This is a reply to Kevin Shepherd who wrote this comment on my “Basic Resources” page:

Keith Shepherd <> 1/3/2012:  Do you happen to have any information on the German or Dutch Shafer/Shepherd families of Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, NJ starting from about the mid 1750’s? I’ve been to the Hunterdon County Historical Society several times and found a few files on them but there are a lot of missing pieces. I’m trying to track down the first Shafer/Shepherd to arrive in 1754. The tradition is that he died on shipboard on his way over from Germany but his wife Margaret and their 4 children named John, Henry, Peter & possibly Richard (he may have been in his Mother’s womb) carried on to Amwell. She later married Andrew Bearder, who was on the ship with them when he traveled to America.

This is such an interesting question, I decided it needed its own post.

Dear Kevin,  I have a lot of unanswered questions about the Shafers of Hunterdon County. First, I am interested to see you have Henry Shafer as one of Margaret’s children. I have two Henrys in Hunterdon in 1780: one was taxed in Lebanon twp. and the other in Amwell twp. I know nothing else about them.

I also have a Richard Shaffer who was taxed in Amwell in 1780, but no Richard Shepherd. In fact, I have no Shepherds at all in Amwell in 1780. This gives support to the idea that Shepherds used to be known as Schafers, Shaffers or Shafers. 

In Lebanon township there was a Joseph Shafer and a William Shafer. Joseph’s wife was Mary Catharine. Joseph died intestate in 1774, and his widow was taxed in Lebanon in 1780. Their daughter married Joseph Nitzer.

William was also taxed in Lebanon twp. He was married to Susanna __, and wrote his will in the late 1780s. A “John William Shafer,” who might be the same person, was a miller who did something in the Revolutionary War, probably provided goods to the army.

The children I am aware of for Margaret Shafer are John, Peter and William, all as you say, born in Germany. William and Peter left Hunterdon County after the Revolution. John married Margaret Kemple and lived in Amwell twp. I do not know who his children were, but he did write a will in 1825 which I have not seen.

I do have information on Richard Shepherd of Amwell, but nothing about who his parents were. Perhaps that’s because he began as Richard Shaffer; I just do not know. The earliest record I have after 1780 is in 1797 when Shepherd was named executor of Casper Bair’s estate along with Andrew Bearder [his step-father? see below] and Jacob Fulper. In 1801, he was identified as bordering a tract of land in Amwell owned by George Holcombe, and in 1803 as bordering Henry Kitchen and James Jones. But I have not done the research to find when he first bought his own property in Amwell (now Delaware) Township.

Margaret Shafer married second George Henry Wambaugh/Wamback, born about 1720 in Germany, and present in Amwell township in 1741. Wambaugh lived near Rocktown in East Amwell and died in 1763. He and Margaret had 4 children: Henry, Elizabeth, Mary and Anthony.

Here is an abstract of his will:

1763  Jul 3, George William Wamback of Amwell, yeoman of Hunterdon County, will;

– my 212 acres in Amwell that I purchased of Wm Scouley and Jacob Burcham I give to my 3 children, Henry, Elizabeth and Mary Wamback;

– wife Margret £100;

– son Antoney not capable of providing for himself, so the others are to keep him for life;

– Executors Jacob Snyder, Christian Wart and John Young;

– Witnessed by George Servis, John Garrison, John Yoager

1763  Jul 28, Inventory £277-12-0 by Jonathan Smith and Richard Reed.

1764  Aug 15, Will proved [NJA 611J].

1764  Jun 14, Inventory £44-19-1 by Richard Reed and Jonathan Smith, goods found since the first one was taken.

1766  Jun 16, Account by Executors.

As you can see, Wamback/Wambough made no mention of the Shafer/Shepherd children. But this is just the New Jersey Archives abstract. We need to see the original to be sure.

After Wambough died, Margaret married a third time, about 1766. This third husband was Andrew Bearder, another German immigrant, who is said to have adopted Margaret’s previous children. I’ve always been interested in Bearder because he lived on my road. He and Margaret had one child, Jacob Bearder, born 1768. By that time Richard Shepherd was about 20 years old.

Much to my dismay, the will of Andrew Bearder, who died on Oct. 15, 1829, is missing from the Hunterdon Surrogate’s Court. I don’t know how that happened, but Phyllis D’Autrechy mentioned it in Vol. 2 of Some Old Records of Hunterdon County. So we don’t have his will to tell us if he made testamentary provision for his adopted children.

The only source of information on the confusion of names is the Deats Genealogical File, as far as I know, and pg 58 of The History of East Amwell. I see that I do not have that book on the list for basic Hunterdon sources. Your inquiry has reminded to me to add this useful book to the list.

Another question I wondered about was whether Margaret’s three husbands were known to each other (and to her) back in Germany. Wambough seems to have gotten to Hunterdon Co. first, being present in 1741, while Shafer never made it, and Bearder did not appear until at least 1760. There may be no way to answer this question.

Back to Richard Shepherd–he married about 1774 Mary Servis, daughter of John/Jurien Servis, and had ten children. I really need to get a copy of his will to see what provision he made for them. Following his death, about 1830, this advertisement appeared in the Hunterdon Gazette:

1830  May 19,  “Sale of Real Estate–WILL BE SOLD, AT PUBLIC VENDUE, On Saturday the 19th day of June next, on the premises, A Lot of Land, containing 31 acres, situate in Amwell township, half a mile east of the road leading from Ringoes to Trenton, 2½ miles below Ringoes, and half a mile from Rocktown. A suitable proportion of the land is meadow and woodland. There is on the same a good house and barn, a handsome young orchard, and a good spring of water. The above will be sold as the property of Richard Sheppard, dec’d. ALSO, will be offered with the above, or separate, as may best suit purchasers, a LOT of three acres, adjoining the above, having on it a distillery with all the fixtures. Persons wishing to view the premises previous to sale, may apply to Samuel Sheppard living thereon. Sale to commence at 1 o’clock. -Attendance given &c.

This property would have been in East Amwell, on the east side of what is now Route 31 opposite Rocktown. However, Richard Shepherd’s home farm was in what is now Delaware Township, on Lambert Road near Sandbrook-Headquarters Road. After his death, his son Richard Jr. was the one who got the farm. He married Deborah Rounsavel and died in 1873. I believe their son Richard iii also lived on the Shepherd homestead, and since he died in 1895, that makes a more than 100-year run in one place by three men with the same name.