m. est 1790
m. 26 Feb 1829
Facts and Events
St. John Episcopal Church Cemetery Shaffer, William born 1797 in Fairfield Co., S. Carolina; died 5 April 1887
Shaffer, William Children listed: Lizzie H. married Thomas F. Brooks. Donation of land: 17 June 1869 (Houma Ct. Hse.:Book of Donations: v. A, p. 45)
William A. Shaffer was a planter by occupation, and was first engaged in his pursuit in Lafourche parish and subsequently moved to Terrebonne parish, where he established what is known as the Crescent Farm. He died at a ripe old age in 1886. His wife died in 1875. They were the parents of three sons and four daughters, viz: John J, W. R., Lizzie H. wife of T. T. Brooks; Belle W., wife of Dr. J. H. Sanders of St. Mary Parish; Thomas J., Benjamin F. died at the age of 25 years, in Texas in 1871.
Williamm. A. Shaffer, testified, "I have lived in this parish since 1835. Prior to the War, I was a planter. Before the War, on my plantation, the marriage between a slave man & woman was done in this way: The parties first made their application to me. After making some enquiries & if there were no objections by their parents, when I occupied the position of Justice of the Peace, I performed the ceremony myself & before that, I sometimes called in a minister, who performed the ceremony, and the parties were considered man and wife. This was a universal rule on my place. Open, public concubinage between slaves before the War was not allowed on my place. If I knew it, I put a stop to it.
"I think generally, that the custom of my place on the subject of slave marriages, was the custom of the country, as far as my observations extended, but there were exceptions. On my place, a ceremony was required, which was performed by either myself or a minister."
(From The Movers and Shakers 1850 - 1870, pg 68)
Listing the wealthiest people in Terrebonne Parish during these years. "The Shaffer family was number nine with reference to W. A. Shaffer. His real estate was worth $60,000 (1850), total worth $329,000 (1860) and no value listed in the 1870 census. The family owned 159 slaves in 1860. William Shaffer owned Crescent Farm Plantation and the family has owned Magnolia and Ardoyne Plantations for over 100 years." (From The Movers and Shakers 1850 - 1870, pg 59)
"Magnolia Plantation manor, named for the grove of magnolia trees that surround the old mansion and are scattered about the beautiful old garden, was erected in 1858 for Richard Ellis, a wealthy planter. It is of the modified Greek Revival style, built somewhat along the lines of Rosedown Plantation manor near St. Francisville, La.
On the rear walls the old slave bells can still be seen. Like most old plantation homes the kitchen and service quarters are found in a separate building. The slave bells, each with a different tone, operated by special wires in working order form an interesting relic. These ancient slave bells are of different sizes and tones, and are connected by a wire arrangement to the various rooms. Each slave (servant) was familiar with the tone of his or her bell, and each personal maid or valet knew exactly where to go when called. These slave bells which in some of the largest of the old homes numbered at times as many as twelve in a row were placed in the service quarters above the kitchen window and were sheltered by the overhanging gallery of the upper floor.
Up until a quarter of a century ago, many rows of these old slave bells were still to be found in most large Southern cities as well as on the larger of the old plantation homes. A bell man, as he was called, made a business of keeping these bells in order, going on calls both in the country as well as in the city as do the men who attend to the gas and electric meters today. They were arranged in a row and were picturesque in appearance. A similar arrangement can be seen in the moving picture, "Wuthering Heights", so the American way of calling servants must have found its origin in Europe.
Seized by the Federal troops during the Civil War, the home was converted into a Federal hospital. At that time the furnishings of the handsome mansion were badly abused and damaged. Not having a feed trough handy the grand piano was hauled to the yard, the works removed, and it was used as a feed box for the horses. Among the many attractive architectural features of this interesting old manor house is the magnificent solid rosewood winding stairway. It is always beautiful but specially so during the Fiesta when lovely Southern belles in wide spreading crinolines bank the steps.
Tradition has it that the marriage of General Braxton Bragg (whose ante-bellum plantation manor on Spring Hill Avenue, Mobile Alabama, still stands) to Miss Ellis took place in the spacious drawing room of Magnolia Manor.
It was purchased in 1874 by William Alexander Shaffer, who restored the old house and garden to its present beautiful condition. The first floor front is of brick heavily plastered, the rest of the structure of choice heavy heart cypress lumber. Like most large plantation homes the kitchen is in a separate building. A special Cooling system to keep the drinking water at a low temperature was installed in the early days. It consisted of double brick walls tightly packed between with crushed charcoal and well shaded. It is a home where much entertaining is done, the old mansion being well adapted for that purpose." (Old Louisiana Plantation Homes, pgs 222 - 223)
William Shaffer resided in South Carolina, Ohio (?), and Louisiana. Rented St James Plantation near Thibodaux, Louisiana before he married. Bought Crescent Farm from US Government Land Grant and built the house in 1836. Crescent Farm was built by a Philadelphia architect and furnished in 1837.
He went to see President Cleveland, and late in life (80) returned to Winsboro. When he left and cut a cave (?) close to his mother's grave. This cave (?) was passed down from generation to generation and eventually was lost. Last know owner was Milhado Lee Shaffer, Sr.
William also went with Senator Gibson on a trip to Washington, DC. [Milhado Lee Shaffer, Sr Genealogy Records, William Alexander Shaffer Sheet, Abt. 1960]
William appeared to apply for credit to the Citizens' Bank of Louisiana in 1938. An appraisal accompanied the appraisal of his property. The application indicates that William owned 1000 arpents of land worth $20,000; had a wooden framed house valued at $300, owned 11 slaves, two mules, and two oxen. The value of his slaves was estimated at $6,300 and the total value of the property was appraised at $27,650. In 1938, William had 45 arpents in cotton and 45 arpents in corn, but had no land in sugar cane at this time. The application indicates he was married, was born in the United States and was a resident of Louisiana and Terrebonne for at least one year. He also stated he had no other mortgage. (Shaffer Papers, University of Chapel Hill, 19 Mar 1838)
The 1860 Federal census indicates that William owned $156,000 in real estate and his personal estate was valued at $173,000. William's occupation is that of a planter and there are five individuals that resides with him, Emely age 52 (his wife) Isabella age 19, Thomas age 17, Benjamine age 15 and T.F. Wood age 51. T.F. Wood is identified as the overseer and has a personal wealth of $6,400. William claimed to be born in South Carolina and T.F. Wood was identified his place of birth as New York. The remainder for the members in the household were born in Louisiana. Isabelle, Thomas and Benjamine all attended school within the year. (US Census Federal 1869, 3rd Ward, Terrebonne Parrish, Page 96)
The Slave Schedule of the 1860 Federal Census also indicated that William owned 118 slaves. There were 56 males and 62 females the ages ranged from 65 to one years of age. One 65 year old males was identified as being blind. William claimed to have twenty-six homes for the slaves. ( US Census, 1860, Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants, 3rd Ward, Terrebonne Parrish, Page 32)
On 1 April 1885, William documented in his records that he had 50 mule, 16 head of cattle, 1500 acres of swamp land, 700 acres of uncleared land, 800 acres in corn and 500 acres in cane. He estimates his farm to be worth $47, 106. He also claimed the 1884 crop yielded 800 hogshead of sugar 600 barrels of molasses and 400 bushels of corn. William stated, "This estimate is about 19 percent lower than last year. [Shaffer Papers, University of Chapel Hill, 1 Apr 1885)
Upon the death of William A. Shaffer it appears that there was a letter written by Harriet Brooks that detailed his death. The following is a a direct quote of that letter:
"Magnolia Plantation, LA
As he calmly awaited the summons of his maker, he dictated the following request, which shows a clear and unclouded intellect to the last.
Present: Mrs Sanders and myself -
We asked have you anything more to tell us. He replied: No that is enough. All will be well if you carry out what I have said. Let the old and faithful servants go to the funeral on the cars. Do not let them pay. He passed away at 2 p.m. April 1887. (Shaffer Papers, University of North Carolina, 10 Apr 1887)