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Benjamin P. Shaw
Born February 12, 1830


BENJAMIN P. SHAW, Fish Commissioner for the State of Iowa, Anamosa. Benjamin Field Shaw is the son of Rufus Shaw, an architect and builder, and Amy Medbury, and was born in Utica, N.Y., on the 12th of February, 1830. His branch of the Shaw family early settled in New England. Rufus Shaw moved with his family to New Berlin, Chenango Co., when Benjamin was 2 years old, and the son lived with his grandparents several years, he losing his mother when he was 9 years old. His education was limited to the common schools, though he acquired no inconsiderable amount of knowledge outside the recitation-rooms, and has always been inclined to study.
At 17 years of age, he went to Canada, learning the blacksmith's and joiner's trades, returning to the United States at the end of four years, and soon afterward starting wagon-shops at Stillwell Prairie and Kingsbury, Ind , and continuing the business three years. During this period, he acquired a knowledge of the Daguerrean business, and, afterward, traveled awhile in Illinois and Wisconsin, also teaching music, vocal and band, continuing at intervals for seventeen years. After traveling five years as an artist and musician, he engaged in buying lumber and shipping it down the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.
In 1858, Mr. Shaw came to Jones Co., Iowa, and, in October of the next year, settled in Anamosa, which has since been his residence. He was County Superintendent of Schools in 1859 and 1860; became proprietor of the Fisher House in October, 1859, and remained in it between two and three years.
About this period, having part ownership in a quarry of superior stone, near the city of Anamosa, and, thinking it would be a feasible point at which to locate a penitentiary, he, with others, began to agitate the question of the location of such an institution at this place. He began to build side-tracks from the Dubuque & Southwestern Railroad, put up a perpetual lime-kiln, and commenced developing the quarry, and the penitentiary was located here.
In 1874, Mr. Shaw was appointed one of the three Fish Commissioners of the State, an office created at the session of the General Assembly, held in January to March of that year. and he still holds that office, he being the sole Commissioner since 1876. It was a fortunate appointment, for no other man in the State of Iowa has taken so much interest in fish culture, or done so much to interest thc people in the subject. He may be called an enthusiast in the science, he having made it his careful study for years. Mr. Shaw inherited in a large degree the mechanical talent of his father, and has recently invented a fish-way that is of a superior quality. Michigan, which has probably paid more attention to fish culture than any other State in the West, has recently, after examining a dozen inventions of the kind, adopted his, and is introducing it into her streams.
Commissioner Shaw was a very useful man in Jones Co. before his services were required by the State in the direction here indicated. He was a member of the School Board of the city of Anamosa, and its President four or five years, 2nd has held other offices in the municipality. He is Master Workman of the Anamosa Lodge of United Workmen. Mr. Shaw has uniformly affiliated with the Democratic party, but of late years has given but little attention to politics. His wife was Miss Olive Burlingame, of Chenango Co., N.Y. Married on the 12th of May, 1851. They have had four children, three of them yet living.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1879, page 575.

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