This county has the honor of being the first to supply the State with an Ohio-born governor; this was Wilson Shannon, who was born 24 February 1802, in a cabin at Mount Olivet and the first child born in the township. He was of Irish descent.
The next January his father, George Shannon, went out hunting one morning. Late in the day, while making his way home through the woods, a heavy snowstorm set in; he became bewildered and lost his way. After wandering about in a circle some time that constantly grew less, he made unsuccessful efforts to start a fire. Being overpowered by exhaustion he seated himself close to a large sugar tree in the centre of his beaten circle, where he was found in the morning frozen to death.
Wilson was educated at Athens and Transylvania University, and then studied law with Chas. Hammond and David Jennings at St. Clairsville, and soon became prominent at the bar. In 1838 he was elected governor on the Democratic ticket by 5,738 votes over Jos. Vance, the Whig candidate. In 1840 he was defeated by Mr. Corwin, but in 1843 was elected governor for a second time.
In 1844, he was appointed minister to Mexico. In 1852 he was sent to Congress, where he was one of the four Ohio Democrats who voted for the Kansas and Nebraska bill. President Pierce later appointed him governor of Kansas, which position he resigned in 1857 and resumed the practice of law. In 1875, in connection with the Hon. Jeremiah Black, of Pennsylvania, he argued the celebrated Osage land case before the Supreme Court and won the case for the settlers.
As a lawyer he was bold, diligent, courteous and ever ready to assist the weak and struggling. Possessing a noble presence, in his old age he was described as a picture of a hardy, hale old gentleman of the olden time. He died in 1877 and was buried at Lawrence, Kansas, where the last twenty years of his life had been spent.
This entry is adapted from Henry Howe's HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF OHIO (2 vols., 1907). The book has been reedited, updated, and restructured for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. This entry may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned the entry for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.
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ENTRY NUMBER: EBK31135101