Thomas L. Shields

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Tina Hursh
December 18, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 72-73

Thomas L. Shields was distinctively a man of ability and of those sterling
attributes of character that ever beget popular confidence and esteem. Through
his own efforts he achieved substantial success in connection with the
practical affairs of life and by his character and achievement he honored his
native state. He died at his attractive subruban home at Parmaco, near the
City of Parkersburg, on the 28th of January, 1904, and had been retired from
active business for some time prior to his demise.

Mr. Shields was born in Taylor County, West Virginia on the 18th of December,
1856, and was a son of Zaddock and Penelope (Asbury) Shields, both likewise
natives of Taylor County, where they passed their entire lives and where the
respecitve families settled in the pioneer period of the history of that
section of the state. Zaddock Shields became a merchant at Pruntytown, Taylor
County, and was influential in public afairs in that part of the state, which
he represented in the State Legistlature, besides which he served a sheriff of
his native county, each of these official preferments having come to him after
he had been a gallant soldier of the Confederacy in the Civil war. Both during
and after the close of war his pleasant home was favored stopping place for his
old comrades in arms.

Thomas L. Shields was but thirteen years of age at the time of his father’s death,
and thus he did not attend school with any appreciable degree of regularity after
that time, as he found it incumbent upon him to find employment that should
enable him to aid in the support of his widowed mother and the yonger children,
he having been a member of a large family of children. His broader education was
that gained through self-discipline and through the lessons gained in the school
of practical experience. After the death of his father Mr. Shields found
employment in a machine shop at Grafton, the county seat of his native county and
his receptiveness enabled him to acquire marked skill as a mechanic, the while
his executive ability and his trustworthiness led to his eventual advancement to
the position of superintendent of this establishement. Later he became
district superintendent of a chian of water stations on the line of the
Baltimre & Ohio Railroad, in the service of which he continued some time. About
the year 1891 he removed with his fammily to Parkersburg and became proprietor of
the old Commercial Hotel, which he conducted with marked success as did he later
the Jackson Hotel, which under his management gained high repute and was a
favored stopping place for commerial travelers and others who visited the city.
He finally retired from active business and, as already stated, he passed the
closing period of his life in the suburb of Parmaco, where he had purchased a
tract of ten acres of land and developed one of the most attractive homes of
this beautiful district.

While a resident of Grafton, Taylor County, Mr. Shields became one of the
organizers and charter members of the lodge of free and Accepted Masons at that
place, and he continued in active affiliation with this fraternity until his
death. At Parkersburg he was an appreciative and popular member of the lodge
of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. His political allegiance was
given to the democratic party, and he was a member of the First Baptist Church
of Parkersburg, of which his widow likewise is an earnest member. She remains
in the attractive home at 215 Thirteenth Street, the same being under her care
a center of gracious hospitality.

On the 21st of May, 1885, was solemized the marriage of Mr. Shields with Miss
Grace M. Dudley, daughter of the late John W. Dudley, to whom a memoir is
dedicated on other pages of this publication. Mr. and Mrs. Shields became the
parents of five children: Dudley L. is the subject of individual mention in
the sketch that immediately follows this review; Inez is the wife of Frederick
Hopkins, M.D.; Emma P. is the wife of Lee Powell; Mildred is the wife of
Nowrey Smith; and Thomas L. is the youngest of the number.