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from Biography & Historical Record of Ringgold County, Iowa

Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago, 1887, p. 336


James Sherman SHEPHERD, editor and proprietor of the Mt. Ayr Journal, was born in Sangamon County, Illinois, December 4, 1834. His parents, James and Jane (SHERMAN) SHEPHERD, were natives of Maryland and North Carolina, respectively. They were married in Ohio, however, of which State they were pioneers. Seven years after marriage, in 1827, they removed to Sangamon County, Illinois, which was their home for seventeen years. Mr. SHEPHERD, Sr., knew Abraham LINCOLN well. The latter was then a young lawyer, well known and liked in the county seats to which his legal practice took him.

In 1844 the family removed to the Territory of Iowa, settling at Keosauqua, the county seat of Van Buren County. Here for the next six years Mr. SHEPHERD publishd the Iowa Democrat. He also kept a hotel until 1877. He died in 1880; his wife preceded him eight years. Of their twelve children five are yet living, and of these the next to the oldest is the subject of this sketch.

[James Sherman SHEPHERD] was first employed in his father's printing office when only ten years old. His work at that time, however, was not steady, as he attended school regularly until sixteen years old. he then served a regular apprenticeship. In 1856 he was appointed postmaster at Keosauqua, holding that office five years. In 1860 he and his father purchased the Des Moines News, at Keosauqua, and with this he was connected until the autumn of 1865. For the next fifteenyears he was variously employed - at his trade, insurance, real-estate dealing, running a hotel, and for two summers cutting stone.

In 1880 he came West as far as corydon, Wayne County, where he published the Corydon Democrat for two years. In the autumn of 1883 he was elected county superintendent of schools, on the Fusion ticket. He held this office during 1884 and 1885, and in November of the latter year bought the Mount Ayr Journal, to which he has since devoted his time. The Journal is the organ of the Democratic and Greenback parties in Ringgold County, these two organizations uniting against the Republican party in this county. The paper is one of standing and influence, and is increasing in circulation and value - a just tribute to the capacity of its owner and editor.

Mr. SHEPHERD was married January 9, 1862, to Miss Mary MOORE, of Keosauqua. Of four children, three are living - Minnie, Littie and George.

Mr. SHEPHERD is a Knight Templar in the Masonic Order, and, with his wife, is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.


James Sherman SHEPHERD was born in Sangamon County, Illinois, December 4, 1834. His parents, James and Jane SHERMAN SHEPHERD, were natives of Maryland and North Carolina respectively. In October of 1844, the family removed from Springfield Illinois to Keosauqua, then Van Buren County, then Territory of Iowa. Here for the next six years the father published the Iowa Democrat, and also kept hotel until 1877. His mother died September 22, 1870, aged sixty five years, and his father September 14, 1880, aged eighty years and six months. Of their twelve children, five sons, the oldest sixty-eight, and the youngest forty years old, are living.

The subject of this sketch, James Sherman SHEPHERD is next to the oldest living. He was first employed in his father's printing office when only ten years old, the work at that time, however not being steady, as he attended school regularly until sixteen years old. He then served a regular apprenticeship for four years and journeyman work one year. In April 1856, he was appointed Postmaster of Keosauqua, holding that office until the fall of 1860, when he resigned, he and his father having purchased the Des Moines News, at Keosauqua, to which he devoted his whole attention until the fall of 1865, when they sold the office. For the next fifteen years he was variously employed at his trade, insurance, real estate, running a hotel, selling patent rights, and for two seasons cutting stone. The 1st of January, 1880, he removed from Keosauqua to Corydon, Wayne County, Iowa, where he published the Corydon Democrat for two and a half years, and in the fall of 1883 was elected County Superintendent of Schools. He held this office during the years 1884 and 1885, and in November of the latter year he bought the Journal newspaper at Mt. Ayr, Ringgold County Iowa, of which he is the present proprietor, and has made it the leading official paper, as well as the fearless organ of the Democratic Party in the county.

He moved to Mt. Ayr from Corydon January 6, 1886.

Mr. SHEPHERD was married to Miss Mary MOORE, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth MOORE, January 9, 1862, and to them four children were born, two daughters and two sons, of whom three are living: Minnie now Mrs. HARTSHORN, Little J., and George S. The other son Alvah C. died in Corydon, November 7, 1881. Mrs. Mary SHEPHERD died in Mt. Ayr, May 28, 1890, aged fifty-one years and nine months.

Mr. and Mrs. SHEPHERD have been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church since 1858.

Mr. SHEPHERD was made a Master Mason in Keosauqua Lodge, No. 10, in January of 1856, a Royal Arch Mason in 1858, and Knight Templar in 1878. He has filled the office of Master in three different lodges, and is present Master of Faith Lodge, No. 179, at Mt. Ayr. He is a zealous Mason, a conservative Democrat in politics, and endeavors to live a consistent Christian life.


James SHEPHERD was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, March 15, 1800. At the age of one year his parents moved to Clinton County, Ohio, where he grew to the age of manhood and learned the shoemaker's trade. On March 7, 1821, he was married to Jane SHERMAN, and lived in Clinton County until 1827, when, with his wife and two children, he moved to Salem, then in Sangamon County, Illinois, where he worked at his trade, and also milling, farming and other pursuits. He was twice elected Tax Collector of Sangamon County, and moved to Springfield in 1838 or '39. He was a warm personal friend of Abraham LINCOLN and Stephen A. DOUGLAS. During the campaign of 1840, he was engaged as assistant editor of the State Register, and made several speeches in the county advocating the election of Martin Van BUREN to the Presidency. In May, 1843, he made a trip to the Territory of Iowa, looking for a location to establish a newspaper, and selected Keosauqua, Van Buren County, as the point, and in the June following sent his eldest son, Jesse M. and J. L. T. MITCHELL, both printers, who had learned the trade in Springfield, to take charge of and run the paper, the first issue of which appeared July 3, 1843, and was called The Iowa Democrat and Des Moines River Intelligencer, which they continued to publish until July 1, 1844, when he purchased the interest of J. L. T. MITCHELL, and dropping the latter part of the name, continued the publication of the Iowa Democrat with firm name of James SHEPHERD & Son, until 1847, when he bought Jesse M. out, and became full owner, and continued its publication until 1850, when he sold the office. On the removal of his family to Keosauqua, October 8, 1844, he went into the hotel business, in the Des Moines House, near the court-house, now torn down, and ran it one year, and in the spring of 1847 bought the Keosauqua House, on Front Street, which he continued to run until 1866, when he sold it and went on a farm, and two years later bought a house on First Street, and opened out in the hotel business again, which he continued to run until the death of his wife, September 22, 1870.

In 1845 he put in a bid for and was awarded the contract for carrying the mail from Keosauqua to Ottumwa, and also to Bloomfield. He was twice a candidate for the legislature, but failed of an election, but was frequently elected to minor offices, and was a Justice of the Peace for years.

In 1860, he in connection with his son, James S. bought the Des Moines News, published in Keosauqua, being the same printing press and office he shipped to this place in 1843, which paper they continued to publish until the fall of 1865, when they sold the office.

In the fail of 1870, just after the death of his wife, his daughter, Mrs. Delazon SMITH, arrived from Oregon, and in December, on her return, he accompanied her to her home in Albany, Linn County, and was with her at her death, January 1, 1871. From Albany he went to his son, Jesse M., in Baker City. Oregon, where he remained until the fall of 1871, when he returned to Keosauqua, and again took charge of the hotel until 1878, when he again made a trip to Baker City, Oregon, in the spring, and returning home again to Keosauqua in the fall, where he remained until his death, September 14, 1880.

Mr. SHEPHERD was made a Master Mason, and received the chapter degrees in Springfield, Illnois, and in 1845 was a charter member and first Master of Keosauqua Lodge, No. 10, and continued its Master for a number of years. While in Illinois he was Colonel of a regiment of State Militia, and his sword is now the property of Keosauqua Lodge, No. 10, by his gift. He was also one of the first members and High Priest of Moore Chapter, No. 23, at Keosauqua, and was a zealous Mason and a prominent member of the Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter of the State. In early life he was converted and became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and continued faithful until called home to his Master. In the latter years of his life he was commissioned a local preacher, and was a worthy worker for Christ.

He was the father of twelve children, six sons and six daughters, all of whom except five sons had preceded him to that heavenly home, where their mother had gone to give them welcome. Of the five sons still living, three are now engaged in the newspaper business, the eldest, Jesse M., in Baker City, and the youngest, Stephen H., at Vale, Oregon, and James S.. at Mt. Ayr. Iowa; the other two, Charles W. is a Methodist Episcopal minister, member of the Iowa Conference, now stationed at Winfield, Iowa, and the other, Lewis C., is a harness-maker and resides at Mt. Ayr.

In politics, James SHEPHERD was a Jacksonian Democrat, and although not a politician, as that term is understood to-day, he was an earnest advocate of his convictions, a forcible speaker and writer, and ready at all times to meet his opponents either on the stump or through the press.

NOTE: James Sherman SHEPHERD died at the age of 91 years on November 10, 1890, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa. Mary (MOORE) SHEPHERD was born in Summerset, Ohio, on August 25, 1838, and died May 28, 1890. James and Mary were interred at Purdom Cemetery, Keosauqua, Van Buren County, Iowa.

Biography & Historical Record of Ringgold County, Iowa, p. 336, 1887.

Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties, Iowa p. 633. Lake City Publ. Co. Chicago. 1890

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2009

Biographical Sketches Pages Index: A - F,   G - L,   M - R,  S - Z

To submit your Ringgold County biographies, contact Sharon R. Becker at
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