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John F. Shields, who is successfully engaged in dealing in lumber, coal and groceries at Highland, and is accounted one of the prosperous business men of the county, was born in Warren county, Kentucky, near Bowling Green, December 25, 1838, his parents being S. C. and Mariah Woods (Sterrett) Shields, both of whom were natives of Virginia, the former born in 1799 and the latter February 12, 1809. The Shields family is of Irish origin and founded in America by the great-grandfather of our subject, and whose birth occurred in the Emerald Isle. James Shields, the grandfather, was a native of Virginia, and the maternal grandfather, Thomas Sterrett, was born in Dublin, Ireland. Thomas Sterrett was an active member of the Kentucky militia, and attained the rank of major-general. As the captain of a company he fought at the battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812, under General Andrew Jackson. The parents of our subject were married in Kentucky, and subsequently removed to Brown county, Kansas, in 1857. There the father engaged in teaching school through the winter season, teaching the first school in Brown county, while in the summer months he devoted his energies to farming until 1863. He then came with his family to Highland where he made his home until his death in 1879, at the age of eighty years. His wife still survives him, and is now a resident of Highland. Although she has attained her ninety-second year she is in the possession of all her faculties, being a remarkably well-preserved old lady.

John F. Shields spent the first eighteen years of his life in Warren county, Kentucky, and acquired his education in a private school. In 1857 he accompanied his parents on their removal to Brown county, Kansas, and soon afterward entered Highland University, where he pursued his studies for some time. Later he was engaged in farming until 1862, when he put aside his personal considerations to aid in the defense of the Union, joining Company H, Thirteenth Kansas Infantry, under the command of Colonel Thomas M. Bowen. On the organization of the company Mr. Shields was made orderly sergeant, and afterward promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. With his command he went to Missouri and for three years remained at the front, faithfully and bravely discharging every duty that devolved upon him. He participated in a number of important engagements, including the battles of Cane Hill and Prairie Grove. When Colonel Bowen was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general he appointed Mr. Shields to a position on his staff, and at one time the latter also served as adjutant of the regiment and provost marshal. In every position in which he was placed he was always loyal to the trusts imposed on him and to the old flag, the emblem of the Union.

After being mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in July, 1865, Mr. Shields returned to Highland and gave his attention to farming for fifteen years. On the expiration of that period he established a lumber and coal yard. In 1897 he also opened a grocery store, and has since carried on business along those various lines, receiving from the public a liberal patronage.

In 1867 Mr. Shields was united in marriage to Miss Mary L. McCrutchen, of Hanover, Indiana, a daughter of Thomas and Mariah (Hynes) McCrutchen, of French Huguenot stock, and a native of Illinois. Four children -- two sons and two daughters -- have been born of this union: Samuel M., a graduate of Highland University, who served as a soldier in the Spanish-American war with the First Montana Infantry in the Philippine islands; Eugene Sterritt, a graduate of Highland University, who is engaged in the real estate business in Butte, Montana; Mariah E., the wife of J. S. Bayliss, a resident of Tucson, Arizona; and Louisa Funston, who is a graduate of the Highland University, and is one of the secretaries of the Young Women's Christian Association, with headquarters at Chicago.

In politics Mr. Shields is a Democrat, and has been three times elected the mayor of Highland, a fact which indicates that his administration of municipal affairs was progressive, business-like and commendable. He has also served as a member of the city council, and for twelve years was a member of the school board. Thus actively connected with city government, he has labored earnestly to promote the welfare of Highland and to advance its material, educational, social and moral interests. He was one of the first to aid in organizing the Veteran Brothers Bond, which was later merged into the Grand Army of the Republic, on the formation of the latter society. He is a member of the Presbyterian church, being the oldest member of the church in Highland, and has been a ruling elder for thirty years. He is highly esteemed as a citizen and as a man, and well deserves representation in this volume.