Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 14, 2014

Pat Smith: The death of John W. Shaw, honest and faithful

Pat Smith
Daily News

---- — Exactly 114 years ago today, May 14, 1900, a young Decatur County man died while in the service of this country during the Philippine Insurrection.

At the time of his death, the government owed him $9.57 for clothing not picked up. His character was excellent, his service honest and faithful. He was buried in Cagayan Cemetery in grave No. 8.

John W. Shaw was in Co. I, 40th Volunteer Indiana. He was a student, but had enlisted Aug. 21, 1899 in Indianapolis.

He was single, his address was Alert, Indiana. He was 25 years and 11 months old, 5-foot-9, and had brown hair and brown eyes. He weighed 128 pounds stripped, no rheumatism, varicose veins, cough, hernia or varicocele. His heart was normal, teeth were good, hearing was okay, eyes were okay, and feet were sound. His chest measured 33 inches on expiration and 36 and a half inches inspiration. Within a month, he was diagnosed with defective eyesight and fitted with glasses. He had malarial fever in January 1900.

He was killed in action while on firing line by insurgents in Augean, Mindanao, Philippines about 1:30 p.m. May 14, 1900 during a charge up a hill. A bullet entered the right side of his neck two inches below his ear which opened his right carotid artery, and passing downward, backward and to the left emerged (in the back) through the left scapula. He went into shock due to hemorrhaging and died. Records show that he was buried the next day in Cagayan, Mindanao, Philippines.

His father N. T. Shaw of Alert, Indiana was not notified until May 21, when a cablegram was sent from McArthur, commanding officer.

On June 24, 1900 the Council of Administration convened for the purpose of disposing of the effects of Corporal James O’Neil and Private John W. Shaw, both deceased, formerly of Co. I, 40th Infantry. The effects of Private Shaw was as listed: 2 blankets, 1 Fatigue coat, 3 pr. Khaki trousers, 1 blue blouse, 1 suit underwear, 2 pr drawers, 1 chambray shirt, 1 poncho, 1 pr calf shoes, 1 barrack shoes, 1 book, 15 shell buttons, 25 books and pamphlets, bundle of private letters, 1 pr spectacles, 2 mirrors, 1 brush and comb, one towel, 1 handkerchief, 1 belt, 1 pr shoe laces, 1 campaign hat. Total - $7.35. In addition, 2 razors, 1 razor strop, 1 handy case, 1 memo book, 5 Shakespeare.

After receiving his son’s effects his father sent the following letter:

Alert, Indiana

July 25, 1900

Capt. B. Elliott, Philippine Islands

Dear Sir, Your letter has been received in regard to the death of my dear son. Thank you ever so much for your kindness. Perchance I can do as much for you sometime. I am glad you sent his things to me. He had a watch I wish you would send me if you possibly could. It isn’t a valuable, watch but would like to have it for a keepsake. He carried an insurance policy on his life. We failed to get that. If you can get it I wish you would send it to me if you please. Thanking you again for your kindness, I will close.

Yours with respect.

N. T. Shaw

His father caused a life-size statue of a soldier to be placed in Wesley Cemetery in Jackson Township. Unfortunately, during the years after it had been placed, vandals, and probably weather conditions, left the statue in pieces. Bill Ford was trying hard to get something done about the memorial, but died before he could get it done except to document what the statue looked like when it was first placed on the grave. He took pictures of the pieces.

In the book compiled by Ford and published by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5584 and Ladies Auxiliary, Ford wrote of the Philippine Insurrection 1889 – 1902 and listed the three Decatur County men killed in that insurrection that included Shaw and George and Louis Dilts. Both brothers, sons of Morris and Ellen E. Dilts of Shelby County, are buried in the Van Pelt Cemetery.

The insurrection began after Admiral George Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and the United States paid Spain $20 million for the Philippine Islands. Emilio Aguinaldo (1869 – 1964) was the leader who fought first against Spain and then against the United States for the independence of the Philippines.

Any soldier who dies in service of his country deserves our attention no matter how long ago it’s been, but there’s another reason for writing about John W. Shaw than that he died 114 years ago today.

More next week.