Major (?) John Shaver

This page contains a good deal of speculation and contradictory information. Your comments and contributions are welcome!

We once had no information on Jeanette's great-great-grandmother's background, beyond her name and approximate birth date. But in March 2009, we were the beneficiaries of a "random act of genealogical kindness" when a visitor to our Carey Family Album site called our attention to an online book, History of Mount Union, Shirleysburg and Shirley Township by Charles Howard Welch, printed by the Mount Union Times in 1910, which is available at the Penn State University library. The book mentions Catherine Shaver on page 119, but we are making available pages 116-120, which are devoted to her father and his immediate family:


The Shaver kindred figured very extensively in the early days of Mount Union. There are many Shavers in this section today, posterity of the old Major John Shaver, who came to this place from the Aughwick Valley, about 1797. He is the progenitor of the Shaver kin in and around Mount Union. John Shaver was one of the original land-holders here. He later purchased lands from William Morris, and the Colestocks. At one time, John Shaver owned all the land, now Mount Union, reaching from Division street to the river, thence to the Hill Valley line, and thence southeast as far as the Jacob Lohr farm. John Shaver had ten children, as follows:

  1. SAMUEL, who married Katharine Vandevander and who had 8 children, as follows: John, (father of Mrs. W. T. Bell of town; Nevin Shaver of Harrisburg, and Bert Shaver of Mifflintown); Peter, (who built the Hanawalt, Dr. Campbell and the Adams Store properties in town, and who was also the father of Newville Shaver of Robertsdale, Edgar of Turtle Creek, Thomas of East Liberty, Lavanche and Mrs. Anna Vincent of East Liberty, and North C. Shaver, deceased); William, (who was the father of Mrs. J. Bruce Davis of Reedsville, Mrs. Mary K. Brown of Jersey Shore, Harry, late of Huntingdon, (deceased) and Charles, late of Altoona, (deceased); Calvin, long dead; Mary, Mrs. Michael McCloskey, of Iowa, and who was the mother of 5 children, Thomas, John, Edward, Joseph and Annie; Sarah (Mrs. Taylor Postlethwaite, deceased); and Martha, (Mrs. Geo. Robinson), who resided at Shippensburg. Abram, the eldest son, died when 21.
  2. JACOB, who lived at Newton Hamilton. His children were: Wesley, Morris and one daughter, all deceased, and one daughter, Mrs. Tillie Linn, living in Bellwood. Jacob was twice married, both times to Miss Morrisons.
  3. HENRY, (married to Hannah Morrison), who owned the Ewing Mill property, and also resided in what was later the E. B. T. Company house, along the Shirley road, now owned by Chas. Brown and occupied by Frank Miller's family. This was formerly the Geo. Foreman home. Henry's children were: Mrs. John Gayton, deceased; Mrs. W. G. Ewing, deceased; and H. Clay Shaver, who resides in Pasadena, Cal., and Mrs. Margaret Kiel, deceased.
  4. JOHN, who formerly lived at Aughwick, on the farm, later occupied by John Reck. He had one daughter, Mrs. Peninah Brown, mother of Mrs. Maggie Clinger, and grandmother of S. G. Clinger, both of Mt. Union. To the second wife his children were: Myrtle and Mrs. Annie Cruse of Huntingdon; Lizzie of Kansas; and Millard, Orman and Carey of the West. John Shaver's first wife was Jane Hanawalt and his second wife was Sarah King.
  5. GEORGE, who married Margaret McIlHaney and who moved to Illinois. We have learned that George married Margaret McIhaney and lived for some time in Hares Valley and afterwards moved to Ipavia, Fulton county, Ill., probably about 1843. His children were: Mary, Catharine, John, Pamelia, Annie, Margaret and Samuel.
  6. NICHOLAS, (married to Keziah Etnier), who resided across from the homestead, who later built the brick, now owned by the E. B. T. R. R. Co., near their yard and now occupied by John Mahon. The children of Nicholas are: George W., of Kansas, (deceased); Mrs. S. B. Taylor of Huntingdon; Joseph R., of Virginia, (deceased); Harry, late of Mount Union; David E., of Mount Union; Mrs. Ada Fultz of town also; and Mrs. Matilda Barras of Oil City.
  7. PETER, (who married Margaret Morrow), was also located in Mount Union, along what is Shirley street, and his children are: Mrs. Eva Bare of town; Exie, of town; Mrs. C. B. Bowles, (deceased) late of Philadelphia; Maggie, (deceased); and James M., also a resident of town.
  8. KATHARINE, Mrs Jos. Langton, who resided near Lewistown. Her children were: Mary Ann, (Mrs. Beck of Altoona); Mrs. Martha Taylor, James, Isabella, (Mrs. Thomas Mays), John and William, all of Illinois; Catharine, (Mrs. Stouch) of Altoona; McConnell, of Colorado; Elizabeth, (Mrs. John Freeland), of Illinois; Joseph, died in infancy.
  9. ANN, Mrs. John Morrison, formerly resided on the Morrison Place, the farm now owned and occupied by Thos. Harper at Aughwick. She was the mother of John Morrison, late of Tyrone; Miss Mary Morrison, late of Mount Union; Mrs. David Etnier, deceased; and Mrs. Samuel Eby, also deceased.
  10. WILLIAM, (married to Catharine Wallace), who resided on the homestead place. He died in 1855. His children are: Mrs. Anna Seidel, (deceased); Mrs. Amanda Covert (deceased) late of Trenton, N. J.; Nora, Mrs. W. T. Sheaffer of Mount Union; Joanna, Mrs. John S. Bare of Huntingdon; Katharine, Mrs. Heller of Altoona.

William Shaver, who resided in the "stone mansion," was Captain of the Aughwick Valley militia until it disbanded in 1852. Peter Ripple was a member of that company, grandfather of Jeff and Benjamin Ripple, formerly of Orbisonia.

Regrettably, this biographical sketch offers no birth dates or birth places of anybody it mentions, nor does it mention the name of the woman who bore Major Shaver's ten children. There is a variety of information available on the world wide web for a John Shaver in Huntingdon county, PA, which may or may not all pertain to this family or to the same persons. We'll present as much as possible of this often conflicting information here so that you can make up your own mind as to the details of these ancestors' lives...

A quick scan through the census records of Huntingdon county turned up at least one John Shaver or J. Shaver in each census from 1790 through 1820. Based on the Shavers' move from the 26-44 to the 45+ age groups in the 1810 census, we might guess that John and his wife were both born some time between 1755 and 1765, with Mrs. Shaver being born toward the end of those years, based on our guess that Catherine was born about 1807. The genders and numbers of children in the censuses agree, sort of, with the list of children above, plus a few extra children who may have been servants or farm hands.

Mount Union, PA, was laid out in 1849 on what once was the Shavers' property. Its historic district includes a Shaver Street and an 1818-vintage John Shaver House, which is possibly in use now as the American Legion hall. It is on the south bank of the Juniata River, which is the boundary between Huntingdon and Mifflin counties. Granville, where Catherine Shaver eventually lived with her husband, Joseph Langton, is about 20 miles northeast, in Mifflin county. The book in which we located the biography above contains further information on several of Major Shaver's sons and grandsons which will definitely be of interest to anybody researching this family. It is possible some of the early Shaver settlers are buried in an "abandoned" Shaver Cemetery whose coordinates are listed as "40-23-00N 077-52-34W" in the Huntingdon County Historical Society Cemetery Guide.

How did John Shaver come by his title of "Major"? The Shaver Family Military Records includes the following:

Bedford County
Sep 10, 1777
John Shaver - Captain, 4th Company
Aug 10, 1779
George Shaver - Ensign 1st Battalion
Aug 10, 1779
John Shaver, as Major, 2nd Battalion, recruited his forces from the counties of Dublin, Barree, Hopewell, Frankstown, Shirley and Huntingdon Townships, Bedford County, later a part of Huntingdon County.1

The identity of John's wife is suggested in a GED2HTML site which lists her name as Mary Glass and provides birth and death dates for John and for the couple's children, with dates of "1808-1863" for Catherine Shaver, whose husband's name is given as Joseph Lankton. No sources are given for this information, so I don't know how accurate any of it might be. "Major" John Shaver's record caught my attention:

If his birth date is correct, it is unlikely he could have been made a captain in 1777 and a major in 1779, before his fifteenth and seventeenth birthdays, respectively. Could there be some confusion between several different John Shavers? This is a good possibility, since there were a number of Shavers present in Huntingdon county around the turn of the 19th century. Some sites suggest that Shaver could be an Anglicization of Schaeffer or Shafer and that the family's origin was in Germany.

A PA-Roots discussion thread mentions a John Shaver who "died between 28 Aug 1815 (date of will) and 05 Feb 1818 (date of probate). Captain in Company 3, 3rd Battalion, Bedford County Militia, 1777..." Perhaps this is the real Major John, who would have been older than the father of Catherine Langton? Or could there have been more than one Major John? I've come across a number of references to a Major John Shaver serving in the Pennsylvania Militia in 1792.

A family history, A History of a Fragment of the Clan Linn and a Genealogy of the Linn and Related Families, by George Wilds Linn, 1906, accepts the combination of John Shaver's 1762 birth date and rank of major during the Revolution. Its biography of Dr. Alexander Erwin Linn and Matilda (Shaver) Linn, beginning at page 169, states:

In 1852 he married Miss Matilda Shaver, of Newton Hamilton, Pennsylvania... MATILDA (SHAVER) LINN was born at Newton Hamilton [in Mifflin county], Pennsylvania, September 7, 1823. Her great-grandfather came from Germany and settled in the Cumberland Valley about 1750, where he brought up a family of four boys and four girls. He subsequently moved to Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, and settled on the Aughwick Creek, about four miles below Shirleysburg, in 1770. One of his sons, Major John Shaver, was born in 1762. He was married, in 1794, to Mary Glass, a woman of English descent, and one of their children, Jacob Shaver, the father of Matilda (Shaver) Linn, was born near the present site of Mt. Union, Pennsylvania, in 1796. Jacob Shaver was married, in 1821, to Jane Morrison, born 1801...

A burial list of the Mt. Union Cemetery, in Mt. Union, Huntingdon county, may tell us where John and Mary Shaver are buried:

The date for Major John in this listing is almost certainly a misreading of 1829, which would give an age at death of 67-1-5, if the 1762 birth date given above is accurate.

1 Huntingdon county was carved out of Bedford county in 1787.
This page was last updated 15 May 2009.