Born in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois, Schaefer attended the public schools, Western Military Academy, Alton, Illinois, and the University of Illinois at Urbana. He was graduated from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1910. Chemical engineer with Morris &. Co., packers, East St. Louis, Illinois from 1913 to 1916, assistant general superintendent 1916-1918, and general superintendent 1919-1928. He served as assistant recorder of deeds of St. Clair County, Illinois from 1928 to 1930. County treasurer of St. Clair County, Illinois from 1930 to 1932. He served as delegate to the Democratic State conventions in 1928, 1932, and 1936.
Schaefer was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-third and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1933-January 3, 1943). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1942. He served as member of the board of directors of Griesediech-Western Brewery Co., Belleville, Illinois, at the time of his death. He died in St. Louis, Missouri, November 8, 1950. He was interred in Walnut Hill Cemetery, Belleville, Illinois.