Guide to the Schaeffer Family Papers

Schaeffer Family Papers
Dayton Metro Library
Phone: 937-496-8654
Schaeffer, David W.
Bulk dates:
1.0 linear feet
The collection primarily consists of correspondence between David W. Schaeffer and his wife and sons during David's service with the Thirty-fifth Ohio Infantry in the Civil War, from September 1861 to September 1864. The collection also includes correspondence to David from other individuals, as well as some miscellaneous other documents.
The records are in English

Biography of David W. Schaeffer

David W. Schaeffer was born about 1825 or 1826 in Germantown, Montgomery County, Ohio. On April 2, 1850, in Montgomery County, Ohio, he married Frances Sophia Browning (born about 1826).

David and Frances had four sons: 1. Walter B. Schaeffer (born Jan. 1851; died June 11, 1936); 2. Arthur David Schaeffer (born about 1853; died Mar. 31, 1918); 3. Harry F. Schaeffer (born Oct. 29, 1854; died Oct. 7, 1931); and 4. Clarence E. Schaeffer (born about 1857; died Apr. 27, 1861).

According to Dayton city directories, David's occupation prior to the Civil War included being a clerk (1850, 1860-61), as well as later (1856-1859) operating with his brother Valentine a staple and fancy dry goods store, which was located on the east side of Main between Second and Third.

After the Civil War broke out, David responded to the call for troops. David enlisted in the Union Army on September 15, 1861, signing up for three years of service. He was mustered in to the Thirty-fifth Ohio Infantry, Company I, on September 24, 1861, at Camp Chase. As a private, he was transferred to Company H, Thirty-fifty Ohio Infantry. He was appointed a first sergeant, and on October 24, 1862, was promoted to second lieutenant. On March 19, 1864, he became a first lieutenant, and on September 8, 1864, he was made captain.

The majority of this collection consists of correspondence between David and his wife Frances, as well as their sons, during David's time in the Union Army, from 1861 to 1864. He describes several of the battles in which he participated. His unit participated in the following battles: * Siege of Corinth (Mississippi), April 30, 1862; * Perryville (Kentucky), Oct. 8, 1862; * Tullahoma (Tennessee) campaign, June 23-30, 1863; * Chickamauga (Georgia), Sept. 19-20, 1863; * Missionary Ridge (Tennessee), Nov. 25, 1863; * Buzzards Roost (Georgia), Feb. 25 and 27, 1864; * Dalton (Georgia), May 9, 1864; * Resaca (Georgia), May 13-16, 1864; * Kennesaw Mountain (Georgia), June 30, 1864; * Pine Mountain (Georgia), June 14, 1864; * Pine Knob (Georgia), June 19, 1864; and * Peach Tree Creek (Georgia), July 20, 1864.

David was mustered out of the army on September 27, 1864, at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Shortly after his return home, his wife Frances died of typhoid on November 21, 1864.

On December 14, 1865, in Montgomery County, Ohio, David married Catherine Starr (born June 3, 1829), whose first husband Henry Link had died in 1858. Catherine had one son, Oscar Link (born about 1852). David and Catherine had three sons of their own: 1. Charles W. Schaeffer (born Jan. 20, 1867; died Oct. 31, 1933); 2. George Starr Schaeffer (born Nov. 3, 1869; died Feb. 11, 1918); and 3. Willie Schaeffer (born about Sept. 1871; died Mar. 29, 1872).

After the Civil War, David was a collector for the Internal Revenue Service (1866-1869), and by 1870 he had become an insurance agent, selling both fire and life insurance, an occupation he continued right up until his death. The family was active in the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, where David was an officer.

For many years, from at least the mid-1850s until after David's death in 1894, the Schaeffer family home was located on the southeast corner of Ludlow Street and Water Street (Monument Avenue). It was originally numbered 6 Ludlow Street but was later changed to 240 N. Ludlow Street. As of 2011, the Chase Bank drive-through is now located on the former site of the Schaeffer home.

David W. Schaeffer died on September 5, 1894, in Dayton, Ohio. His second wife Catherine Starr Schaeffer died on February 5, 1909, in Dayton. David and both of his wives are buried in Woodland Cemetery, in Dayton, Ohio.

Scope and Content

The Schaeffer Papers consist primarily of correspondence between David Schaeffer and his wife Frances during David's time serving in the Civil War with the Thirty-fifth Ohio Infantry. The collection would be of interest to those researching the Civil War, particularly those interested in the battles in which David's unit participated (see Biographical Sketch) or in the home front at Dayton, Ohio. As the collection also includes several letters from David's young sons (the eldest of whom was 13 at the war's end), it might be of interest to those seeking children's perspectives about the Civil War.

The collection includes two ledger books containing the contents of David's letters to his family. They are not the original individual letters he sent home, but the ledgers copies appear to have been written at about the same time as the originals. The remainder of the correspondence in the collection is made up of individual, original letters. The letters between David and his immediately family make up the majority of the collection.

The remainder of the material consists of correspondence to David from other individuals, mainly David's siblings, during the Civil War; official correspondence to David regarding his service and other matters; two letters addressed to David's brother Valentine concerning real estate; a few newspaper clippings; and two funeral notices.

Statement of Arrangement

The arrangement consists of two ledger books containing letters written by David, as well as loose letters written by other family members.

Restrictions on Use

There are no known restrictions on use of this collection.

Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Ohio -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives
Schaeffer family -- Archives
Schaeffer, David W. -- Correspondence
Soldiers -- Ohio -- Correspondence
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives
United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 35th (1861-1864). Company I


Schaeffer, David W.
Schaeffer, Frances S. (Browning)

Preferred Citation

The Schaeffer Papers, a special collection of historical materials at the Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

Acquisition Information

The Schaeffer Papers were donated to the Dayton Metro Library in October 1961 by Joseph E. Lowes, Jr., of Hartford, Connecticut, and his father, Joseph E. Lowes, Sr., of 635 Far Hills Avenue, Oakwood. They donated the collection on the behalf of Mary (Schaeffer) Lowes, wife of Joseph Lowes, Sr. Mary (Schaeffer) Lowes was a daughter of Harry F. Schaeffer; she was a granddaughter of the collection's creators David W. and Frances (Browning) Schaeffer.

Other Finding Aid

A partial index, completed by Carol Maiorano in 1974, is included with this collection. The index appears only to cover the correspondence written by Frances Schaeffer and her sons. It does not cover the letters written by David Schaeffer. This index can be viewed with the original paper finding aid at the Local History Room reference desk.