By Jared L. Olar
July 2007-April 2016
7. JAMES MONROE SHAW ("Monroe," "Roe"), son of Sherman and Malinda Shaw; born 26 June 1838 near Palestine Grove (Lee Center), Lee County (then Ogle County), Illinois; died at age 38 on 26 Dec. 1876 in Lee Center, Illinois; buried in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Illinois. James Monroe was his parents' second child, born while they were living at a house James' father had built in the vicinity of Inlet Grove and Palestine Grove (renamed Lee Center in 1846). A year after James was born, the family removed to Bradford Township to the north of Lee Center, where in 1840 Sherman Shaw built a frame house on the northeast corner of Section 31 of the township. James lived there with his parents and siblings until 1855, when the family moved to Lee Center. The 1860 U.S. Census shows "James M. Shaw," age 21, living with his parents and siblings on 17 July 1860.
Shown above are two old photographs of James Monroe Shaw which had been handed down to his granddaughter Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor and preserved by Eleanor's family. The photograph on the right was the basis for an engraving of James Monroe Shaw that was inherited by Eleanor's younger brother Sherman Linn Shaw II and is now treasured by his descendants. The engraving is shown below.
His parents and siblings still lived in Lee Center at the time of the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. However, James Monroe, a month shy of his 23rd birthday, was living in Dixon, Illinois, on 24 May 1861, when he enlisted with the 13th Illinois Infantry, Company A. His younger brother, Egbert DeWolf, age 19, enlisted in the same company alongside his brother on the same day. They signed on for a three-year tour of duty, with James Monroe mustered in at the rank of Corporal and Egbert DeWolf mustered in at the rank of Private. In the old mimeographed history of the family of Manley Sherman Shaw, my great-aunt Eleanor Shaw Baylor wrote, "Letters written by the two boys when they were serving in the Civil War indicate that their nicknames were 'Eg' and 'Roe.'" Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls shows the follow profile and summary of James M. Shaw's Civil War service:
James M. Shaw Rank: 4th Corporal Company: A Unit: 13th Illinois Infantry Height: 5 feet 8 1/2 inches Hair: Brown Eyes: Blue Complexion: Light Marital Status: Single Occupation: Farmer Birth Date: Circa 1838 Birth Place: Lee Center, Lee County, Illinois Service Entry Age: 23 Service Entry Date: 24 May 1861 Service Entry Place: Dixon, Illinois Joined By Whom: H. T. Noble Period: Three years Muster In Date: 24 May 1861 Muster In Place: Dixon, Illinois Muster Out Date: 18 June 1864 Muster Out Place: Springfield, Illinois Mustered Out By Whom: Lt. Carter Remarks: Was Corp from enlistment. Appointed Sergt 1 March 1862 Residence Place: Lee Center, Lee County, Illinois
The following is the story of the 13th Infantry Illinois Volunteers regiment according to the History of Lee County (1881), pp.159-161 (emphasis added, with the battles in which James M. Shaw and Egbert D. Shaw fought shown in red):
LEE COUNTY UNION VOLUNTEERS -- THIRTEENTH REGIMENT. The Thirteenth Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized under the Ten-Regiment bill, at Dixon, Illinois, May 9, 1861, and went into camp on the fair grounds at Dixon. On the next day, after going into camp, the following regimental officers were elected: John B. Wyman, colonel, B.F. Parks, lieutenant-colonel, A.B. Gorgas, major. Colonel's staff consisted of A.W. Pitts, commissary, W.C. Henderson, quartermaster, J.L. McCleary, assistant quartermaster, H.T. Porter, adjutant, Dr. S.C. Plumer, surgeon, Dr. D.W. Young, assistant-surgeon, Rev. J.C. Miller, chaplain. The drawing of positions by the companies resulted as follows:
Dixon . . . Captain H.T. Noble . . Company A Sterling . . " D.R. Bushnell . . " B Amboy . . . " M.H. Messinger . . " C Rock Island . " Q. McNeil . . . " D Sandwich . . " S.W. Partridge . . " E Sycamore . . " Z.B. Mayo . . . " F Morrison . . " G.W. Cole . . . " G Aurora . . . " -- Gardner . . . " H Chicago . . " S.W. Wadsworth . . " I Du Page . . " W. Blanchard . . " K
This regiment was organized with 870 men, and was composed of companies from Dixon, Sterling, Amboy, Rock Island, Sandwich, Sycamore, Morrison, Aurora, Chicago, and Du Page. The regiment was organized for the three months service, but the call being made soon after for three-years volunteers, the regiment was mustered into the United States service under the last call, May 24, 1861, being the first regiment mustered into the three-years service.
Company A was the first company of volunteers raised at Dixon, and on April 22, 1861, they met at their armory and elected company officers: A.B. Gorgas, captain, Henry T. Noble, first-lieutenant, Henry Dement, second-lieutenant, Benjamin Gilman, first-sergeant, and O.M. Pugh, second-sergeant, and on the same day hoisted the union fiag opposite the mayor's office. On April 25 the ladies of Dixon presented the company with a handsome banner, when assembled in front of the court-house. Miss Mary Williams (Mrs. H.D. Dement) delivered the presentation address.
Two other companies, the Dixon Cadets and the Dixon Blues, were organized within a few days, but their services were not needed on account of the regiments under the first call being full. Most of the members of these companies afterward enlisted and went to the war in other companies and regiments. On June 1, 1861, the ladies presented Co. A with uniforms made by their own hands.
Company C was organized at Amboy, electing as company officers as follows: Henry M. Messinger, captain, Nathaniel Neff, first lieutenant, George B. Sage, second lieutenant.
The two companies above, A and C, were of Lee county, while the other companies were from the different parts of the state as above given.
This regiment remained in camp at Dixon until Sunday, June 16, when they were ordered to Caseyville, Illinois; from thence to Rolla, Missouri, by rail, July 6. Here they remained until October 10, 1861, when they were ordered to Springfield, Missouri; and in thirty days (November 10) they were ordered back to Rolla. Here they went into winter quarters, and remained until March 16, 1862, when they were ordered to Arkansas; and leaving Rolla, Missouri, on the above date, they marched, via Springfield, to Pea Ridge, Arkansas; thence, via Kietsville, to Balesville, and thence to Helena, Arkansas, arriving on July 14, 1862. On December 27, 1862, they reached Chickasaw Bayou, being the first regiment to reach that battleground and lead in the assault against the enemy, on December 29, 1862. In this battle fell some of the brave boys of Lee county. On the 11th day of the following month (January 1863) they participated in the battle of Arkansas Post. Then followed the battle at Jackson, Mississippi, May 22, 1863, in which they were engaged; and on the 22d of the same month they participated in the assault on the rebel works before Vicksburgh. From here they returned to Jackson, Mississippi, and participated in the siege of that city, July 1863. They were in the battles of Tuscumbia, October 26 and 27, 1863. From there to Lookout Mountain, November 24 ; thence to Mission Ridge on the following day (November 25); two days later (November 27, 1863) they were in the battle of Ringgold, Georgia. In the following spring (May 1864) they were in the battle of Madison, Alabama.
Their term of service having expired, they returned to Springfield, Illinois, and were mustered out of the service of the United States on June 18, 1864.
Veterans were transferred to the 56th Illinois Volunteers, among whom were some of the Lee county soldiers, which will be noted in the following table. Mark M. Evens, of Dixon, was mustered in as captain of Co. I in the 56th regiment, as above, and was mustered out of the service at the close of the war, under date of August 12, 1865.
Officers Roll at the Close of Service. -- Col. John B. Wyman, Amboy, killed in battle of Chickasaw Bayou, December 28, 1862. Lieut.-Col. Benjamine F. Parks, Dixon, resigned June 24, 1861. Major, Adam B. Gorgas, Dixon, promoted June 25, 1861, to lieutenant-colonel, and to colonel December 29, 1862; term expiring June 18, 1864. Second Assistant Surgeon, David H. Lane, resigned November 15, 1862, to accept commission as surgeon in 9th Cav., Mo. Vols. Chaplain, Joseph C. Miller, Amboy. was honorably discharged September 4, 1863.
Company A. -- Captain, Henry T. Noble, Dixon, promoted by the President, July 8, 1863. Second Lieut., Henry D. Dement, Dixon, was promoted to first lieutenancy April 27, 1861, and resigned August 1, 1863. First Sergeant, Geo. L. Aiken, Dixon, was promoted second lieutenant March 1, 1862, and died April 2, 1863. Sergeant, Adanaran J. Pinkham; was promoted second lieutenant June 11, 1863, and was promoted captain August 1, 1863. Sergeant, Henry Van Houton, discharged November 30, 1863, to accept commission as major of 3d Arkansas Cavalry.
The following privates in Co. A were promoted: Sherman A. Griswold, Lee Center, was discharged to be promoted to second lieutenant in 1st Missouri Cavalry; Jedediah Shaw, Dixon, as corporal; Charles W. Snider, Dixon, as sergeant-major; William Irwin, Dixon, as sergeant; Mark Evens, as first lieutenant; Jonathan H. Crabtree, Dixon, as corporal; John H. Brubaker, Dixon, as first sergeant; Henry B. Anderson, Dixon, as corporal, and Alx. Pitts as sergeant.
Although this old account of the 13th Illinois Regiment, Company A, is accurate as far as it goes, it is somewhat incomplete. Still, the itinerary of the regiment's movements and battles tells us something of the trying and harrowing experiences that my great-great-grandfather and his younger brother willingly endured to defend the principles in which they believed. (For a full account of the "Old Thirteenth," see Military History and Reminiscences of the Thirteenth Regiment of Illinois Voluntary Infantry, published in 1892, in which Corporal James M. Shaw is named on p.468 and Private Egbert D. Shaw is named on p.473 -- the book does not record Monroe's promotion to the rank of sergeant.) At the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou (a Union defeat) and the Battle of Arkansas Post (an important Union victory), the 13th Illinois Infantry fought under the overall command of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, an eighth cousin of James M. Shaw and Egbert D. Shaw on their paternal grandmother's side. In the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, the 13th Illinois Infantry was in the front lines of the battle, and the regiment lost a total of 173 men -- three officers and 24 enlisted men killed, eight officers and 99 enlisted men wounded, and two officers and 37 enlisted men missing in action. Following the victory at Arkansas Post in January 1863, that same month the Union forces of which the 13th Illinois Infantry was a part moved on to Vicksburg, which was besieged. The 13th made camp near a levee. The 1892 history of the Old Thirteenth on pages 298-299 sketches the general situation of the Union forces at Vicksburg during February 1863 in these words:
"Writing of the condition of things at this time, Lieutenant Josselyn says: 'Our camp opposite Vicksburg is the dreariest and most unhealthy one we have ever had. The ground is low and wet, made worse by frequent rains. Water is bad, and sickness and death are upon all sides.' Lieutenant Josselyn by no means exaggerates; and the actuality would admit of a much higher coloring. We were then receiving large accessions of new regiments which had been so lately organized and sent to the front that there had been no chance for their getting seasoned; and when sent immediately to Young's Point, some single regiments literally buried hundreds of men before the movement for the reduction of Vicksburgh was put into action, until the amphitheatrical segment of the land side of the levee, for miles was a vast cemetary of terraced soldiers' graves. But in strong contrast to this terrible mortality in the new regiments, the writer well recollects being told by Dr. Plummer, at that time, that so far, after an arduous service of almost two years, our regiment had lost but sixteen men from disease. It is presumable that there is no survivor of our regiment who would deny that Dr. Plummer has the right of chief honor for this splendid sanitary record."
So it was that by late February of 1863, both Shaw brothers were in very poor health -- James Monroe certainly, and probably his brother Egbert also, was suffering from dysentery. Consequently, they were granted honorable discharges due to disability. Egbert was discharged 24 Feb. 1863, and James Monroe was discharged four days later, on 28 Feb. 1863. Thus, they took part in their regiment's adventures only through the Battle of Arkansas Post on 11 Jan. 1863 and the initial preparations for the assault on Vicksburg.
Shown above are old photographs, tintypes and engravings of the children of Sherman and Malinda Shaw and their spouses. In the top row, from left to right, are Sophia E. Shaw Frost; her husband Captain William S. Frost Sr.; Corporal James Monroe Shaw; and his wife Mary Rebecca Linn Shaw. In the bottom row, from left to right, are Egbert DeWolf Shaw and his second wife Lena Auchstetter Shaw, Egbert DeWolf Shaw again, and Captain J.B.H. Thornton and his wife Adelia Eliza Shaw Thornton.
A few months after his return from the war, James Monroe married on 22 Dec. 1863 to MARY REBECCA LINN, born 1 May 1841 near Lee Center, died 1 Dec. 1917 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, daughter of Russell and Abigail Linn, who were among the pioneer settlers of Lee County. The fathers of James Monroe and Mary Rebecca were friends and are known to have worked together with other important pioneer settlers to help rid Lee County of the menace posed by the violent outlaw "Banditti of the Prairie." "Uncle Russell" Linn had his main farm and homestead in the southeast corner of China Township, just west of Lee Center.
Shown at left is an early tintype portrait of James Monroe Shaw and his wife Mary Rebecca Linn Shaw, and at right is a tintype that is very probably an early childhood portrait of Sherman Linn Shaw, eldest child of Monroe and Rebecca. Both tintypes are provided courtesy of the family of Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor.
Also during those years, James Monroe's sisters SOPHIA E. and ADELIA ELIZA ("Delia") both married Civil War veterans. Sophia Shaw's husband was Captain WILLIAM S. FROST SR., whose mother Eulalia was a sister of Mary Rebecca Linn's mother Abigail. The Frost and Linn families were neighbors of the Shaws living in or near Lee Center. Capt. Frost belonged to Company E of the 75th Illinois Infantry and took part in the battles of Perryville, Stone River, Chickamauga, Resaea, Lookout Mountain and Kenesaw Mountain. On 29 May 1867, Delia Shaw married Captain JAMES BENJAMIN HARRISON THORNTON, who had originally enlisted as a private in Company A of the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. Thornton's company consisted of staunch abolitionists, and became known for freeing slaves in spite of orders to the contrary. Afterwards he was named captain of Company K of the 12th Infantry Regiment of Colored Troops, in which he remained for two years and five months. Capt. Thornton was in the Battle of Nashville, Tenn., surviving the heat of the conflict without injury. His regiment also took part in the post-battle pursuit of Confederate Gen. John B. Hood to the Tennessee River. He was mustered out at Nashville and returned to his home in Missouri, but went to Lee County, Illinois, in 1867 to marry Delia. After their marriage, they lived in Warrensburg, Missouri, but in 1874 they moved back to Lee County, where they remained for the rest of their lives. My great-aunt Eleanor's mimeographed family history says that Capt. Thornton "met her thru her brother when they served together in the Civil War," which perhaps refers to James Monroe, since he was the elder brother and was of higher rank, though we can't be sure. Capt. Thornton did not serve in the same company or regiment as James and Egbert, but their regiments presumably were encamped nearby at some point and/or took part in the same engagements. Company A of the 8th Kansas Infantry saw action in Missouri in 1862, and the 13th Illinois Infantry was stationed in Missouri in 1861 and 1862, so it may have been around that time that the two Shaw boys met their future brother-in-law.
Shown above are photographs of the home in Lee Center where James Monroe Shaw and his wife and children lived, probably from 1864 until December 1876. The home was located on Lot 45, People's Addition, at the southwest corner of the intersection of Center Street and Pin Oak Drive, just a block north of the old stone house where James Monroe Shaw's father lived. It was in this house where James' wife Rebecca gave birth to their son Arthur Monroe Shaw. The photograph on the left shows the house prior to a remodelling by its owners, the Footes, during the 1950s or 1960s, and on the right is a photo from the 1960s showing the same home after the remodelling. The house has since been torn down and replaced by a completely different and larger structure.
The 1870 U.S. Census for Lee Center Township, dated 5 Aug. 1870, shows "James Saw" (sic), age 32, with his wife "Mary," age 29, and their children "Sherman," age 5, "Grace," age 2, and "George," age 1. James was then a dry goods merchant in town, and his store clerk, Louis Darzy, age 21, was boarding with them at the time. Aunt Eleanor's mimeographed family history recounts the story of James Monroe and Mary Rebecca's family as follows:
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.
Shown above are old photographs and tintypes of the five children of James Monroe Shaw and his wife Mary Rebecca Linn Shaw, provided courtesy the family of their granddaughter Eleanor Baylor. From left to right are: Sherman Linn Shaw (a photograph from his teenage years, showing a strong resemblance to his great-grandson and namesake Jason Sherman Olar), Grace Shaw and her little sister Emma Adelia who died at age 10, and George Harry Thornton Shaw and his brother Arthur Monroe Shaw.
In her unpublished notes on the history of Lee Center, my mother's Aunt Eleanor (Shaw) Baylor says, "Shortly before his death James Monroe deeded the place" -- that is, his home on Lot 45, People's Addition -- "to his father, Manly Sherman Shaw. I have the deed." That sounds as if James knew he did not have long to live and was making arrangements to have his parents take care of his widow and children. On his grave marker in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, James Monroe Shaw's age at death is given as 38 years 6 months. He is named as the "son of Sherman & M. D. Shaw," and his epitaph reads, "I know that my Redeemer liveth" (Job 19:25) and "I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:54). On the right of the stone, it reads, "Our Father," on the left, "Our Brother," and on the back, "Monroe my husband," followed by a verse that the ensuing years have rendered illegible.
Shown at left are the graves of James M. Shaw's family, located behind his parents' grave in Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center. In the background is the large black monument of John Langdon Shaw and his family. John was a son of John Shaw, older brother of Manly Sherman Shaw. Shown at right are the gravestones of James M. Shaw and Egbert D. Shaw. Egbert's stone is not in close proximity to the graves of his parents and brother, but is close to the graves of his sisters, nephew, and cousin.
Having suffered the untimely loss of her husband, not quite seven years later Rebecca and her family again experienced the sorrow of an unwelcome and too early death. As mentioned above, Emma Adelia, youngest child of James Monroe and Mary Rebecca, fell sick and died on 6 Nov. 1883 at home in Lee Center, when she was only 10 years old. She was buried beside her father in Woodside Cemetery. Her gravestone names her as the "daughter of J.M. & R.L. Shaw," and gives her age at death as 10 years, 2 months, 2 days. Her epitaph consists of her own words that she spoke to her loved ones: "I would like to get well, but I know Jesus will do what is best."
The gravestones of Emma Adelia Shaw and her mother Mary Rebecca Linn Shaw, Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Illinois.
The same year that Emma Adelia died, James Monroe's widow Rebecca appears in the 1883 list of "Lee County Pensioners," a roll of Lee County residents who were receiving a military pension. The list shows "Shaw, Mary R., Lee Centre" and says she was receiving a pension of $16 per month (certificate no. 188,875) as the widow of a Civil War soldier.
Three years after Emma Adelia's death, her grandparents Sherman and Malinda took steps to provide for the heirs of their eldest son James Monroe Shaw. In 1886, they deeded Lot 74, People's Addition, located next door to, and to the east of, the old Shaw home that had been built by Garrett La Forge, to their daughter-in-law Rebecca and her children Sherman, Grace, George and Arthur, for $150. This lot had originally been purchased for $150 by Manly Sherman Shaw and his wife Malinda from their son-in-law William S. Frost, and according to the property's abstract the lot at first was the west half of the Old Methodist Meeting House lot.
James Monroe's widow Rebecca continued to live in Lee Center until about 1894, when she moved to Dixon, Illinois, where she lived in an apartment at 272 Highland with her son George. Later she lived for a while with her youngest son Arthur in Council Bluffs, Iowa, afterward returning to Lee Center, where she probably lived with one of her children, perhaps her eldest son Sherman. When the end of her life came in 1917, she was living with her daughter Grace in Chicago. Additional information about Rebecca's life may be found at The Linn Genealogy.
The five children of James Monroe and Mary Rebecca Shaw were:
8. SHERMAN LINN SHAW, born 5 Oct. 1864 in Bradford Twp., Lee Co. -- GRACE SHAW, born 19 Dec. 1867, died 18 Dec. 1947, md. Charles T. Leonard -- GEORGE HARRY THORNTON SHAW, born 15 June 1869 in Lee Center, died 17 April 1934. -- COL. ARTHUR MONROE SHAW, born 12 Dec. 1870 in Lee Center, died 2 Aug. 1942. -- EMMA ADELIA SHAW, born 4 Sept. 1873 in Lee Center; died 6 Nov. 1883.
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