1844 - 1899 (54 years)
||Samuel Stauffer |
||30 Sep 1844
||Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States [2, 3, 4]
- Samuel Stauffer was the first child born to Abraham and Magdalena Shupe Stauffer, apparently within a year of their marriage. Abraham had recently lost his wife Susannah, who died of rabies leaving him with five young children, including a baby. So Samuel joined a family of two step-brothers (Isaac and Jacob) and three step-sisters (Esther, Mary, and Susannah).
All Samuel's grandparents--Samuel and Esther Groh Stauffer and George and Elizabeth Scheirich Shupe--were alive during the ten years of his childhood that he lived in the Waterloo area of Canada. His grandfather Shupe was the Mennonite bishop of Waterloo for some time. Samuel and his brother George, born when Samuel was two, were part of the huge Stauffer extended family that had resulted from those who moved to Ontario from Pennsylvania in 1805.
We know there were two other baby brothers--Moses and Aaron, but we don't know when they were born nor how long they lived. Our guess is that both happened in the five years following George's birth before a fifth son, Noah, was born in 1851. Noah was not known to our family until 2004, though we had seen his grave near those of his parents and brother in the Bennett Cemetery northwest of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read about our discovery of Noah and his brief life in Two Stauffer Mysteries.
When Samuel was ten, George was eight, and little Noah was just three, Abraham decided to join some of his siblings and move his family to Michigan (Migration: A Family Affair). Despite the fact that some aunts, uncles, and cousins had already made the move, it must have been difficult to part from the remaining members of the extensive Stauffer family, perhaps never to see them again. We don't know how they made the trip--perhaps, by 1854 it could be made by train rather than covered wagon as those two earlier generations had made the trip to Ontario. We can imagine the excitement the young brothers likely experienced in anticipation of the move to "new frontiers." We now have reason to believe that their mother, Magdalena, was pregnant during the journey and that one more baby brother was born in September after their arrival, only to die thirteen days later.
The Author with her son at the well where Samuel died
You can just make out the inscription, "He died to save another" on his headstone.
Sophronia Roxana Wells was born in Tyrone, Stueben County, in the southwest Finger Lakes area of New York state. She was born to Charles and Hannah Compton Wells on October 18, 1843. For a long time we weren't clear whether her name was Roxanne or Roxana, nor whether Sophronia (or Sophrona) was her first name or her middle name. Now that we have the Stauffer family Bible, we can see exactly what it was, written very possibly in her own hand. Apparently most of the time, at least in her later years, she went by Roxy, so we've chosen to call her that here. For more on her early years, see Wells family history.
Roxy was the third of four daughters. Her sister Marcia was four when she was born and Marion almost two. Roxy was the baby of the family until she was nearly five, at which time baby sister Mary Jane arrived. In 1854 when Roxy was 11 (the same year the Stauffer family left Ontario), the Wells family set out from Painted Post, New York, also for Michigan. The Stauffers didn't move to Chester Township, Ottawa County, however, until 1862; they were in the Caledonia area for eight years before that.
In August of 1860, two months before her 17th birthday and Abraham Lincoln's election as president, Roxy was certified to teach in the schools of Ravenna, Michigan. The document, handwritten on yellow lined paper, reads as follows:
It is hereby certified that Roxana Wells has passed a satisfactory examination in the following branches, that is: Reading, Writing, Spelling, Geography, Grammar, Arithmetic, and has moreover been found to be of a good moral character and we do hereby licensed her to teach in the primary schools of this township for one year. Given under our hands this 27th day of August, A.D. 1860. Signed, Davie T. Stafford, Inspector
Scanned Image of Roxy's Teaching Certificate
Roxy did not marry until five years later, six months after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Was she teaching school through the years of the Civil War? Perhaps, but no other one-year certificates have survived. What did survive is a picture of one of her cousins, Silas Compton, who fought in the Civil War. A picture of him in his uniform was among the things found in the Bible. Thanks to the Internet, we were in touch with one of Silas's descendants, and we thought she should have the original picture. (Five years after the war, Silas was killed in a terrible accident, crushed to death working on the Erie Canal.)
THE BIBLE AND THE WEDDING
Thanks to the family Bible, we now know more about Samuel and Roxy's wedding than just that they were married on September 24, 1865. According to the marriage page of the Bible, the wedding took place in the Wells home and their fathers, signed as C. E. Wells and Abraham Stauffer, were their witnesses. In the Bible were two scraps of fabric, one of ecru-colored lace (scanned immage) and the other of a dark, pinstripe (scanned image) that feels surprisingly fine, almost silky. We assume they were cut from her wedding dress and his wedding suit. Who might have cut them and at what point in time, we haven't a clue.
Their first child was born the following summer. On September 28, 1866, when baby Charles was three months old, Samuel's father Abraham died at the age of 52. He had been in Michigan just twelve years. Two months later, in late November, there was undoubtedly much ado in the family as Samuel's brother George (20) married Roxy's sister Jane (18).
To Samuel and Roxy were born four children over 14 years.
Charles Edward Stauffer (1866-1906) , married Blanche Averill on April 4, 1892; no children
Esther Sophronia Stauffer Porter (1868-1930) October 24, 1888, married Ferdinand W. Porter (1866-1944) Children: Effa Mildred Porter Wood (1890-1952) October 24, 1910, married Clyde Wood (1893-1955); Delilah Fern Porter Hawkins (1894-1951) December 13, 1913, married M.E. Hawkins (1880-1956)
Frank Abraham Stauffer (1876-1951) February 1, 1900, married Emma Preston (b. 1879) Children: Beatrice Stauffer Burgess (1904-1998); Ward Stauffer (1910-1989)
Lois Mabel Stauffer Averill (1880-1965); February 2, 1898 married Harvey Averill (1876-1940) Children: Forrest Glenn (1898-1986), Lois (1914- ), Vernon (1919-1982)
We don't have many clues to events in Samuel and Roxy's life during the years they were raising their children. In March of 1887, Roxy's parents celebrated their fiftieth anniversary. Hannah was apparently not well in her last years. A letter survives in the family written to Roxy by her father telling of her mother's ill health and saying how much he wished his daughter could come. A month following the writing of the letter, Hannah died on April 28, 1888, at age 67. Three months later, in July, her granddaughter Rose Stauffer died of consumption (tuberculosis). She was George and Jane's 18-year-old daughter and cousin of Samuel and Roxy's children.
On October 24, 1888 (their 23rd anniversary), the Stauffers' daughter Esther, age 20, married 22-year-old Ferd Porter. (Ferd and Esther's daughter Effa would be married on that same date in 1910.) Son Charley, as he is called in the 1880 census, married four years later in April 1892. Roxy's father, Charles, died April 27, 1893, at age 79. Son Frank did not marry until 1900, three months after his father's death.
In the middle of the 1890s George and Jane (Samuel's brother and Roxy's sister) were divorced, after five children and nearly three decades of marriage. The cause, according to George's daughter-in-law Ruth Stauffer, was marital infidelity by Jane. Just what kind of trauma and grief that would have precipitated in the Stauffer household--in any household in those days--can be well imagined.
The brick farmhouse on 16th Street outside of Sparta was built late in the last decade of the 19th Century, and we believe the Stauffers were the first to live in it. It was there on November 6, 1999, not far from the back door and just seven weeks before the turn of the century, that Samuel died swiftly and unexpectedly in a tragic accident. He was 55 years old, and they had just marked their 34th wedding anniversary. The inscription of his headstone reads, "He died to save another."
As I was growing up, we heard often about Grandfather Stauffer's death, how he "succumbed to fumes" and "died in a well" trying to save another man's life. When I wrote the imaginary letter to him on the anniversary of his death after visiting the site, I had more questions than answers. Since then we have learned much more. (For a complete account of what happened, see " Note" following "Letter to Samuel Stauffer.") The most dramatic thing we have recently learned is that Roxy was not only present, but when her husband collapsed, she somehow attached a rope to his body and "he was drawn by the almost herculean efforts of the two women to the top" (see obit to right), the second woman being daughter Mabel. It is unclear whether Roxy herself went into the well, but this implied. But it was too late for Samuel. It is a scene painful to imagine.
ROXY'S LATER YEARS
Roxy lived another ten years. During that time, she experienced the death of her older son in a local flood in 1906. His body was not found for ten days. Esther's husband, Ferd, took over the farm and the brick house after Samuel's death, and we are sure Roxy simply stayed on. We know that she died there December 9, 1909. From her obituary we have a beautiful portrait of her-and more information about her death than we have on any other family member of previous generations.
To know Mrs. Stauffer was to love her. If she ever saw the dark side of life, she never told it. Always cheerful, she was a comfort to any home she went into, and they were countless. If there was trouble or sickness, Mrs. Stauffer was the first one to know it, and she always brought sunshine with her. She never spared self or means where they were needed for the comfort of others."
Her last words to her family gathered around her were: "We have been so happy together. You were all so good to me. I am so glad to go. Meet me over there." The obituary closes: "To us it is a loss never to be replaced, to her it is a gain for all eternity." Her funeral was conducted by Rev. I.B. Buffum, undoubtedly in the North Chester Baptist Church, north on 16th Street within site of the farmhouse.
|Eby ID Number
||6 Sep 1899 [4, 5]
|Cause: poison gas from cistern |
||Bennett, Chester Township, , Michigan 
||26 Nov 2023 |
||Abraham Groh Stauffer, b. 21 Sep 1814, Speedsville (Waterloo Township), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada , d. 23 Sep 1866, Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States (Age 52 years) |
||Magdalena Shupe, b. 8 Sep 1820, Wilmot Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada , d. 23 Jun 1901 (Age 80 years) |
||Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada 
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||Roxana S. "Roxy" Wells, b. 18 Oct 1843, , New York State, USA , d. 9 Dec 1909, , Ottawa Co., Michigan (Age 66 years) |
||24 Sep 1865
||, Michigan, USA 
||26 Nov 2023 |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
- [S10] Book - Vol II A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and other townships of the county : being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin..., 505.
- [S194] News - MI - unknown paper.
- [S195] Cemetery - MI - unknown.
- [S3231] Find A Grave, Cemetery, B., America, N., County, O., & Cemetery, B. (1844). Samuel Stauffer (1844-1899) - Find A Grave.... Findagrave.com. Retrieved 15 May 2018, from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/88294875/samuel-stauffer.
- [S194] News - MI - unknown paper.
- [S13] Vit - - ON, Waterloo - Wellington District Marriage Register Part 1 1840-1852, Rev'd Frederick W. Bindemann, Minister of The German Evangelical Protestant Lutheran Church, At Greenbush, Waterloo Township, Halton County, 1 Sept. 1843 to 1 July 1844 report 32.
Abraham G. Stauffer, Shoemaker, to Magdalena Shupe, both of Waterloo. Wit. John Stauffer, Farmer and Benjamin Shupe, Farmer, both of Waterloo.
- [S83] Bible - Stauffer, Samuel - location unknown.