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Shaffer Line February 25, 2010

The Shaffer line has been traced back to the 1600’s. We haven’t gathered much information about this family, other than a story told in Their Roots were Long and Deep. This story goes back about 260 years to a man named John Shaffer. He is Lucy’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather. Laverle Neves Day records the story:

John Shaffer was a contemporary of George Washington, the young Virginia planter turned General. At the onset of the Revolutionary War, he enlisted as a soldier under Washington’s command and served with honor during the whole of it.

At one period of the war, Washington’s camp and the English were near each other. Every day they sent over a soldier of huge proportions and challenged the Americans to wrestle the way Goliath had the Philistines. When Washington told John to “Go and throw the man down,” John, being rather small of stature, hesitated. Washington repeated his request and John, with a resolute look in his eyes, obeyed.

As the wrestle began, each man was required to give up his gun. John threw the Englishman twice without any trouble, but on the third try, his opponent drew a knife and cut the cord in his thigh, crippling him for life. Washington must have considered John too good to lose and made him his private secretary for the duration.
When Washington and his men crossed the Delaware River in the night of December 24, 1777, John was there, sitting on the bow of the boat pushing away cakes of ice from the water below. When Cornwallis, the British General, surrendered his troops at Yorktown in 1781, John was nearby. His version of this famous incident in American History has been handed on down to us. Thanks to William Heber Shaffer, a great grandson.

Cornwallis, who had disapproved of war with the Americans in the first place, bowed to the kings order for him to go and subdue the rebels and saw several stunning successes in his pursuit of Washington’s little army. yet, with help from the French, the Americans were able to overwhelm his superior forces and he reluctantly submitted.

Washington, in his effort to persuade the English General to surrender peacefully, marched hip up and down between the two long columns of soldiers. Finally, Cornwallis handed over his sword but when he stubbornly refused to cooperate further, the march continued. Eventually, Washington lost patience with his obstinate enemy and thrusting the sword into a nearby oak sapling, broke it into three pieces. This was enough to convince Cornwallis and peace was restored.

When the war was over, John returned to his home in Wytheville, Wythe County Virginia, where his parents had settled earlier.


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