JOHN W. SHAW, member of the State Board of Agriculture, Harrisburg, Illinois, was born in what is now Carriers Mills township, Saline county, March 5, 1866, son of John E. and Mary E. (Cook) Shaw. His ancestors were Welsh-English, and his grandfather, Amos Shaw, was among the early settlers of Wilson county, Tennessee, from whence about 1830 he came up into Illinois and established his home in Carriers Mills township, Saline county. Here he spent the last decade of his life and died about 1840, at near the age of sixty years. He was twice married and had four sons: Le Roy, who was a resident of Williamson county, Illinois, was the child of his first wife; the other sons, Ambrose, John E. and Hayward, being by his last wife. Ambrose settled in Franklin county, Illinois, where his children still live. Haywood never married, and lived and died at the home of his brother, John E.
John E. Shaw was still a child at the time the family came to Illinois. He was twenty-three when he and Miss Mary E. Cook were married, and his life was spent on his father's farm, where he died in the prime of life, at the age of forty-three years. His widow survived him ten years, and continued her residence on the farm during that time. She was a sister of Mack Cook, of Harrisburg. Of the eight children born to them, five reached maturity, namely: Mary, who married George Stallings near Harrisburg; Sarah, who is the wife of John Chase, also near Harrisburg; Christopher C., a farmer at the old homestead, died at the age of thirty-three years; James R., who lives retired in Harrisburg; and John W., the subject of this review.
John W. Shaw was three years old at the time of his father's death, and thirteen when he was bereft of a mother's loving care. At that early age he drifted around from place to place, a part of the time making his home with his brother. He worked by the day or the month at whatever he could find to do. Among other places he worked on the farm of Mr. W. H. Blackman, a brother of J. B. Blackman, one of the large realty owners of Harrisburg. One winter he cut and hauled wood to pay for his board while he attended school. In 1887 he taught school in Missouri. The following year he opened a store at Elizabethtown, in company with Thomas Ozment, now a merchant at Harrisburg. After being in a general store there four years Mr. Shaw sold out. He had only six hundred and fifty dollars to invest at the beginning, and at the end of the four years the stock, all paid for, was valued at seven thousand dollars. Then he went to Marion, Kentucky, where he kept a general store one year. In 1892 he came to Harrisburg. Here, in partnership with B. P. Weaver, he opened a general store under the name of Shaw & Weaver, and was identified with this business for a period of ten years. The store was then purchased by George G. Mugge, who at one time clerked for Shaw & Weaver for thirty-five dollars per month; now Mr. Weaver is a clerk for Mr. Mugge. This business had its inception in a small way, but in two years it was the leading mercantile house of the town.
Since he disposed of his interest in the store Mr. Shaw has devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits and stock raising, conducting operations on a large scale, having a thousand acres of land, in three farms, and keeping a large number and high quality of both cattle and horses. He is a breeder of both Shorthorn cattle and Percheron horses, and at this writing has fifty head of the former and twenty-five head of the latter. He is a fine judge of stock, buys, sells and trades, and has taken no little pride in the exhibit of his stock at the local fairs, also at the State Fair. In 1907 he was elected a member of the State Board of Agriculture; at the expiration of his term was re-elected, and is now serving his second term. During the early part of his identity with the Board he was superintendent of farm products. He was afterward made superintendent of heavy horses, and under his direction heavy horses became a leading feature at the State Fair and is growing in favor here. In 1911 Mr. Shaw visited the State fairs of Indiana and Iowa, as representative of the State Board, and made special study of the exhibits of horses.
Politically he has always been a Democrat, and for years has been active and influential in the councils of his party. In 1904 he was honored by election to the State Legislature, and served as a representative in the forty-fourth general assembly. During this term he was a member of the committee on education, also mines and mining.
Mr. Shaw has a wife and seven children, all at home at this writing Elma, Mary. Ardis, Harry E., Ward E., John W. and Wayne R. Mrs. Shaw was formerly Miss Mary L. Price, of Hardin county, Illinois.
Fraternally Mr. Shaw is identified with the B. P. O. E., the I. O. O. F., and the A. F. and A. M. He has passed all the chairs in the subordinate lodge of the Odd Fellows. In Masonry he has received all the degrees except those of the Commandery and thirty-third, and he has membership in Oriental Consistory and Medinah Temple, Chicago.
Extracted 23 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, published in 1912, volume 2, pages 622-623.
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