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Shaffer, Daniel


Was a Pennsylvania Dutchman, and came dirct from Cincinnati to this place in January, 1821.  He brought the first merchandise of any kind to the New Purchase, or at least to this place, and was the first merchant of Indianapolis.

He built (with the assistance of the settlers) a double cabin south of Pogue's Creek, on the high ground, near the southern terminus of Meridian street.  He was a large, stout man, about forty years of age, dark complexion, very black hair and eyes, and had the appearance of having been a laboring man; indeed, just such  person as would meet with a hearty welcome by all the settlers.  He seemed to take hold of wht was necessary to be done for the common good, with a will that showed great energy and industry.  He was the first to call on the "new comers," and tender in behalf of the settlers such aid and assistance as they could and were able to render; was foremost at house-raisings and log-rollings, and at all times ready to make any sacrififice to help his neighbors.

The last time I remember to have seen him alive was about the tenth of August, at the raising of my father's second cabin.  Being a stout man, he was always selected to "carry up a corner," which required great labor and bodily exertion.  It was the labor of that day, I am told by Mr. Blake, that brought on the sickness that terminated in his death, about the eighteenth of the month. 

There had been no event up to that time that was so disheartening to the entire community as the death of Daniel Shaffer.  It seemed his loss could not be supplied by the accession of a dozen men or families; independent of his great services, every one looked upon him as a brother. 

A few days before Shaffer's death, he, with Mr. Blake and my father, selected the site for the grave-yard, and was the first person buried in it.  His grave stands immediately on the brow of the hill, near where the road ran until within a few years.  A rude "sand-stone" marks the head, with his name and date of death engraved on it.  A few days before my father's death, he requested to be laid by the side of Mr. Shaffer, which was done; and there, too, stands a similar stone, marked "Matthias R. Nowland, died November 11th, 1822."  Could these two men, to-day, awake from their sleep of death of forty-eight years, what strange sights would meet their eyes; could they possibly believe this was the place they left?

Soon after Mr. Shaffer's death, his family, a wife and three children (two sons and a daughter), returned to Cincinnati, where I saw some of them but a few years since.

May the march of improvement and enterprise, now so busy in the immediate neighborhood of the sacred ground where rest the bodies of those two old settlers, never desecrate their graves, or lay unhallowed hands upon them; but may they be permitted there to lay, until that day when the graves shall be called on to give up their dead to appear before the Great Judge of the Universe.






Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 34-35
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