William M. Shields biography

The subject of this notice has aided substantially in the reduction of the valleys of North creek, in Jack county, and his efforts have covered a period of thirty years, for it was in 1875 that he cast his fortunes among the then scattered settlements along this modest and friendly stream. Though poor in purse and young of years his efforts during the passage of years have rewarded him for the sacrifices his early settlement here entailed.

He came hither from Grayson county and it was there that his birth occurred January 1, 1851. George Shields, his father, settled there in 1848 and was assassinated during the war. He was from Green county, Missouri, where his father, Robert Shields, went from Tennessee when George was a mere lad. John, his other son, also came to Texas and passed away in Limestone county, where some of his family remain. George Shields came to his majority in Green county, Missouri, and there married Nancy Dameron, a daughter of Moses Dameron, an old settler there. By this marriage there were born Elizabeth, wife of John Holder, of Indian Territory; Martha, who married Matthew Johnson, of Tulsa, Indian Territory; William M., of this record; John and George, deceased, and Julia, who married Robert Obert and is now deceased. Mrs. Shields married Robert Johnson for her second husband and resides in Indian Territory, having no other issue.

At sixteen years of age William M. Shields began contributing to his own support, and with very scant knowledge of books. He became a freighter for Dudley and Junius Page, hauling goods from Jefferson, Sherman, Shreveport and Sedalia, Missouri. He freighted for Morgan also and eventually equipped himself with ox teams and engaged in the business on his own account. He followed it seven years and made some money out of it but saved little for future use. Quitting this he became a workman on the M. K. and T. Railway, then building through the Territory, and followed it some months. He then spent two years farming in Grayson county, and, with the proceeds of all these efforts came to Jack county and began his permanent career.

A horse and a yoke of cattle constituted his chief resource as a settler and he took a half interest with his brother John in a quarter section of new land, upon which they erected a cabin, for a few years their bachelor home. While they were surrounded all about with wild nature and the numerous game of the forest their settlement was made too late for interference by the red man, although, in May of 1875, a fight with a small band took place in Lost valley between the State Rangers and them, without white casualties, John Shields being one of the soldiers in the fight. The killing and trapping of the turkey and the slaughter of antelope and deer was as common in those early times as the snaring and shooting of rabbits is today, and the white man of the frontier lived on really “the fate of the land.” As the years passed the rewards of well directed effort came to William M. Shields and he found himself gradually going up the scale. Help came to him with marriage and the rearing of a family, and following this needed additions came to his landed domain. Instead of the eighty which marked his original holdings, four hundred and thirty-two acres are listed to him for taxes and a few cattle graze off of his wooded reserve. Corn, cotton and grain, the common products of the county, receive his attention and many of the dollars with which he has increased the size of his farm have been received from this source.

July 20, 1877, Mr. Shields married, in Franklin county, Miss Leona Shear, a daughter of Jesse Shear, a native of Texas. Mr. Shear married a Miss Coats, and of their children Mrs. Shields is one, James, who died in Franklin county, Texas; Sidney, who resides in that county; and Leona, who was born in 1858. Mr. and Mrs. Shields’ children are: Jesse W., who married Myrtle Weir and lives near his father; Emma, wife of William Riggs, died in 1904; John, married Ida Dickson and resides in Jack county with issue; Ora, deceased, and Clyde; and Olivia, wife of Herbert Orich.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 276-277.