Egbert Shields. Among the men who during the past half century have done their full share in the agricultural development of Champaign County is Robert Shields, who for the past ten years has been a valued resident of the village of Foosland. He was born in Washington County, New York, September 25, 1842, and is the fifth in order of birth of nine children, five sons and four daughters, born to Francis and Agnes (Oliver) Shields. Three of the sons reside in Champaign County, one in Ontario, Canada, one in Florida, and one in Chicago, Illinois.
Francis Shields and his wife were both born in Roxborough, Scotland, and they were married there and some of the older children were born in Scotland. In 1840 they started for America in a sailing vessel out of Liverpool, England, and it was three months before they reached Washington County, New York. There Mr. Shields acquired land, but in 1854 moved to Ontario, Canada, where he engaged in farming during the remainder of his active life and was unusually successful. While he lived in New York he voted with the Whig party. Both he and wife were faithful members of the Presbyterian Church and at death they were interred in the Presbyterian Cemetery at Strathroy, Canada, seventy-five miles east of Detroit.
Robert Shields was twelve years old when he accompanied his parents to Canada, having previously attended school in New York, which covered about his entire educational opportunities. He remained in Canada and worked on farms until he was seventeen years of age, when he decided to start out for himself, determining to reach Logan County, Illinois. When he reached Chicago in March, 1860, he found that he did not have enough money to reach his destination but fortunately was able to borrow one dollar and when he reached Atlanta, in Logan County, still had fifty cents of it. Thus Mr. Shields really did begin at the bottom of the ladder when he bravely started out to build up his fortunes. He found farm work near Lawndale with wages of $12 per month and probably would have continued had not the Civil War come on in 1861.
It is a tribute to Mr. Shield’s courage and patriotism that he was one of the earliest to answer the first call of President Lincoln, enlisting on April 17, 1861, for three months, in Company H, Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Captain C. W. Holden and Colonel John Cook. When his term of enlistment expired he returned home but in August, 1862, he reenlisted, entering Company C, One Hundred and Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain B. B. Pegram and Colonel R. B. Latham, and was in the Sixteenth Army Corps until after the siege of Vicksburg, in which he took part. The siege over, this regiment was assigned to the Seventh Army Corps, under General Fred Steele. Their field of operations being Arkansas, they drove the enemy out of Little Rock and then engaged in the skirmish at Clarendon. In 1864 General Steele joined in an expedition with General Banks but was forced back to Little Rock, the main object of the Federal army being to keep the Confederates from crossing the Mississippi River to give aid to their forces operating in Mississippi. At Clarendon Mr. Shields received a slight wound in the leg from pn exploding shell but was not otherwise injured and was never taken prisoner, although the major part of his company and even his captain were captured near Jackson, Tennessee. He was mustered out of the service at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, July 12, 1865, and was honorably discharged August 1, 1865. After three years of hard service for his country he then returned home and resumed peaceful life as a farmer.
Mr. Shields was married December 6, 1865, to Miss Harriet H. Maloney, and to them have been born nine children, five sons and four daughters, all of whom are living. Sarah, the eldest, married Hugh Donahue, a farmer in Brown Township, and they have two children, Earl and Nellie, both of whom are married, and there is a little granddaughter, Evaline Kathlyne. Mrs. Donahue is a member of the Methodist Protestant Church. Frank, the eldest son, resides with his parents in Foosland. Ella, the third member of the family, is the wife of Charles Hayes, of Melvin, Illinois, and they are members of the Methodist Protestant Church. Oliver B., the second son, is a successful farmer near Wales, North Dakota, an Odd Fellow and a member of the Methodist Protestant Church. He married Sarah King and they have four children: Leda, Fern, Roy and Homer. William H., who is a resident of Foosland, is manager of the great Foos estate for the Foos family of New York. He married Elizabeth Ball, who is deceased and is survived by three children: Roscoe, Tracy and Helen. Mr. Shields is an Odd Fellow and a Knight of Pythias. Flora, the sixth in order of birth, resides with her parents at Foosland. Fred V., who operates his father’s estate in Brown Township, belongs to the Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America. He married Marie Anderson and they have three children: Harriet, Ralph and Robert. Alta M., who is the youngest daughter, is the wife of S. O. Keltner, who owns a cafe and tonsorial parlors at Selah, Washington, is a member, as are the other members of her family, of the Methodist Protestant Church. Mr. and Mrs. Keltner have one daughter, Ruth. Robert, who is the youngest of Mr. and Mrs. Shields’ children, is a very highly educated and talented young man. After completing the public school course, he attended the State Normal University at Normal, Illinois, and afterward taught school in Brown Township. He is identified with the Odd Fellows and with the order of Modern Woodmen of America. From first to last this family may be held up as representatives of the best stock of old Champaign County, reflecting credit on their parents, on their home rearing and upon the state under whose wise laws they have grown to manhood and womanhood. Their father faced death on many a battlefield to insure them such a goodly heritage.
Mrs. Shields, the beloved mother of the above family, was born April 2, 1848, in Muskingum County, Ohio, and is a daughter of W. W. and Sarah A. (Mauch) Maloney. They had one son and six daughters, the survivors, all of whom live in Illinois, being: Harriet; Mary, who is the widow of John Keefer, resides at Farmer City; Tabitha, the widow of A. Music, is a resident of Chicago; Margaret is the wife of Max Kutnewsky, of Peoria; and W. W. is manager of South Park at Peoria. The father of Mrs. Shields was born at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and when a young man rode on horseback from there to Ohio, where he married and afterward came, to Illinois. Here the mother of Mrs. Shields died in 1873 and the father in 1881. They were members of the Christian Church. Mrs. Shields was but a child when her parents made the journey from Ohio to Illinois, coming by way of the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Pekin.
Mr. and Mrs. Shields have a very comfortable residence at Foosland. His valuable farm of 240 acres lies in Brown Township, and, as mentioned above, is under the management of one of the sons. Since retiring to Foosland Mr. Shields has taken a good citizen’s interest in village affairs, but has never consented to serve in office although his Republican friends have often urged him to do so. It has been otherwise, however, in Stark Post No. 760, Grand Army of the Republic, at Bellflower, of which he is an honored member and has been commander and senior commander. Mr. and Mrs. Shields are very highly esteemed both in village and county. Their hospitable home is ever open to their friends, while to their children and grandchildren it is one of the dearest places on earth.