John Schafer Dairy (1885-1930)
Here is a large colorized panorama image from October 14, 1909, showing the homes along Timberland Avenue near Saw Mill Run Creek. This is the site of Schafer's Dairy, housed in the two barns in the foreground. Also in the foreground is the lower Timberland Avenue Bridge over Saw Mill Run Creek, built only a couple months before the picture was taken.
John August Schafer was born in Germany in 1866 and immigrated to America in 1885. He settled along Saw Mill Run Creek near Pittsburgh at 406 Timberland Avenue. Schafer partnered with S. Jacob to begin a dairy farm. The Schafer property was sometimes referred to as 236 Saw Mill Run Boulevard.
John married Cecilia Hergenroeder in 1895. They had five children, Rosa, Hilda, William, John and Joseph. The Schafer's spent their lifetime working at their dairy, and later settled into retirement. John passed away on September 9, 1937 and Cecilia followed on August 15, 1944.
The four homes shown along Timberland belong to (l to r) A. Endes, Joseph Merkel, John Schafer and S. Jacobs. Look closely at the Schafer home and see Cecilia standing on her porch with baby Joseph. Next door, there are a few women standing on the porch at the Jacobs home, showing a mom and her baby on the porch, but their names are not known.
Heading uphill to the left is Timberland Avenue and the upper Timberland Avenue bridge, which crosses over the West Side Belt Railroad tracks to the homes along Cadet and Linial Avenues. The rickety, wooden bridge was also built in 1909 and was the only way off their perch atop the hill for those folks. Off to the right you can see the railroad abutment.
In 1909, at the time this picture was taken, two decades before Cadet Avenue was extended to Pioneer Avenue, there was talk of a tunnel being built through the abutment to give the ten or so homes in the Boggs Plan access to Saw Mill Run.
Today, 110 years later, the Schafer home at 406 Timberland Avenue still stands behind the Red, White and Blue Thrift store along Saw Mill Run Creek, next to another home at 402 Timberland (the site of the brown dairy barn).
The century old lower Timberland Avenue Bridge across the creek was closed a year or two ago, cutting off these homes. As late as 2007 the two homes to the left and the one on the hill to the right of the Schafer home (all of the original homes) were still standing but have since been torn down, possibly as a result of the bridge closure. The upper Timberland Bridge was torn down in 1925 when Cadet Avenue was extended to Pioneer.
* Written by Clint Burton - April 14, 2020 *
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