Our German Relations Come to the United States
Some time during the year 1868, Moniga Staiger, her daughter Theresia Reide and her husband Mr. Reide, with their daughter Clara Reide, undertook to move from their home in Roshausen, Germany to America. During the voyage, Mr. Reide somehow became entangled in the ships paddlewheel type mechanisms and was killed. He was buried while at sea. This left the three women to continue the voyage to Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, they tailored men's clothing. Unable to make a living at this, they then bravely joined other early settlers in the move westward and started to what is now the Windthorst, Kansas area in approximately 1879. Here they homesteaded on Osage Indian Land. This land was apparently partially opened to legal settlement on December 15, 1880. The Declaratory Statement filed by Monica Staiger at Garden City, Kansas was filed on February 18, 1885, and stated that the land was settled upon on November 20, 1884. These claims were located on the northeast and northwest quarters of section 31, township 26, south of range 21, west of the 6th principal meridian in Kansas. A claim was filed both by Moniga Staiger and by Theresia Reide. The northeast quarter contained one hundred sixty (160) acres and was patented in 1890 by Moniga Staiger. This quarter is owned today by Henry Shean, her great-great-great grandson. The northwest quarter contained 152 and 12/100's acres and was patented in 1891 by Edward Shean, who had by that time become part of the family. This quarter is owned today by Arthur Shean who is also a great-great-great grandson of Moniga Staiger.
It is thought that the original habitation on the two homestead claims might have been built where the two quarters adjoined so that the requirement of residing on the land could be maintained in only one residence for the two quarters of land. A bedroom was built on each quarter. According to the Homestead Act of 1862, any citizen, either the head of a family or 21 years of age, could acquire a tract of Federal public land, not exceeding 160 acres. The first act necessary was the settlement, or commencement of some work or improvement upon the land. . . . . Within seven years thereafter the settler must go to the land office and prove by two witnesses that he has resided upon and cultivated the land for five years immediately succeeding the time of filing, and thereupon, the settler is entitled to a patent.
The youngest of the three women, Clara Reide traveled from the homestead to Dodge City, Kansas where she worked and sold farm produce in order to help the family survive while the two older women worked the homestead. Considering that Dodge City was some twenty miles away and aside from the mere hazards that might arise for a young woman alone in a buggy on the plains, there was often the threat of Indians and Indian raids which had to be dealt with during those years as well. Clara was born on October 15, 1858, in Germany. She came to the United States with her parents and grandmother when she was about ten years old. She was probably around the age of twenty-one when the trip to Dodge City, Kansas was made. Apparently some time during these trips to Dodge City, Kansas, she met Edward Shean, a soldier at Fort Dodge, Kansas, whom she was to marry in few short years.
Moniga Staiger (also listed Monica, and Monika) was born in 1810 and died in 1893 at the age of 83. She received her naturalization papers on February 6, 1885, at the approximate age of 75. She is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery at Windthorst, Kansas. Her daughter, Theresia Reide, was born in 1838, and died in 1930, at the age of 92. She received her naturalization papers on October 10, 1882, at the approximate age of 44. She was a noted midwife of the area and was known to have delivered many of the babies born in that area. She was also often called for illnesses and accidents and was able to sew back a severed finger or a badly lacerated leg if the need arose. When called for accidents or babies, she would set out in a buggy or on foot if need be in order to answer the call for help. She is also buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery at Windthorst.
The earlier mentioned northeast quarter was deeded from Moniga Staiger to Theresia Reide on February 8, 1889, for a sum of $200. It was then deeded from Theresia Reide to Clara (Reide) Shean on September 20, 1918, for $1.00 and other valuable considerations. This passing of homestead land from mother to daughter to granddaughter was most unusual as was the homesteading and maintaining of land by three women at that time.
Edward (Sheehan) Shean
Edward Shean is thought to have been the eldest of the children of Peter Sheehan and Eliza Fitzharris. He was born in Wexford, Ireland on May 10, 1847. Some time after this, the family of probably at least five children moved to the United States. All of the family, excepting Edward and his father Peter, are believed to have died in New Orleans of the Black Plague. These two remaining members of the family then moved to Chicago, Illinois where the father remarried. Edward did not get along with his new step-mother. One day he did something which aroused her temper and she slapped him. Unfortunately she was holding a knife in her hand at the time and the resulting cut scarred him across the upper lip. The scar was thought to be the reason he thereafter always wore a mustache. This domestic incident evidently was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, and Edward left home to join the army. This probably was done with no little difficulty because of his rather tender age of about fifteen. However, this was also the time of the Civil War (1861-1865) and he eventually did find a way to enlist. It is thought that he enlisted as a drummer boy on August 20, 1861, and then enlisted as a fighting soldier on December 29, 1863, in the F Company of the 72nd regular Illinois Volunteers and then transferred to the G Company of the 33rd Illinois Volunteers Infantry on July 17, 1865. He served until December 6, 1865, at which time the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry was disbanded with the close of the Civil War. During the Civil War period he went by the original family name of Sheehan. After the close of the Civil War, he then attempted to enlist for a standard term with the regular army, but because of a report which stated he had contracted a cronic ailment in the Civil War, he was rejected. It was at this time that he shortened his name to Shean, made application to another recruiting station in Chicago, passed their exam, and was enlisted for a three year, and later another three and then two five year terms. This first enlistment was made with Company I, 10th U. S. Regular Infantry Army on December 14, 1865. He did not tell the second recruiting station that he had been in the Civil War and the cronic ailment was not found. Trouble came years later when he tried to prove his years of service for a pension claim. Also the ill health that had evidently plagued him during Civil War service seemed to continue to follow him, as military Medical records show a great amount of treatment for ailments such as catarrah, diarrhea, ulcers, rheumatism, cuts, sprains, and so on, throughout his years of service. During this enlistment, much of his time was spent in Minnesota. He was discharged on December 14, 1868, due to expiration of term of service at the rank of private. On February 19, 1869, he again enlisted for three years with Company G, 10th Infantry at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota. He was appointed to the rank of corporal on March 10, 1869, and then reduced to private on May 12, 1869. Apparently 1869 was not a good year for Edward for he was ill a great deal of the time, and spent several months in a hospital in Helena, Texas. He was discharged on January 17, 1870, on a Surgeons Certificate of Disability Then on February 3, 1870, he once again re-enlisted, this time with Company G, 19th Infantry, and using the name Shane. He was appointed again to the rank of corporal on June 1 and then reduced to private on December 27, 1870. Probably during the year 1870, the government found they needed army men out in the forts of the western plains to combat Indians who were making raids on the wagon trains as they were hauling supplies along the route to Santa Fe. To fill a specific need at the time, the government drew ten names from the list of regulars. Edward Shane's name was among the ten. These ten men were to be sent to Fort Dodge, Kansas in western Kansas. They made the slow train trip to Hays, Kansas and from there they traveled with horses over the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge trail to Fort Dodge, Kansas. This was several years after Fort Dodge had been organized on March 18, 1865. (I have not found records yet to show for certain when this took place.) I worked on this in 1976. Needs updating!
When Edward arrived, there probably hadn't been too much change from the following account of the early fort:
"The post rested on the northern bank of the Arkansas River on a narrow meadow about one-fourth mile wide. There was a limestone bluff to the north that rose from seventy to eighty feet above the elevation of the post and to the north of this bluff there was a series of prairie ravines which blended into the upon plains. This was not an ideal location for the fort because it did not command the high ground which circled the post except on the river side. This fact was later used by Indians to attack the post. There was little choice on the site, however, because the main consideration was the availability of water.
The Arkansas River offered almost no timber of construction quality, which meant the only abundant material available was buffalo grass sod. During the first year of the fort, seventy sod dugouts were completed--each 10 by 12 and 7 feet deep, the bottom being five feet under the ground, covered by a two foot sod ledge and topped with cottonwood branches, brush, and tents. The wind was soon able to tear these tents from their moorings. A shallow door faced the river and a hole was left in the roof to provide fresh air and light. Each was equipped with a sod chimney for heating and cooking. Banks of earth left around the inside provided sleeping bunks. There were from two to four men quartered in each dugout. During the spring the river usually flooded and the underflow would seep into the dugout even if they were not actually flooded. Malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, and pneumonia were common because of the unsanitary quarters and constant exposure. In 1866, a sutler's store was built (including whiskey) offered some diversion for the soldiers of the plains.
Throughout 1866 and 1867, they worked at raising permanent facilities, while at the same time keeping an eye on the Indians. First came two barracks, a hospital, a quartermaster's building, a supply building, and a headquarters for the commanding officer. All of these structures were built of limestone which was quarried by civilians and soldiers. Each of the barracks was designed to hold approximately fifty soldiers (a company), with a kitchen and mess, plus a dormitory for the men. Latrines were erected just behind the barracks. During 1868, a frame building that had been quickly erected the previous summer to house cholera victims was converted to a recreation parlor. This action drew quite a protest from the post chaplin and as a result he was offered the use of the building during the day as a school, on Sunday morning as a church, and the remaining time it was to be used for recreation. (This is probably where Edward was married.)
Mess was organized on an individual company basis. Cooks were detailed monthly from among the men in each company and the food served was equal to the talents of the cooks chosen each month. Each enlisted man was given a bread allowance of 18 ounces daily.
A soldier, in addition to regular military duty, was assigned to work details at the stone quarry, the lime kiln, the hospital, the hay fields, and the fort's timber tract. These assignments lasted from one to three weeks. Because these jobs were usually very difficult, men were often sent to these as a result of disciplinary action. Desertion also posed a large problem during those years.
Privates were paid $13 per month during the first two years of service with increments for years served. The clothing allotment provided by the government was usually sufficient, articles drawn in excess of the enlistment allowance had to be paid for. A thrifty soldier who did not claim all of his clothing allotment was given a cash payment when he was mustered out of the army for articles not used. Uniforms were all wool, undergarments as well as outergarments. The same uniform was used summer and winter. Shoes were made to fit either foot. They had only to be wet and put on the foot. They would then conform to the shape of whichever foot they were on. The post laundresses washed the enlisted men's clothing for $1 per dozen for large items and $0.50 per dozen for small items.
The following account shows what a normal day for a soldier might have been like during the years at Ft. Dodge, Kansas. The trumpeters assembled at 4:30 A. M. and blew reveille at 5:00 A. M. Breakfast and stable calls were sounded immediately after reveille formation and sick call followed at 6:30 A. M. Company areas were policed following fatigue call at 6:45 A. M. Drill call followed immediately after early morning fatigue duties were completed. The troops were recalled from drill at 8:15 A. M. and remained on fatigue call until dinner call at 12:00 P. M. After a one hour break for dinner, they returned to fatigue duty until 5:00 P. M. Between recall from afternoon fatigue and supper, which was usually served at 6:00 P. M., the troops fell out for afternoon stable call and water call. Tattoo was blown at 9:00 P. M. and the days routine ended with taps at 9:30 P. M.
"Earliest of the problems in the area were those brought about by Indian attack upon the freighters as they traveled along the route from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Just such an attack occured at a point six miles south of Spearville, Kansas along the Coon Creek. There was no Spearville, Kansas at the time and the Santa Fe Railroad had not yet laid its ribbons of steel across the western plains. In the spring of 1868, (there is some doubt about this date) scouts brought word to Fort Dodge of an expected attack by Indians on a large supply train coming from the east. Shean (Shane) (retold by my Grandfather #28) and other soldiers mounted and rode out to the Coon Creek Crossing where the attack was taking place. A large band of Indians had hidden themselves in a series of buffalo wallows near the springs along the north bank of the creek. The place was so over grown with grasses and bushes that it proved a good hideout for the stealthy Indians. The seventeen wagons of the supply train, when surprised by the attack immediately brought their wagons into circular formation, as was customary to better hold off an attack. A scout who traveled with the supply train was a twenty-two year old girl who could handle a .45 six shot revolver on an equal with the best of gun men. But an Indian's arrow struck her there at the Coon Creek Battle with the Indians and she died bravely and was buried there beneath the prairie grasses. Upon the arrival of the troops from the fort, the Indians were soon put to rout. Seven or eight of the Indians had been killed in the skirmish. Included among the supplies in the wagons were many bolts of bright-colored calico. In the skirmish there that spring day, the Indians had robbed the wagons of many of these bolts, and as they raced their ponies away from the scene of battle, with the lengths of gay colored cloth blowing in the breeze behind them, a most weird but colorful sight was visible. The attacking Indians left their dead to lie upon the plains. As the Indians rode away, order was restored, the deeply mourned scout was buried, the seventeen wagons placed in traveling formation, and the trains resumed its travel on to the fort for the night. The regulars, one of whom was Edward "Shane", had done their duty on that spring day. Had they not made their run out from Fort Dodge, the entire wagon train might have been wiped out. Many arrowheads as well as a Colt revolver and other articles have been found on the site where this skirmish with the Indians took place in the spring of 1868, six miles south of where, five years later, the town of Spearville, Kansas had its beginning."
"The Northern Cheyennes were moving southward. They had participated in the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, and after camping near Fort Dodge, Kansas in late July, 1877, moved on to the Indian Territory. One year there proved to be enough for them and they then proceeded to try to return to their original homelands in 1878. All of the military posts to the north were advised of the Indian departure and were ordered to prepare to send troops into the field to halt the wayward band. Fort Dodge was ordered to stop the Cheyennes, however their first several efforts were to no avail. As the Cheyennes advanced and people prepared feverishly for their attack, the Colonel at Fort Dodge gathered every available man, to a total of five companies of cavalry and boarded a train for the Cimarron where a large band of the Cheyennes had reportedly crossed between the 21st and the 23rd of September. He arrived on the 25th and after unloading men, horses, and supplies they followed the trail left by the Cheyennes. Being anxious to redeem the good name of the command after the poor performance of earlier troops, they pursued the Cheyennes until on September 27, at the Punished Woman's Fork of the Smoky Hill River, some thirty miles south of Fort Wallace, Kansas, the exhausted Indians dug in along the walls of a ravine and prepared to give battle. The Colonel was shot down during the initial attempt to storm the Cheyennes and later died. After seeing their leader fall, what little appetite the men had had for the fight was gone, and they quickly retired to the safety of the rear camp. The scouts had succeeded in capturing some sixty ponies from the Indian herds, but the Indians emerged relatively unharmed. After leaving this location, the Indians then split into groups, led by Dull Knife and Little Wolf. Eventually, all were captured, and a final tally showed that only abut fifty-eight of the original band of over one thousand Indians survived."
A personal notation on the discharge paper of 1881 by a Captain Bradford states that Edward Shean participated in this action with hostile Cheyennes at Punished Woman's Fork, Kansas on September 27, 1878.
The following story was told by J. W. Shean (son of Edward Shean) to his granddaughter, Connie Shean Burkhart (Me), in February, 1963, for a high school English assignment.
In the 1800's or thereabouts, the buffalo hunters invaded the west. They came mainly to get the buffalo hides, not for food. Before this occurred, the Indians had more or less reigned supreme over the buffalo and the plains. Riding up along side of a buffalo with bow and arrow and striking the animal in the right side, just back of the fore leg, the Indian would kill the animal. Thus he had food, clothing, and shelter provided through this animal. The Indians killed only as many buffalo as were needed for survival, unlike the white buffalo hunter who killed everything that came into his sights. This, naturally, made the Indians angry, and was a chief reason for many Indian uprisings.
My great-grandfather, Edward Shean, was a member of the Cavalry at Fort Dodge, Kansas, and fought these uprisings of the Indians for twelve years after having fought for four years in the Civil War. The following story is a true happening which occurred somewhere between 1868 and 1870.
My great-grandfather was always friendly with the Indians who lived on the government property surrounding the fort. Food was provided for them every fall and winter. One day he was visiting the chief, who called him "Sheen". The chief complained of terrible stomach pains and said the only thing that could save his life was some of the whiteman's "firewater". Of course my great-grandfather told him it was against regulations to give whiskey to any Indians, but the chief said he had to have it, so finally Edward said he would try and find some for the chief, and did so. The next day the chief was well, and said that "Sheen" had saved his life.
That spring the Indians again had an uprising (after the winter months were over they always had an uprising). One day Edward was out with a buddy exploring the country. They came to the Little Duck Creek and discovered a ravine and decided to explore it. After they had ridden in and come to a flat piece of land, they glanced around and saw Indians behind them, and on both sides. In addition to the Indians, there was a deep creek in front of them. This particular group of Indians was headed by the same chief that had been earlier saved by the whiskey. They had the other soldier off his horse and were preparing to torture him when the chief recognized Edward and rode off with him to talk. When they were a distance from the rest of the Indians, the chief told "Sheen" of his plan to return the favor and save his life. He was to pretend to strike out at the chief and knock him off his horse. When he hit the ground, the chief would wait a few minutes and then let out a yell. The rest of the Indians would give chase and hopefully "Sheen" would escape. The only trouble with this plan was that the buddy couldn't be saved unless all three wanted to be killed. The plan was carried out. Luckily it worked, for Edward at any rate. His horse was a little gray mare which was very fast. It was nearly ten miles to the fort and there was a prairie dog town in the path, an extra hazard for the horse. He made it back to the fort and summoned a detail to go out and see what had happened to his friend. When they got there, they found the man staked to the ground, scalped, his eyes poked out with sticks, and his body burned in places by hot sticks. So, by giving an Indian whiskey and disobeying the law in doing so, Edward had saved his own life.
Life on the Plains of Kansas must not have been too distasteful to Edward, even though he first came here on Army orders, not a choice he might have otherwise made for the course of his life. This preference is evident because of his re-enlistments for 1870-1875 and 1876-1881, which were surely made of his own decision. On the discharge paper of Edward "Shane", dated February 3, 1875, it states that he was enlisted on February 3, 1870, to serve for five years and was discharged in consequence of the expiration of the term of service. His age was given as thirty, which showed a two year discrepancy of his actual age of twenty-eight and probably was reflective of his earlier Civil War enlistments under an assumed age. It listed his character as "fair". It also stated that he was five feet, eight inches tall, had a fair complexion, grey eyes, light hair and his occupation when enlisted was soldier. He was paid in full the amount of $389.98. His final discharge paper on June 28, 1881, was much the same. He had enlisted on June 29, 1876, to serve a five year term and was discharged because of expiration of his term of service. He was again listed as "Shane" on this document and the two year age discrepancy was also present. He had married in 1880 and this final discharge paper then listed his character as "excellent-married". He was paid in full the amount of $337.92. Therefore, on June 28, 1881, he ended his career as a soldier, trading nearly twenty years as a soldier for the life of a farmer. He had earlier met a young woman in Dodge City whose name was Clara Reide. They were married on November 14, 1880, at Fort Dodge by O. W. Wright, pastor of the Presbyterian Church. After completing his last term of service, he moved to the homestead farm which belonged to his mother-in-law, Theresia Reide, and her mother, Moniga Staiger. In 1890, he was to patent the northwest quarter of the land which Theresia Reide had originally taken. Seven children were born to Edward and Clara. A brief account of each follows:
Clara Shean Young was born on April 3, 1881, and died on February 15, 1965. She married Nicholas Young and they resided in Kinsley, Kansas. He was killed in 1930, when a shotgun discharged while he was said to be pursuing chicken thieves. They had seven children: Tracy, who was killed in a train accident, Marie, Mona, Joseph (adopted), Howard, LeRoy, and Dick who is also deceased. Clara later lived in Spearville with her sister, Monica, for a number of years prior to her death. She and her family are buried in a Kinsley, Kansas cemetery.
J. W. (Bill) Shean was born on May 1, 1883, and died on January 1, 1969. He married Clara Klenke (March 10, 1883-June 24, 1969) on October 9, 1907. They had six children, two of whom died in infancy: Howard (March 14, 1910-February 21, 1911) and Justine (July 5, 1917-March 4, 1918). Their other children are: Arthur, born August 27, 1908, and married to Leona Stein (September 21, 1909) on April 27, 1932. They have four children: Glen, Sharon, Verl, and Janell. Agnes was born on January 11, 1912, and married Elbert Kane (December 2, 1906) on May 22, 1932. They have four children: Bill, Rosalie, David, and Darlene. One child, Mary Agnes, died in infancy. Marie was born on October 7, 1913, and married Alphons Bollig (December 1, 1908-August 28, 1962) on June 24, 1935. They have one daughter, Shirley. Norbert was born on July 18, 1915, and married Viola Bleumer (December 17,1920) on January 2, 1946. They have five children: Connie, Jane, Debbie, Bob, and Barbara. A daughter, Joanne, died in infancy. J. W. and his wife Clara are buried in the St. John's Cemetery, Spearville, Kansas.
Peter Shean was born May 28, 1885, and died in 1958. He married Harriet (Ella) Hillbrand. They have five children: Joseph, Betty, Rose, Mary, and Henry. Peter and his wife later lived on the family homestead farm for much of the remainder of their lives. Their son, Henry, now owns the original northeast quarter. The family home built there in the 1900's burned in 1975. Peter and Ella are buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Windthorst, Kansas.
John Shean was born on December 15, 1887, and died on December 29, 1971. He lived a colorful life and partook of many occupations, including farmer, cattleman, oilfield worker, and miner. He returned to Spearville and lived with his sister, Monica, during the last few years of his life. He was never married. He is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Windthorst, Kansas.
Monica Shean was born December 8, 1889, and died April 23, 1975. Although she was an attractive young woman, she remained single and was the mainstay of the family, caring selflessly for her mother, grandmother, sister, and brothers whenever she was needed. After her mother's death, she worked for a time in Colorado as a housekeeper. Monica was a beautiful person from the inside as well as on the outside. She is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Windthorst, Kansas.
Joseph Shean was born on December 24, 1893, and died August 5, 1924. He married Katy Klenke and had one son, Edward. Edward and his wife, Bonnie, have three children: Keith, Kathy, and Sandra. Joseph met an untimely death when he was struck by lightening in a field on his farm. He is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Windthorst, Kansas.
Charles Shean was born October 11, 1897, and died March 4, 1965. He served in World War II as a PFC in the Medical Department. He also remained unmarried. He did some work in farming, mining and worked with a logging company. He is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Windthorst, Kansas.
Edward Shean (first Sheehan during the Civil War, Shean from 1866-1869, Shane from 1870-1881, and finally Shean again on marriage records of 1880, and then evidently firmly and finally settled upon) spent some thirty-five years of his life as a farmer. In the 1900's a new two story home was built for his family, with his sons helping to build this home. This house burned down in 1975. In 1916, because of illness, Edward went to the Veteran's Hospital in Washington, D. C. Two years later, on December 8, 1918, he died there. Even though he had been gone for several years, his family was not aware of the seriousness of his condition and were quite surprised at his death. His body was returned and he is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Windthorst, Kansas. He had been a member of the local GAR post, having joined in 1891. He was a popular member of that organization. It is said that he could entertain an audience by relating his war experiences in his homespun and intelligent manner.
His wife, Clara, survived him for nineteen years. She lived with her daughter, Monica, for several years in Spearville in the home now occupied by Mrs. Doris Chamberlin. This home was sold after her death. Her death came in October 13, 1937, and she is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Windthorst, Kansas. After her death, her daughter Monica spent some time in Colorado working. After a time, Monica moved into the home that her brothers rebuilt for her in Spearville not far from the grade school and Catholic Church. She then lived there until her death in 1975.
In 1904 Edward again began work on his pension application. Due to the early age of his enlistment, and the subsequent name changes: Sheehan, Shean, Shane, and Shean; he had quite a difficult time in proving that he was actually the same man as the records named and that he had put in all of the service time he claimed. He finally did receive a pension. Records show that on June 7, 1912, he received $14.50 per month; May 10, 1913, it raised to $16.50; May 10, 1917, it raised to $21.50; and on May 10, 1922, it would have been $27.00 from that time on. After his death, Clara received a widow's pension until the time of her death. Edward had begun a pension claim in 1890 stating a disability had first occurred to him about 1864 in Civil War service in Vicksburg, Mississippi. By 1894, he had not received this pension, but it is thought that he received about $8.00 per month for a time. At the time of his death in 1918, he had been receiving $30.00 per month.
J. W. (Bill) Shean
J. W. Shean was born on May 1, 1883, the eldest son and second child of Edward and Clara Reide Shean. This was some four years after Clara and her family came to this area as homesteaders and about three years after Edward was discharged from Army service at nearby Fort Dodge, Kansas. Bill had six brothers and sisters: Clara, Peter, John, Monica, Joseph, and Charles. The family, with their German grandmother and great-grandmother (until her death in 1893) lived in an L-shaped frame home on the farm. Sometime near 1900, the family constructed a large two story frame home, which burned to the ground in 1975, after having housed several generations of this family.
Once, as a boy, Bill and his brother, Pete, were doing their chore of chopping wood. A misplaced blow by Pete nearly severed one of Bill's fingers. Fortunately, their grandmother was nearby and was probably as near to a doctor as the area knew at the time. She quickly took her ever-present needle and black thread and deftly stitched back the finger. Had she not been able to help as quickly, he probably would have gone through life with only a stub for a finger. This independence from seeking professional medical care also carried through his life, particularly in the dental area. Bill usually always took care of any family teeth by simply pulling them himself.
Bill acquired some of his schooling in the parochial school at Windthorst, Kansas and in other Ford County, Kansas schoolhouses.
For a time before his marriage, Bill and his brother Pete lived the life of bachelors in a "shack" in a pasture of the farm he bought in 1902.
At the age of twenty-four, on October 9, 1907, he married Clara Klenke, also aged twenty-four. She was born on March 10, 1883. Bill had been building his farm home before he was married and so the young couple moved to that farm, six miles south of Spearville, Kansas, after their marriage. A bedroom in this home was used for granary purposes one year during harvest. The basement was dug under the house several years after its construction. Harvest was slow in coming that year, so the harvest hands were put to work digging while waiting for the actual harvest work to begin. In the 1920's, Bill and his family moved into the town of Spearville, where they had purchased a grocery store, called Shean's Cash Store. They would return to the farm to live during the summer months for harvest and otherwise continued running the farm. His son Arthur later occupied the farm when he married, and now his son Verl and his family presently live in the same home, with various remodeling having taken place through the years. Marie Bollig, Bill's daughter now lives in the home in Spearville where the family had moved to in the 1920's.
The operation of the grocery store was from 1922-1935. During the 1930's the name of the store was changed to Shean and Son Grocery when his son Norbert went into partnership with him there. Many area people had employment in this store through the years and the store was sold to Henry and Mary Schuette in 1935.
Bill was an avid amateur inventor. A 1930 newspaper stated that "Shean Gets Patent on Another Device." This particular device was one which would enable an airplane to take wing without a landing field. It was modeled slightly after the home-made windmill of early days and had a series of fans or lifting propellers. It was first tried on a toy plane. His first patent had been for a railway gate operated automatically when a train got within a certain distance from a crossing. He also invented a device which would prevent a car from skidding at high speeds. This was also first implemented on a toy. In the United States, the law provides that a patent may be granted to any person who has invented or discovered any new and useful machine, etc. A patent is granted only upon a regularly filed application, payment of fees, and only after a determination that the invention is new and useful. A patent is granted for a period of seventeen years. Apparently Bill was ahead of his time as many of his ideas seem to have been usefully implemented today.
Bill was also quite civic minded and served his community in many ways. He was county commissioner for two terms, from 1922-1926 and from 1934-1938. He was elected chairman of that group in 1937. Also in 1937, he was endorsed for the Highway Commission as the southwest's leading road booster and the area's candidate best fitted for the post. When the Ford County, Kansas Lake project on the correction line road was under consideration, it was almost given up as hopeless, because of the inability to obtain the site, until Bill dug into the Statutes and found the way. The lake was duly constructed and is still a recreation spot in the area today. Because of the big part he played in the project, it was suggested that the lake be named for him. He was not in favor of this gesture, thus it was named Ford County Lake.
Bill was a member of the local Knights of Columbus for over fifty years, and held many offices in that organization. He was a member of the local Spearville Elevator board and director of the Farmers Union. He was one of the original directors of the Spearville District Hospital Board. He was quite involved with the project of building the new hospital, which is now in use in the Spearville community and put much hard work into its planning and upkeep. He also participated in various church and school committees in the community. He later maintained an independent insurance agency for a number of years, which was then continued by his son Arthur until his retirement, when a local agency then continued their services.
Bill was also quite adept at carpentering. He helped construct his parent's home and built the farm home in which members of his family have since lived in for a number of years. His sister, Monica, was in need of a home at a time when building was not allowed due to war conditions, but remodeling was permitted. He took an old house, and by always keeping at least one original wall or other feature intact---the house was "remodeled" is such a way that a virtually new structure resulted from the intensive remodeling it received. This was then her home for some thirty years and still serves well as a residence today. In the 1950's, the old nun's home was to be demolished. Bill removed the top section of this large, old house and moved it to a new location, not far from his home. He then proceeded to remodel this structure and produce a modern family dwelling. This home is now occupied by the local doctor. In 1959, he helped his son Norbert build a new brick home. He did many other carpentering jobs as well. He also helped with some farm work and was an avid reader, keeping well up on world and local events in this way.
Bill had fourteen grandchildren and is fondly remembered by all of them who were old enough to have been blessed with his company and remember him. He was a companion, a friend, and especially "Grandpa." He often took them fishing, riding, exploring, and talked with them. He would now have had twenty great-grandchildren.
On June 24, 1946, Bill's wife Clara passed away. She had been in ill health for several years, and a newspaper stated that death was due to paralysis. Clara was the daughter of Frank and Mary Peppercorn Klenke, early pioneers to the Windthorst community. She is buried in St. John's Cemetery, Spearville, Kansas. After her death, Bill continued to live with his daughter, Marie, and her family.
Bill continued his active life until several years before his death at the age of eighty-five. Bill passed away on January 1. 1969, at the local hospital after a long illness. He is also buried in the St. John's Cemetery, Spearville, Kansas.
A History of the Edward (Sheehan) Shean Family
These people furnished family papers, anecdotes, pictures, and other reminiscences.
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
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Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.