Thomas Shillington

(Newspaper article from the Mason County Republican March 19, 1903)

(Copied verbatim)

  "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound." With these words of the Psalmist on his lips, Mr. Thomas Shillington breathed his last at the home of his daughter, Emma Shillington Meyers, in Mason City, March 15, 1903. He was able to walk to his chair at the dinner table, but could not eat. The body had a little more work to do, the end was nearing. He could but speak in whispers and in the ear of his loving daughter he said his last words, and soon with her arms around him he breathed his last.

   Mr. Thomas Shillington was born September 28th, 1817 in Dunganon, Ireland, and the son of Thomas and Barbara Shillington. When two years of age, the family took sail for the British possessions of North America and settled at Goulbourn, Canada. They were among the pioneers of that part of Canada, and the boy grew up to make his way through dense timber, work in the soil and to endure all the hardships of an early pioneer settlement. The plain living and hard work went to build up a body of great strength, and the lack of general reading papers and magazines to center his thoughts as the Holy Bible until its words were as familiar to him as those of a child's first primmer. He believed every sentence of the book as inspired, knew the exact wording of chapter after chapter.

   A writer in commenting in 1888 on the death of a younger brother, says thus of the Shillington homestead:

   "Known to many is the old "Shillington Home" on the Fifth line of Goulbourn . Near this spot stood one of the first Methodist churches of Ottawa Valley, and there was the first parsonage of the Richmond circuit. In 1818 Thomas and Barbara Shillington came from Ireland and settled there. Their home was cheerfully opened to the first missionaries of the Methodist church. The family was devoted to God and the alter of prayer daily remembered."

   It was from such a house that Mr. Thomas Shillington came. He grew to strong manhood, perfect physically, and with his powers of memory, perception and observation strongly developed. He chose farming as an occupation and was an expert in care and handling of stock. His judgement on such matters, as recognized by his neighbors.

   When twenty-four years of age he married Miss Caroline Lawrence, near Prescott, and with her lived happily until her death, March 22, 1859. It will be seen that his death, March 15, was near the anniversary of the death of his first wife. To them were born nine children, of whom seven are now living: John, of Sydney, Australia; Mrs. Sophia Graham, of Chicago; James of London, Ontario; Mrs. Barbara Smith, of Indian Ford, Manatoba; Mrs. Maggie McCarthy, of Thamesfield, Canada; Mrs. Carrie Wright, of Manteno, Illinois and Mrs. Eliza Brown, of Arkona, Ontario. A girl Martha Helen, died in infancy and Thomas died after twenty-five years residence in Australia.

   In 1865 he was married to Mrs. Alvina Morpley Guest, at St. Mary's, Ontario, whose first husband had died leaving her with four small children, who are now Mrs. Maggie Morris of Diller, Nebraska; Mrs. Louise Howard, of Rosedale, Kansas, Mr. James Guest, of Dresden, Ontario and Mr. George Guest, of Wakefield, Nebraska. His second wife died at Denison, Iowa in 1894. To them were born four children, Mrs. Minnie Foss, of Salida, Colorado and Mrs. Emma Meyers, of this city and William and Harry who died after coming to manhood. Besides these boys and their mother he was buried Wednesday in the family lot at Denison, Iowa.

   The family moved to Crawford county, Iowa in 1872 and settled near Dow City. Later they moved to Denison where he engaged in business. On the death of his wife, he lived with certain of his daughters and the last four years was spent with his youngest daughter at Mason City.

   Some of our readers will remember that we noted just about one year ago the presence in the city of Mr. John Shillington of Australia and his son John. About thirty-nine years before Mr. Shillington parted with his two boys, John and Thomas that John might recover his health which seemed failing, the brother going for company. The boys sailed to England and then to Australia where they became pioneers. As mentioned before, Thomas died but John lived and came to see his father. The meeting of father and son in the roadway in front of the Meyers home in this city was a scene never to be forgotten. They reviewed the days of the boy's childhood. Later there was a reunion at Chicago and Manteno of all the children of the first wife and father Shillington was there. The large group picture then taken will be historical in the family for generations.

   The presence of a godly man in a home was a benediction. The children grew to love him and none have shown deeper grief than our dear boy "Harry Frederick", who was his grandpa's errand boy during the last days and who tried to support his faltering steps about the house.

   Mr. Shillington had joined the M.E. church in Mason City and a visit from the pastor on the last day before his death was much appreciated. A private funeral ceremony was held at the home of Mr. Meyers at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dr. Carlton and Dr. Rogers being present. Dr. Carlton said a few words showing appreciation of the character of the departed saint of God.

   His daughter, Mrs. Sophia Graham arrived from Chicago on the next morning after his death. She accompanied the family of Mr. Meyers to Denison, Iowa, with the casket where a public funeral was held in the Baptist church. His old neighbors and friends came out in strong numbers to pay their respects to his memory and life.

(Written by Charles K. Meyers, editor and the husband of Emma Shillington Meyer)

(Article thanks to John Shillington of Australia)