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Abner H. Shaffer, M. D.

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Abner H. Shaffer, M. D.

Huntington County Volunteer (View posts)
Posted: 31 Jul 2000 6:00AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Edited: 23 Jun 2001 9:50AM GMT
Surnames: Shaffer, Maurice, Collins, Snyder
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pp. 535-536

There are few pioneers of Huntington who have a more active career than Dr. Shaffer, and the fact that he is now the oldest medical practitioner in the city and is yet as busy in his profession as ever makes him an interesting subject for a personal sketch.

Abner H. Shaffer, M. D., was born in Stark county, Ohio, January 15, 1829. He was the sixth in a family of seven children,--four sons and three daughters,--born to George and Elizabeth (Maurice) Shaffer, both of whom were born and reared near Gettysburg, Adams county, Pennsylvania. The father served as a captain during the war of 1812. In 1824, accompanied by his wife, he moved to Stark county, Ohio, entered a tract of land, and in the course of a few years the forest home was converted into a good farm. There the two resided until the 12th day of October, 1866, upon which day both died, aged, respectively, seventy-eight and seventy-six years. The husband survived the wife but eight hours.

The boyhood and youthful days of our subject were spent working upon his father's farm in his native county. In winter he attended the district schools, wherein he obtained the rudiments of an education. At the age of nineteen he entered the Western Reserve University at Hudson, Ohio, where he pursued his college studies two years and a half. He then went to Paris, Bourbon county, Kentucky, where he taught school two years. Having formed a desire to enter the medical profession, he returned to Ohio and became a student under Prof. A. Metz, a noted surgeon of Massillon, Ohio. During the winter of 1855-6 he took a course of medical lectures at the University of Michigan. Returning to Massillon, he practiced medicine a short time with his preceptor, but in August, 1856, he came to Huntington and entered fully upon his professional career. In October, 1861, he entered Western Reserve Medical College, at Cleveland, Ohio, where he took another course of lectures, graduating with honors in the spring of 1862. Returning to Huntington, he resumed his practice, but in June, 1863, Governor Morton commissioned him assistant surgeon of the Seventy-fifth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, in conformance with which he immediately joined the regiment at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. While on hospital duty, occasioned by the battle of Chickamauga, he was captured by the Confederates, and after a tortuous confinement in Libby Prison was exchanged, December 18, 1863, at City Point, Virginia. He then proceeded to Washington, and obtained from the secretary of war a sixty-days' leave of absence, at the expiration of which he rejoined his regiment at Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was present with it at the capture of Atlanta and subsequently was in charge of the Post Hospital at that place. September 16, 1864, he was promoted to the rank of surgeon and served his regiment as such under General Sherman on the march to the sea. He was mustered out of service June 8, 1865, upon which he returned to Huntington and resumed his local practice. This has not been confined to any particular branch of the profession, though his attention has been more particularly devoted to the practice of surgery.

He has been twice married, first to Lizzie J. Collins, in this city, March 20, 1867. She was the daughter of John B. Collins, who served as a lieutenant in both the Mexican war and the Rebellion. This union resulted in the birth of two children: Clyde and Von C., the former of whom died in infancy. Mrs. Shaffer died November 19, 1891. April 19, 1894, Dr. Shaffer married Lizzie M. Snyder. The Doctor holds membership as an elder in the Presbyterian church. Fraternally he belongs to the Free and Accepted Mason lodge; in politics he is an ardent Republican. In 1875 he was elected by his party to represent the counties of Huntington and Wabash in the lower branch of the Indiana legislature, and in 1878 was elected to represent the same counties in the state senate. His course as a legislator reflects very creditably upon his legislative ability, and the pronounced stand he took for or against various prominent measures won for him an enviable record and proved his earnest desire to promote the welfare of his constituency. The Doctor was the main factor in the legislature of 1879 in engineering through the bill legalizing the acts of the common council of the city of Huntington, so that all litigation then existing was annulled or avoided. He carried the fight to complete success, and now has the plaudits of the people that his labors were worthy and well done. He has also been intrusted (sic) with various smaller offices and has always proven himself true to the charge.

Dr. Shaffer is not only the oldest physician and surgeonin the city, but he is the oldest charter member of Amity Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, and one of the three oldest surviving members of the Presbyterian church. He is a charter member of James R. Slack Post, Grand Army of the Republic, president of the pension examining board, president of the Huntington County Medical Society, has been local surgeon of the Wabash Railway for thirty-five years, and in many other respects is a prominent figure in the history of the city in which he has lived so long. He was elected school trustee in 1871, and is the only surviving member of that board, which inaugurated the advance step in the building of good structures for school purposes. This, he says, was done in the face of a great deal of prejudice. When Isaac P. Gray was governor Dr. Shaffer was appointed a trustee of the school at Ft. Wayne for feeble-minded youth, serving successively under Governors Gray, Hovey and Matthews, the period of incumbency covering ten years. In 1875 he received from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Indianapolis the Ad Eundem degree.

His first vote for president was for Fremont, in 1856, and has voted for every Republican candidate for president ever since.

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