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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  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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JOHN U. SHEAFER, former chief of police of Carlisle, Cumberland county, and who has served several years in that incumbency, is a native of that city and has lived there all his life, in fact his home has never been more than a hundred feet from his birthplace, the old Sheafer home on South Pitt street.

Isaac Sheafer, his father, was also a native of Carlisle, and passed all his life there, dying in May, 1855. He was a carpenter by occupation. He married Miss Henrietta DeSano, who was also born in Carlisle, where her father, Rev. Frederick DeSano, a Lutheran minister, was stationed for many years. The DeSano family was of French extraction. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Sheafer, namely: Hannah, who died unmarried in 1883; George E., deceased; John U.; Robert, who is a hotel-keeper in Carlisle; and Charlotte, who died in girlhood.

John U. Sheafer was born Feb. 26, 1838, and until he was twelve years old attended the public schools. He then became a “runner” in a dry-goods store, the establishment of Philip A. Arnold, in Carlisle, where he remained three years, after which he went to school for another term. The following winter he entered the book store of A. M. Piper, as clerk, remaining with him fifteen months, and on leaving this position he commenced a three year apprenticeship to the mason’s trade. From 1857 to 1861 he was employed as journeyman at that trade, and then commenced to do business on his own account. But when his first building was partly up the war broke out, and throwing his tools into the cellar Mr. Sheafer told the hands to finish the job and went to the front in answer to Lincoln’s first call, for three-months men, as a corporal in Company C. 9th P. V. I., Col. Longenecker. Previous to this he had been a member of the Sumner Rifles, a local organization, three years. After completing his term of enlistment Mr. Sheafer remained in Washington, D. C., where he became a teamster in the Government employ, continuing thus for two years, at the end of that time returning home. In 1863 he went with Gen. Smith’s division, in charge of warehouses and in similar work, being so engaged for three months. Returning to Carlisle again, he went back to his trade as contractor, giving his entire attention to his business interests until his first election as chief of police, in 1878. He served two years in that office, in 1880 resuming his trade, which he continued to follow until 1897. In the latter year he was again elected chief of police, and was retained in the office, with the exception of the year 1902, up to March, 1904, when his term expired. The length of his services bespeaks a good record and faithful discharge of his duty and his repeated reelections have been compliments well earned by efficient service. Mr. Sheafer is a man of affable personality, has a keen wit which makes him an agreeable companion, and bears a reputation unsullied, whether as a business man or an official. He is energetic, and as active as many men twenty years his junior.

Mr. Sheafer was married in Carlisle, in 1864, to Miss Margaret Jane Smyth, daughter of Michael and Margaret (Durnin) Smyth, the former a native of Ireland, the latter of Scotch-Irish parentage. Mrs. Sheafer passed away in 1880. She was the mother of eight children, two of whom are deceased, the others being: Elizabeth, Mrs. Ira J. Davis, of Chambersburg; James R., of Carlisle; Charlotte, Mrs. James Dysart, of Carlisle; John T., of Carlisle; Blanche Independence; and Katy D. Mr. Sheafer has been a Republican since the formation of the party, and is a stanch supporter of its principles. He was one of the organizers of the Empire Hook and Ladder Co. in 1858-59, and was formerly a member of the old Union Fire Company.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

View additional Cumberland County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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