BENJAMIN G. SHINN. The publishers take pleasure in the publication of the following sketch of the Shinn family and of Mr. B. G. Shinn, who has rendered such able assistance in furnishing details and suggestions in the preparation of the various accounts of old Blackford county families found in this work. As the Shinn family was among the pioneers of Blackford county, this sketch will be found to throw many side lights on early conditions of home, social, educational, civic and religious affairs from the beginning of the decade of the '40s to the present time.

The Shinn family has been in the United States about two hundred and thirty-six years. The following genealogical record is taken chiefly from "The History of the Shinn Family in Europe and America." Published in 1903 by Josiah H. Shinn, A. M., a distinguished member of the family.

I. The progenitors of the family were John and Jane Shinn, who were Quakers, and with nine unmarried children, came to New Jersey and settled in Burlington county in William Penn's colony near Philadelphia in 1678. It is supposed that the parents of John Shinn were Clement and Grace Shinn. John Shinn was born in Hartford county, England, in 1632, and died in New Jersey in 1711.

II. James Shinn, son of John, married Abigail, daughter of Restore and Hannah Lippincott in 1697. So far as can be learned, he had ten children, of whom Clement was the seventh. James died in 1751.

III. Clement married Elizabeth Webb in 1740, and they had seven children, of whom Clement Jr., was the third.

IV. Clement Jr., who was born in 1746, married in 1774, Ruth Bates in New Jersey, in which state two of their children were born, and a few years later the family was located in Harrison county, West Virginia, after stopping a brief time at Apple Pie Ridge, some ten miles north of Winchester in Frederick county, Virginia. Their ten children were: Joseph, born September 23, 1775, married Mary Mathis; Moses, born February 10, 1779, married Sarah, daughter of Anthony and Elizabeth Kyle; Daniel, born June 10, 1781, married Mary Whiteman, half-sister of Sarah Kyle; Hepzibah, born April 25, 1784, married a cousin, Rev. Levi Shinn; Clement, born November 24, 1786, married a relative, Lucretia Shinn; Edward, born in 1788, married Hannah Shinn, a relative; Reuben, born September 26, 1789; Achsah, born in 1792, married David Earl; Samuel Jonathan, born October 7, 1793; and Eli, born in 1797.

Daniel, a native of Frederick or Harrison county, married August 5, 1801, Mary Whiteman, whose family is noted in succeeding paragraphs. Their thirteen children were: Noah, born 1802, married Ann Fort; Elias, born 1804, married Henrietta Ummensetter; Charity, born in 1806, married Levi Gorrell; Unity, born 1808, died in infancy; Henry, born January 31, 1810, married Harriet Walker; Israel, born June 26, 1812, married Ann Hood; Darius, born November 16, 1815, married Rachel L. Turner; Hyman (see below); Newman, born September 22, 1819, married Christina Marts; Harrison, born in 1821, married Mary J. Spencer; Mary Ann, born April 10, 1824, married William Burchard; Silas, born June 22, 1826, married Judith Caroline Hood; Sabra, born July 2, 1828, married Nathan Ellsworth.

In 1828 Daniel and his family moved to Tyler county, West Virginia, settling on Sugar Creek, a branch of Middle Island Creek. In May, 1830 they came to Indiana. With the assistance of his sons, Daniel constructed a flat-boat, on which they floated down Middle Island Creek to the Ohio River, thence to Cincinnati, came by canal to Hamilton, Ohio, and from there wagons conveyed them to their destination in Henry county, three or four miles northwest of Knightstown. A little more than three years later Daniel's wife died, and most of his life thereafter was spent with several of his children. In 1852 he went to Iowa with his son Silas, and several other relatives, and in the Autumn of 1853 started to return to Indiana, but died at the home of his nephew Hiram Shinn, in either Knox or Mercer county, Illinois. Daniel's brother Clement, who moved to Carroll county, Indiana, in 1853, and died in March, 1868, left descendants, who are now found in Carroll, Cass, Howard and Miami counties.

V. Hyman Shinn, eighth child of Daniel and Mary, was born in Harrison county, West Virginia, and accompanied his parents to Tyler county and later to Indiana. As a young man he worked as a hired hand in the timber, cutting cord wood, and also in a brick yard, being very skillful in the burning of brick kilns. On December 31, 1837, he married Ann Van Buskirk. Determined to have a home if their own, they came to Blackford county in September, 1841, locating on a tract which he had secured from the government three years before, it being the South half of the North East quarter section of land in the county. In the midst of the heavily timbered forest, where wild deer and wild turkey were numerous and where the nights were often made hideous by the howling of wolves, they established their little home in a single round log cabin, 20x22 feet, with one door and a small window, a puncheon floor and a clapboard roof held down by weighted poles. Water for domestic use was carried from a small stream forty rods distant across the line in Jay county. By the incessant labor of years a farm was reclaimed, and it was the family home for forty-five years. In November, 1886, Hyman and his wife came to Hartford City, and spent the rest of their lives. He died November 12m 1890, and is wife on September 14, 1891. Their last resting place is in the I.O.O.F. cemetery near Montpelier. For more than half a century they were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and in politics Hyman was a Republican.

The family of Hyman and wife consisted of six sons: 1. Benjamin G. Shinn. 2. William Henry, born May 13, 1843, was a soldier in the civil war in company K of the Seventy-fifth Indiana Regiment, was wounded at the battle of Missionary Ridge, and on May 13, 1869, at Bluffton married Elizabeth McCleerym, and they made their home in Montpelier. He became postmaster and died while in that office January 39, 1878. Their three children were: Charles W., who died at the age of ten years; Frederick L., who was educated at Taylor University, Indiana University, Yale University, the University of Wisconsin, and is now Professor of Chemistry at the State University in Eugene, Oregon, married in 1905 to Nora G. Lacey, and their two children are Helen R. and Dalton L.; Marion Pearl, who in 1901 married Charles L. Watts who died in 1906, and she now resides with her mother in Montpelier. 4. John Marion, born June 22, 1845, was a soldier in the same company with his brother, and died April 24, 1863, of disease of the lungs contracted in the army. 5. Oliver Whitfield, born February 29, 1848, married June 25, 1870, Martha Dawley and had eight children: - Stella, dying when about four years of age; Della and Nellie, twins; an infant daughter, Bertha Grace; and twin son and daughter, who with their mother died at the same time, and all three were buried in one casket in October, 1886. For his second wife, Oliver W. married Jennie Jenkins on January 1, 1899, and their eight children are: Cora, William W., Hyman H., Charles W., Helen G., Jessie E., Elbert B., and Chella M. Of these William W., a school teacher, is dead, and all the other members of the second family live in Oceana county, Michigan. Of the four living children by the first marriage, Della married Mint Worth, has two children and lives in Wells county, Indiana; Bertha married William Bouse, and has four living children and two deceased and lives in Jay county; Nellie unmarried, lives in Jay county; and Grace is the widow of William H. Campbell. 6. Thomas Sylvester, the youngest child of Hyman and Ann was born December 11, 1853, was a farmer and school teacher, died August 27, 1888, and on April 28, 1875, married Ester J. Wells, who died February 16, 1887, without children.

VI Darius Shinn, the brother next older than Hyman, came with his wife and oldest child from Fayette county, Indiana to Blackford in December, 1841, settling on land in the northeast corner of the county. Darius died at Montpelier July 13, 1901, and his wife passed away February 21, 1860. Of their ten children, four are living; Sarah J., widow of Jepthah McDaniel, of Wells county; Cornelius E., who married Sarah E. Irey; Mahala A., who married James F. Dawley, both Cornelius and Mahala living in Jay county; and Charlotte A., who lives in Grant county. The five deceased children are: Daniel H., who was a soldier in Company B, Thirty-fourth Indiana, and was wounded at the battle of Champion Hill; Silas N., a soldier in Company K if the Seventy-fifth Indiana, who died in hospital at Gallatin, Tennessee, December, 1862; Philip A.; Martha A., Mary A. Smith; and Florence E.

VI (transcriber's note, numbering same as the original) About 1843 or 1844 two sisters of Hyman, Mary Ann and Sabra, came to Blackford county. Mary Ann married Richard Burchard and their family of four children are living: Harrison J., of Creston, Iowa; John M.; Sabra J. Bange and Daniel W., in Hartford City. Sabra Shinn married Nathan Ellsworth, and their five living children are: Daniel P., in Lohrville, (transcriber's note: could be Lobrville) Iowa; Mary E. Drummond in Chicago; Electa A. Shull; Miss Hannah R., and Icedora Gibford.

Mr. Shinn is not able to trace his ancestry very far on the side of his paternal grandmother. His great-grandfather, Edward Whiteman, was born in 1754 in Pennsylvania, where he married and had quite a family. Coming either from his native state or Maryland, he located in Marion county, West Virginia, and died there in 1828. Several of his brothers came to West Virginia about the same time, one of the, Amos, dying in West Virginia, while another, named Levi, went west in 1827, and still another was Daniel, who served as a captain in the war of 1812, went to Illinois in 1829 and died in 1836 at the age of sixty –four. Daniel Whiteman married Ann Shinn, a sister of Rev. Asa Shinn, and a cousin of Daniel Shinn. Two other Whiteman brothers, Henry and Jacob, settled in Xenia, Ohio, in 1809.

Edward Whiteman married Elizabeth Kyle, widow of Anthony Kyle. She was born March 18, 1756, and died near Hartford City, August 24, 1842. Her maiden name was Hare or Cooper, her name being Cooper when she married Kyle. Of the Kyle marriage there were three children. The youngest, Sarah, married Moses Shinn, brother of Daniel. Edward and Elizabeth Whiteman had eight children: Abel Whiteman married Ruth Bigler; Henry married her sister, Nancy Bigler; and Jonathan married Maria Catarina Righter, a niece of Ruth and Nancy. The daughters of the family married as follows: Mary, who married Daniel Shinn, Rachel, who married Israel Allen, Rebecca, who married Josuha Allen, brother of Israel; Elizabeth, who married Philip Smell; and Hannah who married his brother, Peter Smell. Philip and Peter Smell were soldiers in the war of 1812. Mary Shinn, wife of Daniel, was born May 17, 1785, and died November, 1833. Edward Whiteman on coming to Virginia, was a member of the Society of Friends. Most, if not all, of the family, as well as a large number of more remote descendants, became Methodists. His brother Henry, who moved out to Green county, Ohio, was killed by the railroad cars at Bellfontaine about 1856. Four of the sons were Methodist preachers; Henry Jr., for many years a prominent minister in Ohio; George C.; a local preacher and a pioneer and prominent citizen of Jay county, and also serving as probate judge of the county under the first constitution of the state; Everett, a local preacher in the south part of Wells county. Other brothers in the same connection were Jacob, who resided some years in Pennville, Jay county, Samuel, who lived there some years and James.

The mother of Mr. B. G. Shinn was Ann Van Buskirk. The family of this name was doubtless descended from emigrants who were natives of Holland. They were found in many parts of the United States, in some places retaining the original name, while in other localities the Van has been dropped leaving the name Buskirk. Ann Van Buskirk's father was John, and little is known of him except that he had a brother named Isaac. John was probably a native of Pennsylvania, and was born October 15, 1776. He married Elizabeth Welch in Virginia. He died about 1849, and Elizabeth his wife, who was born May 28, 17776 in Northumberland county, Virginia, died in 1841. During all or the greater portion of their married life their home was near Patterson's Creek in what was then the western portion of Hampshire county, but now Mineral county, West Virginia. John and Elizabeth Van Buskirk had ten children as follows: William, born July 14, 1803, married Mary Lovett and died in Henry county, Indiana, after a residence there of many years; Elijah, born February 8, 1805, married Elizabeth Mott, and lived and died in his native county; a son that died in infancy; Zachariah, born August 18, 1808, married Sarah McMinn, and was a resident of Monticello, Indiana; Ann, who married Hyman Shinn; Isaac, born August, 1813, and died in 1832; Benjamin, born October 13, 1815, married Rebecca Bailey, and moved from Henry county, Indiana, to Missouri, in 1852; Susan, born June 5, 1817, first married a Berkey and later a Reynolds, and lived many years in Monticello; Sarah, born March 23, 1821, married Peter Stahl, their home being in or near McConnelsville, Ohio; and John, who went to Texas and died there unmarried.

The following brief but interesting information is all that cane be found concerning the Welch connections of the Shinn family. Isaac Welch was born in 1939, and in 1886 had a family and was living in Northumberland county, Virginia. On January 27, 1777, he enlisted as a private soldier in the Revolutionary war, in Captain Thomas Blackwell's Company of foot in the Tenth Virginia Regiment. About September, 1778, he was transferred to Colonel John Green's Company of foot in the Sixth Virginia Regiment, in January 1780, was transferred to a detachment of the Second Virginia Brigade, and his name is last borne on a master roll dated January 28, 1780, which shows expiration of service February 29, of that year. While in the army he had smallpox, and another victim of the disease was quartered in a log cabin with another comrade as a nurse. The theory then was it was certain death for a smallpox patient to drink cold water. One day the attendant having brought a bucket of water from the spring set it on the floor and then went out: Isaac Welch crawled to the bucket and drank all the water he wanted. The other patient, though extremely thirsty, was unable to perform this act of insubordination. The sequel showed that the companion died, while Mr. Welch recovered. He was living in Hampshire county, West Virginia, in 1819, and in October of that year at the age of eighty was placed on the pension rolls at the rate of ninety-six dollars per annum. He had a son named William who lived to a great age and was a prominent Methodist local preacher. Another son, named Benjamin, either a son or grandson of Dempsey; a daughter, Elizabeth Van Buskirk, a daughter, Rayner, who married Thomas Hogan; Sarah, who married Sylvester Mott and was the mother of Elizabeth, wife of Elijah Van Buskirk – completes the family records as far as known.

VII. With such a lineage of ancestors Benjamin G. Shinn was born in Dublin, Wayne county, Indiana, October 28, 1838, and n September, 1841, his parents brought him to Blackford county. His childhood home was a one-story round log cabin, with a large fire place in the west end, built outside the house about seven feet high, the outside being made of puncheons inside of which the back wall and jambs were may of dry earth, solidly packed, above which structure rose the chimney extending a little above the comb f the roof, made out of lath rived out of oak bolts, and laid up in mortar made of mud plastered inside to prevent it taking fire. The roof was made of clapboards held in place by weighted poles, as nails were a luxury not obtainable. The floor was of boards called puncheons, split out of logs, then hewed on one side and laid smooth side up on log sleepers. There was a single door on the south side and a single window on the north with but one sash containing six 8x10 panes of glass. The single room supplied all the purpose of parlor, sitting room, washing room, dining room and kitchen. When this pioneer family began life there cabin was the only house that had been built on that section of land, and one or two acres of ground had been partially cleared off. About five months after they came, William Henry, the youngest child, sickened and died, and a funeral cortege of six or seven persons wended its way on horseback through the almost continuous forest to the burying ground at Camden (now Penneville) in Jay county, one of the party carrying the coffin containing the body in front of him on a horse for the entire distance of seven or eight miles.

While a small boy Mr. Shinn spent many days alone in the wild woods near the home, amusing himself by cutting or hacking down small bushes with his father's ax. During the winter seasons, when he was five or six years of age, he spent his time looking through the books of the library, which consisted of a bible, a Methodist hymn book and Weem's Life of Washington, in which he learned the letters of the alphabet, and was also employed in playing with and taking care of his baby brother, James L., while his mother wove flannel, jeans, or linsey cloth on an old fashioned hand loom. As he grew in years and strength he youthful days were given to the ceaseless round of toil that attends life in a country new and undeveloped and assisting his father to clear away the heavy growth of timber and in planting and cultivating the crops among the stumps and roots of newly cleared ground. The winter after he was seven years old he attended his first school in a log house a mile and a half from his home, taught by Oscar B. Boon, a young and well educated Yankee who had recently come from the State of Massachusetts. Mr. Boon afterwards became and continued for many years the leading merchant of Montpelier, and in that community was the leading spirit in Republican politics and in the temperance reform. As long as he lived a liquor saloon could not be successfully maintained in Montpelier.

Until his eighteenth year Mr. Shinn attended the district schools in his neighborhood during the winter seasons, the terms ranging in length from two and one-half to three months. In the winter of 1856-57 he taught his first term. In October, 1857, he entered Liber college, near Portland, Indiana, and pursued his studies for a single term of sixteen weeks. In September, 1859, he became a student of Indiana Asbury University at Greencastle, Indiana, taking the classical course. His school career continued there until the latter part of April, 1861, when he enlisted in a company made up largely of students under the call for soldiers for three months. The company went to Camp Morton at Indianapolis, remained eighty days, and the state's quota having been filled up before this company was reached, it was sent back to Greencastle. Mr. Shinn then went home and in August of that year again enlisted, joining Company B of the Thirty-fourth Indiana infantry. On the organization he was elected second lieutenant. A protracted and serious illness compelled him to resign in November, and he went with his regiment no farther than Camp Jo Holt at Jeffersonville. Mr. Shinn returned to college for the spring term of 1862, and that completed his career as a student. In the spring of 1863 a company of state militia was raised and organized at Montpelier, known as the Indiana Rangers, of which Mr. Shinn was elected and commissioned first lieutenant, and soon afterwards promoted to the captaincy, serving until early May, 1864. Then he made his third attempt to enter the arm, this time recruiting a squad of fifteen men which became a part of Captain B. F. Webb's Company I, One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Indiana Infantry. In that regiment he was orderly sergeant, and the command as employed in guarding the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad during the Atlanta campaign. That railroad was a line of great importance, since all the supplies for General Sherman's army were transported in this way, and it was indispensable that the line should be protected and kept open. The regiment was called out for one hundred days but was in the service for five months.

Early in 1865 Mr. Shinn decided to enter the legal profession and on April 14 removed from the farm to Bluffton, Indiana, and began study in the office of Hon. Edwin R. Wilson, a prominent attorney who had just completed his term as judge of the judicial circuit embracing a number of counties in the northeastern corner of the state. In 1867 came his admission to the bar before Judge Borden and in establishing his practice he met and experienced the usual difficulties and discouragement of the tyro in this profession. During the six years of residence in Bluffton, he taught six terms of school, and by this means and the practice of right economy on the part of himself and wife managed to live and support his family. While at Bluffton, Mr. Shinn was one year in partnership with Dwight Klinck, a public speaker of prominence who had won an enviable distinction as a republican political orator in the campaign of 1860, being known as the "New York boy." Afterward for a period of two years Mr. Shinn had as a partner J. J. Todd, a successful attorney of Wells county.

On coming to Hartford City in April, 1871, a partnership was formed with Michael Frash which lasted two years, and from the end of that time until 1881 Mr. Shinn practiced alone. In the latter year John Noonan became his partner, and they were associated until the close of 1883, when Mr. Noonan located in Colorado. After an interim of individual practice, engaged in a successful business in the courts of Blackford and adjoining counties, Mr. Shinn from July 1, 1885, to December 1, 1892, was head of the firm of Shinn and Pierce, one of the leading legal combinations in Hartford City at that time, both its members being recognized as able and successful lawyers. Then for nearly four years Mr. Shinn was again alone, and in 1896 his son Eugene M. Shinn entered the office as a partner, and continued a few years until entering the mail service in Hartford City. Mr. Shinn, on account of the infirmities of age, has relinquished active litigation work, but still maintains an office and attends to probate work, conveyancing, drawing wills, examining titles and making abstracts and general pension work. He has no inclination to take membership in the Ancient Order of Loafers.

While a resident of Bluffton, Mr. Shinn served two years as deputy collector of Internal Revenue under Hon. John F. Wildman, who was drafted to make the race on the republican ticket for representative from the counties of Wells and Adams, but failed of election because the district was a democratic stronghold. When Hartford City has a town organization and government he served for a time by appointment as treasurer and afterwards as clerk of the town, and for some years was advisor of the town trustees on legal matters. From 1876 to 1879 he had a term of three years as school trustee of the town. When in 1894 the town became incorporated as a city, he was appointed first city attorney, and the duties of that position were performed by him with fidelity and care for four years and two months. The unanimous nomination of his party was given him in 1878 for the office of joint senator from the counties of Grant, Blackford and Jay, but the greenback ticket cut in so heavily on the republican strength that he again suffered defeat, although leading the state ticket by a small number of votes.

Mr. Shinn was one of the charter members of the republican party. Though a boy of fifteen years of age at the time, he took great interest in the great national struggle in the early part of 1854, which resulted in the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill and the repeal of the essential features of the Missouri Compromise measure. Being opposed to the idea of human bondage and the enslavement of men, women and children, the only place he could consistently occupy in the political field was in the republican party. Mr. Shinn is proud of the honor of having twice voted for Abraham Lincoln for president. While always heartily in accord with the positive and leading ideas and principles of this political organization, he has never been a bitter or offensive partisan. He has no sympathy with the narrow-minded and bigoted partisanship which concentrated in any one political organization. His qualities as a safe and vigilant manager were recognized by his associates in his choice as chairman of the county central committee in the campaign of 1876, 1884, 1886 and 1888, and it was a matter of personal satisfacion that the majority adverse to his party were regularly reduced during those years. In 1896 he was a presidential elector for the eighth congressional district of Indiana, and cast one of the fifteen electoral votes of the state for McKinley and Hobart.

For more than sixty years Mr. Shinn has been a firm advocate of the doctrine of total abstinence from the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and has been in favor of the legal prohibition of the liquor traffic. About 1906 he reached the conclusion that he had waited long enough for the republican party to assume a position of at least moderate hostility to the license system, and decided thenceforward to make his vote and political action a protest against the state and national complicity in the liquor business. As a partisan he is not censorious or intolerant, but pursues the line of conduct dictated by his conscience "with malice toward none; with charity for all."

For some years past Mr. Shinn has given some time and attention to the history of Blackford county and of the section of Indiana of which it forms a part. In 1893 he prepared a compendium of the history of Blackford county which was deposited in the corner stone of the new court house in November of that year. In the year 1900 he produced a sketch of the history of the county from its organization until that time and this sketch, covering about sixty pages, is in a volume entitled "Biographical Memoirs of Blackford County," published by the Bowen Publishing Company.

Mr. Shinn was married in Nottingham township, Wells county, Indiana, October 30, 1862, to Emily Jane Harris, who was born in that township March 28, 1844. She was the daughter of Jonathan and Mary Ann Harris, the former a native of Carroll and the latter of Guernsey, Ohio. Her mother died when she was an infant, and her father when she was five years old. She was reared and until her marriage lived with her grandparents John and Prudence Dawson. Jonathan Harris was the son of Benjamin Harris, a native of North Carolina, who married Asenath Whitaker. Jonathan, who was the oldest in the family of twelve or thirteen children, married Mary Ann Dawson in Wells county. Of their two children, Wellington, died in infancy, and the second was Emily Jane. The Dawson family is of Irish Descent. Thomas Dawson, born in Ireland, was determined to join the army. He enlisted nine times. His father bought him off eight times, and only at the ninth attempt was he allowed to remain. He came to America with the British army during the Revolutionary war, and never returned to his native land, and nothing is known of his relatives there. His two sons, John and Robert, it is believed were born in Maryland. John served a brief term in the army in the war of 1812, and was with the American troops about Washington when that city was captured by the British. John Dawson married his first wife, Jane Travis, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Wilson) Travis. The four children born of this marriage were: Mary Ann, mother of Mrs. Shinn; Elizabeth, who married Hezekiah Hopkins; George W. and Albert H. After the death of his first wife, John Dawson married her sister, Prudence Travis, and their one child, Sarah J., married Bunyan J. Wells, and they now live on a part of the old homestead of her parents in Wells county, where they made settlement in 1838.


Blackford and Grant Counties, Indiana A Chronicle of their People Past and Present with Family Lineage and Personal Memoirs Compiled Under the Editorial Supervision of Benjamin G. Shinn
Volume I Illustrated
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1914
Submitted by Peggy Karol

Deb Murray