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Windham County Connecticut
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GEORGE E. SHAW. This name introduces the reader to one of the prominent citizens and representative business men of Putnam, Windham county, who has for a number of years conducted one of the leading jewelry establishments in the city. He is a descendant of one of the most honorable of the early New England families, while his wife traces her ancestry in both the paternal and maternal lines back to the heroes who fought and died in the struggle for the establishment of religious and civil freedom in America.

Names are derived from occupations, peculiarities, places of birth, and various other agencies. The name of Shaw is accounted for in this manner. In a glossary in "Burn's Works" the word "shaw" is defined as "a small wood in a hollow," i.e., a grove in a valley, the people living there being called "Shaw." There are numerous families of the same name in no way connected, but trace any Shaw far enough and you will find he came from Scotland. George E. Shaw jocularly relates an incident concerning the name. One of the family, being told that "Shaw" came from "a grove in a valley," said, "Light timber," but added, "a match for any one;" and the present members accept the amendment.

Edward Shaw of Scotland married Mary Ann Chalmers, and their family consisted of seven sons and four daughters, namely: David, who died June 30, 1779, in Jamaica; William, deceased in London, December of 1799; John, deceased in 1804; Edward, who also died in Jamaica, in 1806; James, the grandfather of our subject; George, deceased in Jamaica, 1819; Thomas, deceased in London, subsequent to 1838; Nellie, who became the wife of Mr. Baxter, and died in Dundee, Scotland, Nov. 3, 1796; Mary Ann, the wife of Mr. Spink, who died in Dundee, Dec. 30, 1819; Allison, wife of Alexander Derwood, who died in Arbroath, May 30, 1823; Margaret, who became the wife of John Ogg, and died in Arbroath, Aug. 11, 1838.

Of this family, Captain James Shaw, grandfather of George E., was born Jan. 20, 1773, in Arbroath, Scotland. He became the founder of the Shaw family in America. He was a skilled navigator, before coming to America had sailed to all parts of the world, and in the later years of his life was sailing master for the large importing houses of Brown & Ives, and Edward Carrington, of Providence, R.I. He died in Providence, March 15, 1812. The following is an excerpt from the Providence Gazette of March 21, 1812, in an article concerning his career:

"He was a native of Scotland, and came to this country in early life. Possessing all those traits of honesty, industry, and steadfast resolution
which characterize his fellow countrymen, joined with an agreeable and affable disposition, he soon attracted the attention and encouragement of the principal merchants of this and other seaport towns, who employed him in their most important concerns as a nautical commander. Those who had had the pleasure of his acquaintance can say with the poet, 'A man resolved and steady to his trust, averse to ill and obstinately just.' His friends most sincerely condole with his widow and children, who have by this afflictive dispensation of Divine Providence been bereaved of an affectionate husband and tender parent. His funeral was attended by the Marine Society and the Masonic Lodge."

Captain James Shaw married Elizabeth Westcote, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Hoppin) Westcote. She was sixth in descent from Stukeley Westcote, who came to Rhode Island with Roger Williams. They had five children. James was born July 30, 1801, in Providence, where he died March 27, 1880. He married Eliza Field Godfrey. He was popularly known as General Shaw, and was for many years of the mercantile firm of Shaw & Earle. He was a captain of the First Light Infantry in 1831 at the time of the memorable "Olney Lane" riot, and by order of the sheriff promptly dispersed the mob with ball cartridges when the power of the civil authorities had proven ineffective. He commanded the second brigade, R.I. militia from 1844 to 1850. His children were: James; Richard Godfrey; John Preston; Frank Herbert, deceased in infancy; Mary Elizabeth; Anna Frances; Frederick; Mary E.; Charles Ogg; and Charles Edward, the three last named dying in infancy.
George W. is mentioned below. Edward, born in January, 1809, learned the watch-maker's trade, and settled in Thompson, Conn., about 1830, where he became one of the most prominent men in the place, both in civil affairs and in the church. About 1862 he removed to Putnam, where he remained until his death, which occurred in Philadelphia while on a visit to the Centennial Exposition in 1876. He married Hannah G., daughter of Squire William Larned, of Thompson. There were no children. John, born in December, 1802, died in Augusta, Ga., in 1833, a bachelor. He was a member of the firm of Shaw & Dean, of Providence. Rosamond was born in October, 1812, in Providence, where she died a spinster, in 1842.

George W. Shaw was born Oct. 15, 1806, in Providence, and died June 25, 1875, in Thompson, Conn. He married May 31, 1843, Abbey Carpenter, who was born Feb. 5, 1816, in Thompson. Her father was Richard Carpenter, her mother Cynthia Walker. She died April 21, 1890, aged seventy-four years, and is buried in Putnam, Conn. Her oldest child, Rosamond, was born Aug. 19, 1844, in Thompson, and died July 10, 1847. Emma, born Sept. 3, 1846, married May 19, 1893, Frederick William Colcleugh of Selkirk, Manitoba; Mrs. Emma Colcleugh is an authoress and writer of note and is at present (1902) on the staff of the Providence Journal, as special writer, on a tour through Central Africa. Her writings have attracted widespread attention. Julia, born May 19, 1850, has been a teacher for many years in Thompson and
Putnam, and resides in the former town, where she now tutors private pupils. George E. is the subject of this review. Edward was born Jan. 19, 1857, and is a cotton goods broker in Providence. He married June 3, 1879, Carrie Amelia Knight, of Providence, and they have one child, Marian, born Dec. 25, 1884, who died aged thirteen years.

The father of this family was a shell worker by trade, making combs, jewelry, etc., from tortoise shells. He worked for several years for
Claflin & Co., of Providence, and later about 1836, came to Thompson, where he operated a shop of his own. He was a great artist in his line, and while he plied his trade was successful. The business finally became unprofitable owing to a change in fashions, and he was compelled to abandon it. He was a master workman, and received a diploma from the American Institute for a tortoise shell bugle which he constructed. He was also the inventor of several useful articles, among them a wind-mill for which he took out several patents. He had a genius for mechanical construction. The latter years of his life were passed in Thompson, where he died, and now lies buried in Putnam. He and his wife were active and consistent members of the West Thompson M.E. Church. In political opinion he was a Jeffersonian Democrat, but never cared for public preferment. Both he and Mrs. Shaw were highly esteemed in the village where they passed the greater part of their
married life.

George E. Shaw is the fourth child of his parents. His birthplace was Thompson, the date Jan. 20, 1853. He passed his childhood in his native
village, attending the public schools and absorbing in the manifold ways known to the average "town" boy exclusively that equally important branch of learning which has for its end the giving of a proper balance and poise for the duties of life. At fifteen he became an inmate of his uncle Edward Shaw's home in Putnam, where he had the advantage of the newly started high school, then under Latham Fitch as principal. In his leisure hours he gave much attention to the business of his uncle, who conducted a jewelry store and was an expert watchmaker. In this manner he soon became thoroughly conversant with the details of business, and on the death of his uncle in 1876, was capable of assuming entire charge. In the next year the establishment was completely destroyed by fire, a disaster which would have overwhelmed most young business men. But taking counsel of his courage, Mr. Shaw at once fitted up a new store and began again. He had hardly got "on his feet" when in 1881 he again suffered the loss of his stock by fire. But more determined than ever to succeed, he planned on a larger scale than had
yet been attempted in his line in the city, and the new establishment gradually assumed its present proportions. It is doubtful if there is a
jewelry store outside the large cities having better fixtures than this one, and the excellence and variety of the stock has caused it to become a
household name throughout that section of the country. As the years passed Mr. Shaw has added lines of goods not usually carried in a business of this nature. In what he styles the "Annex" he has built up and excellent patronage in sewing machines, pianos and organs, and for years has been a leader in the sale of bicycles. Mr. Shaw has occasion to look with pride upon the record he has made in Putnam as a merchant.

May 4, 1875, was the date of the beginning of the family life of Mr. Shaw, as on that day he married Miss Ellen S. Sharpe, of Abington, the officiating minister being Rev. Thomas M. Boss. A daughter, Ruth Elizabeth, was born to them March 10, 1876. Ruth was given every advantage that a refined home and superior educational institutions could furnish, her literary education being acquired in the Putnam high school and Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Mass., where she graduated in the class of 1895. She early developed musical talent of a high order and for four years after leaving school taught that branch successfully in the Putnam and Willimantic schools. On Oct. 18, 1899, she was joined in marriage to Silas Mandeville Wheelock, son of Eugene A. and Sarah Smith (Taft) Wheelock, of Putnam, and is the mother
of a daughter, Sylvia, born Nov. 26, 1900.

Both Mr. And Mrs. Shaw and their daughter are active and helpful members of the Second Congregational Church, in which he has for two years been identified in an official way with the Sunday-school as superintendent, holding that responsible position at the present time. Mrs. Shaw is an active worker in the different societies of the church, the Ladies' Aid finding in her a strong supporter.

In the public life of the community Mr. Shaw has been a leading factor. He was the originator and subsequent prime mover in the Business Men's Association, an organization to which can be credited many of the successful enterprises of Putnam, notably the Putnam Water Company and Putnam Foundry and Machine Corporation. Of the latter company he is a director and is also one of the incorporators and present directors and secretary of the Water Company. Mr. Shaw has the credit of being one of the first agitators for a pure and adequate water supply for Putnam. He was manager of the Electric Light and Power Company for a year, and one of the incorporators of the Putnam Box Corporation. He has always taken an active interest in the Putnam Library Association, and is one of the board of managers. The fire
department of the city has also found in him an interested friend. In his earlier days he showed his loyalty to the State by a five-year service in
the C.N.G. These facts serve to show the helpful character of the man. One thing he has always eschewed, at least so far as public preferment is concerned, and that is politics. He, however, is staunchly Republican, and delights in the success of the nominees of that party.

Mr. Shaw belongs to several of the best fraternal societies, and is active in promulgating the principles for which they stand. He is a member of Quinebaug Lodge, No. 106, F.& A.M., and of Putnam Lodge, No. 19, A.O.U.W.; Putnam Council, No. 340, Royal Arcanum, in which he has passed through all the chairs, and has also served as a member of the committee on Laws of the Grand Lodge.


Reproduced by:


Linda D. Pingel - great-great granddaughter of Cyrus White of Rockville, Ct.

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