Biography of Theodore J. Shaffer
Allegheny County, PA Biographies

THEODORE J. SHAFFER, president of the Amalgamated association of iron, steel and tin workers of the United States and Canada, was born in Pittsburg in 1856, raised there, and educated in the public schools. He began selling papers when eight years old, and left school at the age of twelve, but afterwards, when nineteen years old, resumed his studies under the private tutorship of Prof. L. M. Eaton, and later attended the Western university in Pittsburg. When fourteen years old he began work in the iron mill of Moorhead, McLean & Co., of Pittsburg, remaining there a year and a half, and then worked until 1872 at the Penn forge (Everson, Preston & Co.) iron mill on Second avenue. He was employed by the same company for a time in a new mill at Scottdale, Pa., but returned and again worked at the Penn forge. He next spent three years in the employ of Bradley, Rice & Co., returning a second time to the Penn forge. While at this last employment, he studied at odd times under Rev. Dr. W. P. Turner, a Methodist minister, now presiding elder in the Pittsburg conference. After three months' preparation, Mr. Shaffer went before the conference committee and was ordained to preach the gospel. Although he was making fifteen dollars a day at his trade, he cheerfully gave up his position and began his ministerial labors at Confluence, Somerset Co., Pa., at a salary of $500 a year. In this mountainous country he struggled for two years, walking thirty four miles a day in all kinds of weather and preaching three times. This life was so disastrous to his health that he was compelled to give up the charge, and even now he suffers from the effects of these early hardships. He spent two years each in Washington and Butler counties, holding two charges in each and preaching on alternate Sundays. He was then taken from the circuit, and was given charge of a church at Brownsville, Pa., for two years, and, in 1888, went to Johnstown, Pa., where he remained only six months, being compelled to give up his work on account of ill health. He went to Pittsburg, a dangerously sick man, but, after a short time, his inherent energy asserted itself, so he opened a small grocery and notion store. After about four months of this work, Mr. Shaffer's health was so far improved that he was again able to do a man's work, and, giving up the ministry for good, he returned to the iron mills, and has since devoted himself to the work of bettering the condition of his fellow workmen. From August, 1889, to October, 1894, he was employed as a rougher and roller in the Demmler mill of the United States sheet steel and tin plate company, and, after an idleness of eleven months, became roller in the tin mill of Oliver Bros, in Pittsburg, working there until April, 1897, Part of the time as acting manager. In April, 1897, Mr. Shaffer was placed in his present position by the advisory board of the association, was elected to the position a month later, and has been reelected every year since then. Mr. Shaffer is a member of the Junior Order of American Mechanics, Royal Arcanum, B. P. O. Elks, and the Amalgamated association of iron, steel and tin workers. In politics he is a republican, and in religious belief a Methodist. In 1902 he was appointed a member of the municipal improvement committee by Recorder Brown. Both of Mr. Shaffer's parents are living in the East End, Pittsburg, his father at the age of ninety and his mother about ten years younger. The father, Mathias F. Shaffer, is a native of Carlsruhe, Germany, and came to America in early manhood, in 1847.


From:
Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
personal and genealogical with portraits.
Publishers: Northwestern Historical Association
Madison, Wis. 1904.


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