Shanks, John Gamble (1838-1919)

Bio: Shanks, John Gamble  (1838 - 1919)
Contact: Stan

----Source: Pat Shanks, Greenwood Public Library & Janet Schwarze.



                   Mr. & Mrs. John Shanks


John Gamble Shanks, a highly esteemed resident of the city of Greenwood, who during a long and active career has taken a prominent part in the development of the county, along various lines, was born in County Down, Ireland on Aug 19, 1838, son of Hugh and Mary (Gallaway) Shanks. His parents, who were natives of the same county, in 1842 emigrated to Canada with their three children-Hugh, John, and William-landing in that colony after a voyage of eight weeks in a sailing vessel. There Hugh Shanks, who had been a laborer in Ireland, worked at anything he could find to do, he and his family making their home in Middlesex County, Province of Ontario. About 1866 they came to Clark County, Wis., which was the home of the parents for the rest of their lives, the father dying Oct 9, 1908 and his wife on Feb 6, 1878. In addition to the three children above mentioned, they had five others, who were born in Canada, namely: Sarah, James, Mary, Robert and David, all of whom came to Wisconsin with the parents.


John Gamble Shanks attended a log school house in Canada, where he acquired his education, and there he grew to manhood. On beginning industrial life he became connected with farming interests, gaining practical experience of everything pertaining to agriculture. In 1863 he came to Clark County with his brothers, who had been here before, and after his arrival began working in the woods, in which manner he was occupied for three years.


On Oct 19, 1866 he was married to Margaret McMahon, who was born in Lampton County, Ontario, Canada July 28, 1847, daughter of John and Bridget (Fahey) McMahon. Her parents were both natives of Ireland, Mr. McMahon coming from Limerick and his wife from near Dublin. They were married in Canada and came to Clark County, Wis. in April 1871, locating in Eaton Township, where Mr. McMahon got a tract of 160 acres of partly cleared land, on which, however, there were no buildings, but he at once erected a log house and barn, into the former of which the family moved. There were nine children who came from Canada, where they were born: Margaret Ann, Mary Jane, Clarissa, Thomas, Agnes, John, James, Adolphus, Eugene, and Theresa Frances. Mr. McMahon died in Eaton Township Dec 26, 1895. His wife, who survived him for a number of years died Jan 9, 1913.


They were members of the Catholic church, supporting the nearest church of that faith when they first came here and afterwards helping to build the Catholic church in Neillsville. After his marriage, Mr. Shanks located with his wife two miles south of Greenwood, on a tract of 160 acres in Section 14, Eaton Township. The land was thickly wooded, not a tree having been felled. He started at once to build a log house, which was a one-room dwelling, with scoop roof and 14 by 16 feet in size. While it was building they resided at the home of Henry Huntziker. Mr. Shanks started without either stock or machinery, having practically nothing but his hands and one or two small tools. He had to walk to Neillsville on foot for supplies, and the first two barrels of flour he bought cost him $14.00 a barrel, he hauling them home with an ox team. After being two years on his place he and his wife bought a cow. He worked in the woods along the Black River as foreman for James McKinley, spending the summers in clearing his farm, and it was about three years after he moved onto the latter that he bought his first pair of oxen from Mr. McKinley. He also spent considerable time on drives. Later, for about three years, he was engaged in lumbering on his own account and altogether he spent some fifteen or twenty years in the lumber business, in one occupation or another.


In course of time Mr. Shanks got his farm well cleared and erected good frame buildings on it, after which he sold eighty acres of the place. Thirty-five years ago, or about 1881, he sold the remainder of the farm and took up residence in Greenwood, where he has since remained.



The Home of John Gamble Shanks

Greenwood, Clark County, Wisconsin


Jack Bryden's Hotel in flames.

This was formerly owned by John Shanks and known as "The Greenwood House".


In 1893 Mr. Shanks built the Greenwood House, which he conducted as a hotel for about three years and then sold out. Besides erecting for himself a nice residence in the village, he bought and improved a large number of farms in Clark County. He formerly shipped stock to Chicago, beginning twenty-four years ago. He is at the present time vice president of the Greenwood Bank, and is interested in the heading mill company, manufacturing heading, lumber and staves. Mr. Shanks served as mayor of Greenwood for four years and has, at different times held township and as assessor for two or three years. He has no children, but he and his wife had an adopted daughter, Grace, who died in Arizona in 1915 at the age of 29. Although now advance in years, Mr. Shanks is well preserved and looks much younger than he is. His heart has always been young and his disposition and genial manners have gained him numerous friends throughout Clark County.


Above is a picture of Early Methods of Cattle Shipping

(from the Abbotsford Centennial Book "100 Years", 1973, pg. 22.)
For many years, John Gamble Shanks Shipped Cattle via train from Greenwood, Wis. to Chicago, Ill.



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