Olde Guest Column

Stories of the Sheffler Family as your ancestors might tell them. They don't remember all the details - it's been a long time - but they make up for it in perspective. The articles below are both real and imagined. Letters and documents revealing details of our colonial era immigrant family and the generations that followed.

Digging Up The Shefflers - The Main Site. All the Sheffler History News & Updates.
George Sheffler 1779 - The Descendancy. George's Kids. Their Kids. (Etc)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lizzie Elder Miller Sutton, April 1854 - May 1932

[The following is transcribed from a handwritten letter written by Lizzie Elder Miller Sutton on 16 Feb. 1932. Lizzie was the daughter of Carolina R. Sheffler, the oldest sister of Levi W. Sheffler. The letter was to Lizzie's cousin, Myrtle Sheffler, who lived in Oregon with her parents Levi and Susan Sheffler. All spellings and punctuation have been preserved:]

[Page 1:]

East-Butler Pa
Feb 16th -32

Dear Cousin Myrtle,
I am writing this morning becaus it has been so long since we heard from any of you we surly do get anxious. Some people think that no news is good news but I do not feel that way.
We think and talk of you all often.
Last Summer the Shefflers held a reunion near Greensburg. Maggie & Gertrude, D.H. & I attended we had a fine time. There was one old Gentelman there that looked so much like your father, we could not help, but remark the resemblence. Now Myrtle they want all the family's History for family tree. The births & deaths & Place of residence & I think you will be the one who can give us all the data corectly. Your Father's Birth day & age at Death as there is no one now living here who know's. We will be Greatfull to you for any information you can give.
Now I must tell you a little about the people here just at Present all are well as usual only DH. he has been under the weather for over two years not able to any thing. & just now he is getting over a bad Cold. is feeling better this morning. & if the weather does not get bad I think he will be able to out soon again.

[page 2:]

Ida's husband died last Sept and she is not very well her asthma has not been bad this winter but she will not go out she fear's getting Cold. She seems to dread getting a shell of the asthma. her family are all well one of her son's & wife are living with her. so she is not-alone. Annie & her family are well or were the last I heard from them.
Maggie & her family are about as usual not always so well but able to get around Gertie is still at work & Myrtle is still teaching the Boys are all working. but Jess, he has not had any work for a year. and the age limit cut him out. every thing is pretty dull here as else where but we are hoping for better times soon.
We were glad to hear that the Children were all getting along so nicely at school and we do hope that you are all well this winter. and do let us hear from you soon.
so I will close with love & Best wishes to all. I am writing while waiting for D.H. to get Breakfast he sleep's so long in the morning he is a good sleeper and I am glad he can sleep he says the days are not so long when he sleeps late.

Sincerely your Cousin,

[Note - 3 months after this letter was written, a postcard arrive in Oregon written by Lizzie's husband Daniel Harper (D.H.) Sutton. It was addressed to Myrtle's mother Mrs. L.W. Sheffler, and it was short and to the point:]

East Butler Pa. May 14" 32
Mrs L W Sheffler
Am writing this card to
tell you that Lizzie Died last week
after 6 hours Illness, Preuralgia of the
Heart. please tell the other members
of your Family
DH Sutton

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Claude LaVern Cripe, born 1892 - Part 6

[ NOTE - The following is transcribed from an audiotape recording made by Claude LaVern Cripe on July 4, 1967.]

[ PART 6 OF 6 ]

Reprise of earlier days...

By request I make the following recording:

Uh, starting in the year 19 hundred and 8, when I went to Colorado to uh, stay with my father for a little while, uh, things were very primitive. Uh, when I arrive at his place he lived about 5 miles from town, and I inquired the way out.

Seems like they had no taxicabs, I walked the 5 miles to his place.

I got there and he appeared to be very glad to see me - because he had, I suppose some work to be done that summer. And uh, he had a, uh, one room cottage and uh he immediately - uh he had a cot and he immediately took some boards and made a bunk over that cot and that way we saved a little room. I slept up next to the roof. Summertime was a little bit warm but we didn’t pay no attention to that.

And uh, he had a uh, little sheet metal stove, made out of sheet iron if you know what I mean, very thin like stovepipe. And uh there’s no wood there in Eastern Colorado, uh, you know them days there weren’t very much coal either and people didn’t have much money to buy coal with either. And uh when they did buy coal it was in the winter time and that was to keep warm.

And what did we cook with? Just in case you know what it is, cow chips! And uh, no bread, we had no bread. Him- he didn’t bake bread and I didn’t know how to bake bread. So uh, for breakfast we made biscuits … roasted with cow chips. And, we also cooked. We fried our bacon ... with cow chips. Brother I’m tellin’ ya it was a hard way to – hard way to serve the lord but we done her.

And uh, anyway we st- I stayed there that Summer and that Fall I got on the train and left.

And, up in the Colorado mountains, in the Rockies, lots of Indian camps up in there and in the Wintertime they camped along the railroad so’s that they could get their food better. In the Summertime they faded away into the hills and, and uh, hunted their meat and dried it, made jerky to live on in the Wintertime. They was lots of those camps along the railroad. The railroads went through the Indian reservations at that time.

And uh they was all very primitive, and uh, in uh, in these railroad camps them days, they had uh, cooks or bakers, who baked for the whole crew. And uh, of course the Indians they lived on the reservations - got a little pension from the government - and they used to buy, uh homemade bread from those railroad camps the cooks, that’s the way they made their uh, that’s where they got their tips from.

And uh, it went that way all the way over into Oregon and uh, along the uh, along the uh, Columbia River. Uh the Indians would trade uh, fish, salmon, you see they fished all the year round and they would trade fish to the railroad men for goodies off of their uh, table like bread, and uh cookies, and uh, things like that. Them days we didn’t have any doughnuts, they was known then as fried cakes.

Did you ever eat fried cakes you kids? I don’t know whether they did or not. These kids don’t know what fried cakes are. They’re doughnuts to them. See? That’s what I’m talking about! (Shut ‘er)

[End of tape of Claude LaVern Cripe, original recorded July 4, 1967. Copy provided by Claude’s granddaughter Ms. Marylee Olson, Twin Lakes Michigan.]

Transcript © 2004 Donald J. Sheffler. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Claude LaVern Cripe, born 1892 - Part 5

[ NOTE - The following is transcribed from an audiotape recording made by Claude LaVern Cripe on July 4, 1967.]

[ PART 5 OF 6 ]


Just before I - just before I retired I bought a 1953 Chevrolet [Claude pronounces it "Shiv oh lay"], from Mars Used Car Lot on Ottowa Street, Muskegon Michigan. The following year in March I retired. When I bought this Chevrolet it had 25 thousand miles on it. When I sold it in California it had 135 thousand miles on it. And I bought a Oldsmobile, 1956 that had 56 thousand miles on it. And it now has 96 thousand miles on it. So in that period of time, which is about 12 years, I and grandma have drove 150 thousand miles acrosst and around and over and under this United States of America.

What we have seen, from the Ohio West state line down to Florida, across to San Diego, and up as far as just below the Glacier National Park in Montana, isn’t very much– what we haven’t seen isn’t very much. All of these miles has been happy, and we have seen scenery - there isn’t any place in California very much that we haven’t been and especially in the northern and s -- around the Los Angeles area we have covered it like a cover covers a book. If that is possible. Heh!

One place we haven’t been is Disneyland and, the reason for that is my breathing capacity is not too good and it takes too much energy to get around it. But we’ve been to Marineland. We’ve saw the uh, the seals. The uh, the trained uh, uh whales. We’ve saw this - the uh --the fish that jump out of the water - the uh - the dolphins.

And we have, uh, we been to - went to uh Knotts – uh, Knott’s Berry Farm and there they have quite a few interesting things.

We were over to uh, Calico, where the silver mines used to be on 91. [Highway 91]

We’ve visited Las Vegas, stayed there for several months, lived there. And uh we played uh, quite a few of the one-armed bandits. Never carried anything away. Just spent a few dollars now and then. Once in a while we would pay for our eats by gambling. Once Gramma paid for her uh, motel room and our eats. But uh that’s about all you can win, you always lose, never carry nothin’ away.

We made a trip with uh, Henry Sheffler one time. We traveled from uh, from Lombard Illinois to Eugene Oregon and the route we took, it was just over six thousand miles. Now if you think we didn’t go north and if you think we didn’t go south and all around the country, then (heh) you got another thing coming because we did!

And we covered everything in the West from, the uh, Mount Rushmore to the uh, Wyoming, uh park where the uh, great geyser Old Faithful spouts off, clear down to the uh, uh Farmers’ Market in Los Angeles ["Los Angeleeez"] California.

Uh. We finally wound up in Eugene Oregon where his brother was very bad sick with Parkinson’s disease. There I left him, and he went back to Lombard by plane.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Claude LaVern Cripe, born 1892 - Part 4

[ NOTE - The following is transcribed from an audiotape recording made by Claude LaVern Cripe on July 4, 1967.]

[ PART 4 OF 6 ]


I worked a few weeks at Ladells and then I traveled on. I wanted to get to Grampa Sheffler’s place. So I got on a freight train and went on into Portland, and from there I uh, we stayed around Portland several - oh, a couple of days I guess.

And then I went down to Salem where, that was the last address that I had of my Grampa Sheffler. And uh, I got there and I went to the uh, land office, because he had taken up a claim, homestead there, in Oregon somewhere, and they had no record of him. So the fella at the claim office told me to come home with him and he would see if he could find my grandfather. Well, he put a ad in the paper for Mister Sheffler, and a few days later some girl that used to be a school chum of my Aunt Myrtle who was one year younger than me, came to the house and told him where to find, uh, Myrtle Sheffler’s place, which was my grandfather’s place.

So we found out that they lived in Eugene - out of Eugene – about, uh, 19 miles at a place called Elmira Oregon. So I went on from there to El – to Eugene. I got up on the tender of the Shasta Limited and there I met a friend. Heh! We became friends and he went to Eugene, got off at Eugene with me, went to my grandfather’s place. We went back to Eugene, got a job for a lawyer clearing a ten ac - ten acre patch of fir for a orchard - he wanted to put in an orchard on his mother’s property. We worked that summer, and made two or three trips out to Elmira to see grampa and gramma.

That Fall we started back east and it was in October when we left, beginning to get pretty chilly. And, we tried to make as good a time as possible. And we finally landed up in Muscatine Iowa again, and both of us -- --

[a little bit cut off at end of SIDE 1 on my copy of the tape - Don]

[SIDE 2]

-- This was in 1911 and I went to work then in Detroit for my uncle, Henry Sheffler, who was uh, uh resurfacing, uh, flagstone sidewalks, and sometimes putting in cement sidewalks. I worked that Summer until July or, then I went to North Liberty to see my grandfather.

And, I got acquainted with a a girl down there in North Liberty by the name of Maybelle Ort. And she took me out fishing, and that settled my sidewalk business in Detroit. I stayed and went to work in North Liberty on the railroad. And that Fall - this was 1912 then - that Fall, her and I got married along about November the 26th of 1912.

(Now I’ll have to stop here a little bit, and uh, find out how much more is recordable….)

This is Grampa Cripe again. I’m gonna start a little recording here. As of today, I am 75 years old.

In 1913 I started to work on the Wabash railroad as a brakeman. In 1922 I was promoted to conductor. Some of the experiences that I had on this railroad are very enjoyable, some, not so good.

For instance, at Dillon Indiana we had an engine there by the name of Shelly Greek, was smashed slammed bang right square into a bunch of box cars sittin’ on the main line, and the first one that was next to the engine that we slammed into, was Borden condensed milk. The roof smacked right down on top of the locomotive and, we had all jumped except the engineer. That was the day the milk run all over the front of the engine, boy, believe me! And they had the Peru Wrecker come up from, uh, Peru up over the wheeling of Lake Erie and we had the Montpelier Wrecker from Montpelier Ohio, to clean up this wreckage.

Uh, I had many happy experiences about working on local, never nothing come close to uh, uh being uh, tragic but we did have many many many little wrecks that uh we cleared up and uh, nothing happened too bad.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Claude LaVern Cripe, born 1892 - Part 3

[ NOTE - The following is transcribed from an audiotape recording made by Claude LaVern Cripe on July 4, 1967.]

[ PART 3 OF 6 ]


In these blank years I managed somehow to get enough education to pass the 7th grade.

And in the Fall of 19 hundred and 6 - I think - some way or other through my grandfather or grandmother in Indiana, I got the address of my mother, who was still living in Wyandotte and I wrote her and told her that I was coming home to visit her. And, I did.

When I got there she had a work permit all ready for me. And, she was living with a man named Bax. My brother and sister were living there with her. So I went to work, at the age of about 16 ½ or right close to 17 that fall in the Pennsylvania Salt Company, where Bax was foreman of the construction gang for the salt company.

They put me to work with this cement gang and I did a man’s work, wheeling gravel to the cement mixer, wheeling cement away from the cement mixer, all day long ten hours a day for 17 cents and a half, an hour. Those were bitter days, because Bax was a drunkard, and after I came, I had to put in very near all of my money to support the family. That lasted until the next spring. My mother left this man Bax. And uh, I told her that if she would move away and go to Miland where my Aunt lived, that I would try and support the family.

I got a job at Miland immediately when we got there. Wasn’t a month until Bax was there also. So Bax come one day, the next day I left. And I left some wages there too. All I took was what I had on my back and got on a freight train and went to Indiana to my grandfather’s again. And I was at grandfather’s about a week, and I got a letter from my mother and said that she was sending the law after me. That I had stole Bax’s German silver watch chain - what in the world would I want with a watch chain?!

So I immediately went over to the "three-I" railroad, in North Liberty, got on a freight train and started west. What a trip. I got all the way to Muscatine Iowa, I had an uncle there, and that winter I stayed at Muscatine and worked in a button factory, making pearl buttons if you please.

The next spring I started for my father’s place in Colorado. Well that was quite a trip also.

But I got there in time to help put in the remainder of the crop in the Spring. He had a homestead of 160 acres of land at Arriba Colorado, about 5 miles south of the town. And, I stayed there until just before Christmas of that year, that was 19, 18, 19 hundred and … eight.

Then I left there and in 19-9, I walked through the Grand – I’ll take that back - the Royal Gorge, from - Out of Canyon City I, and the fellow I was with, walked through this here, uh, Royal Gorge, and one of the most beautiful spots, that I ever saw in my life was this walk. There was snow on the ground and - if you will read your history - that was the year that Haley’s Comet was over the United States every night. And we watched that, up between those canyon walls - that was beautiful. We walked to the first water tank and there we stayed until the first freight train come and we got on and started onward.

And I worked at a place called Price Colorado a little later on, on an irrigation tunnel though the mountains there. This tunnel if I remember correctly was a mile and half long. I took a job on the graveyard shift from 12 o’clock night until 8 o’clock the next day. I uh, using a polishing block and water on the uh, ceiling of that tunnel. To make it as smooth as possible.

I worked there until I got enough money to eat on for a few days again, and, the next stop-off was at Ladells Oregon. And at Ladells they were building a uh, railroad from Ladells to Coos Bay. They called it the Coos Bay Cutoff. It was nearther that way and it went around through Bend Oregon.

And they was an Indian camp there - I went to work, uh waiting tables at the uh, at the uh, railroad camp. And they was an indian camps along this river - the Columbia river - and uh those Indians used to come and get the bread crusts uh, at the uh, camp every day. And that was my first real introduction to squaws! (laugh)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Claude LaVern Cripe, born 1892 - Part 2

[ NOTE - The following is transcribed from an audiotape recording made by Claude LaVern Cripe on July 4, 1967.]

[ PART 2 OF 6 ]


We arrived in South Bend. I don’t remember exactly whose house we went to but I had 2 Aunts there, and I do remember of leaving our bicycles at my Aunt uh, Lena’s - uh check that - not Aunt Lena but - Aunt Alice’s house in South Bend. We went to North Liberty by train and several weeks later I was sent to South Bend by train alone to bring back the 2 bicycles. I was to ride one and lead the other on gravel roads.

I don’t remember how I got out of South Bend, but I do remember going up Ginger Hill, trying to lead a bicycle on a gravel road. When I got to the top of the hill I was so all in, and all fired tired, I set down beside of the road and bawled and balwed and - I called my father everything I could think of, and I remember, I thought how dumb must a man be to send a kid no bigger than I was to South Bend to ride a pair of bicycles back down on the farm on a gravel road. (shut her off )

This episode of this bicycle riding from South Bend to North Liberty, uh, must have been in the year 1900. Because, I went to school a little while there at North Liberty when I was staying with my grandfather, and my father disappeared, and, I didn’t hear anything of him for several months and he had went to Caseburg Illinois.

And uh, the next Spring he sent for me, and my grandmother and grandfather put me on the train at North Liberty with a little lunch in my – in a sack, and sent me to Chicago, where I was transferred from the Wabash to the CB&Q. And then I was started for Caseburg Illinois. And on the train when I left Chicago some lady kept a watching me and wondering where in the world I was going. She got in a conversation with me and wanted to know what I had in the little brown paper bag. And, uh, I showed her. I had eaten my lunch, and the papers and the banana peelings and whatever else was left in the sack I didn’t know what to do with. And she took it and disposed of it for me, and that’s all I had when I got to Caseburg, was my bare hands.

Uh, here at Caseburg it was 19 hundred and One, because, uh I got there in the spring of the year, and that year, I remember very distinctly of a great flood that we had on the Mississippi river and Caseburg downtown was flooded. The store - store basements - was full and possibly a foot or foot and half of water on the first floor. The stores was all closed and the only way you could get in was to make an appointment with the man up on the hill and they would wade down to the store with their rubber boots on and you took what was left on the shelves, to eat.

And the sidewalks was all made of, uh, of wood. They were all wooden sidewalks, uh, out of 2-inch material. Uh, nailed down to uh, four by fours. And then a wire stapled acrost each side. Well this flood had tore up these side - these sidewalks floated and it tore em up into lengths, different lengths. It bust the wire and us kids had a wonderful time that spring riding these, uh, rafts, these wooden sidewalks was a good raft for us kids. We rode em all over town.

And that Fall I started the school in Caseburg. And there in the few months - I don’t know just exactly how long it was - that I went to school I had the best teacher that I ever had in a school. She was a woman, and apparently she knew my problem, and she helped me more than any other teacher I ever had. But… Father didn’t stay very long and so I had to leave that school and we went out in the country in the woods and he took a job of cutting cord wood for a dollar and a half a cord, and he had a tent and I lived in the tent and cooked for him and he put up cord wood. I didn’t go to school the balance of that winter.

The next spring we went to over to Monmouth Illinois. And uh, I had an uncle over there. He was in the uh, uh machine shop business and Dad went to work for him there. And uh, shortly after that, he, uh - automobiles begin to appear on the scene and he went into the automobile business - but not while I was there, only some time later.

And then after we left Monmouth I don’t remember where we went and therefore from then on, from the time we left Monmouth on until the year of 19 hundred and 6 for various reasons I will leave an absolute blank.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Claude LaVern Cripe, born 1892 - Part 1

[ NOTE - The following is transcribed from an audiotape recording made by Claude Cripe on July 4, 1967. Anything showing up in brackets such as this note are by the transcriber Don Sheffler. Anything in parentheses ( ) are asides spoken by Claude. I attempted to capture all pauses and pronunciations in Claude's speach and so mispellings may occur to indicate how the word was spoken, and instructions to stop or start the tape from Claude ("Shut her off") are included ]

[Claude's mother was Jesse Mae Sheffler, daughter of Levi Warren Sheffler, son of Frederick Sheffler, son of George Sheffler of Westmoreland County PA]

[ PART 1 OF 6 ]

I’m gonna try to record uh, a history of my life by request of Marylee Olson.
Uh, the only things that I'm gonna leave out is the things that uh, I uh, don’t care to remember myself. I don’t talk about em.

And I’ll try and make this a pleasant recording. (Shut her off). Don’t check any of these dates, because uh, they may be as much as 6 months discrepancy and uh, at my age at this time, uh, a month seemed like years sometimes. So therefore they may be some discrepancies but I will do the best I can according to my memory, period. (Shut her off)

I was born in 1892 at a place- near a place- called, uh, Carlton Michigan in Monroe County. I don’t remember the exact spot although I have seen it. (Shut her off)

Uh, after I was born about 6 months I was dressed up real fancy taken to Monroe Michigan, had a picture taken… uh, which I still have, and uh, I will leave it with this recording.

Shortly after this picture was taken, my mother and father, for reasons known to them the best, left Michigan for uh, Indiana. They had a team of horses, a flat bottom, uh, light wagon with a spring seat, no covering. And it must have been in the fall of the year, from the report I got from my mother. And it must have been one horrible trip.

When we arrived in Indiana, we were not too well received according to the reports that I got.
And uh, my father had to work here and there, and they had a very very hard time of it.

Then, they went back to Michigan when the sawmills opened up in the fall of the year.
And I growed up that way, going back and forth, summer and in the winter between Michigan and Indiana as the work opened up, in the winter in the sawmills, summer on the farm. (shut her off Carl)

The reason for the shortage of work in the various places was this was at the time of the great panic of McKinley’s time. (shut her off)

Along in the latter part of this, uh, time in my growing up, uh, my mother inherited a uh, small amount of money from her mother, who died at her birth, and it was in trust with my Grampa Sheffler.

And the first I can remember, they had started- or they had bought- 2 acres of land near Carlton Michigan and had started a new home. The home was nearly completed before I could remember anything. And as it was being completed, they had a housewarming with a big barn dance and I remember that distinctly.

It wasn’t only just a short time after that, that I had started to school. My first school days were spent there. I got almost to school and came back home. And I was promptly warmed on the rear end and started back to school. And I almost got to school that time. But I went back home. So mom took me to school. Period.

I don’t remember, uh, how long I had went to school here, but my mother’s and father’s first parting happened along about this time. I and my father went to Indiana - I don’t know how and I don’t know what year it was. Uh, but at least we went to Indiana and then I went to Indiana at school one half a term I think. I’m not sure about that.

And then my father went back to Michigan with my mother and I stayed with my grandparents for a time. And later on they sent me by train back to Michigan.

We went to Ford City near Wyandotte. My father went to work at the Arm and Hammer Sody Works in Ford City. There, I don’t remember of going to school. I don’t think that their uh, relationship was any too friendly most of the time. And they parted again, I think it was 19-hundred. This was the second parting.

My father had a bicycle. The interurban car went right by our front door. We lived in the company houses. So he and his bicycle and myself got on the interurban, went to Detroit, he bought me a bicycle for 8 dollars, and we started for Indiana on a pair of bicycles.

We went the old Michigan Trail, up through the Irish Hills. [Don’s note: The Irish Hills area is near Sand Lake along Hwy 12 in Lenawee County Michigan. This is a bit more than one third of the way between Detroit and South Bend about 200 miles away. ] Now you can imagine what it was for a young boy that hadn’t had a bicycle and hadn’t been on one for quite some time, to start for South Bend Indiana on a bicycle. Imagine the next day after we’d rode all day, what them legs of mine musta been. What my seater was, boy was it sore. These roads were nothing but gravel and hadn’t had no travel on ‘em except wagons and horses. That’s the kind of road we was riding on.

When we got to the Irish Hills my father had to go take a pair of plyers and go to the wire fence and cut off a strip of wire and fastened it from his seat to the front of my bicycle, to haul me up them hills and he cussed my all the way up. (heh!)

On this trip, uh, you must realize it was long ago and there was no bread in any of the stores, everybody made their own bread. So our food consisted of, uh, crackers and cheese no coldcuts them days they made ring bologna and that’s what we had, ring balogna.

And uh, our sleeping accomodations, our motels and hotels, were farmers’ haystacks and strawstacks if we could find one. Otherwise we slept beside of the road.

One night in particular I remember there was an empty house and uh, we slept on that porch. And I don’t remember how many days we were going from Detroit to South Bend but it was too many, however many it was, for me.