GEORGE W. SHOEMAKER GRAVESTONE PHOTO
February 26, 1920
GEORGE W. SHOEMAKER IS
Had Lived Here for Over 53 Years.
George W. Shoemaker, one of Wilson county's oldest settlers and well known and highly esteemed citizens, died at his home at 712 North Seventh street, in Neodesha, Friday, February 20, 1920, at about 11 o'clock a. m., aged 82 years, after a severe sickness of about three weeks of a complication of diseases.
Few living residents of this county have had a greater or richer experience than George W. Shoemaker, early settler, who died here last Friday morning at the age of 82. An adventurous youth and boyhood, a young manhood filled with experiences that ranged all the way from war to log-cabin building, a maturity that witnessed the passing of Kansas from a pioneer state to a wealthy prosperous commonwealth,--all these were but a few of the elements that gave vividness and picturesqueness to the life of this rugged pioneer.
Born in Findlay, Ohio, September 10, 1837, as one of a family of eleven children, young George Shoemaker was destined to lead a strange life up until after the Civil War. What education his parents were able to give him , young Shoemaker received in Ohio where his early boyhood was spent. As a youth he made a trip into the South with his father, who was a carpenter and builder, spending approximately three years away from home.
After a while, however, he drifted back to the North and it was not long before the war broke out. One episode of his boyhood he used to tell to his children.
When the gold rush of '49 began young Shoemaker's father decided to cast his lot with the Forty-Niners and left his home for California. George, then a mere stripling of a lad, decided to run away from home and follow his father. As a boat carried him down the Ohio and into the Mississippi to New Orleans all went well with the boy, but voyages, even in those days, were not made without funds, so the runaway soon found himself stranded in the Louisiana city without a cent, and, because the boats plying between New Orleans and Frisco refused to carry him, he began to look for work.
After many attempts and several failures, he finally found a job as a carpenter and remained in New Orleans for several months. It was while in the South that this veteran of the Civil War had the unique experience of being for a time a foreman over a plantation employing slaves. Thus the man who was born to fight for the abolition of slavery was at one time a slave-driver himself.
Before the war of the Rebellion began, however, Mr. Shoemaker was once more a citizen of Ohio and it was with the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry that he enlisted. For four years and three months he served with distinction in the war. For awhile he was foreman in charge of the building of Union barracks and storehouses, but later got into the fighting with a vengeance. On his service record may be seen mention of the battles of Stony River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and many others. He was with Sherman at the siege of Atlanta and moved with him on his memorable march to the sea.
There is now in the Shoemaker home a memento that hundreds of Union soldiers would be proud to own. It is "Honor Roll No. 1," the first one to be given to a soldier of the Army of the Cumberland by General Rosencranz. Shoemaker won it for meritorious and distinguished service in preventing General Wheeler from burning a Union wagon-train.
Mr. Shoemaker was mustered out July 25, 1865, and returned to Ohio, where he remained for about a year, and then decided to come to Kansas. In 1866, he arrived at Verdi, then a postoffice and trading post five miles north of Neodesha. He took a claim, what is now the David Kantz farm on the road to Buffville. A few months later he returned to Ohio and when he again came to Kansas someone else had taken his claim, so that he was compelled to buy the farm, five miles north of town, which was his property at the time of his death.
Neodesha was not known to the map-makers when Shoemaker started work on a log-cabin on this farm. At that time this vicinity was "bossed" by Little Bear and his tribe of Osages. In his later years, Mr. Shoemaker often spoke of how the chief and his followers would come to his farm and take potatoes and other produce on shares. He would laugh as he recollected that very often they came so often that the land-owners share finally amounted to nill. From 1866 to 1902, Mr. Shoemaker farmed this place and was successful from many points of view.
From a financial standpoint, this pioneer prospered in moving to Kansas. At the time of his death he owned the old home place, 200 acres of additional land in the same neighborhood, a city property comprising 7 acres almost in the heart of town, and a few other properties scattered over the city.
Mr. Shoemaker had been married four times. His first marriage was to Miss Harriet Davenport of Perry- burg, Ohio, before coming to Kansas. To this union one child was born F. E. Shoemaker of this city. Jesse Shoemaker of Coopertown is a son by another and later wife. Jesse also had a sister, who died in infancy. These two men, both of whom have lived in Neodesha all their lives, together with Mrs. Sarah Shoemaker, the widow, are the only survivors. Mr. Shoemaker's last marriage was six years ago to Mrs. Martin of this city, who has been a most devoted and helpful companion to him.
The deceased made a reputation in this county of being strictly square and honest with his fellowmen. He was always regarded as a fine neighbor and a sharing friend. Hard work was one one of his greatest forces. It was characteristic of this veteran that he always did all within his power to keep posted on the events of the day. He read considerably. At various times he was active in county and local politics and was county commissioner for one term. Early in life he united with the Methodist church in Findlay, Ohio.
Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the family home on North Seventh street. The Rev. E. W. Spencer of the Methodist church was in charge. Music was furnished by a male quartet composed of E. A. Warren, James Hanley, Irwin Shoemaker, and W. H. Davis. The body was interred in the Neodesha cemetery after an impressive grave service by the local Masonic lodge of which the deceased was a member. The pall-bearers were: W. A. Rankin, A. S. Hopkins, Harmon Kimball, Frank Kimball, Joseph Evans, and R. L. McDonald.