Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 171
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
John Shiells, one of the extensive and progressive agriculturists of Rice county, has been a resident of this section of the Sunflower state since 1882. He is a member of a prominent Scotch family, who trace their ancestry back to the warlike days of that country, members of the family having taken an active part in the historic battles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Our subject was born in Newcastle, on the Tyne, in Northumberland county, England, on the 25th of March, 1851. His father, John Shiells, was a native of East Lothian, Scotland, born on the farm on which the famous battle was fought by Prince Charles against the English crown. It was an old farm, and was noted far and near as a historical battleground. John Shiells, Sr, grew to manhood there, and after reaching mature years he was united in marriage to Marian Fleming, who was also a representative of an old Scotch family. She was born and reared in the same neighborhood as her husband. They became the parents of four children, - John, the subject of this sketch; Janet, who still resides in England; Mary, who was formerly a resident of Rice county, Kansas, but now makes her home in England; and Alice, also of the old country. In 1882 the family bade adieu to home and native land preparatory to seeking a home in the new world, and after landing in the United States they took up their abode in Galt township, Rice county, Kansas, where the father purchased a farm from the Union Pacific Railroad Company. He became the owner of three hundred and twenty acres, and there his death occurred in 1893, passing away at the age of sixty-five years. He followed farming as a life occupation, and his political support was given to the Democratic party. His religious preference was indicated by his membership in the Presbyterian church. He was a man of fine physique, and at one time weighed over two hundred pounds. The mother survived her husband until 1900, when she, too, was called to the home beyond, having reached the ripe old age of seventy-two years.
John Shiells, the subject of this review, accompanied his parents on their removal to the new world. He was reared to the honest toil of the farmer in his native land, and his education was received in the schools of South Durham, England. At that place, at the age of twenty-four years, he was united in marriage to Miss Emeline Hankey, who was born, reared and educated at South Durham. She is a daughter of John and Caroline (Morrison) Hankey, the former a native of South Durham and the latter of Gloucestershire, England. The father was called to his final rest at the age of forty-seven years, and his wife survived him a number of years, passing away at the age of sixty-one years. He was a mason by trade. This worthy couple were the parents of five children, - Thomas, Emeline, Harriet, Caroline and Jane Ann. The family were active and zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Seven children have graced the union of Mr and Mrs Shiells, two sons and five daughters, - Robert, Emeline, Marian, Mabel, Herbert, Caroline and Hilda.
Mr Shiells now owns two hundred and forty acres of the best land to be found in central Kansas, and his place is improved with all the improvements and accessories known to the model farm. He formerly voted with the Democracy, but in the last election cast his ballot in support of McKinley, and in his religious views is a member of the Presbyterian church. He is a fine type of the hardy Scotchman, being six feet in height and weighing two hundred pounds. As a man and citizen he enjoys the added popularity which comes to those genial spirits who have a hearty shake of the hand for all those with whom they come in contact from day to day, and who seem to throw around them so much of the sunshine of life.