Posted By:Ted Pack
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Subject:Wesley Howe Shirey, 1836 - 1904, m. Elizabeth J, Stewart: Biography
Post Date:January 29, 2008 at 09:04:59
Message URL:http://genforum.genealogy.com/pa/clearfield/messages/842.html
Forum:Clearfield County, PA Genealogy Forum
Forum URL:http://genforum.genealogy.com/pa/clearfield/

This is one of those wonderful old county histories, full of high praise, flowery prose and passive voice. People paid to get in them, so you don't see many warts. The dates and names are usually accurate, though. I put some editorial comments in [square brackets.]

Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania: including the counties of Centre, Clearfield, Jefferson and Clarion: containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, etc.

Chicago: J.H. Beers, 1898.

[p. 701 – 702]

W. H. [Wesley Howe] Shirey.

The fertile soil of Clearfield county attracted at an early date the attention of an energetic and industrious class of settlers through whose arduous labors the wilderness was made to “blossom like a rose”.

Among the first of these was George Shirey, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, who was a native of Germany. He located in Lawrence township during the latter part of the 18th century and followed farming and lumbering throughout the remainder of his life. His death occurred there, and his widow afterward married Jacob Goss, of Decatur township, and spent her last years in that section.

By the first marriage there were eight children, none of whom are now living:

William died in Bradford township in 1886;
John is mentioned more fully below;
Jacob died in Bradford township in 1865;
George in Columbia, Penn., When on the river, being but a young man;
Margaret married Mr. Swatsworth of Lawrence township;
Mary was the wife of Isaac Southard, of Clearfield;
Jane married Orris Hoyt, of Lawrence township;
Eve married John Graham, of Bradford.

John Shirey, our subject’s father, was born in Lawrence Township on January 30, 1799, and spent his boyhood there and in Clearfield. He was married in Lawrence township to Miss Hannah Mapes, and settled in Bradford township in 1822 as a farmer, purchasing a tract of forest land which he cleared and improved. He was a good marksman, and game being plenty in those days, would frequently go out and bring in a venison before breakfast.

On one occasion he was waked up in the night by a disturbance among the hogs. Looking out at the window, it being a bright moonlit night, he saw a bear. Dressing himself quickly, he took down his gun and hurried out just in time, as the bear was climbing into the barn floor (it being low down) with a pig in his possession. Following closely, he got into the bark floor shortly after the bear got out into the meadow beyond. Bringing his trusty rifle to his face, he took deliberate aim and brought old bruin to the ground, the ball having taken him in the back part of the head. He then summoned his neighbors to help dress the animal, which proved to be a very large and fat one, weighing about three hundred pounds, distributing the meat among the neighbors.

He was also one of the early and successful pilots on the Susquehanna River.

He was a man of unusual independence and force of character and was influential in shaping the destinies of the community. In the building up of the United Brethren Church of that locality he was an active worker, being the first class-leader and the first superintendent of the Sunday-school. In political affairs he was no less influential; first as a Democrat and later as a Republican, and he served as a justice of the peace for fifteen years.

His first wife died in 1844, being forty-three years old and, in 1847, he married Miss Nancy Norris, daughter of Moses and Sarah Norris, who were early settlers of Lawrence township. John Shirey passed to his eternal reward in 1863 at the home which his own industry had prepared, and Mrs. Shirey survived him by only a few years, her death occurring in Bradford Township in 1870.

Our subject was one of nine children by the first union:
1) Israel was so burned when one year old that he died from the effects of his injuries.
2) Sophia married John W. Kyler, of Boggs township, Clearfield County.
3) Isaac married Barbara Ellen Leonard, of Goshen, in 1847 and settled in Bradford township. Both are now deceased, his death having occurred in Nebraska in 1895, and their family is scattered.
4) Walter D. resides in West Clearfield.
5) Matilda lives in Lawrence township.
6) W. H. [Wesley Howe] is the subject proper of this sketch.
7) Ellen died at the age of six years.
8) Susan was married in 1864 to William E. Forcey and lived in Bradford township.
9) J. F. [John Fletcher] of Bradford township, who married Rebecca Woolridge.

Two sons were born of the second marriage, namely:
Russell B., who married Pascaline Wilson. Russell’s first wife died in 1877 and he subsequently married Martha Hoover, and resides in Philipsburg, Centre Co., Penn.
James H., who died in 1889. He married first Miss Emma Tate, of Goshen, and after her death he formed a second union, with Elizabeth Holt, the widow of Alfred Holt.

W. H. Shirey was born in 1836 at the old house in Bradford township, where he availed himself during boyhood of the educational advantages afforded by the neighboring schools. He was a teamster on the home farm during the farming season and worked in the woods during the winter. Feeling that he needed a better education, and having gathered a little money, he took two terms of school at Pine Grove Academy, in Centre County, Penn., in 1859 – 1860. The school was under the management of Professor J. E. Thomas. He taught school in 1861.

In August 1862 he enlisted in Company E, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, one of the famous “Bucktail” regiments, and was sworn in at Harrisburg. His regiment became part of the Army of the Potomac, and its gallant record is familiar to all. Among the engagements in which Mr. Shirey took part were: The battle of Chancellorsville, and all the battles of the campaign of 1863. He was in all the battles of the Wilderness campaign of 1864; from the fifth of May to the last of June, at Petersburg, Va. He was on the famous Weldon Railroad raid, 1st and 2nd Hatcher’s Run; then his regiment was detached for special duty at Elmira, Auburn and other points in New York State, remaining there until the close of the war. He missed no fight in which his regiment was engaged and remained in the service until the close of the war, June 29, 1865; he was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant, and on July 1, 1865, he was formally mustered out at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

[Historical notes: Just before the battle of Chancellorsville a newspaper reporter asked a Union general if he had any fear. “Yes”, the general said, “I fear I will not meet foes worthy of my steel”. Lee was outnumbered 2:3. He routed Union army, regretting only that he didn’t destroy them, bringing an early end to the war. Every historian since has said that Chancellorsville was one of the few times the Union side (or one idiot general, at least) got exactly what they wished for, and a little extra. During 1863 Lee triumphed over everyone they set against him; Lincoln went through generals like Kleenex at an allergy convention. He found Grant. The Wilderness campaign was when Grant realized if he lost 100,000 men and the confederates lost 75,000, the Union would have a net win, since they outnumbered the Confederates. Tough on the 175,000 boys with .54 caliber holes in them, though. Petersburg was an ugly preview of WWI Trench warfare. Wesley was lucky to be alive.]

He returned to his native place, and on the 12th of October of the same year he was married to Miss Eliza Jane Stewart, a former schoolmate. Her parents, John and Jane (Campbell) Stewart, came from Ireland in 1822 and settled in the woods in Bradford township, where they made in time a comfortable home. Mr. Stewart died there in 1879, aged eighty-five, and his wife passed away in 1873, at Clearfield, in her seventy-second year. Mr. and Mrs. Shirey have had the following children:

H. Ord Shirey, married Anna B. Boid, daughter of Robert and Tillie Boid of Lawrence township, and resides near Woodland, Bradford township. [10:1 they get recorded as "Boyd" at least 50% pf the time.]
A child who died in infancy.
Tessie E., Mrs. Reese Undercofler, of Woodland.
Roy, still at home.
Doyle, who married Elizabeth Brown, and resides in Woodland, Bradford township.
Irene and Lois, who are at home.
John, who died in July 1892, in his sixteenth year.
Dean, Effa and Boaz, the youngest three, who reside with their parents.
One not named who died in infancy.
[Is this a repeat of the child between H. Ord and Tillie, or were there two?]

Not long after his marriage, Mr. Shirey purchased the old Dennis Crowel farm near Woodland, upon which he now resides. It contains 114 acres and was already improved, and Mr. Shirey’s skillful management has brought it to a high state of cultivation. Local affairs receive from Mr. Shirey that careful attention that good citizenship demands, and his personal popularity has often been a helpful factor in the success of the Republican party in his locality. He was the first member of the party elected to the school board, the first Republican auditor and the first Republican justice of the peace, the latter office being held by him for more than twelve years.

He belongs to Lorimer Post No. 179, GAR and to the United Brethren Church of Pleasant Valley, in which he is an active worker as a class-leader, teacher in the Sunday-school, Superintendent, trustee, etc.

His house is never closed against anyone; even peddlers and tramps are given something to eat when in need, and shelter on a stormy night.