Lee County Illinois Biography

Manley Sherman Shaw

Contributed by Jared Olar

It was probably fifty or more years ago that my great-aunt Eleanor Shaw Baylor (1909-1974) of Lee Center, Ill., daughter of Sherman Linn Shaw and Grace Esther Bender, prepared a two-page mimeographed family history of her great-grandfather Manley Sherman Shaw (c.1811-1891). Aunt Eleanor's account has a few little errors in it and is somewhat incomplete in spots, but preserves some precious family traditions and stories. I share it here, with occasion notes to supply corrections or additional information

Job Shaw was born in 1763 and married Lucy Sherman on Jan. 12, 1788. Lucy was born Jan. 5,1768 at Middleboro, Plym. Mass., and she belonged to the Sherman family which included Vice President James Schoolcraft Sherman and Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

Job and Lucy had at least ten children, including John, who was born June 30, 1790 in Windsor Co., Vt. He married Polly Maria Fox and they 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. Job is buried in Rochester, N.Y. [NOTE: John and Polly Shaw's sons include John Langdon Shaw, born 18 May 1816 in Victor, N.Y.; Sylvester Shaw, born 21 May 1818 in Victor, N.Y.; and Henry Champion Shaw, born 7 July 1820 in Victor, N.Y., father of William Montgomery Shaw, born 24 Sept. 1847. Another brother of John Shaw and Manley Sherman Shaw was William E. Shaw, born 17 Aug. 1797 in Bridgewater, Vermont, died 9 Feb. 1833, one of the early settlers of Lee County and the first person buried in Inlet Cemetery, Lee Center, Ill.]

One of the younger of John and Lucy's children was MANLY SHERMAN SHAW. Apparently their parents died when Manly Sherman was quite young, for family tradition relates that he was brought up by John. 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.

MANLY SHERMAN SHAW was born April 23 of either 1811 or 1817, and we have yet to learn where. [NOTE: Aunt Eleanor's uncertainty about the date reflects confusion between the similarly shaped numbers 1 and 7. In some of our records, his year of birth is given as 1802, in others 1806, but the date on his tombstone in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Ill., is 23 April 1811. If he was born in 1811, it was in Ontario County, N.Y., as stated in the 1881 History of Lee County, but if 1802 or 1806, then it would have been in Bridgewater, Windsor County, Vt.] He died April 25, 1891. He was married to MALINDA DEWOLF, daughter of Dorastus and Eliza DeWolf, in New York State (in Ontario County) and in 1837 they set out for Illinois in a wagon, with two pigs following behind. It is understood that their first child, Sophia, was born on the trip, near Niles, Mich.

They first settled in Lee Center, where James Monroe was born on June 26, 1838. Then they moved to Bradford Township, where Manly Sherman had purchased land from the government in Section 31. Egbert was born here in 1841, and according to Lee County history was the first white child born in the township. Manly Sherman's house was said to be the second built in the township. So far I have no information on where the last child, Delia, was born.

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. 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!). [NOTE: I don't know if that scholarship is still valid.] 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.

Manly Sherman and Malinda were the parents of four children, Sophia, James Monroe, Egbert and Delia. [NOTE: The 1881 History of Lee County says they had seven children, but only three were living in 1881. James Monroe died in 1876, but we have no names for the other three, who were apparently stillborn or died very soon after birth. It is not known where they were buried or if they ever had gravestones.] Letters written by the two boys when they were serving in the Civil War indicate their nicknames were "Eg" and "Roe."

SOPHIA married Wm. S. Frost, who had been a captain in the Civil War. Capt. Frost was the son of Daniel and Eulalie Stinson Frost. Eulalie's sister Abigal [sic -- Abigail] was married to George Russell Linn. Sophia was born in 1837 and died in 1901. They were the parents of Wm. S. Frost Jr., S. Donald Frost, Frank E. Frost, Malinda (Mrs. Andrew) Aschenbrenner and Della (Mrs. Mark) Warnick [NOTE: Some of my records call her "Delia," others call her "Della."] They farmed in Bradford Township.

JAMES MONROE, a Civil War veteran, was born June 28, 1838 [sic -- June 26, as above, not June 28]. He married Mary Rebecca Linn, daughter of James [sic -- George, as above] Russell Linn and Abigal Stinson Linn. The Linn family, as well as the Frost family, had come to Illinois from the same community in Windsor, Maine. [NOTE: in Kennebec County] There were five children in this family: Sherman Linn, Grace (Mrs. C. T. Leonard), Emma Adelia, who died when about ten years of age; George Harry Thornton and Arthur Monroe. James Monroe Shaw died Dec. 26, 1876. He had contracted dysentery during the war years, from which he never fully recovered, and had received a medical discharge from service. After his death his widow and her children moved in with Manly Sherman and remained with them until the death of the latter and his wife.

EGBERT D. 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 was first married to Mary L. Clapp and they had one daughter, Alice Eva, who lived only from 1873 to 1880. Mary divorced him and he later married Lena Auchstetter. They were the parents of three sons -- James, Benoni and Sherman Manly. He died in 1898.

DELIA was born Dec. 15, 1845 and died Oct. 23, 1935. She married Capt. J. B. H. Thornton,["James Benjamin Harrison Thornton"], who met her thru her brother when they served together in the Civil War. They lived on a farm in Section 31, Bradford Twp., originally purchased by her father, until they retired to Franklin Grove. Their children were Adeline DeWolf (Mrs. E. A. Pomeroy), Philip, Harry F., Alice Louise, Edward Shaw and Florence Alberta (Mrs. Ned Coulson).

The DeWolfs are buried in the Inlet Cemetery, Manly Sherman and Malinda, James Monroe and Mary Rebecca, Egbert and Lena Shaw, Delia and Harry Thornton and Sophia and Wm. S. Frost in Woodside Cemetery at Lee Center, Ill.


Mr. Whitmore and Sherman Shaw were the first to build houses within the limits of Bradford [Township]. 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. Egbert Shaw is said to have been the first white child born within the township.

History of Lee County (1881), "Bradford Township," p.448 [Note: Egbert DeWolf Shaw was born 6 Aug. 1841.]

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.

History of Lee County (1881), "Lee Center Township," p.425

A Mr. Whitmore and Mr. Sherman Shaw are said to have been the first to build houses in this township. . . . Of the old settlers from whom we have no farther data than the time of their settlement we give names which are familiar, but around which we have no 'experiences' with which to adorn our pages. 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. . . . Sherman Shaw, the grandfather of the present owner of the title, [came to Bradford Township] in 1839 . . . ."

Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County (1893), "Recollections of Bradford," pp.173, 176

Bradford [Township] acquired its name from the circumstance that many of the organizers were from Bradford County, Penn. The first town meeting was held at the house of Ralph B. Evitts, when the following officers were elected: Charles Starks, Supervisor; Ira Brewer, Town Clerk; E. W. Starks, Assessor; Samuel S. Starks, Collector; Ralph B. Evitts, Overseer of the Poor; Sherman Shaw, Stephen Clink and George Yale, Highway Commissioners; Samuel S. Starks and Daniel Barber, Constables; Elisha Pratt and LaFayette Yale, Justices of the Peace. Town meetings were held at private houses until 1856, when a meeting was held at the school house at Ogle Station (now Ashton.) Many of the early land owners of the town first settled at Lee Center and, as their lands became subdued and they grew able to build, moved onto them. The first to erect homes within the bounds of the township were Sherman Shaw and Mr. Whitemore, the house of the latter having been built prior to 1839. Shaw's was built in 1840 on the northeast corner of Section 31. . . . Egbert Shaw is said to have been the first white child born within the township."

Encyclopedia of Illinois -- History of Lee County (1904)

The country was greatly disturbed in the period from 1843 to 1850, by a succession of crimes indicating a thorough organization among the lawless class. The principals in the nefarious business are known in the annals of this and adjoining counties as the 'Banditti of the Prairies.' The vicinity of Inlet furnished one of their bases of operation. Counterfeiting, robbery and murder were included among their offenses. Two leading citizens of Inlet Grove one of them a magistrate were implicated in a robbery, and sent to the penitentiary where both died. Other citizens were found to be involved in like transactions. One turned state's evidence, which resulted in more arrests and the recovery of considerable stolen property. As a means of better contending with the law-breaking element, an 'Association for Furthering the Cause of Justice' was formed. The preamble of the constitution recited that, 'appearances have plainly shown that Inlet Grove has been a resting place and depot for the numerous rogues that infest the country.' A vigilance committee was appointed to hunt out and run down the rascals, by which effective work was done for the protection of the people and punishment of criminals. . . . .

"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."

Encyclopedia of Illinois -- History of Lee County (1904)

Bradford obtained its name from Bradford, Pa., whence many of its population came. In 1850 the town was organized at the home of Ralph B. Evitts. At the town meeting Elisha Pratt was made chairman, Thomas S. Hulbert, Secretary and Charles Starks, moderator; George E. Haskell justice of the peace, swore them in. At the meeting Charles Starks was elected Supervisor; Ira Brewer, town clerk; E.W. Starks, assessor; Samuel B. Starks, collector; Ralph B. Evitts, overseer of the poor; Sherman Shaw, Stephen Clink and George Yale, highway commissioners; Samuel S. Starks and Daniel Barber, constables. Elisha Pratt and Lafayette Yale, justices; Jesse Woodruff was put in charge of the town's litigation. Meetings were held in private houses til 1856, when the schoolhouse at Ogle station, now Ashton was used. As in Inlet, Sherman Shaw was one of the first to build in Bradford, and Mr. Whitman in 1838. In 1840, Mr. Shaw built a frame house on the northeast 31. Egbert Shaw has the distinction of being the first white child born in Bradford. . . . Among the old settlers [of Bradford Township] not already named were: . . . Sherman Shaw, 1839 . . . ."

Dixon Evening Telegraph (29 Oct. 1948)

Inlet is located in Section 9 and was the first settlement of Lee Center township. It was located on the banks of Inlet Creek, now known as Green River. It was a gathering place for thieves, counterfeiters, fence men and even murderers. One of the particular thief's house was used as a hiding place for all stolen goods. These banditti were not only located in Illinois or Lee Center but also extended from ohio and Kentucky to Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin -- but their favorite and main meeting place was Inlet. This part of the country was hilly and rugged with ravines and dense forests which made it possible for giving better protection and hiding places. 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. This group of settlers were known as the 'Vigilance Committee.'"

Dixon Evening Telegraph (1951)

Out of the rivalry and fear of bandits, Lee center was placed on the map right in the center of Lee County. Named because it was the 'center' in 1846, Lee Center might never have been the quiet little community it is today if bandits, thieves and murderers had not forced people out of nearby Inlet in the early days of the village. Actually bandits, thieves, counterfeiters and murderers were the first to settle in Lee Center Township, at a settlement called Inlet on the banks of Inlet Creek, now known as a branch of the Green River. A vigilance committee finally ousted badmen from the area and later moved northward to establish Lee center. Inlet, the village of thieves, was set on the hilly banks of the creek with the houses built and owned exclusively by thieves. One of these home was also designated as a hiding place for stolen goods and where machines used to make counterfeit bills were stored. The bandits were not just from Lee County and the surrounding area, but were from Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin. Inlet was the favorite place to meet because of the hilly and rugged land, dense forests and ravines. Most settlers agreed the terrain made it a great place for bandits to hide. Sherman Shaw, the Rev. Mr. Hitchcock, Dr. R.F. Adams, Moses Crombie, Louis Clapp, Benjamin Whittaker and a man known as Stark formed the Vigilance Committee and their goal was to oust the thieves from the area. These and other settlers succeeded in running most of the bandits out of the area."

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