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William Tuckerman Shaw
September 22, 1826–April 29, 1909
Long Prominent in Business in Jones County
Served in Two Wars With Great Distinction

In the death of Colonel William Tuckerman Shaw, pioneer, railroad builder, banker, veteran of two wars, legislator, and highly esteemed citizen, Jones county and the state of Iowa lose one of the most noted characters closely associated with the history of the state.
Colonel Shaw's history is the record of some of the most stirring events in the annals of the nation and of Iowa. Mr. Shaw was the descendant of revolutionary war patriots, his grandfather having attained in great distinction in the fight against the English yoke. Colonel Shaw was born Sept. 22, 1826, at Steuben, Me. He was education in the commons schools and in the Maine Wesleyan seminary. Before he attained his majority Mr. Shaw went to Indiana, teaching school in that state and in Kentucky. It was while he was teaching in Kentucky that the war with Mexico broken out. Shaw immediately enlisted in the Second Kentucky Infantry. He participated in the most important battles of the war, and was in the thickest of the fighting, especially at the battle of Buena Vista. After peace was declared he joined the forces fighting the Indians in the southwest, helping to end the troubles in that section with the red-skins. In 1849, Shaw, like many others, was attracted to California by the discovery of gold. He was one of the first gold seekers. He was at the head of a party of thirty-six men who made their way across the plains. He returned to the east at the end of two years, but almost immediately retraced his steps to the gold country.
In 1853 Mr. Shaw returned to the states, coming to Jones county, Iowa, and engaging in the real estate business. He became actively interested in various enterprises, and was uniformly successful in everything he undertook. Through his activity directly, the Dubuque and Southwestern railway, from Farley to Anamosa, was constructed. Later the Midland, from Anamosa to Clinton became a reality through his efforts. The Midland was in course of construction when the civil war broke out. Shaw dropped his work and offered his services in behalf of his country. He assisted in the mustering in of the Fourteenth Iowa, and on the 24th of October, 1861, he was elected colonel of that organization. This regiment saw much hot fighting during its three years in the service. It suffered heavily at Pittsburg Landing. At Shiloh the Fourteenth Iowa, under Colonel Shaw, was in the thickest of the fighting. For hours, it occupied one of the most perilous positions, its officers and the men distinguishing themselves for their great gallantry. The regiment was finally forced to surrender. After several months' imprisonment, Colonel Shaw and his men were exchanged and re-entered the service. The fourteenth Iowa was brigaded with the Eighth and Twelfth Iowa and the Fifty-eighth Illinois, in what was known as the Iron brigade Colonel Shaw was advanced to the command of this brigade, which was the Second brigade of the Second division of the Sixteenth army corps. The brigade rendered heroic service in the Red River campaign, under General Banks, Colonel Shaw's splendid work saving Banks' army from annihilation and its commander from disgrace. Colonel Shaw was promoted to brigadier general, and for a time commanded a division. In the Red River campaign Shaw became known as "Grim Fighting Old Shaw." Following this campaign, Shaw criticized Banks severely, and an effort was made to shelve Shaw, but the latter easily triumphed over his enemies. Later Colonel Shaw did excellent work against the confederate General Price in Missouri.
Colonel Shaw and his command retired from the service October 29, 1864, at which time Colonel Shaw was personally and publicly thanked for his services by his superior officer, Major General A. J. Smith. Shaw was presented with a beautiful sword and scabbard.
Returning to Jones county, Colonel Shaw entered anew into business life. He became actively interested in the development of Anamosa. He engaged in banking, real estate and other business enterprises, and was phenomenally successful in whatever he undertook.
Colonel Shaw always took a deep interest in public affairs. In 1876 he was sent to the state legislature, as representative from Jones county. He was, however, not a success as a politician, being too blunt and outspoken. He never, however, lost his interest in the success of the republican party. He was likewise interested in the success of every good movement.
In recent years, age and ill health forced Colonel Shaw to live very much in retirement. For some months prior to his death a complication of diseases had sapped his strength. His death had been expected for some time.
Colonel Shaw was married three times, his first wife being Helen L. Crane. Following her death he was married to Miss Retta Harmon, who survived her marriage one year. A few years later he was married to Mrs. Elizabeth C. Higby, who has also passed away.
One daughter, Miss Helen Louise Shaw, is the sole survivor of the family.

Submitted by: Sharon Oltmanns
Source: The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Saturday, May 1, 1909
Note: Family bible says he was born September 22, 1822.

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Last updated on Friday, 16-Apr-2021 16:55:53 MST