Civil War veteran, alderman, contractor and builder

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Naperville has a little-known connection to the Civil War’s most famous battle.

Born in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania on October 13, 1837, Levi Schiffler Shafer was the son of Elias Shaffer and Elizabeth Schiffler.

He first worked in a cart, then as a young man in 1855 Shafer came to Naperville. Here he went to work as a carpenter with his older brother, Alfred.

On September 18, 1861, Levi enlisted as a private and served in the Union Army during the War of the Rebellion in E County 8th IL Cavalry.

Levi Schiffler Shafer is best remembered for loaning his rifle to Wheaton’s Marcellus E. Jones, who is credited with firing the first shot that officially started the Battle of Gettysburg.

Levi also fought in the battles of Yorktown, Antietam, Williamsburg, Richmond, South Mountain, Culpepper and Brandy Station. His regiment captured the colors of the vaunted 12th Virginia Cavalry.

In 1886, a monument was carved in stone from the Naperville quarry and placed at the site of the “first shot” on the outskirts of Gettysburg to commemorate the event.

Levi was honorably discharged as a sergeant on October 8, 1864, and married Anna Eliza Naugle on December 7, 1865 in Naperville. They were the parents of Walter, Elizabeth E. (who married Edward Barnes Hall), Grace (who married Henry Earl Rennels), Adela (who married Charles R. Hart) and two sons who died in infancy.

After the war, Levi became a carpenter and building contractor. He erected homes for Dr David Hess, William King and Ernest Von Oven as well as commercial buildings for the merchant tailor and banker George Reuss, the grocer Valentine Dieter, the boot and shoe merchants Collins and Durran and the druggist W Wickel.

Levi also operated a planning factory and carpentry shop on the east side of Washington Street, between North and School Avenues.

In 1890, Levi was elected an alderman for Naperville’s First Ward, serving for two years.

One of the most recognizable buildings in downtown Naperville, the former Naperville National Bank Building and Masonic Temple at 18 W. Jefferson Avenue, was built by Levi in ​​1891. Today the building landmark is home to the Italian restaurant, La Sorella di Francesca, and stands prominently as a testament to his artisan abilities.

He was a member of Euclid Lodge No. 65, AF & AM

Levi Schiffler Shafer died June 23, 1920 in Naperville. His funeral was conducted by the Reverend LC Schmidt of Grace Church and the funeral service was at the expense of the comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic. He was buried in Naperville Cemetery.

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