Thomas E. Sheard. There are no business men who, outside the medical and dental professions, come into such close, personal contact with their fellows as do barbers, and often their delicate ministrations are just as comforting and beneficial. A long course of careful training is necessary to bring about deftness of hand and quickness of eye, and when these are accompanied by a genial presence and a personal interest, a barber finds himself popular and prosperous. For thirty-two years Thomas E. Sheard had conducted his barber establishment in the same block on Kansas Avenue, Topeka, and during this time his visitors and customers have included many of the leading men of the country and particularly distinguished characters of western life.
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Thomas E. Sheard was born in Winnebago County, Illinois, June 17, 1854. His parents were William and Emma (Morrill) Sheard, natives of Nottingham, England, where they were married in 1845. William Sheard came first to America in 1850, accompanied by his wife, and settled at Elgin, Illinois, shortly afterward removing to Pecatonica in Winnebago County, Illinois. From there the family returned to England in 1856 and continued to live there for six years and then came back to the United States. For a few years Mr. Sheard resided at Vineland, New Jersey, and in 1869 removed to Rochester, New York, and from that city, eight years later, to Wayne County, Georgia. This was about 1877 and in 1883 he came to Shawnee County, Kansas, and soon afterward he retired from business and then made his home with his sons Thomas and William. Of his seven children the following survive: William J., who is a resident of St. Louis, Missouri; Thomas E.; Mary, who is the wife of Bruce Clark, of Wichita, Kansas; Harriet, who is the wife of Thomas Engmire, of Rochester, New York; and Anna, who is Mrs. Wentworth, also resided at Rochester.
During his many years at Rochester Mr. Thomas E. Sheard became well acquainted with many men of prominence and one of these who later distinguished himself in the western country was Col. W. F. Cody, known to a generation as “Buffalo Bill.” It was at Rochester that Colonel Cody secured many of his comrades and rehearsed them for public performance, and one of these who became widely known was William Hecox, “Wild Bill.” He justified his name and after quarreling with Colonel Cody on one occasion, visited Deadwood, South Dakota, and there was killed by a desperado. In 1872 Colonel Cody was elected a member of the Nebraska Legislature, and in 1883 he completed his organization of the “Wild West Show,” an exhibition of daring horsemanship and unerring shooting that thrilled this and other countries for many years afterward.
Thomas E. Sheard returned to England with his parents in 1856 and came back to America in 1862 and to Topeka, Kansas, in 1884. He had learned the barber’s trade and his first landlord at Topeka was Allen Sells, the noted circus man, who was then proprietor of the old Windsor Hotel, In 1886 Mr. Shcard removed from No. 210 Kansas Avenue to a new location, the present site of the A. B. Whiting Paint Company. In 1890 he moved to the basement of the New National Hotel where he had commodious quarters but they proved inadequate to accommodate his trade and he later secured his present place of business in the building occupied by the State Savings Bank. During his thirty-two years in business in this city Mr. Sheard had had many hundreds of customers of every class, for a barber shop is a very democratic place of meeting, and he distinctly recalls when Gen. Benjamin F. Butler was a customer. Colonel Cody and his comrades were frequent callers and his list of other famous men would include many of the noted names of the state.
In 1874 Thomas E. Sheard was married to Eva May Cooper, and they had two children: Edwin Wayne and Willis. Edwin Wayne Sheard learned his father’s business and is employed in the latter’s establishment. In 1898 he became a member of Gen. Frederick Funston’s noted Twentieth Kansas Regiment which spent two years in the Philippine Islands. For twenty years Willis Sheard, the second son, had been a steady worker with the firm of McIntire Brothers, Topeka, and is highly valued. In 1894 Mr. Sheard was married to Mrs. Ella (Bainter) Hendrickson, of Jefferson County, where the father was a pioneer. Mr. Sheard had a commodions home just outside the city limits and is enjoying the fruits of his labors.