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Below is a family biography included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1898.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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MRS. CORA M. SHEVALIER, widow of the late Depew P. Shevalier of the town of Virgil, this county, is one of the best known residents of Messengerville, and as a lady of the noblest womanly qualities, enjoys the deepest respect of many associates and friends.

Her father, Charles T. Shaft, who now lives with her, having retired from active business life in 1892, was born in Herkimer County, N. Y., August 29, 1819, and was a son of Richard and Jane (Dickinson) Shaft. Richard Shaft was born in Herkimer County, and was a son of Richard Shaft, Sr., who was a soldier of the Revolution, and who, it is said, cared for Gen. George Washington’s horse. Richard Shaft, Jr., served in the War of 1812, and resorted to farming as a means for securing an independent livelihood. His last years were spent in Pulaski, N. Y., and there his death took place when he was far advanced in years. His children were named as follows: William; Harvey; David; Richard; Eliza; Sophia; Melinda; Charles T. and three who died when infants. Charles T. Shaft early in life learned the useful trades of a mason and carpenter, and for twenty-five years followed these vocations in Marathon, Virgil and Cortland, in which period he erected many a dwelling-house and barn, that testify to his conscientious and painstaking work. Whenever any structural work of a difficult or particular nature was to be done, Mr. Shaft was always looked to for his valuable advice and assistance. As the laborer is always worthy of his hire, so it was that Mr. Shaft commanded a very remunerative price for his work, and reared his family well, providing them with all the necessaries as well as many of the luxuries of life. When the flames of rebellion alarmed the North, Mr. Shaft did not at first enlist, not from any unpatriotic feelings, but because he thought the war would be short, and that the country would not need the services of men who, like himself, had about passed the prime of life, and did not possess the youthful vigor necessary for one who follows a soldier’s life. It soon became apparent, however, that the nation needed all its citizens to put down the rebellion, and so Mr. Shaft offered his services, which were accepted, and he entered the army in 1863 as a member of the 24th Reg. N. Y. Vol. Cav. From then to the close of the War he served earnestly and faithfully, and filled out the record of the Shaft family, — three generations, son, father and grandfather, in three Wars, the Revolution, War of 1812, and the late Rebellion. As might be readily imagined, Mr. Shaft has also been mindful to his duties to the nation in civil life, and has served in a number of the township offices, besides exercising his right of suffrage in support of his party at every legitimate opportunity. He married Miss Juliet E. Hotchkiss, daughter of Ishmael Hotchkiss of Greene, Chenango County, N. Y., and to them these children were given: Ella; Charles, who is now deceased; Cora M., the subject of this brief biography; Frank; and Etta. Mrs. Shaft departed this life on May 20, 1893, when aged sixty-six years.

Depew P. Shevalier was born in the house where his widow now resides, October 10, 1844, and was a son of John Shevalier, who was one of the early farmers of the town of Virgil, and very prosperous and well-to-do in his day. After finishing the course of studies required at the district school, and having received in addition to such education an academical training, Depew P. taught school a number of years, and then returned to the paternal homestead, of which he assumed charge. He cared for his parents with the most touching filial devotion, and fulfilled to the letter that blessed commandment with a promise, to “honor thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land.” He finally bought the homestead, after the deaths of his father and mother, and carried on farming with very successful results. He farmed his property on the best lines, and according to the most approved methods in vogue in his time, easily earning and retaining the reputation of a model farmer. His was a sympathetic, affectionate nature, and his friends were legion, and were to be found on every side. Nothing but good was ever related of him, and his name will never be forgotten so long as the remembrance of his many acts of kindness and regard still continues. In his politics he was a Republican, and as justice of the peace he continued to serve for sixteen years, his death finally completing the term. He was also constable many years, and did valuable service on the county committee. He was a member of the M. E. Church, and had taken a number of degrees in the local lodge of the F. and A. M. His death occurred December 5, 1894, the immediate cause being a severe attack of typhoid fever, which sapped and undermined his constitution, and laid him low in the grave. He was survived by his widow, Mrs. Cora M. Shevalier, the subject of this sketch, and one daughter, Ella A., who was born January 27, 1880, who is at this writing living with her mother and attending school.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published in 1898. 

View additional Cortland County, New York family biographies here: Cortland County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Cortland County, New York here: Cortland County, New York Map

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