MANLY SHERMAN SHAW

By Jared L. Olar

MANLY SHERMAN SHAW (or "Manley"), son of Job and Lucy Shaw, born 23 April 1811 in Ontario County, New York, probably in Bloomfield, Ontario County, near Rochester; died 25 April 1891 at home in Lee Center, Lee County, Illinois; buried 27 April 1891 in Woodside Cemetery near Lee Center. Sherman Shaw was one of the pioneer settlers of Lee County, and his name appears frequently in the early records and histories of the county.

Our family records show uncertainty regarding the year of Manly Sherman Shaw's birth. In some of our records, his year of birth is given as circa 1802, in others circa 1806, but there can hardly be any doubt that 1811 is the correct date. The date of birth given on his grave monument is 23 April 1811, but in an old mimeographed history of the family of Manley Sherman Shaw, my great-aunt Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor wrote that he "was born April 23 of either 1811 or 1817, and we have yet to learn where." Aunt Eleanor's uncertainty about the date reflects confusion between the similarly shaped numbers 1 and 7 as apparently written in an old Shaw family record she had seen. My grandmother once said that Manly Sherman himself may not have been sure of the year of his birth, but upon consideration of all the evidence I believe it is we, his descendants and kin, and not him, who were uncertain. As for the dates of 1802 and 1806, those are merely approximations or guesses. What happened is that earlier Shaw genealogists, including Adele Adams of Ogden, Utah, had assigned hypothetical years of birth to the lists of the children of Job Shaw and Lucy Sherman, based on the reasonable assumption that a new child would come along about every two years. Uncertainty about the number and birth order of Job and Lucy's children led Adele Adams to propose 1802 as Sherman Shaw's year of birth, but led others to propose 1806.

However, if we set those two years aside and consider what every other available record says, we find that the year must be 1811. For example, the 1881 History of Lee County, written 10 years before Sherman's death, says he was born in 1811 in Ontario County, New York. Again, the 1914 History of Lee County, Illinois says he died at the age of 80 in 1891, which yields a year of birth of 1811. However, if the correct year were 1802 or 1806, then his place of birth would not have been in New York, but would have to have been Bridgewater, Windsor County, Vermont, or Savoy, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where his parents were living in those years. Again, the U.S. Censuses for 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 consistently and invariably show his age to be such that he must have been born precisely in 1811. (The 1850 Census says Sherman was then "39" years old, but the "9" is written in haste and could be read as a "7." However, the numeral does not resemble any of the other sevens on that page of the census, so it could only be a poorly-written "9.) We may also exclude 1806 for the simple reason that Sherman's older sister KEZIAH SHAW was born 22 Jan. 1806. Finally, the Lee County Register of Deaths, in a record dated 21 May 1891, says Sherman was born in New York and died in Lee Center, Illinois, at age 80 on 25 April 1891, which means he was born in 1811. Consequently there can be no reasonable doubt that the proposed years of birth 1802 and 1806 are erroneous and should be disregarded. As always, care should be taken when consulting genealogical websites, and that is especially true regarding the date of Manly Sherman Shaw's birth. I have found that some websites, as well as the Mormon International Genealogical Index, even list Sherman Shaw twice among the children of Job Shaw: first with a date of birth of 1802 or 1806, and then a second time with his correct date of birth. There is, however, no evidence that Job and Lucy had any other son named Sherman besides Manly Sherman Shaw. We may with complete assurance agree with Verda (Shaw) Tullis, who wrote to my grandmother in a letter dated 10 Dec. 1980, "Regarding the birth date of Manly Sherman Shaw, what Eleanor Baylor had would be more correct. The lady who made up the sheet of Job's family [i.e. Adele Adams] had only our direct ancestor John Shaw's full birth date and she proceeded to estimate other births every 2 yrs. Later I found 23 Apr. 1811 in Lee Co. history at S.L. Genealogy Library as Manley's birth so that is what I have on my revised sheet."

Uncertainty also has surrounded Sherman Shaw's place of birth. He was born in New York, in Ontario County, but we can be absolutely certain of nothing more than that. The 1810 U.S. Census shows that Job Shaw was then living in Bloomfield, Ontario County. In 1812, the village of Victor was formed from territory that had been a northern part of Bloomfield, and by 1813 the family is stated to have been living in Victor, Ontario County, where Sherman's mother died when he was only two years old. That would narrow down Sherman's probable place of birth to Bloomfield -- though it is unknown whether our Shaw family had moved to Victor or rather the borders were redrawn placing their home in Victor. In the death record of his daughter Delia Shaw Thornton, dated 25 Oct. 1935, his place of birth is said to have been Buffalo, New York, while Delia's mother is said in the same record to have been born in Rochester, New York. Buffalo and Rochester are in the same general area of New York, but neither city was located within the 1811 boundaries of Ontario County, which was then larger than it is today. Buffalo in particular has not been located within Ontario County since 1802. It seems most likely that the tradition of Sherman Shaw's birthplace found in Delia's death record means that he was born in the general vicinity of Buffalo, but within the boundaries of Ontario County as they existed in 1811. It is perhaps significant, however, that Bloomfield and Victor are in the vicinity of Rochester, while Bennington, where Sherman's older brother lived later on, is further to the west and in the vicinity of Buffalo. The tradition recorded in Delia's death record could be a somewhat garbled memory of our Shaw family's residence in Bloomfield, Victor, and Bennington.

John Shaw Manley Sherman Shaw

John Shaw (1790-1880) and his younger brother Manly Sherman Shaw (1811-1891)

According to Shaw family tradition, Sherman was brought up by John after the death of their parents.

We know almost nothing of Sherman's younger days in New York State. In her mimeographed history of the family of Manley Sherman Shaw, my great-aunt Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor mentioned Job Shaw's eldest son JOHN SHAW (1790-1880), and wrote, "Apparently their parents died when Manly Sherman was quite young, for family tradition relates that he was brought up by John." Their mother died in 1813 and their father died in early 1821, both in Victor, Ontario County, New York. The obituary of Sherman's older brother BENONI SHAW indicates that Job died in 1820/1, when Benoni was 11 years old and Sherman was 9 years old. His older brother John was 23 years old in 1813 and 31 years old in 1821, and therefore naturally would have become the guardian of his younger siblings who were still minors. The obituary of Sherman's older brother Benoni perhaps sheds light on this matter, for it says that after his father died, Benoni "was then taken and brought up in a family by the name of Fox." That is very probably the family of John Shaw's wife POLLY MARIA FOX. Sherman's parents lived in Victor, and during the 1820s Sherman's older brother John lived in Victor and Bennington, New York, so it is very likely that Sherman also lived in both of those places around that time. A Shaw family tradition preserved by our Mormon Shaw cousins, and handed on from them by Aunt Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor, is that Sherman's father Job is buried in Rochester, New York. If so, then it could be that Sherman also lived there at some point during those years -- unless "Rochester" in this tradition actually means "Victor, near Rochester." The 1881 History of Lee County, page 425, says Sherman "received his early education in Erie county" in New York. Erie County was formed in 1821, when Sherman was about 10 years old, and includes the city of Buffalo. The story of his early education in Erie County could mean that during the 1820s he lived with or near his brother John in Bennington, New York, in the vicinity of Buffalo -- or it could be that Sherman was then living in Brant, Erie County, where his brothers Job Jr. and Benoni are known to have lived. During the 1820s and 1830s, Sherman's older sister KEZIAH SHAW was living in and giving birth to children in Buffalo, including her son MANLY SHERMAN MORGAN (1829-1911), whom she named after her younger brother. It is possible that Sherman was living in Buffalo during those years, perhaps with or near his sister Keziah.

As it happens, the Mormon descendants of Sherman's older brother John inherited the following very interesting old papers that had belonged to their ancestor, from his days in New York and Illinois:

Addenda. Due John Shaw, five gallons, two quarts, 1 pint whiskey on demand, for value received. Victor, New York, 6 October 1820. (signed) James Williams Victor, New York deed 40 acres dated June 2, 1821. Henry Champion to John Shaw for $250.00. School Trustee 1834 rate bill of assessment. May 13, 1843 gave Phineas H. Young power of attorney to sell or lease 256 acres of land in Bennington, Wyoming County, New York. November 15, 1844 Paid $6.17 tax on 129 acres in Hancock County, Illinois.

Aunt Eleanor's mimeographed family history mentions another important influence on our Shaw family during this period of time: "John and several of his brothers and sisters embraced the Mormon faith, but Manly Sherman evidently was one who did not. It is due to the genealogical prowess of the Latter Day Saints that we have the little bit of information that we do have about Job." During the 1820s and 1830s, the Mormon religion arose in Ontario County, New York, and later was very active in Lee County, Illinois, where many members of our Shaw family settled, so it is unsurprising that several members of our Shaw family became followers of Joseph Smith. For whatever reason, however, Manly Sherman declined to join Joseph Smith's new religion.

In 1835 in New York, Sherman married MALINDA DEWOLF (or "Melinda"), born 18 March 1817 in Cortland County, New York, died 18 June 1892 in Lee Center, Illinois, daughter of Dorastus and Eliza DeWolf. (It should be noted that Utah Shaw family tradition got Malinda's maiden name wrong, calling her "Malinda Monroe," an error that arose from a misremembering of which of her sons was given her maiden name as his middle name. It was her younger son Egbert who got the middle name of DeWolf from his mother's maiden name, not her elder son James Monroe Shaw.) Aunt Eleanor's mimeographed history says Sherman and Malinda were married in Ontario County, New York. Malinda's family are known to have lived in the same general area of New York as our Shaws, but it is unknown how, when, and where Sherman and Malinda met. What is known is that in 1837, while Malinda was pregnant with their first child, Sherman and Malinda left New York and set out for northern Illinois, then a frontier territory that had recently been opened up to white settlement following the defeat and expulsion of most of the native Indian tribes during the Black Hawk War of 1832. Some of Malinda's siblings came to Lee County (then Ogle County) at or around the same time, and their parents joined them some time later. Sherman's older brother WILLIAM E. SHAW (1797-1833) had preceded him to Lee County. The 1820 U.S. Census shows William as a resident of Victor, Ontario County, New York. He was living in Lewiston, Niagara County, New York, when his daughter Hannah was born on 17 Aug. 1829, but by the time of the 1830 U.S. Census he was living in Evans Township, Erie County, New York, where his son Edwin was born on 7 April 1831. William was the first of our family to settle in Illinois, but his adventures were cut short by tragedy, as related in Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County (1893), page 173:

"The name of Shaw is found frequently in the list of old settlers, and we are informed that the first house in Lee Center, proper, was for the first widow in the town, Mrs. William Shaw, whose husband, we are told, met with a tragic death. He, with family, started for Mendota in a sleigh; when nearing Sand Grove, just beyond the Inlet, a wolf was seen running over the snow. In drawing up his gun from the sleigh bottom the trigger snapped and the contents of the gun were discharged into his body, causing death in a few hours."

William died 9 Feb. 1833 and is buried with his wife SARAH ALDRICH in Inlet Cemetery near Lee Center. William was the first person buried in Inlet Cemetery. William and Sarah had two sons, John H. and Edwin I., and three daughters, Hannah Maria (wife of Joseph Gardner), Lucy (wife of Orlando Starks), and Libby (wife of John Daw). They with their spouses and their spouses' families were among the early pioneer settlers of Lee County. Though William met with an unfortunate and untimely demise, those of his siblings and nephews and nieces who followed him to Illinois -- including his brothers John and Sherman and several of John's sons -- had much better luck.

william e and sarah aldrich shaw gravestone

Gravestone of William E. Shaw and his wife Sarah Aldrich Shaw

Inlet Cemetery, near Lee Center, Illinois.

This account of the life of Sherman Shaw is found in the 1881 History of Lee County, "Lee Center Township," page 425:

Sherman Shaw, stock raiser, Lee Center, was born in Ontario county, New York, in 1811; received his early education in Erie county in the same state. In 1837 Mr. Shaw packed his earthly possessions into a wagon and started toward the setting sun. He drove from New York to Lee county in this rude conveyance, bringing two hogs, which followed after the wagon the entire distance. Mr. Shaw is a member of the Baptist church, with which he united in 1841. Was married in 1835, to Miss Malinda DeWolf. Is father of seven children, three of whom are living. Owns quite a large amount of land in different parts of the township. He is one of the landmarks of Lee county, and one of its most respected citizens. He came to the county when the great State of Illinois was almost a wilderness, and has lived to see towns, villages, churches, school-houses and beautiful dwellings rise, as if by magic, where but a few years ago nothing greeted the eye of the observer but a vast expanse of prairie, over which bounded the wild deer and the prairie wolf.

The trek from New York to Illinois would have taken them along the southern shore of Lake Erie, through Pennsylvania and Ohio, and then into Michigan, where, as Aunt Eleanor related in her mimeographed history, "It is understood that their first child, Sophia, was born on the trip, near Niles, Mich." Sophia was "born in Niles, Mich., March 31, 1837, and was but five months old when her parents came to Lee County . . ." (Portraits & Biographical Record -- Lee County (1892), page 342; cf. the biography of Andrew Aschenbrenner in the 1914 History of Lee County, which affirms that Andrew's mother-in-law Sophia was born in Niles, Mich.). From Michigan they continued west, moving through the area along the southern shores of Lake Michigan in Indiana and then into Illinois, until they reached (what would soon become) Lee County in September 1837. Perhaps accompanying Sherman and Malinda, or at any rate arriving around the same time, were two of Malinda's brothers, as mentioned in Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County (1893), "Recollections of Bradford," page 176: "Frank DeWolf whose sister, Malinda, married Sherman Shaw, a good 'mother in Israel,' who left us not long since for a better home, and Nelson DeWolf, came in 1837."

To the above relation from 1881 may be compared this brief account of the life of Sherman Shaw extracted from the biography of his grandson Sherman L. Shaw which was published in the 1914 History of Lee County, Illinois (Vol. 2, Frank E. Stevens):

[Sherman L. Shaw] comes of Scotch ancestry on the paternal side, . . . . His grandfather, Sherman Shaw, arrived in this county in 1836 [sic -- 1837] and was one of the three first settlers in this part of the county. Only four years before had the Black Hawk war occurred and there were yet many evidences of Indian occupancy in all this section of the country. The forest stood in its primeval strength and the land was unclaimed and uncultivated, but Sherman Shaw resolutely undertook the task of preparing the fields for cultivation and in time was reaping bounteous harvests as a reward of his persistent and practical effort. He died in the year 1891 and his wife passed away in 1892, at the ages of eighty and seventy-five years respectively. They were laid to rest in the Woodside cemetery.

Elsewhere in the 1914 History of Lee County, another brief account of Sherman and Malinda Shaw is included in the biography of their son-in-law Capt. JAMES BENJAMIN HARRISON THORNTON (1840-1930), whose wife is identified as:

. . . a daughter of Sherman and Melinda (De Wolf) Shaw, natives of western New York. The parents went to Michigan in 1836 and in the following year moved to Lee county, Illinois, where in 1839 the father entered from the government the farm now owned by the subject of this review. He made his home upon this property until 1855, when they moved to Lee Center, where they both passed away. Of the eight children born to their union Mrs. Thornton is the only one now living.

These 1914 recollections of Shaw family history contradict the 1881 account on certain points. The 1881 account should more readily be trusted, as it is earlier and was written down during Manly Sherman Shaw's lifetime. The date of "1836" seems to be a misremembering, and the Thornton biography apparently attempts to reconcile the later "1836" tradition with the earlier and probably more reliable "1837" tradition. Sherman's daughter Sophia certainly was born in Michigan in the early spring of 1837, and it seems unlikely that a trip from the region of Buffalo, New York, to the region of Niles, Michigan, would have taken more than a few weeks. Another contradiction is in the number of Sherman and Malinda's children: the 1881 account says they had seven children, but the 1914 account says eight. Probably the earlier account is correct, though we cannot be sure because the names of only four of their children are known. The other three or four were probably stillborn or died very soon after birth and may never have been named.

Two years after Sherman arrived in Lee County, his older sister LAURA SHAW (1801-1855) also came to Illinois from western New York by way of Pennsylvania, with her husband JESSE WOODRUFF (1798-1876) and several of their children. Jesse and Laura settled on Section 32 in Bradford Township in 1839, on land that bordered on the property where Sherman settled, and in 1850 Jesse was elected attorney for Bradford Township (1881 History of Lee County, pages 447-448). Later Laura and Jesse moved to Lee Center, where they both died. Laura and Jesse are buried just a few feet to the north of Laura's brother Sherman in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center. Sherman's older sister EXPERIENCE SHAW ("Spede") and her husband SILAS P. TOLMAN (1791-1863) and son ADRASTUS W. TOLMAN (1823-1912) also came to Lee County in the fall or early winter of 1837. As related above, in 1838 Silas and his family settled in Franklin Grove, China Township, and in 1839 they planted themselves just a few rods east of the old Methodist Episcopal Church, buying from A. Vroman a claim to half a section. Silas and Adrastus played central roles in the founding, organising and incorporation of Franklin Grove. Spede and Silas are buried with their children and grandchildren in Franklin Grove Cemetery. Another of Sherman's older sisters, KEZIAH SHAW (1806-1845), first wife of JOSHUA PALMER MORGAN (1804-1899), came to Illinois from Buffalo, New York, reportedly settling in Elgin, Illinois, in 1844, rather than Lee County. Keziah did, however, name her son Manly Sherman Morgan after her younger brother, as mentioned above.

jesse woodruff and laura shaw woodruff grave monument - woodside cemetery tolman family plot - franklin grove cemetery

Above: The grave monument of Jesse Woodruff and Laura Shaw, which is situated just a few feet north of the monument of Laura's younger brother Manly Sherman Shaw in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Illinois. Below: are several graves in the Tolman family plot at Franklin Grove Cemetery, Illinois, including the grave of Sherman Shaw's brother-in-law Silas P. Tolman in the bottom left corner. The second of the small grave markers in the front row has the eroded initials "E S T," which presumably stands for "Experience Shaw Tolman," another older sister of Sherman Shaw.

In addition, a few years after Sherman's arrival in Lee County, his older brother John followed him to Illinois. John did not settle in Lee County, but a few of his sons did and left descendants there. John became a Mormon in 1842, and during the following year or two he left New York and settled with most of his family in La Harpe, Hancock County, Illinois. In 1846, John and his wife Polly Maria Fox moved to Kanesville (Council Bluffs), Iowa, along with a large group of Mormons, who continued on to Utah in 1848. John and Polly settled in Ogden, Utah, and left a very large number of descendants there and elsewhere in Utah and other western states, including Verda May (Shaw) Tullis, great-granddaughter of John and Polly's son WILLIAM MONTGOMERY SHAW (1826-1902). Incidentally, William M. Shaw named one of his sons MANLY SHAW after his uncle Manly Sherman Shaw. Another of the sons of John and Polly, JOHN LANGDON SHAW (1816-1906), came to Hancock County in the fall of 1844, but moved to Lee County in the spring of 1846 and settled in Bradford Township, the same township where his uncle Sherman lived. John Langdon and Sherman both later moved to Lee Center and resided there until their deaths. John and his wife are buried with their little son John nearby the graves of Sherman Shaw and his family in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Illinois. John Langdon Shaw's daughter ELLEN A. SHAW (1845-1936) married J. GILES HODGES (1839-1921) and lived with her husband on a farm outside Lee Center. Ellen and Giles are buried in Woodside Cemetery near Lee Center adjacent to several of Ellen's Shaw cousins. Ellen used to visit her aunt MINERVA PEASE (STONE) SHAW of Ogden, Utah, wife of John Langdon Shaw's younger brother AMBROSE SHAW (1824-1908) of Ogden, which was one way our Shaws in Lee Center remained aware of their Mormon cousins in Utah. In 1959, Ambrose and Minerva's daughter Olive Theresa (Shaw) McCarthy prepared a genealogical manuscript on our Utah Mormon Shaw cousins, The Shaw Family From 1766-1959, which her grand-nephew Jay Irvin Hadley has published on-line. Another source of information on the descendants of Job Shaw and Lucy Sherman is The Shaw Family (1912), a typed manuscript prepared by Job and Lucy's descendant MERLIN J. STONE of Ogden, Utah. A further source is The Shaw Family Tree, a typed manuscript prepared by Darlene (Noble) Hinkle that was derived from family records of MYRTILLO SHAW (1814-1896), eldest son of John Shaw, son of Job Shaw and Lucy Sherman, and supplemented by records of the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah, that were compiled by Mrs. Adele (Bert J.) Adams. The Myrtillo Shaw family records that were incorporated into this manuscript had been inherited by our cousin Louie Scott of Dixon, Ill., son of Grace (Evitts) Scott (1870-1979), daughter of Charles Evitts and OLIVE A. SHAW (1845-1940), daughter of HENRY CHAMPION SHAW (1820-1874), one of the sons of John Shaw and Polly Maria Fox. Grace (Evitts) Scott, who died at the age of 108, was a cousin and acquaintance of my great-aunt Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor and of my grandmother.

henry champion shaw - prairie repose cemetery

giles hodges and ellen shaw hodges gravestone - right next to egbert dewolf shaw gravestone - woodside cemetery

Shown above is the grave monument of Henry Champion Shaw and his wife Jane Waldron in Prairie Repose Cemetery just north of Amboy, Illinois. Many of their children and descendants are also buried in the same cemetery. Henry was a nephew of Manly Sherman Shaw. At right is the grave monument of J. Giles Hodges and his two wives, Hattie C. and Ellen Shaw (and his son Guy) in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Illinois. The monument is just a few feet to the south of the monument of Ellen's cousin Egbert DeWolf Shaw. In the row behind is the family plot of Sherman Linn Shaw, another of Ellen's cousins. Ellen was the daughter of John Langdon Shaw, brother of Henry Champion Shaw.

John Langdon Shaw's brother SYLVESTER SHAW (1818-1901) had preceded his father and older brother to Illinois, settling in Lee County in 1839. Sylvester lived in Bradford and Lee Center Townships, farming in Bradford and Amboy Townships. With his wife and children, Sylvester is buried near his brother John and his uncle Sherman in Woodside Cemetery. Sylvester's younger brother HENRY CHAMPION SHAW left New York in 1841 and settled in La Harpe, Illinois, and was joined there by his father John about two years after that. In 1846, "Henry C. Shaw came to Binghamton [near Amboy] and engaged in the manufacture of the Doan plow." (History of Lee County (1881), page 284) Henry's brother ZEBEDIAH V. SHAW (born 1822), who had also come to Lee County around that time, went into business with Henry at that time. Zebediah later settled in Iowa. In 1852, Henry bought a farm in Amboy Township, where he remained until his death. Henry and his wife and children, along with many of their descendants, are buried in Prairie Repose Cemetery north of Amboy, Illinois, and about four or five miles due west of Woodside Cemetery. The descendants of Henry and Sylvester Shaw are known as "the Amboy Shaws." In her old mimeographed family history, Aunt Eleanor mentioned that John Shaw and Polly Maria Fox "are the ancestors of several local families -- the Daniels and Derrs and Ankneys, Mrs. Sam Goode and Mrs. Gertrude Tait and Howard Bates of Amboy, and Mrs. Andrew Delhotal of Lee Center." The Daniels, Derrs, and Ankneys were descendants of Sylvester Shaw, while the Taits, Bateses, and Delhotals were descendants of Henry Champion Shaw. Many biographical and genealogical details concerning Sylvester Shaw and Henry Champion Shaw and their families are recorded in The Shaw Family Tree.

Additional details of Sherman Shaw's life soon after his arrival in Lee County in 1837 -- along with a delightful glimpse of Sherman Shaw's character and wit -- are provided by the following anecdote excerpted from an article in the 5 July 1876 edition of the Amboy Journal. It involves an early settler of Inlet Grove named Charles West, of whom more shall be said below:

Sherman Shaw came in 1837. His claim was in Bradford, but while waiting for his house to be built he lived on a claim of timber land at Inlet; and also for a short time in a house which he rented, standing near the old home place upon John M. Gardiner's present farm, and just across the road from where West then lived. West, on account of his swearing proclivities and general wickedness, was always a thorn in Uncle Sherman's side. One morning he heard rather taller swearing than usual, and upon looking around for the cause, saw West cruelly beating an old sow; he kicked and pounded and whipped as though he intended to kill her. Uncle Sherman was indignant, for we all know hogs have always been a tender subject with the old man; but he was powerless. The old sow stood it until at last, becoming disgusted with such performances, she packed up her bag and baggage and "lit out for tall timber." In the afternoon West wanted his sow, and, after vainly searching the farm over for her, he called to Shaw, and the conversation ran as follows: "Hello Shaw! Have you seen the devil anywhere around here?" "Yes," returned Uncle Sherman "I have." "Where?" "Over in your pasture this morning, pounding a sow."

While Sherman and Malinda were living on that claim of timber land at Inlet, they had their second child, JAMES MONROE SHAW, born 26 June 1838 at a house Sherman had built in the vicinity of Inlet Grove and Palestine Grove (formerly known as Bliss' Grove and renamed Lee Center in 1846). A year after James was born, the family removed to Bradford Township to the north of Lee Center, where Sherman erected the second house ever built in Bradford. The History of Lee County (1881), "Bradford Township," page 448, related that "Mr. Whitmore and Sherman Shaw were the first to build houses within the limits of Bradford. The house of the former was standing as early as the spring of 1839, on land now owned by Mrs. Schott, in the western part of the township. In 1840 Shaw built a frame house on the N.E. corner of Sec. 31. This building is still standing." Also, Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County (1893), "Bradford Township," page 176, mentions that "Sherman Shaw, the grandfather of the present owner of the title," came to Bradford Township in 1839.

The 1840 U.S. Census shows "Sharman Shaw" living in Inlet, Lee County, Illinois. His household then consisted of two free white males aged 20-29 (one of them obviously was Sherman Shaw himself, then about 29 years old), one free white male under age 5 (Sherman's eldest son James Monroe Shaw), one free white female aged 20-29 (Sherman's wife Malinda), and one free white female under age 5 (Sherman's eldest child Sophia). There is no way to be sure who the other free white male aged 20-29 was -- perhaps a farm hand or one of Sherman's brothers?

In the year following, Sherman and Malinda had their third child, a son named EGBERT DEWOLF SHAW, born 6 Aug. 1841 in their frame house in Bradford Township. "Egbert Shaw is said to have been the first white child born within the township." (1881 History of Lee County, ibid.) About four years later, Sherman and Malinda had a daughter, ADELIA ELIZA SHAW ("Delia"), born 15 Dec. 1845 in Bradford Township, presumably in the same house where Egbert had been born -- though Aunt Eleanor in her mimeographed family history said she had not been able to determine where Delia was born. Delia and her husband later inherited and lived on her father's farm in Bradford Township where her brother Egbert and probably she herself were born. As discussed above, besides Sherman and Malinda's children Sophia, James, Egbert, and Delia, there were three or possibly four other children who were presumably stillborn or who died soon after they were born. Given the chronological gap between the births of Egbert and Delia, one of those children may have been born between them, say circa 1843. We do not know the names of these other children nor where they were buried, nor even if they were given names. Perhaps they were buried in Bradford Cemetery, located in Section 29 on the southwest corner of the southeast quarter of the township, where many of the early settlers of Lee County are buried, though that cemetery is not in especially close proximity to Sherman Shaw's farm in Section 31. They may rather have been buried on their parents' farm and received wooden grave markers that long ago decayed.

former shaw farm in bradford township

barns on former shaw farm in bradford township

These two photographs that I took in March 2008 show some of the land Manly Sherman Shaw and his family once farmed in Section 31 of Bradford Township, Lee County. On the left, an old barn sits off Pin Oak Road, on the west side of the road a few miles north of Lee Center, and perhaps a little to the north of Sherman Shaw's land. In front of the barn are the ruins of another structure, perhaps a house or a barn. On the right, two barns are situated just off the east side of Pin Oak Road, somewhat closer to Lee Center and definitely on Sherman Shaw's land. The lot with the small stand of trees is suggestive of property that may once have had a house on it. I don't know where Sherman Shaw's old frame house once stood, nor where the house of his daughter Delia and her husband Harry Thornton used to be.

Sherman Shaw and his family appear in the 1850 U.S. Census as residents of Bradford Township living on and working farmland that was valued at $1,500. The 1850 census returns show Sherman Shaw, 39, and his wife Malinda Shaw, 33, both born in New York. Also living with them were their four children, the eldest born in Michigan and the three younger children born in Illinois: Sophia, 13, born in Michigan, "Munroe," 11, Egbert, 9, and Adelia, 5. All four children had attended school within the year. Also living with them was George Shafer, 23, no doubt a farm hand. Five years later, the Illinois State Census on 3 July 1855 shows Sherman Shaw residing in Lee County as the head of a household consisting of two white males aged 10-20 (Sherman's son James Monroe and Egbert DeWolf, one white male aged 20-30 (a farm hand probably), one white male aged 40-50 (i.e. Sherman), one white female under age 10 (Adelia, who had not yet had her 10th birthday that year), one white female aged 10-20 (Sophia), one white female aged 20-30 (a servant or a relative perhaps), and one white female aged 30-40 (Sherman's wife Malinda). According to the 1855 Illinois census, Sherman owned livestock valued at $420. Five years later, at the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, the Shaw household looked much the same. The census that year shows Sherman Shaw, 49, "merchant," living in Lee Center Township, Lee County, with his wife "Melinda Shaw," age 44, with their children Sophia, 22, James M., 21, Egbert, 19, and Adelia, 13. Also living with them were two farm laborers, immigrants from Norway named Ole Olson and Ose Olson. The 1860 census valued Sherman's real estate at $15,000 and his personal estate at $4,000 -- a tidy sum for those days showing that Sherman had been blessed with success in his endeavors.

bradford and lee center twps

This map is an enlargement of Bradford and Lee Center Townships, from a facsimile of a large 1863 wall map of Lee County that I inherited from my grandmother. Bordering on the west of Bradford and Lee Center Townships are, respectively, China and Amboy Townships. The original farm of Manly Sherman Shaw in Section 31 of Bradford Township is marked in red. Additional Shaw land is shown in Section 30 as well as Section 32, where it borders upon the land of Sherman Shaw's brother-in-law Jesse Woodruff. Another plot of land in Section 13, in the upper right corner of the map, is assigned to "S. Shaw," which I believe is probably the Bradford Township farm of Sherman Shaw's uncle Sylvester Shaw. Some of the land of Sylvester's brother Henry Champion Shaw can be seen in Section 2 of Amboy Township in the lower left corner of the map.

During those early formative years in Lee County's history, these parts of Illinois were very much a more than half-wild frontier region. The following memories of Lee County pioneer settler Ira Brewer, recorded in Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County (1893), "Recollections of Bradford," pages 175-176, paint a picture of the state of affairs in Bradford and Lee Center Townships during the 1830s and 1840s:

"We have to remember that the first settlers came here and located on Government lands, and of course all the property that was subject to taxation was what little personal property was owned by the settlers. The laws were inadequate to the circumstances of the people, so that the people had to become a law unto themselves. Hence we see the need of the 'Grove Association,' and the 'Society for the Furtherance of the Cause of Justice,' to see that things were done honestly. I could name many of the stern old pioneers who were instrumental in keeping early settlers and the affairs of our county in good condition. . . . The older settlers had the larger part of the grove. When it was good sleighing there was liable to be some claim jumping by settlers, in the way of hauling timber from other claims. Then it was the duty of the president of the Grove Association to order a meeting, and the clerk to mount a pony and give the settlers notice. But the worst cases were when some persons would jump a home claim."

Manly Sherman Shaw was one of those "stern old pioneers" that Ira Brewer had in mind. The 1881 History of Lee County, "Amboy Township," pages 284-296, relates at some length the formation and activities of the Grove Association mentioned by Brewer. The association's constitution is dated at "Inlet, Ogle county, Illinois, July 10, 1837," not long before Sherman's arrival in what would soon become Lee County. At the 16 March 1839 meeting, the association's boundaries were defined as extending "south half way from this [Inlet] grove to Knox, half way to Dixon, half way to Malugan, half way to Palestine [i.e., Lee Center] and half way to Franklin Grove." During the association's meeting of 2 March 1839, two disputed land claims between Sherman Shaw and Roswell Streeter were decided in Sherman's favor. At the regular election of 20 March 1841, Sherman Shaw was one of five committeemen elected for the Grove Association. On 17 Feb. 1843, Sherman was one of five committeemen appointed to visit members of the Grove Association who had not yet signed an association bond and to "obtain their signatures if possible." Though we cannot be sure, it's likely that Sherman Shaw participated in the Grove Association's resolute actions during the spring of 1845 that thwarted a claim-jumping scheme of a settler named Perkins, who had attempted to cheat a poor settler named Anderson out of his land at Perkins' Grove (1881 History of Lee County, pages 295-296, which calls it "one of the most notable exploits under the old regime").

In addition to his activities with the Grove Association, Sherman Shaw had a hand in helping to subdue Lee County to the rule of law. From 1843 to 1850, much of northern Illinois was terrorised by gangs of outlaws known as "the Banditti of the Prairie," who were responsible for numerous thefts, robberies, counterfeiting, threats, extortions, and vicious murders throughout Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, and Missouri. The Banditti had one of their main hideouts in Inlet Swamp, and several of the early settlers of Inlet were members of the criminal gang, including some of the magistrates. In fact the Banditti may even have subverted all of Lee County's government at the township level. "At one time, every township officer was supposed to have been a member of the banditti; being in the majority they could, of course, elect their own men to office." (1881 History of Lee County, page 416) The troubles at Inlet led to the founding of Lee Center in 1846, as many settlers left Inlet and moved to Palestine Grove so they wouldn't be in so close proximity to the criminals' hideout (cf. the 1914 History of Lee County, page 371). Some of Inlet's settlers were induced through harassment and threats to cooperate with the Banditti. One of the criminals was none other than the old thorn in Sherman Shaw's side, Charles West, then serving as Inlet's constable. In the fall of 1844, West had robbed a peddler named Miller at Troy Grove, but when some of Miller's stolen goods were found in West's house, he was arrested and turned state's evidence (1881 History of Lee County, page 298).

In response to this serious danger to peace and public order, 72 prominent citizens of Lee County met on 4 Nov. 1844 and formed "An Association for Furthering the Cause of Justice" -- what Ira Brewer recalled as the "Society for the Furtherance of the Cause of Justice." The 1881 History of Lee County, page 300, lists the following officers of the association:

Moses Crombie was elected president, Ira Brewer clerk, and George E. Haskell treasurer. The president appointed the following vigilance committee: Corydon R. Dewey, Sherman Shaw, George R. Linn, C.I. Hitchcock, Sylvanus Peterson, G.A. Ingalls, Harmon Wasson, and John C. Church.

Sherman Shaw's friend and associate George R. Linn later became the father-in-law of Sherman's son James. "G.A. Ingalls" above is a misreading of "C.F. Ingalls," that is, Charles F. Ingalls. "C.I. Hitchcock" would be Charles I. Hitchcock, a resident of Lee County who was probably related to Rev. Luke Hitchcock. This list should be compared with the one given in the same volume on page 417, in the section entitled "Lee Center Township":

Among the residents of Lee Center township who took an active part in the suppression of this band of outlaws were C.F. Ingalls, Rev. Luke Hitchcock, Dr. Adams, Moses Crombie, Sherman Shaw, Lewis Clapp, Benjamin Whittaker; also a Mr. Starks and sons, whose full names we are unable to ascertain. By their shrewd manipulations and persistent efforts this organization succeeded in either capturing or driving from the country most of the prominent members of the gang, so that after 1845 the citizens of Lee Center, as well as elsewhere, experienced a feeling of security.

An article published in the Dixon Evening Telegraph in 1951 provides a similar list of names: "A group of settlers in Inlet Grove, namely, Sherman Shaw, Charles Ingalls, Rev. Hitchcock, Dr. R.F. Adams, Moses Crombies, Louis Clapp, Benjamin Whittaker, and a Mr. Starks and his sons, resolved to rid Inlet Grove of these 'banditti.' Through their heroic efforts, these men freed Inlet of the banditti." Mr. Starks is most likely the Charles Starks who was one of the prominent members of the Inlet Grove Association, though he might rather be the E.W. Starks or the Samuel S. Starks who a few years later held elected offices in Bradford Township.

In April 1850, Bradford Township was formally organized and township elections were held. Sherman Shaw was one of three township highway commissioners elected at that time, receiving 29 votes (1881 History of Lee County, page 447). He continued to reside with his wife and children on his farm in Section 31 of Bradford Township until 1855, when they moved into a house in Lee Center not very far south of Sherman Shaw's farm. About 15 years later, Sherman bought a fine stone house from its owner, a pioneer settler of Lee County named Garrett M. La Forge, who built it in 1862 but had decided to leave Lee Center. My mother and I had the opportunity to tour and photograph this house on 29 Aug. 1998, while the owners at the time were at work on maintenance and renovations as they prepared to move in. On 13 July 2011, I had a second opportunity to visit and photograph the house and to meet the current owners.

1872 engraving of old shaw home

An 1872 engraving of the old Shaw home in Lee Center, from a greeting card that was printed a few decades ago which had belonged to my grandmother. The yard to the left is "laid out in formal flower beds," as mentioned by my great-aunt Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor. I believe this depiction comes from an old gazetteer of Lee County.

Sherman and Malinda lived in that house for the rest of their lives, as related in Aunt Eleanor's mimeographed family history:

Manly Sherman engaged in the livestock business and was the owner of quite a little farm land. He moved eventually to Lee Center, where he purchased (for $8800.00) the stone house on Lot 48, People's Addition, from Garrett LaForge, and lived there until his death. Malinda had a "green thumb" (inherited by her daughter Delia and by her granddaughter Adeline Thornton Pomeroy) and the yard at the Lee Center home was laid out in formal flower beds. A conservatory was built at the back of the house where her house plants were kept.

Aunt Eleanor's mimeographed history also relates that after the untimely death of Sherman Shaw's son James Monroe on the day after Christmas 1876, James' "widow and her children moved in with Manly Sherman and remained with them until the death of the latter and his wife." Not only Sherman and Malinda died at the Old Shaw Home in Lee Center, but also their granddaughter Emma Adelia Shaw, who fell sick and died at the tender age of 10 on 6 Nov. 1883.

old shaw home - lee center il

This is the oldest photograph of the old Shaw home in Lee Center that my grandparents had in their possession. I think that is Mary Rebecca (Linn) Shaw standing on the porch of the house, or perhaps her daughter Grace. This is a view of the eastern exposure. The front of the house, facing the street, is the house's right side in this picture.

Aunt Eleanor's mimeographed family history mentions another notable event in Lee County's history in which Sherman Shaw and his family had a hand: the founding of the village of Shaws, also called Shaw Station because it formerly was a train depot. In her family history, Aunt Eleanor says Sherman's younger son Egbert DeWolf Shaw "lived at Shaws, Ill. He farmed and was in the livestock business with his father. They donated the land which the C B & Q railroad station occupied, and laid out the village of Shaws." Egbert DeWolf and his descendants are known as the Shaw Station Shaws, and one of them, Egbert's grandson KENNETH SHAW, lives on Shaw Road just a few miles west of Shaw Station. Shaws is a few miles east of Amboy, situated at the intersection of Inlet Road (County Highway 5, going north and south) and Shaw Road (County Highway 10, going east and west). In the article "History of Lee County," the 1904 edition of the Encyclopedia of Illinois says, "Shaw Station was platted as 'Shaw' on land of Sherman Shaw October 24, 1878. The place has an elevator operated by Chas. Guffin, a Congregational church, which was built five or six years ago, and a public school." Since 1904, however, Shaws has considerably declined. The railroad no longer goes through Shaw Station and the school is gone. The Shaw Evangelical Congregational Church building is still there, at 2067 Shaw Road, rural Amboy, but is no longer in use. There are probably not more than 20 dwellings, most of them to the southeast of the highway intersection on Main Street (the only street in Shaws). My mother informed me that when she was a teenager, she and her friends would sometimes drive down to the gas station and feed store at Shaw Station to buy snacks and drinks. Though there may not be much to the unincorporated village of Shaw's, nevertheless its name and the name of Shaw Road are geographical memorials to Manly Sherman Shaw and his family.

shaw station feed store sign 29 aug 1998

shaw station intersection of shaw road and inlet road 29

Above: The sign of Supersweet Feeds, a former feed store and gas station at Shaw Station that my mother used to visit when she was a teenager. The feed store was at the intersection of Shaw Road and Inlet Road, shown at right. I took these photographs on a visit with my mother to Shaw Station on 29 Aug. 1998. On a subsequent visit on 13 July 2011, I found that the feed store had gone out of business and the sign was gone, with only the wood frame remaining.

In her mimeographed family history, Aunt Eleanor concludes her account of the life of her great-grandfather with these remarks:

Manly Sherman eventually lost his eyesight, but it is said he could run his hands over a steer and estimate within a few pounds the weight of the animal. He was a member of the Baptist Church, as was his wife. She purchased a scholarship at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan, a Baptist-sponsored institution, which is still good. It entitles the holder to free tuition (tuition at the figure which was in force at the time of issue -- $1.50 a semester!). Nice to know that when Marilyn Baylor attended Hillsdale College there was a relative of the Henry Ford family also attending under a similar scholarship.

I do not know if that scholarship is still valid, as it was when my mother's first cousin Marilyn attended Hillsdale.

Manly Sherman Shaw's death certificate says that he died of "LaGrippe" (influenza). The published newspaper obituary of Manly Sherman Shaw from the 30 April 1891 Amboy Journal reads as follows:

Uncle Sherman Shaw, an old resident of Lee Center, and much respected throughout the county, died at his residence last Saturday morning, aged eighty years. He was born in York State (sic), and in 1837 came to Lee county, settling in Bradford. He leaves four children: Egbert D. Shaw, Mrs. W.S. Frost, Mrs. Harry Thornton and Mrs. Rebecca Shaw, widow of the late J.M. Shaw. The funeral was from the house at Lee Center Monday at 10:30 a.m. There was a very large attendance of people from all parts of the county.

His widow Malinda survived him by only a little more than a year. Marking their graves is an impressive granite monument of excellent quality that appears to show hardly a day's wear. Their epitaphs express their Baptist Christian faith and the heavenly hope in which they died. Sherman's epitaph is "In my Father's House are many mansions" (John 14:2), and Malinda's is "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

manly sherman and malinda dewolf shaw gravestone

manly sherman shaw gravestone close-up

Grave monument of Manly Sherman Shaw and Malinda DeWolf Shaw

Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Illinois.

The seven or eight children of Sherman and Malinda are as follows:


                --  SOPHIA E. SHAW, born 31 March 1837 near Niles, Berrien Co., Michigan
                --  CORPORAL JAMES MONROE SHAW, ("Roe"), born 26 June 1838 near Lee Center, Lee Co., Illinois
                --  PRIVATE EGBERT DEWOLF SHAW, ("Eg"), born 6 Aug. 1841 in Bradford Township, Lee Co., Illinois
                --  (NN) SHAW, probably stillborn or died in infancy, perhaps born circa 1843
                --  DELIA ELIZA SHAW, born 15 Dec. 1845 in Bradford Township, Lee Co., Illinois
                --  (NN) SHAW, probably stillborn or died in infancy
                --  (NN) SHAW, probably stillborn or died in infancy
                --  (NN) SHAW (??), probably stillborn or died in infancy