Nicholas Vance Sheffer

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Nicholas Vance Sheffer

Birthdate: (79)
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana, United States
Death: September 15, 1910 (79)
Lynden, Whatcom, Washington, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Alice Zipporah Sheffer; Barbara Ann Ewell and Sarah Jane Sheffer
Father of Nicholas Vance Sheffer

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About Nicholas Vance Sheffer

Biographical Summary:

"... Nicholis Sheffer (1824-1910) Born in Indiana in 1824, Mr. Sheffer reached California during the gold rush of 1849. He traveled by ox team, and at Salt Lake City was married. Leaving his wife at Salt Lake, he went on to California, where he wandered around for some time, and on returning to Utah found is wife had deserted him and married another man. Undaunted, he married again, and being of a restless disposition, he wandered around through Oregon and eastern Washington for a number of years, when his second wife becoming tired of his peregrinations, they were divorced.

For a third time, he went to Salt Lake in 1867, and there for the third time launched forth upon the sea of matrimony. To this union six children were born, Lydia, Vance, Lula, Bert, May, and Goldie. But the Sheffer roaming disposition kept the family on the road much of the time. They shifted up and down the coast of Oregon and California in their covered wagon, and finally wound up at Whatcom in 1883, where his wife refused to follow his travelings any further. Seemingly they could not get along harmoniously under her decision, for in 1890 they separated. Now free to follow his own inclinations, Mr. Sheffer took his old buckboard and one horse, and set off once more down the coast, going as far as into Mexico. Not finding things ideal there, he turned about and straggled back to Lynden, where he made his home with his daughter, Lydia, who had married R. E. Hawley. But the "rolling stone" could not stay still for long. When the Alaska gold rush came on, the wanderlust came over him, and off he went to the north. Crossing the divide to the headwaters of the Yukon, he built a boat and descended that stream, and finally landed at Nome, where he worked for a time at carpenter work. Having accumulated a little money, he decided to return to the States and eventually landed back in Lynden with the Hawleys.

Mr. Sheffer now decided to settle down, so he built a small house and appeared to be getting along well, when suddenly the fever hit him again, and at the age of 80, with the old mare and buckboard, he set off for California, and wandered about the southland for two years. But age was beginning to put on the brakes of his restless soul, so he trundled back to Lynden, and once more made his home with the Hawleys, for the remainder of his life. He died in 1910..."

SOURCE: Hawley, Robert Emmett; Skqee Mus: or, Pioneering days on the Nooksak , published 1945, pgs. 180-181. Retrieved from:


"...Obituary of Nicholas Vance Sheffer

N.V. Sheffer, Washington pioneer of 1854, and one of the earliest residents of what is now Lynden, died Friday morning at St. Lukes hospital in Bellingham. He was buried in the Lynden Cemetary Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Sheffer crossed the plains and mountains from Indiana in 1850 and '51, and came north from California three years later. It has been about 60 years since he first ascended the Nooksack river.

His first years on the Sound were spend in Olympia, Seattle and Port Townsend. He was a carpenter in the army service for several seasons and helped build several of the Sound forts. He was in Olympia at the beginning of the Indian war but went to Seattle where he served until peace was restored.

Mr. Sheffer wwas one of the pioneers of Bellingham, or rather Whatcom, before he located at Lynden. He was one of those who helped blaze a trail from Bellingham to the gold fields of the upper Frasier streams. He helped timber the coal mines that were formerly worked under Whatcom.

His first trip to Lynden was made in search of fabled potato fields that had been planted by Indians. He did not find the potato fields but he found rich soil and some of the most wonderful virgin forests in the world.

Later, with his son-in-law, Mr. Hawley, he was engaged in the mill business on the Nooksack river near Lynden. He came here as a ship carpenter and he built one of the first steamers that ever ran on the Nooksack. It was named Lynden, and finally burned.

Mr. Sheffer has done considerable placer mining. He told the Tribune editor that he had found pay color in the sands of Lynden streets, but smilingly added, "One gets it quicker from planting spuds than by panning the dirt, however."

N.V. Sheffer was born in Indianapolis, Sept. 13, 1825 (Note: should be 18 Sept 1830) and later lived in Williamsport, the same state. He has a wife living at Port Townsend with a daughter. There are three other daughters and three sons living. The sons are all farmers in California. One daughter is Mrs. R. E. Hawley of Lynden, one daughter lives at Baker and another lives at Bay View.

He was a pleasant old may and a christian--one of the sort who came through the rough pioneer days with a clean record. In Lynden and over the state and nation he had many friends. His mind was active until a short time before his death and it was a storehouse of historical lore. He was personally acquainted with all the state pioneers and with many men who have become famous, and he had personal recollections of all of them that made his tales always interesting..."

SOURCE: Original source unknown. Retrieved from:,%20J.F..htm

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Nicholas Vance Sheffer's Timeline

September 18, 1830
Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana, United States
February 26, 1853
Age 22
Pleasant Grove, Utah, USA
September 15, 1910
Age 79
Lynden, Whatcom, Washington, United States