Father: James Shields Sr.
Born: Around 1754 Ireland
Died: July 10, 1824 Age 70
Mother: Nancy (Ann) Brown
Born: November 8, 1770 Nelson (later Green) County, Kentucky
Died: August 8, 1845 Age 74
Married: November 17, 1787 for 36 years
Buried: Bethel Cemetery one mile north of Orangeville, Indiana.
We can only speculate as to why and when James left Ireland for America. One family source mentions him coming over when he was seven years old, but there has been no record found of his parents.
We pick up Jame’s interesting life while he was serving as a private in the Gists regiment (also known as Grayson’s) of the Virginia Continental Army during the American Revolution. The records at Richmond show him as having served three years in the infantry. A person named Thomas Bell officially attested to this so that James could be eligible for what was called a “Bounty Warrant” – a reward for his service.
On June 27, 1783, about seven weeks after Mr. Bell’s certification, James made a claim for the warrant for one hundred acres. The warrants were issued for the south side of the Green River in Nelson (later Green) County, Kentucky. Unlike other veterans who sold their claims, James moved into what was then a wilderness area, got married and settled down. Information about his early years there are sketchy, but he had begun paying taxes by 1795.
Besides sickness, the biggest danger of the Kentucky frontier of the time were the Indians. Their pressure had forced Daniel Boone in 1783 to forsake Ft. Boonesborough. Within a year or two of this, James had settled on land to the south and west of the fort. Five years later, Indians scalped some citizens in the town of Paoli nine miles to the west of James’ farm.
To protect themselves, the settlers formed what was called the “Corn Stalk” Militia of Kentucky. A reference to a Captain James Shields of the Green Country 16th Regiment, appointed by the governor, is dated May 15, 1793. Apparently, his years as a Revolutionary War soldier helped James advance in rank.
In 1814, at what was for that era the advanced age of sixty, James began yet another adventure, leaving three hundred acres in Kentucky to move to Indiana. This was a fearless man, willing to take unknown risks for new opportunities. Probably seven or eight of the children would have made the trip, the older ones having left and started their own families.
Ten years later, James passed away. The inscription on the government marker in the cemetery reads: “James Shields who fought for liberty in 1776 and died upwards of 70 years of age”. It also lists his rank in the Virginia army and date of death.
Nancy lived another twenty-one years. Upon her passing, the Shields estate was divided amongst the many children.
Editor’s Note: James Shield’s great-grandaughter, Ethel Shields, was my great-grandmother. I remember her as a very thin, serious woman. She died on my tenth birthday.
Children of James & Nancy Shields James Shields Jr. Born: November 11, 1788 John Shields Born: October 12, 1790 Nancy Shields Born: April 15, 1792Died: April 22, 1838 Samuel Shields Born: November 23, 1793 Hannah Shields Born: June 1, 1795 Mary & Elizabeth Shields – Twins Born: February 21, 1796 Jacob Shields Born: January 7, 1799 Daniel Shields Born: December 24, 1802Died: 1876 Henry Shields Born: December 25, 1804 Jenny Shields Born: September 25, 1804 Lydia B. Shields Born: September 23, 1806 Doctor Shields Born: April 11, 1808 Isaac Ambrose Shields Born: May 5, 1809Died: 1903 Jane Shields Born: December 11, 1811 David B. Shields Born: April 21, 1816Died: September 29, 1881