History of Taylor County, Iowa: from the earliest historic times to 1910 by Frank E. Crosson. Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910
(biographicals transcribed by Linda Kestner: email@example.com)
WILLIAM G. SHARP
Although William G. Sharp has been a resident of Blockton only since the spring of 1909, he is not unknown among her citizens, for he has lived in Taylor county since 1877, and in the thirty-five years which have passed he has become well known as a reliable and highly respected citizen. Mr. Sharp was born in Shelby county, Indiana, April 25, 1849, a son of John and Catherine (Golding) Sharp, natives of Ohio and Indiana respectively. They were married in Indiana. John Sharp eventually became a resident of Clay county, Indiana, where he served as surveyor and in other official positions but later he removed to Mercer county, Illinois, the year 1860 witnessing his arrival in that state.
William G. Sharp of this review, was a lad of eleven years when he accompanied his parents on their removal to Mercer county, Illinois, so that he was largely reared in that section. He acquired his education in the district schools, which, however, was somewhat limited, owing to the unsettled condition of the country at that time. It was in Mercer county that he was united in marriage to Miss Maria Nelson, who was born in that county, the marriage ceremony being performed on the 10th of November, 1872.
Following his marriage Mr. Sharp located on a farm in Mercer county, cultivating the same for five years, or until 1877, when, believing that the opportunities and advantages farther west would more quickly enhance his financial condition, he took up his abode in Taylor county, Iowa, purchasing a tract of eighty acres in Gay township. The place at that time had some improvements on it but Mr. Sharp added other buildings and further improved the place and eventually purchased more land until his possessions now aggregate three hundred and twenty acres all in one body, on which stood a comfortable farm residence, good barn and other outbuildings, and he also set out fruit and shade trees and made the place a valuable property. For many years he followed general farming and stock raising and met with excellent success in his business transactions. In the spring of 1909, he abandoned his farming interests and took up his abode in the city of Blockton, where he owns two good residence properties, one of which he occupies. The rest which he now enjoys has truly been earned, for when Mr. Sharp first located in Taylor county he had to face many difficulties and obstacles in order to establish his home here, for the country at that time (page 620) was not in its present state of development and it has been through the labors of such men as Mr. Sharp that this county has been made the rich agricultural center it now is.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Sharp has been blessed with five sons and four daughters, namely: Warren F., who owns a good farm in Jefferson township; John Clint and Arthur, who cultivate the old homestead farm and also raise stock; Claud, a druggist of Blockton; Nellie, the wife of P. P. Ledgerwood, who is an implement dealer of this city; Cora, the wife of W. A. Livingston, a farmer of Gay township; and Addie and Zelta, who are young ladies and still reside with their parents. The other son, Walter, died when a little lad of five years.
A republican in his political belief, Mr. Sharp cast his first presidential ballot for General U. S. Grant in 1872 and has voted for each presidential candidate of the party since that time. While living on the farm in Gay township he served as township trustee for nine consecutive years and in 1906 he was elected to the office of supervisor, and at the present time is serving on the county board and the bridge committee, looking after all the bridges in the southeastern part of Taylor county. He has likewise served as a delegate to county conventions, has served on the grand jury in the federal court at Creston and on the petit jury in Taylor county. Both he and his wife are devoted and consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Blockton and both are active workers and teachers in the Sunday-school and Mr. Sharp at one time served as superintendent of that organization. Fraternally Mr. Sharp is identified with the Knights of Pythias lodge at Blockton. In reviewing the lives of the older residents of Taylor county we find a large number who are now living retired but we find none who are more worthy of such rest than Mr. Sharp, for a glance at his fine farming property of three hundred and twenty acres in Gay township leads us to believe that it required much hard labor to bring it to its present state of cultivation and improvement and he is now able to spend the evening of life in ease, surrounded by many comforts and by a host of warm friends who have for him none but the highest praise and commendation.
JOHN T. SHAW
The story of the Civil war is a familiar one to John T. Shaw, for he went to the front in defense of the Union and for four years did active military duty. For the past twenty-seven years he has been associated with the business interests of this county as a painter and paper hanger and also as a farmer, and indefatigable industry and strong purpose have constituted important elements in the success which he has enjoyed as the years have gone by. For more than a half century he has lived in Iowa, becoming a resident of Washington county in 1856, while since 1882 he has made his home in Lenox. He has now reached the age of three score years and ten, his birth having occurred in Harrison county, Ohio, on the 11th of May, 1839.
His father, Thomas P. Shaw, was a native of Pennsylvania and was reared and married there, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary Gault, who was also born in the Keystone state. They afterward removed to Ohio, where Mr. Shaw purchased land, owning two farms in Harrison and Carroll counties. He afterward sold his property there and came to Iowa, making investment in farm land in Washington county. For some years he carried on general agricultural pursuits in that district, after which he disposed of his interests there and spent his last years with a son in Indianola, Iowa. His wife survived him for several years. At the time of the Civil war he served with the Thirty-seventh Graybeard Regiment, one of the most famous regiments that the state sent to the front. He was for two years with that command, after which he was mustered out and honorably discharged. Our subject's grandfather, George Shaw, was a soldier in the War of 1812, being a member of the Black Horse Cavalry.
John T. Shaw spent his boyhood and youth in his native state and when a young man came to Iowa with the family, remaining with his father until 1861. He was among the first in the state to respond to the country's call, for hardly had the smoke from Fort Sumter's guns cleared away when, in April, 1861, he responded to the call for three months troops. The regiment, however was sworn in for three years. He went to the front with the Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry (page 333) and after about a year veteranized and joined Company C, of the Eighth Iowa Infantry, with which he served for three years. He participated in the charge at Fort Donelson and the second battle of Shiloh. This was known as the "Hornet's Nest Brigade," because of its fearlessness and the vigor and assurance with which it met the enemy. Mr. Shaw also participated in the Vicksburg campaign, being in battle nearly every day. Later he was in the second fight at Jackson, Mississippi, also at Brandon, and afterward returned to Vicksburg, where the regiment remained for some time. Afterward the troops proceeded to Pocahontas, Tennessee, and the regiment veteranized there, Mr. Shaw returning home on a thirty days furlough. On the expiration of that period they went again to Memphis and were detailed to guard the city. When Forest made his raid into the city the other Union troops succeeded in driving the rebel general out and Mr. Shaw continued on guard duty there until January, 1865, when he went down the Mississippi river to New Orleans, joining the Department of the Gulf. He participated in the last fight in that section of the country at Spanish Fort. He lost no time from sickness or other cause but was always found at his post and was honorably discharged at Mobile, Alabama, in February, 1866. He served for about four years and made a most creditable record as a brave and loyal soldier, keeping duty ever foremost during the long period of the civil strife.
When the war was over Mr. Shaw returned to Washington, Iowa, where he learned the painters trade and followed that pursuit for a long period. In the same year of his return, he was married in Wapella, Illinois, June 10, 1866, to Miss Mary J. Bryant, who is a daughter of John Whitney and Eveline (Coy) Bryant and a native of Fulton county, Illinois, where she was reared and educated. Her grandfather, William Bryant, was a soldier of the war of 1812, and her brother, William C. Bryant, was a member of the One Hundred and Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, during the Civil war. In June, 1864, the latter was taken prisoner and died in Andersonville in August of the same year.
Mr. and Mrs. Shaw began their domestic life in Washington, Iowa, where Mr. Shaw carried on business as a painter and paper-hanger until 1868, when he removed to Wapella, Illinois, where he remained for four years. In the spring of 1872, he became a resident of Worthington, Minnesota, where he secured a claim and opened up a farm, carrying on general agricultural pursuits there for four years. He also did some painting and later removed to Winfield, Henry county, Iowa, where his attention was given to general agricultural pursuits. His next place of residence was in Crawfordsville, Iowa, and in 1882, he came to Lenox, where he has since resided. Here he has engaged in painting and paper-hanging, doing a large business which has made him one of the prosperous citizens of the town. He has also been identified with the upbuilding and improvement of Lenox and his cooperation can always be counted upon to further any movement or measure for the public good.
Mr. and Mrs. Shaw have two sons and a daughter: William B., who is a painter and decorator and resides at home; T. E., who served as quartermaster sergeant with the Fourth Missouri Regiment in Cuba, during the Spanish-American war, and is with the American Steel & Wire Company, in Portland, Oregon; and Eva, who is now the wife of John Barrans, a farmer of Platte (page 334) township. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw also lost two children: Clara Bell, who died at the age of four months; and one who died in infancy.
In his political views, Mr. Shaw is a stalwart republican but while he believes firmly in the principles of the party, he has never sought nor desired office. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and Mr. Shaw is connected with the Grand Army Post, in which he served as commander for two or three years and was officer of the day for the last fourteen years. His wife is an active member of the Relief Corps and they are both highly esteemed in the city which they have made their home for more than a quarter of a century. From early manhood, Mr. Shaw has been a resident of Iowa and for twenty-seven years has lived in Lenox, during which time he has seen it develop from a cross-roads village to the second city in size in the county. He rejoices in what has been accomplished and at all times has given his aid and cooperation to progressive public movements. In his business affairs he has been found thoroughly reliable and his industry and perseverance have constituted the salient features in the success which is now his.
Silas Sheley is a self-made man, who owes his success entirely to his own efforts. He had no special advantages to aid him at the outset of his career and received no financial assistance but with persistent spirit he has worked his way steadily upward and is now one of the well known stock feeders and shippers of Taylor county and one of the prosperous farmers of Polk township, where he owns one hundred and ninety-two acres of rich and well cultivated land in the home place and also another farm of two hundred and thirty acres. Moreover he is one of the early settlers of the county, dating his residence here from 1865. He was born in Sullivan county, New York, May 29, 1842. His parents were Jacob E. and Nancy Sheley, also natives of Sullivan county, where the father followed farming and where both he and his wife spent their entire lives, and Silas Sheley, during the days of his boyhood and youth, remained in the Empire state. Eventually he removed to Illinois, settling in De Kalb county, where he spent two years, working there by the month as a farm hand. His life has been one of unremitting toil and diligence and as the years have gone by he has made steady progress, owing to his laudable ambition and firm purpose.
(Page 403) It was while a resident of De Kalb county that Mr. Sheley was united in marriage on the 23rd of March, 1865, to Miss Elizabeth Young, who was born in Kane county, Illinois, but was reared in De Kalb county. For about two years the young couple remained residents of Illinois and in 1865 drove across the country to Nebraska. Not liking the district to which they went, they returned as far as Taylor county, Iowa, and Mr. Sheley here purchased and located upon land in Ross township. He first became owner of eighty acres, on which was a little house while a few acres had been broken. With characteristic energy he began to break the sod and till the fields and within a year or two was harvesting good crops from the land which was hitherto wild and undeveloped. He then bought another tract of forty acres which he farmed for several years but about 1874 he sold that property and purchased eighty acres of the farm, upon which he now resides. It was a raw tract, covered with hazel brush which he had cleared off preparatory to cultivating the fields. His first home there was a small house but subsequently he added to and remodeled the place, converting it into an attractive and comfortable residence. He also built two big barns, a granary, cribs and sheds and from time to time he purchased more land until he became the owner of one hundred and ninety-two acres in the home place. Subsequently he invested in one hundred and thirty acres in another place and has thus become one of the extensive land owners of the community, now owning four hundred and thirty acres. He is also known as one of the leading stock-raisers and feeders, making shipments from Hopkins, Missouri, which he has made his headquarters for buying stock. He also owns a residence property in Hopkins. He is an excellent judge of stock and this enables him to make judicious investments and profitable sales.
Mr. and Mrs. Sheley have become parents of seven children: M. J., a farmer of Polk township; Fred, who is engaged in the hardware business in Hopkins, Missouri; Ed, who carries on general farming in Nodaway county, Missouri; Albert L., who is filling a position in a lumberyard at Parnell, Missouri; Cora, the wife of J. O. Jackson, a resident farmer of Ross township; Kate, the wife of Ed Mendenhall, a resident farmer of Polk township; and Lillie, the wife of Ben Mendenhall, also of Polk township. In his political views Mr. Sheley is a republican although he was reared in the faith of the democratic party. His mature judgment, however, did not sanction the policy of the latter and he, therefore, cast his first presidential vote for General U. S. Grant in 1868. He has served as road supervisor and as a member of the school board but has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking. He has become a Master Mason and his life is in harmony with the teachings and purposes of the craft. His well spent life has made him the owner of a good home and a tract of valuable land and has cast him with the leading and successful farmers and stock raisers and shippers of this part of the state. For years he was to be found nearly every day in Hopkins, where he bought stock. In the morning he would drive to the town and there spend the entire day but of later years he has not deemed it essential to give so much time to the business and usually spends only the afternoons there. He is well known both in Nodaway county, Missouri, and Taylor county, Iowa, and he and his wife are among the best known residents of this part of the state, their home being the abode of warm-hearted and generous hospitality which makes it a favorite resort with their many friends. Mr. Sheley deserves great credit for what he has accomplished and his record proves that success may be won by persistent, earnest and honorable effort.
JESSE B. SHEPHERD
There are those who contend that success is a matter of fortunate circumstances but to those who carefully consider the situation and examine into the life record of the more successful men it will be found that they have made advancement because they have recognized and utilized their opportunities. Nor have they been afraid of hard work and laborious attention to detail which is always necessary to advancement. The record of Mr. Shepherd shows that (page 439) prosperity can be gained by diligent, honorable effort without assistance from any one and he is now one of the leading farmers and stock raisers of Polk township, deriving a substantial income from his business affairs, which are conducted on a farm of one hundred and twenty acres on section 16. He has lived in Taylor county since 1880, being about forty years of age at the time of his arrival. His birth occurred in Ripley county, Indiana, March 19, 1840, and in 1852 he removed with his parents to Illinois, locating in Rock Island county. His father was William Shepherd, who on coming to Illinois opened a new farm, upon which he resided for a number of years. He then sold that property and went to Kansas, establishing his home in Ottawa, where his remaining days were passed. His wife survived him and subsequently came to Iowa, where her death occurred.
No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of farm life for Jesse B. Shepherd in his boyhood and youth. He was a lad of twelve when he accompanied his parents to Illinois and there he was reared on the farm until he went to Kansas with the family, spending one year in that state. He was married, however, in Warren county, Illinois, on the 8th of February, 1866, to Miss Sarah Lathrop, who was born in that county. While in Kansas he worked on railroad construction but returning to Illinois, he located at Roseville, Warren county, and in that locality carried on general agricultural pursuits until 1880. Believing that there was opportunity for judicious and profitable investment in land in southwestern Iowa, he then came to Taylor county and bought one hundred and twenty-five acres in Grant township. With characteristic energy he began to till the soil and improve the place, living there for seventeen years, after which he traded that property for the farm on which he now resides. Along various lines of improvement he has exerted his labors and he has built to and remodeled the house which is now a comfortable and commodious residence. He has also put up a barn and necessary outbuildings which shelter grain and stock and has built fences which divide the farm into fields of convenient size for cultivation. The early spring planting and the cultivation of midsummer is followed by the gathering of abundant crops in the autumn, his labors being thereby generously rewarded. The raising and feeding of stock also constitute a feature of his business, for he now handles high-grade cattle, horses and hogs. In addition to his farm he likewise owns good residence property in Bedford and his realty holdings are the visible evidence of a life of well-directed energy and thrift.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd was blessed with six children: Nancy, the wife of Emmett Phillips, a resident farmer of this county; Levina, the wife of Clark Grubb, of Bedford; Lucinda, the wife of Cassius Wilt, a resident of Macon county, Missouri; Anna, the wife of James Watkins, a Taylor county farmer; Roy C., who is married and is carrying on the home farm; and Albert, who has started out in the business world for himself. They also lost four children in early life.
From early manhood Mr. Shepherd has given stalwart allegiance to the republican party and its principles. He is entitled to wear the Grand Army button from the fact that he did valiant service as a soldier of the Civil war, enlisting in Warren county, Illinois, in November, 1861, as a member of the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry under Colonel Robert Ingersoll. He was at the front for four years, having veteranized at the close of his first term. He participated in the (page 440) battles of Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg, taking part in the siege of the last named and was also in the first engagement at Jackson. He made a most creditable military record while at the front, never faltering in the performance of any duty and when victory perched upon the Union arms he returned home to take up the duties of private life in the same creditable and acceptable manner which had characterized his course at the front. He is a member of Clearfield Post, G. A. R. and he and his wife are members of the Siam Christian church. Taylor county has but few remaining veterans of the Civil war and as the years pass the country is coming more and more to realize how great a debt of gratitude she owes those who were the defenders of the Union. Mr. Shepherd is not only numbered among the war veterans but is also classed with the representative citizens of Taylor county and with its prosperous farmers. His success is attributable entirely to his own efforts and while he has carried on his business affairs so as to win prosperity he has at the same time been ever straightforward in his dealings, never being known to take advantage of the necessities of another in any business transaction.