Thomas J. Shaw

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
November 10, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 311-312

THOMAS J. SHAW. This is probably the last history of
the State of West Virginia which will include representa-
tion of surviving members of the Civil war. All these sur-
vivors of the great conflict have passed the age of three
score and ten. One of them, a highly honored citizen of
Preston County, a retired farmer living in the Village of
Denver, is Thomas J. Shaw, whose life as a civilian has
been thoroughly worthy of his record as a soldier.

He was born in Preston County, Reno District, February
24, 1842. His grandfather, Thomas Shaw, was a native
of England, spent many years as a sailor on the high seas,
and after leaving the sea he lived near Philadelphia for
a time and then came to West Virginia. He died in 1866
and is buried in the Israel Cemetery in Reno District of
Preston County. His children were Thomas A., Nicholas C.,
and Mary, who became the wife of Henson Pointer.

Thomas A. Shaw was born in Monongalia County, West
Virginia, about 1820, moved from there to Preston County,
where he married Rebecca Stillwell, whose father had come
from the vicinity of Philadelphia to Morgantown and later
settled in Preston County. Thomas A. Shaw for more
than half a century was a farmer in the Reno District.
He was one of the pioneers there, purchasing land covered
with heavy timber, and every acre put in cultivation was
the result of arduous work with the axe and other imple-
ments required for clearing. He lived there until his death
in 1897. He was a republican after that party came into
existence, and was a member of the Methodist Church. His
wife died several years before him. Their children were:
Eliza A., who married Christian Nine and is now living
at Terra Alta; Thomas Jackson, Lemuel Clark, whose home
is in Colorado; Mary Elizabeth and Rebecca Jane, twins,
the former of whom died as the wife of Jacob Miller, while
the latter is living in Reno District, the wife of James
Braham; Mrs. Virginia Ford, of Reno District; Columbia,
who first married Aaron Hardesty, then Mr. Bucklew, and
finally Lloyd Bolyard, and is now living as a widow near
Fellowsville in Preston County; Melissa, Mrs. Alexander
Shahan, living not far from Fellowsville.

Thomas J. Shaw spent his youth in what might be
termed a backwoods district. As soon as he was old enough
he handled the axe and other tools, assisting his father to
clear away the timber and brush from their acreage on
the headwaters of the Sandy. He is a product, so far as
his education is concerned, of one of the typical schools
of that generation. The community provided only an old
log shack as a schoolhouse, its furnishings being split logs
for benches, greased paper windows, a fireplace, the fuel
for which had to be chopped by the older boys. In this
rude temple of learning he studied a spelling book, learned
a little writing and figuring, and he considered it a good
record if he was permitted to attend school four days out
of the week.

He had barely completed his experience in this school-
house when the cloud of Civil war arose, and in 1863, when
he was twenty-one, he volunteered for the defense of the
flag in Company E of the Fifteenth West Virginia Infantry,
under Captain Paul and Colonel Morris. He drilled with
this company on Wheeling Island, went to Sir John’s Run
in Morgan County, then to the Big Kanawha, and from
there the command was ordered to Lynchburg. He caught
his first view of Confederate forces and engaged in his
first battle at Cloyd Mountain. He also fought at Lynch-
burg, Cedar Creek, Winchester, Hatchers Run, and in front
of Richmond his division took the three Confederate forts
of Harris, Gregg and Hill. Later his regiment was on
a forced march to Appomattox, and his command came in
contact with the enemy and had a skirmish before the
final surrender. Thomas Shaw was in sight of the place
where the negotiations for the surrender of Lee’s army
took place, and for a long time he owned a portion of a
tree from McClain’s orchard, the tree under which the
terms of capitulation were written. After the surrender
his regiment was sent to Wheeling, mustered out in June,
1865, and Mr. Shaw came out of the army with a record
of active participation in thirteen different battles. His
company went into service with 117 men, only 33 were
mustered out, and he was one of the three who escaped

As soon as his discharge was in his hand Mr. Shaw hur-
ried home to help on the farm, finding the harvest ready,
and he aided in putting it away. For a time he worked
at the sawmill of Martin L. Shaffer, later cut timber,
worked as a carpenter on several houses, and for some
twenty years he put up a strenuous fight to win existence
from an old farm on Brushy Ridge, where all the land
had to be cleared before any crops could be raised. This
was the strenuous period of his existence, as he recalls it,
since he worked from 4 in the morning until 8 at night,
regardless of weather conditions. His grit and persistence
while there laid the foundation of something like pros-
perity, and after he sold the coal under his land he estab-
lished himself at Denver on a little farm; and here, too,
the exertion of clearing had to be put forth before culti-
vation could be practiced. Then for some years followed
a successive program of crops, grain and stock, with sub-
sequent purchases of more land from time to time, until
the evening of life found him prepared with an ample
competence and now, with the companionship of the wife
of his youth, he is enjoying the comforts of a good resi-
dence at Denver, and they look back over the past without
regret and to the future without concern.

Thomas J. Shaw voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1864,
while he was in the army. He has cast a vote at every suc-
cessive national election, always in the same party faith.
He has served as a. trustee of the Methodist congregations
at Denver and at Nazareth.

In Taylor County, near Grafton, Mr. Shaw married, on
December 7, 1865, Miss Rosanna Rosier. She was born in
Taylor County, daughter of John and Narcissus (Hull)
Rosier. Her father was a native of Germany, was brought
to the United States at the age of ten years, spent his
active career as a farmer, and he and his wife are buried
in the Knottsville graveyard. Their children were: Edgar
Rosier, who served as a Union soldier and is living at
Grafton; Sarah Ann, who died at Webster, West Virginia,
wife of Balden Funk; Lemuel, also a Union soldier, who
died in Taylor County; Mrs. Shaw, whose birth occurred
April 10, 1844; Caroline, wife of Reuben Dillon, living
near Knottsville; Sanford, of Grafton; Miss Hattie, liv-
ing near Grafton; Amanda, who died unmarried; Jacob, a
farmer at the old homestead in Grafton; and Belle, Mrs.
Mart Thomas, of Fairmont.

Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, who celebrated their golden wed-
ding anniversary half a dozen years since, have one son,
and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The son, Charles Franklin Shaw, was born at Austen, Pres-
ton County, September 19, 1866, and is a successful mer-
chant at Clarksburg. He married Cora Taylor, and their
children are: Lula, Nellie Rose, Charles F., Jr., Carl J.,
and Ruby. The daughter Lula is the wife of Ned Edwards,
and they have five children, named Catherine, Edward,
Thomas, Susan and Lncile. Nellie Shaw married Roy
Repard, and her children are Cloyd, Walter and Luella
Jean. The grandson of Thomas J. Shaw, Carl J. Shaw, is
married and has a daughter, Bettie.