholera was brought from San Francisco to Sacramento City, within a month at least 364 deaths were recorded from the disease.

“During 1851, at age 25 years, Pulaski left the gold fields in California and returned to Oswego, New York.”

Whether rich or poor, there was only one way to go home: by sea. Overland travel eastward across the Sierra and the deserts was out of the question. The water route was the way, from San Francisco
to Nicaragua or Panama, across the jungled isthmus by foot and canoe to an Atlantic port and then by
ship again to New Orleans orNew York.

The first leg of the journey home led from the gold fields to Sacramento and down the Sacramento
River by boat to San Francisco. San Francisco was a place without homes, a boom town of men given over entirely to business, speculation and entertainment. Auction houses, hotels, bathhouses, groggeries, billiard rooms, eating and drinking houses, two- and four- story office buildings, banks, canvass shelled business’ and scores of gambling saloons- all these, along with “dens of lewd women,” crowded the steep and filthy streets. During the period August 1 through September 13th,  4,672 men left San Francisco, by the end of the year the total having left was at least 26,593 men and 8 women. Just as merchants in the frontier town had taken advantage of the ignorant city boys and speculators on their way to the gold fields, ship owners in San Francisco grasped at the opportunity to pluck those leaving. Many old and abandoned vessels were refitted and advertised as ready to receive passengers, with good food, clean quarters and skilled crews. Once at sea there was no escaping the unsanitary
quarters or improving the daily serving of putrid food. “The passengers were fed like hogs…some of the hard bread was of good quality, some moldy, and much of it was infested with black bugs burrowing into it like woodchucks in a sandbank…”

In Panama City two distinctly different crowds encountered one another: those expecting to find gold, and the sick and weary returning home. For those on their way across the isthmus to Chagres, an  ancient trail led through dense jungle on a three day journey. With their baggage packed on mules, the homebound Americans walked to “the most miserable” town of Gorgona, where they climbed onto
flat-bottomed boats to float down stream to the eastern coast. Everyone knew the dangers and uncertainties of the sailing ships, so they tried in every way to secure passage on a steamship. Most frequently, those returning would have to wait in Panama for 3 to 5 weeks before boarding one of the overbooked ships. Generally, the steamers sailed north from Central America with 1000 passengers pressed into the space designed for a maximum of 600.

Across the United States, in villages, towns and cities, thousands of wives and their returning husbands
felt the emotions of welcome and anxiety. Many men had returned home within about 2 years after leaving. Like soldiers home from far places, the gold seekers came back with new ideas and changed values, and within a few weeks or months many felt restless and impatient. The Marshall newspaper, Calhoun County, Michigan, 50 miles east of ancestor Pulaski Easton’s cabin, made general references in 1851 and 1852 to various gold seekers who returned to southern Michigan–“non with pockets full of rocks”.

 “Pulaski Easton returned to his childhood home in Oswego, New York, where he remained a few years.
In 1853, at age 27, he left New York and returned to Hartford Township, Van Buren County, Michigan.
In 1857, at age 31 years, he was married to Miss Sarah Carleton of Three Rivers. They moved into the house he had built 12 years before, where they commenced their battle with the forest. They patiently endured the privations, trials and hardships incident to pioneer life…until the dense and gloomy forest was removed and in its place can be now seen broad fields, thrifty orchards and fine buildings, the marks of this industry…”

For an ever-increasing number of Americans, California seemed to offer a robust alternative to the slow, conventional life in the other thirty states. California had become a new kind of West, not only a place with gold and all it promised, but also a place with business opportunities and new ways for farming. It was suddenly a place of cities and wealth, with newspapers, hotels, theaters, first class transportation, comforts and luxuries, a place where city folk could go.
For the first time in American history, California appealed to everyone. The population boom in turn encouraged construction of wagon roads and railroads and attracted essential outside capital. By the fall of 1851, there had sprung up the presence of blacksmith shops, trading posts, bridges, and ferry services along the overland trails. Shipboard transport had improved as well with a score of steamships offering passage to San Francisco in three weeks. In 1852 more than 50,000 emigrants, including many more women and children, traveled overland on the well developed trails to California. These families knew of the realities of mining. Now came farmers and businessmen who were aware of the
needs of 100,000 miners and the market demands of California’s rapidly growing cities. All played a part in opening up the western territories and tying them to the rest of the nation. The ’49ers, followed by businessmen, farmers and families, had in a few short years — won the west.

“On 22 April 1901, 53 years after his youthful journey to the goldfields in  California, Pulaski Easton, aged 74 years 11 months, died in Van Buren Co., Michigan.”

Note: Most of this historical narration was copied as excerpts from the sources listed below, I merely
assembled the information into a coherent story relating to the life and times  of Pulaski Easton.
Mr Larry

1. The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience, copr 1981 by J. S. Holliday, published by  Simon andSchuster,NY.
2. Sutter’s Fort: Gateway to  the Goldfields, copyright 1966 by Oscar Lewis, published by Prentis-Hall,
Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
3. Academic American Encyclopedia, topic “gold rush.”
4. Obituary of Pulaski Easton. The article  probably taken from the Hartford newspaper, Van Buren Co., Michigan within days  after his death.
5. Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, MI; Certified Copy of Record of Death Record No. 4646


Filed under My family in history, __4. Midwestern migration