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George Christian Schaeffer

George C. Schaeffer was born December 8, 1814, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He received his education at Columbia College, where his father was a professor. From 1833 to 1836 he was associated with Major D.B. Douglass in surveying and constructing the Croton Aqueduct. In 1886 he was appointed city surveyor of New York. In 1837 he became co-editor of the "American Railroad Journal," and shortly afterward became sole proprietor and editor. In addition to civil engineering he devoted much time to original researches in chemistry, to study and collection of specimens in botany and geology. Professor Schaeffer serves as Librarian of Columbia College from 1839 to 1847, from which he received the honorary degrees of A.M. and M.D. in 1842. In 1847 he was called to the chair of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and Geology in Centre College, which position he resigned in 1853 to become principal examiner in the U.S. Patent Office. While at Centre College he was appointed in 1851 chief engineer of the Lexington and Danville Railroad Company. From 1854 to 1858 he occupied the chair of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the University of Georgetown.

In 1858 Prof. Schaeffer was elected to the chair of Science and Agriculture in the Maryland Agricultural College. At the outbreak of the war he accepted the chair of Chemistry, Physics and Natural History in the Academic Department of Columbia University, holding at the same time the professorship of Chemistry in the National Medical College of the same institution. The Academic Department was practically suspended during the Civil War, but he continued to hold his chair in the Medical College till the later part of his life, when he resigned.

When hostilities began in 1861, Prof. Schaeffer was placed in charge of and organized an important Bureau under the Engineer Department of the Army, where he collected vast stores of information and incorporated it in maps for the use of the armies in the field. During the Peninsula Campaign in 1862 Gen. McClellan sent for him for personal consultation concerning the character of the country over which the operations of the army extended. President Lincoln more than once consulted with him in reference to topographical information needed for the army. He was tendered a high position in the army, but declined. In 1865 he was appointed Librarian of the Patent Office and of the Copyright Library. in 1873, admonished by failing health, he resigned; his resignation was accepted, and he was appointed to a position of equal salary, but lighter duties. This graceful recognition, by the Government he had faithfully served. was a solace to him in the few short remaining weeks of his life. He died October 4, 1873.

Source: Danville Literary and Social Club. "Anaconda. " History and Semi-Centennial Celebration (1889)