Sunday, March 6, 2011

Happy 179th Birthday, Henry Albert Shaw (1832-1884)!

John Welch IV's great-grandfather

Harry Shaw was an English bookkeeper, so new to the frontier experience that it was said he didn't know which end of the cattle to place a yoke on.  He ran a saloon until called in to the bishopric.  

Harry was the son of a factory worker, and attended school in England until age fourteen, at which point he became employed as an assistant bookkeeper in a thread factory.  He was promoted to head bookkeeper at a very young age.  He taught school to the other children working at the factory as they worked for a half-day, and were schooled for a half-day.

Converted at eighteen, he served as a missionary in his native land for seven years, mostly walking the countryside on weekends, until he emigrated to Utah (coincidentally on the same ship as Woodland ancestors Elizabeth and Annie Scarborough, and Hunter ancestor Charlotte Perkes).   His occupation on the ship’s manifest was listed as “spinner.”  Harry was hired to drive a team across the plains, which was entirely new work for him, and it was jokingly said that he hardly knew which end of the cattle the yoke should be placed on. 

Soon after arriving in Utah, Harry was hired as a farmhand, but asked to speak in church one Sunday night, which he did for an hour.  The bishop asked, “Why didn’t you tell us you were educated?”  Then he announced that school would open in the morning with Harry as a teacher.

Harry married Emma Rogers as his second wife just a few months after marrying his first wife, Elizabeth.  His two wives lived harmoniously in one home, and raised his fifteen children (five died young) as one family.  Harry was a teacher, school trustee, storekeeper, postmaster, and justice of the peace in Paradise, Utah.  He was never robust, and farming was difficult for him, but generally he taught school in the winter months and farmed in the summer.

Harry opened a saloon in Paradise, which did well with the local railroad workers. A year later, Harry was called into the bishopric and was asked to close the saloon, which he did. Harry was well-respected by the local Indians, and a peacemaker between them and the settlers. When Chief Sagwitch came to town, he would always send for Harry to dine with him and pass him the peace pipe. 

A highlight in Harry’s life was when his brother came to visit from England in 1881 and stayed with the Shaws. In the 1880s, the Shaw family suffered as first son George died at age four, then Harry became ill and died of dropsy (kidney failure), followed two years later by the death of teenage daughter Emma. Harry’s congenial widows continued to live and work together.

I would give Harry a chance to attend college, which I think he would enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. I'd give him a nice textbook on farming, hopefully with some instructions for yoking cattle.