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Abram & Evaline Shapley


Posted By: Clayton co. Coordinator
Date: 10/20/2006 at 03:38:22

Long Covered-Wagon Journey Was Made by Pioneer Woman of Sibley

Mrs. Evaline Shapley Has Celebrated Her 86th Birthday
by Glenn W. Jones, Special Correspondent of the Journal

Sibley, Ia., March 16 -- From Ohio to Clayton county, Ia., then to Osceola county, Ia., a journey of 800 miles in a covered wagon, was the experience of Mrs. Eveline Shapley, of Sibley, who has just celebrated her 86th birthday anniversary. She is one of Osceola county's earliest settlers.

The first leg of the long trip was made in 1851, when she was 10 years old. At that time she left Nashville, O., her birthplace, and with her parents drove through to Monona, Ia., being four weeks on the road. She grew to womanhood there and was married to Abram Shapley, the village blacksmith, in 1859, at Prairie du Chien, Wis. She lived near Monona 20 years, where three of her children were born. It was a prairie country and one of her recollections is of the rattlesnakes which were so numerous no woman thought of going down cellar to skim milk without carrying a sharp hoe.

Mr. Shapley enlisted in the union army in 1862, serving three years. In 1872 Mrs. Shapley with her husband and several others drove through to Osceola county, making the trip in 17 days. She says it rained almost continuously and what with wading sloughs and fording streams the hardships of the trip were beyond description. One night they camped on a knoll near a slough, placing the wagons in a circle with the horses in the center. That night the knoll settled and in the morning the horses stood knee deep in water.

In Osceola county Mr. Shapley filed on a homestead orthwest of Sibley. He built a sod barn and hauled lumber 25 miles from Worthington, Minn., to build a shanty. The family lived in the shack one winter then started to build a house. It was not completed by winter so they spent that winter in the cellar.

Mrs. Shapley remembers particularly the winter of 1872-73, when the settlers suffered severely. An incident of that winter portrays the hard conditions under which they lived. "Mr. Shapley shot some ducks late in 1872 and hung them outside to freeze," she said. "During the blizzard I took them in to cook. Our only fuel was green wood and I couldn't thaw them out, much less cook them. We gave it up as a bad job and finally had to go to bed to keep from freezing.

The sod houses were comfortable enough but the frame dwellings were cold and, besides, few people were adequately clothed. Her husband, who was ingenious, supplemented his other clothing with a pair of moccasins and a hood which he had fashioned out of a buffalo robe.

The Shapleys moved to Sibley 35 years ago, where Mr. Shapley died in 1902. Mrs. Shapley has lived in the same house all the time. She is in excellent health and is the most active woman of her age in Sibley. She enjoys attending the Rebekah lodge and the Women's Relief corps, of which she has been a member over 40 years, and she gets a tremendous "kick" out of a movie. Her children are: Mrs. Clara M. Upton, Sibley; David Shapley, Foxhome, Minn.; W.H. Shapley, Sibley; L.E. Shapley, Hickley, Minn.; and Mrs. Flora Smith, Amboy, Wash.

-source: Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, March 17, 1927

-transcribers notes: I was not able to determine when Mrs. Shapley died, but did find this mention of Mr. Shapley in The History of Osceola County, 1892, Chapter X:
"The southwest quarter of this same section [32] was taken by Abraham Shapley in the spring of 1870. Mr. Shapley drove through by team from Clayton County, and along with him was N.D. Bowles and John Gray. He put up a comfortable home, hauling his lumber from Worthington. Mr. Shapley had a blacksmith shop, and like the rest, had a hard time at the start. After he had got through June of that year, he had just three nickels left; but he had other capital, consisting of grit, of muscle, and ambition. Mr. Shapley still lives on the same place, has fine improvements, owns a section of land in the county, and this year will establish his residence in Sibley, and take life easy."

There is additional information about the Shapley's on the Osceola co. IAGenWeb website.

The photo of Mrs. Shapley (below) appeared in the newspaper article:

Osceola co. IAGenWeb

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