Biography of Charles W. Shinn, Hon.

Hon. Charles W. Shinn. In an able and vigorous service of eight years on the bench, Hon. Charles W. Shinn, now city attorney of Neodesha, Kansas, gained an enviable reputation for legal ability, thorough understanding of the law, wise judgments and unimpeachable integrity. As a private practitioner of law this reputation is still justified, while as a citizen Judge Shinn is numbered with the foremost men of Neodesha.

Judge Shinn is a native of Illinois, born May 30, 1854, in Hancock County, and is a son of John K. and Tabitha (Ogden) Shinn. The Shinn family is of English ancestry and of Revolutionary stock. Family records show that as early as 1678 John Shinn, an honest farmer and millwright in England, found religious persecution intolerable, and with others of the Quaker faith crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in New Jersey, establishing a Quaker colony there. Of this ancestor Isaac Shinn, the great-grandfather of Judge Shinn, was a descendant and he served in the Revolutionary war, afterward settling in Harrison County, now in West Virginia.

George Shinn, grandfather of Judge Shinn, was born in Harrison County, Virginia, in 1787, and in 1836 was the pioneer of the family in Hancock County, Illinois, where he died in 1861. He married Sarah Kirk, who was born in Harrison County in 1783 and died in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1871. No member of their family of children survives. George Shinn was a farmer all his life.

John K. Shinn, father of Judge Shinn, was born in Harrison County, Virginia, in 1813, and died in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1889. He followed agricultural pursuits all his life and in Virginia also owned a tannery. In 1836 his parents moved to Hancock County, Illinois, and in 1848 he joined them with his family, and continued to live in that county until the close of his life. He was a man of sterling character and was useful, influential for good and respected by all who knew him. He was married to Tabitha Ogden, who was born in Harrison County in 1815, and died in Hancock County in 1896. They became the parents of nine children, as follows: Ataline, who was the wife of Thomas J. Stokes, who was a retired farmer, died in Hancock County as did her husband; Edgar J., who is a retired farmer living at Ottawa, Kansas; Martha E., who died in Hancock County, Illinois, was the wife of W. H. H. Jackson, who is a retired farmer in Hancock County; Albert C., who came to Franklin County, Kansas in 1866, in pioneer days, bought university land and still resided on that property not far distant from Ottawa; Taylor O., who was an attorney, died at Houston, Texas; Lucy A., who died in Hancock County in 1897, was the wife of T. J. McMahan, who is now a resident of Oklahoma City; Charles W.; Flora E., who is the widow of M. L. Ellinger, formerly a retired farmer, resided at Ottawa, Kansas; and Homer E., who is a carpenter by trade, lives at Edna, Oklahoma.

Until he was nineteen years old, Charles W. Shinn remained with his father on the home farm in Hancock County, in the meantime securing a sound public school education. In 1873 he went to California and spent two years as a farmer in Yolo County, returning in 1875 to Hancock County. By this time he had come to the realization of talents that he could never develop in the quiet of rural surroundings as a farmer, therefore when he reached Ottawa, Kansas, in May, 1876, he immediately began the study of law under the supervision of Col. C. B. Mason, and in June, 1877, was admitted to the bar. He continued his studies, however, after he returned to Carthage, Illinois, in the office of W. C. Hooker, of that place until he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Illinois. As a lawyer Judge Shinn returned then to Kansas and engaged in practice at Ottawa until 1883, removing then to Eureka, Kansas, where he continued as a resident until January, 1905, when he came to Neodesha.

Turning to Judge Shinn’s judicial record it may be mentioned that he maintains an independent attitude in politics hence his election and subsequent reelection were not results of political activities. In 1891 he was elected judge of the Twenty-sixth Judicial District, comprising Greenwood and Butler counties and served with great efficiency and wisdom through four years. In 1896, when the change in apportionment caused the abolishing of old Twenty-sixth District, he was elected judge of the Thirteenth District; which comprised the counties of Greenwood, Butler, Elk and Chautauqua, and again he served four years with equal distinction. Shortly after locating at Neodesha, Judge Shinn, in 1905, was elected city attorney and served until 1909, and in May, 1914, was appointed city attorney again and still continues in the office. He had a large private practice, both civil and criminal. He maintains offices in the First Natonal Bank Building.

At Ottawa, Kansas, in January, 1882, Charles W. Shinn was married to Miss Olive L. Barnett. Her parents were Samuel and Mary (Haines) Barnett, both now deceased. The father of Mrs. Shinn was a substantial farmer in Franklin County and a leader in politics for many years and served several terms as county treasurer and also on the board of county commissioners. Judge and Mrs. Shinn have three children: John K., who is a graduate of the Southern Kansas Academy, at Eureka, is a paving contractor and resided at Neodesha; Winnifred, who is the wife of J. R. Shipley, manager of the telephone company at Fredonia, Kansas; and Edwin H., who is in the employ of the Standard Oil Company, resided at home. The hospitable family home is at No. 603 Indiana Street, Neodesha.

Judge Shinn is a Mason and belongs also to the Modern Woodmen of America. In the Masonic connection he is member of Harmony Lodge No. 94, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Neodesha; a member of Orient Chapter No. 72, Royal Arch Masons, at Neodesha; a member of Ab Del Kader Commandery, No. 37, Knights Templar, and belongs to the Council at Ossawatomie, Kansas. He is past master of Fidelity Lodge No. 106, at Eureka; is Past High Priest of Eureka Chapter No. 55, Eureka, and is past Commander of Eureka Commandery No. 45, Eureka, Kansas. Judge Shinn not only had high personal standing in all affairs of business and social life, but through personal character largely had been called to high office and satisfactorily filled it, his whole judicial service reflecting credit on the districts he served as well as himself. He is numbered with the representative men of Kansas.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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