John H. Shields
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Cobb’s Legion Infantry Battalion, C. S. A.
The Wichita Beacon, Friday, Nov. 10, 1916, Pg1 & 8
Died: Nov. 9, 1916
CAPTAIN JOHN H. SHIELDS
The death of Captain Shields yesterday brought genuine sorrow to Wichita. During all the years he has been in Wichita no man has had honest cause to speak ill of him. He came here soon after the Civil War, a brave hearted Southern gentleman, a soldier of the Lost Cause, but he was never an exile, even at that hour when sectional lines had been emphasized by four years of warfare.
And he never truckled to the majority; he never struck his flag except to government. He had fought and lost; he saluted victory with dignity and went to running a Democratic newspaper in the heart of the abolition movement.
He was always kindly, courteous, helpful. He fought on the moral side of every issue—and the entire community expressed gratification at the later successes of his life. He leaves a useful memory in a community that grew to love him.
CAPT. J. H. SHIELDS
HAS PASSED AWAY
Death Came to Him Late
During the Past Year He
Had Been Failing—Was
Captain John H. Shields, who has been postmaster of this city since June 26, 1913, died at his home on Water and Orme Streets a little after 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon at the age of 72.
His physician, who had been passing a quarter of an hour before, dropped in, examined his heart, and found it in excellent condition. The captain was about to take an automobile ride for the fresh air when his head dropped and he was dead. Heart failure was the immediate cause of death.
For a year or more Captain Shields had been failing rapidly in health. His friends mentioned it to one another that he was not long for this world, but he did not realize it himself. He kept at his work all thru the hot weather. Some two months ago his limbs began to fail him and eventually became almost entirely paralyzed.
An Outing Every Day.
He was taken out in a wheel chair every day and during the last three or four weeks suffered great emaciation of body. His indomitable spirit, however, sustained him, and he never for a moment felt that he could not resume his duties in the postoffice.
Tuesday he said he wanted to go to his polling precinct to vote for President Wilson and reluctantly abandoned his purpose in deference to the counsel of his family.
This is the third time within the last three years that death has invaded the Shields cottage, the home of the family for twenty-four years. His wife, who had been a invalid for several years, was the first to depart. Then one of his daughters was taken from him and now he is gone. Some seven or eight years ago his son, Robert Prather Shields, who was getting a fine start in the world, died at St. Joseph, Mo. All of these sorrows had a considerable effect upon the health of Captain Shields, for altho he had a strong spirit, his closer friends knew that he grieved greatly in secret.
A Native of Georgia.
Captain Shields was not a Kentuckian as many people supposed. He was a native son of Georgia and came from an Irish stock that settled in that section before the Revolutionary War. He was born near Madison and while a sister of his still lived a few years ago he made a visit to the old homestead and had a delightful sojourn there. He was born in 1844 and became a printer—and a good one—early in life.
At the age of 17 he joined Cobb’s legion of the Confederate Army and served thruout the war where the fighting was thickest. He saw all the privations of army life, as the cause was losing and the soldiers were hungry and ragged most of the time, but he had a stout heart and never lost confidence in ultimate victory until his prime hero, General Robert E. Lee, offered his sword to Grant at Appomatox Court House in April, 1865. He participated in the battles of Stone River, Malvern Hill, Chancellorsville, Spottsylvania, Knoxville, Chickamaugua and Gettysburg.
General Gordon His Guest.
When General Gordon, the famous Confederate chieftain, came to Wichita sixteen or seventeen years ago, Captain Shields had him as a guest and it was good to hear them going over war times together.
When Captain Shields came to Wichita 31 years ago the story gained currency here that a romance, in the South led him into a duel in which he killed his opponent. The rumor exaggerated the facts. The truth was that he had sent a challenge to another Confederate soldier but the latter apologized and the duel was never fought.
After the war Captain Shields was married to Miss Sarah J. Butts in Morgan County, Georgia, and to them nine children were born, four of whom survive—Mrs. J. Wommack, of Braman, Ok.; Mrs. Sally Bevis and Ernest Shields of this city and Mrs. W. B. Alexander.
He Was a Publisher.
For nearly twenty years he published a daily paper at Paduchah, Ky., and came to Wichita in 1885 as a compositor for the Eagle. A year later Col. M. M. Murdock took him into the front office as assistant editor and he remained there until the early ninethies when Victor Murdock returned from Chicago and permanently entered upon the position of managing editor. Then the Captain took the telegraph desk and continued there until he started the Democrat, a weekly paper which he sold to Major Warren shortly after taking the position of postmaster here.
Ever since he came to Wichita his office, wherever it happened to be was the headquarters and mecca for Confederate soldiers and none of them in distress ever came to him in vain. He would share the last crust with a man who fought under the stars and bars. And while that was true, he was always popular among the Union soldiers. He was one of the leaders in the organization of a Confederate post here and thru his popularity with the Union veterans both groups have always fraternized.
A Town Named for Him.
The town of Shields in Western Kansas was named by the Missouri Pacific construction company in his honor when it was organized thirty years ago.
When the fires of Democracy burned low in Wichita, Captain Shields kept them aglow. He was not a demonstrative Democrat, but he was very loyal and it was because of that loyalty that Senator Thompson secured the postoffice for him three and one-half years ago. He was then 68 years of age and never had held a public office.
The Captain was genial in his disposition, very polite and courteous and was often referred to as a type of the old Southern gentleman. He was a very strong Baptist and was a constant attendant at that church. He was one of the early members of Wichita Lodge No. 22, A. O. U. W. and served as his Master Workman for a term. He had a wonderful affection for his invalid wife and nursed her fondly thru her long years of illness.
Funeral Service Saturday.
The funeral of Captain Shields will be held Saturday at 3:30 o’clock at the First Baptist Church. Rev. Guy L. Brown, pastor of the church, will preach the funeral sermon. Postoffice men and women will escort the body from the home to the church and employees from the postoffice will be pall bearers.
The body will be in state at the residence from 10 until 12 o’clock Saturday. The casket will not be opened at the church. Burial will be in Highland Cemetery. I. W. Gill in charge.
Pages 889-890 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. … / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
John H. Shields, of Wichita, editor and publisher of the "Wichita Democrat," has been engaged in newspaper work over forty years, twenty-six years of which time has been spent in the city of Wichita. Though there has been an evolution in journalism, as in every other profession, and the days of Franklin, Horace Greeley and other such moulders of public opinion have passed, there are yet many conscientious men devoting their lives to the art preservative, who unswervingly support truth, as they see it, and with a full sense of the power at their command, also recognize their responsibility for good or evil in shaping public opinion. Mr. Shields, as the name of his paper indicates, is a Democrat and an ardent supporter of his party in political affairs, but the strength of his influence is always given toward law enforcement, irrespective of party, and he is a stanch supporter of every movement that has for its aim the advancement of the material, moral and social interests of the city of Wichita, his state and his nation.
Mr. Shields was born in Morgan county, Georgia, June 8, 1844, a son of John B. and Eliza, A. Shields. Both parents were natives of Guilford county, North Carolina, and both died in the city of Madison, Ga., the father’s death having occurred in 1880, at the age of seventy-two, and the mother’s in 1872, when sixty years of age. Both were devout Christians and were members of the Baptist church, in which denomination the father officiated as a deacon. The original ancestors of this branch of the Shields family in America came from Scotland and from Ireland about 1770, and settled in North Carolina, near the Virginia line. The paternal grandparents of Mr. Shields moved from North Carolina to Georgia in 1818.
John H. Shields was reared in Morgan county, Georgia, and was educated in the English branches at Madison Male Seminary, Madison, Ga. He was still a youth when the Civil war opened, but enlisted in the defense of the Southland at the very beginning of the conflict, and served four years in the army of northern Virginia, under Gen. Robert E. Lee. At the close of the war, or in June, 1865, Mr. Shields began his business career by engaging in merchandising in Madison, Ga. He continued in business there until January, 1868, when he moved to Paducah, Ky., and there became associated with Col. John S. Prather and John Martin, Jr., in publishing the "Daily Kentuckian." On June 29, 1885, he came to Wichita, Kan., where he was employed as assistant editor of the "Wichita Eagle," from 1885 to 1897. On Jan. 7, 1899, he became editor and publisher of "The Democrat," at Wichita, in which connection he has continued to the present time (1911). Under his able management "The Democrat" has become recognized as one of Wichita’s leading weekly papers.
In Morgan county, Georgia, on Jan. 2, 1867, Mr. Shields married Sarah J. Butts, a daughter of Jacob Butts, of that county. Nine children have been the issue of that marriage, five of whom are still living: Mrs. Ula C. Wommack, of Braman, Okla.; Mrs. Sallie M. Bevis, of Wichita, Kan.; Miss Mae, who resides with her parents in Wichita; Mrs. Hattie B. Moore, and Ernest J., both of whom reside in Wichita. Fraternally Mr. Shields affiliates with two beneficiary societies, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Fraternal Aid Association. In church faith and membership he is a Baptist.