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Nov 29

Tombstone Tuesday–Catharina Schaeffer

Catharina Schaeffer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2016 photo by Karen)

Catharina Schaeffer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2016 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Catharina Schaeffer, located in row 1 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. This small marble tombstone stands only about 3 feet high and is located in what was probably the back of the cemetery in 1877. The marker is inscribed:

CATHARINA
Wife Of
PHILIP
SCHAEFFER
Died 1877
Aged 49Y
Gone but not forgotten

This is another one of those mysterious grave markers in Zion Chatt’s cemetery, one of a handful of tombstones in the cemetery that marks the final resting place of someone about which nothing is recorded or known.

Who was Catharina Schaeffer?

Neither her death nor her burial is recorded in the church records. In fact, she is not mentioned in the church records at all. Not even in the communion records. Very few individuals with the surname Schaeffer, or other spelling variations of that name, are mentioned in the Zion Chatt’s records. It just was not a common surname around the Chatt area.

In addition, her death does not appear to have been recorded in Mercer County Probate.

Catharina’s grave marker is badly weathered and very difficult to read. When the Mercer County Chapter OGS read the cemetery in 1990 they transcribed a word in the second line of the inscription as “dau” [daughter] of Philip, but Find a Grave.com records it as “wife” of Philip.

That would certainly make a big difference. Was Schaeffer Catharina’s maiden name or was it her married name? Was Philip her father or her husband?

The other day we stopped at the cemetery for another look at the tombstone and to take more photos.  I agree with both tombstone readings that Catharina died in 1877 and was 49 years old. That means she was born in about 1828. But the most weathered, unreadable part of the inscription is the word “wife” or “dau.”

The word looks like “wife” to me. The D on Died in line five does not look like the first letter of the word that would be Dau. Plus there is a tall letter in the mystery word that looks very much like the f in “Of” in the same line, which would make sense if the word was “wife.”

Catharina Schaeffer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2016 photo by Karen)

Catharina Schaeffer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2016 photo by Karen)

Where was Catharina Schaeffer in 1870?

There were a couple Schaeffers/Shaffers living in the area at that time.

There was a Catharine Shaffer living with the Christian Beinz family in Dublin Township in 1870. She was 50 years old, not a very good age match for our Catharina, but census enumerations are notorious for their age ranges. That Catharine lived closer to Chatt than the 57-year-old Catharine Shaffer living with the John Shaffer family in Gibson Township in 1870. Again, the age is a problem.

And what about Philip Schaeffer? My heart skipped a beat when my search for him came up with a Phillip Shaffer (1834-1902), born in Ohio, a physician who lived in the Wabash, Indiana, area. Another Zion Chatt Cemetery mystery immediately came to mind–Dr. Benjamin Franklin Edgington, his wife Eliza, and his daughter Carrie (Edgington) Eichhorn Friedell. Déjà vu. Could this be the burial place of yet another physician’s wife? No. This was not the person I was looking for. Dr. Phillip Shaffer probably never practiced in Ohio and he was not married to a Catharina.

There is at least one Schaefer mentioned in Zion Chatt’s records–Anna M. (Schaefer) Grauberger, who is also buried in Zion’s cemetery. Anna is buried next to her husband George Adam Grauberger.

If you go with the “daughter of Philip” inscription and if Schaeffer was Catharina’s maiden name, I would look at Anna Schaeffer’s family, wondering if the two women might have been sisters. Their ages would have been close enough. Anna was born in 1833 and Catharina was born about 1828.

That would really be a stretch, though, especially since I cannot positively determine if the tombstone says “wife” or “dau.”

More information is definitely needed for this one.

Yet, another Zion Chatt Cemetery mystery…

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