Biography of William Shy

WILLIAM SHY. It is always a pleasure to deal with the history of one who is a member of one of those grand old pioneer families whose bravery, fortitude and determination paved the way for the present advanced state of civilization, and William Shy is one of these. He is a successful farmer and merchant at Lesterville, Reynolds County, Missouri, and was born here in 1841.

His parents, Eli and Mary Elizabeth (Smith) Shy, were born in Kentucky in 1802 and 1807, respectively, and were reared and married on Blue Grass soil. They made their home in the State of their birth until about 1830, when they moved to New Madrid County, Missouri, soon after to Bellevue, and one year later to what is now Reynolds County, settling on a tract of woodland in the vicinity of Lesterville, where they opened up a good farm after many years of hard toil, and there spent the remainder of their days, the father’s death occurring in March, 1855, and the mother’s in November, 1876. They were worthy members of the Missionary Baptist Church, became widely known and highly respected in this section and lived upright and useful lives. In addition to tilling the soil Mr. Shy was also engaged in blacksmithing, in fact turned his hand to anything by which he could earn an honest livelihood. He and his wife experienced all the privations, hardships and inconveniences of pioneer life, but nobly labored for the benefit of those who might come after them, and with much patience and energy cleared their land of the rich growth of primeval forest with which it was covered. The father of Eli started west from Kentucky in 1830, with the intention of locating in the vicinity of where Little Rock now is, but on reaching New Madrid, Missouri, he was taken ill and died here, and here his widow and three of their four children, who were men and women with families, died soon after. Their names were Samuel, Seaborn, and Sarah, the wife of James Lee. Their intention was to locate on a section of land which their father owned in the vicinity of Little Rock, but after-their deaths nothing was ever done with this land. Being left utterly alone Eli Shy located in this section of Missouri and here became the father of the following children: Martha Jane, who died in Reynolds County, the wife of William Minor; Malinda, wife of Orrin Munger; Alfred H. was county clerk of Reynolds County for some years and is now dead; Sarah Jane is the wife of G. B. Goggin; John Wesley is deceased; Robert Mitchell is also dead; Almina is the wife of J. M. Buford; William; Mary E. is the deceased wife of William R. Hill, and Minerva, also deceased.

The immediate subject of this sketch was reared on a farm and received such education as the schools of his youth afforded. Upon attaining his majority he began the battle of life for himself, and it was natural that he should take up the occupation to which he had been reared and of which he had a thorough knowledge-farming. For six months during the latter part of the war he served as a member of Maj. M. L. Claridy’s brigade, Confederate States Army, being forced into the service as a recruit. In 1866 he was married to Nancy Bell, daughter of Newton and Mahala Bell, who were also worthy settlers of Reynolds County, where they died after having reared a large family. Mrs. Shy was born in this county, is still living, and is the mother of ten children: Thomas Alfred (deceased), Mary J.,James Monroe, Anzona (wife of W. A. Parks ), Lucius Eli, George Seaborn, Robert Walter, Richard Irvin (deceased), Hattie May and Clarence Herman. Mr. Shy has spent his entire life on the farm of his birth, and is now the owner of 240 acres of excellent farming land. His life has been devoted to tilling the soil, but he recently embarked in merchandising at Lesterville, where he has built up a paying business and has a large and well selected stock of goods. He is a member of Hopewell Lodge No. 239 of the A. F. & A. M. at Lesterville and is past noble grand of Lesterville Lodge No. 327 of the I. O. O. F. He and his wife have long been members of the Missionary Baptist Church and he has been a lifelong Democrat, and has at all times generously supported his party, but has never been an aspirant for political honors.


A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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