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Palser Shaver,Balser Shaver, Shaffer,Shaver, Rockingham County, Virginia
THE
BALTHASAR SCHAEFFER
FAMILY
WHAT'S IN A NAME? The Germans delighted in going into elaborate description in adopting surnames. As a result, occupative surnames were more numerous in Germany than in England. In the everyday life of the German, the simplest of trades or occupations were of utmost importance. The meaning of Shafer was one who tended sheep, or a shepherd. Shafer appears to be the shortened, anglicized form of the name with the elimination of the letter 'c' from Schaffer, Schaeffer and Schafer. Nicknames also were popular in Germany, especially for names taken from animals, birds and fish. So in the early German world of nicknames, one might very well have heard the word "Schaff", referring to one who became Shafer properly. In England, Sir Edward Sharpey-Schafer gave prominence to the name as the noted English physiologist. In Germany during the 1800s, Arnold and Wilhelm Schafer were famous German historians. Also during the 19th century, several arms were granted to Schafers who were chevaliers, or knights, in Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the picturesque old state of Brunswick. Some 30,000 emigrants, primarily from the Rhenish or Lower Palantate arrived in London in 1709. Dissatisfied with their lot and attracted by the advertising of the colonial provinces, they headed for America, many settling in Philadelphia. Numerous Schaffers are listed among these Palatine immigrants.  BALTHASAR was a popular name given to German boys in the 1700's. It was believed to the name of one of the "Three Wisemen" from the Bible. Various spellings of this can be found such as Balthazar, Balthazer as well as shortened versions: Balser, Baltzer etc. Early immigrants to Pennsylvania often anglicized their German names or it was done for them in early records by an English speaking clerk trying to spell the German names phonetically. Thus our Balthasar Schaeffer ancestor is known to us in the Shenandoah as PALSER SHAVER.
Palser Shaver, Rockingham County, Virginia