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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Edward Blackshaw

SOURCE: "Early History and Pioneers of Champaign County, Illinois," by Milton W. Mathews and Lewis A. McLean, editors of the Champaign County Herald, published by the Champaign County Herald, 1886


EDWARD BLACKSHAW was born in the village of Burnley, on the 1st day of September, 1831. His parents, Joseph and Hannah BLACKSHAW, were native residents of that village, as were their ancestors before them. Ten children were born to them, of whom the subject of our sketch was the sixth. All the children survived the parents, who departed this life about twelve years ago in their native village. The father entered the service of his Majesty, King George the Fourth, and did noble service for his country during the Indian campaign. While in this service he lost an eye and an arm, on account of which honorable wounds received in defence of his country, he drew an extra pension from the government during the balance of his life. After his retirement from the service by reason of his wounds he became paymaster and clerk for John Wheely & Co., who were extensively engaged in iron works and coal mines, and in whose service he remained for thirty years, and until his advanced age compelled his retirement from active life. His son Joseph succeeded him in the position. The subject of our sketch, for the greater part of his early life, engaged in the mines where his father was engaged. At the age of twenty-three he was married to Elizabeth JONES, of Birmingham, and in three days thereafter set sail for America, and landed in New York, June, 1855. He at once started for the great West, and made Ripon, Wisconsin, his first stopping-place. After remaining there for eight or nine months he went to Fon- du-Lac, in the same state, where he remained until the fall of 1858, when he settled in Urbana, his present home. While in Fon-du-Lac he studied dentistry in the office of J. R. Cole, and on his arrival in this city commenced the practice of his profession. The Doctor also practiced taxidermy, more for pleasure and pastime than for any profit there was attached to the work. And right here we may remark that Mr. Blackshaw is regarded as one of the most skilful taxidermists in the state, as the splendid specimens of stuffed birds and animals in his office testify. For twenty years the Doctor has steadily adhered to the practice of his profession, and during that time has regularly visited the towns in this county in * * . From his long residence here and monthly visits to different parts of the county, as above stated, the Doctor is, perhaps, aside from the public officers, one of the best known men in the county. Mr. Blackshaw has in the time that he has practiced here established for himself a reputation not only as a first-class and skilful dentist, but also a reputation for honest and fair dealing, which, after all, is and ought to be the grand desideratum of a man's life. The subject of our sketch, in the time that he has been a citizen among us, has acquired by hard, steady labor at his profession, and thorough, careful, frugal habits, enough of this world's goods to insure him a competency in his old age. He is temperate to a fault, not indulging in ardent spirits of any kind, nor tobacco. Dr. Blackshaw at an early age became a member of the Masonic Order, while a resident of Fon-du- Lac, and in that Order he has a reputation that is co-extensive with the state. He was and is yet the mentor of masonic law and jurisprudence in this section of the country. He has taken all the symbolic Capitulantry, Cryptic, and Chivalric Orders in Masonry. He was for a great number of years at the head of the Chapter and Council, and is at present the Master of the Blue Lodge in Urbana, and in 1875 was honored by his being placed as Puissant Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of the State of Illinois. Mrs. Blackshaw, who, a year later, accompanied by his brother T. B., came to this country, is a lady of extensive and varied information, and is of an exceedingly social disposition. She has of late years suffered from physical infirmities that prevent her having that extensive intercourse with her friends and neighbors as formerly. The Doctor has two brothers and one sister in this country, namely, T. B., who accompanied his wife, as previously mentioned; and Joseph, who arrived about seven years ago, and who at present is a resident of Pittsburg; Rose Hannah, who married a gentleman by the name of S. W. MATTHEWS, and also came to this country about the year 1873. The cut of the building, which appears on another page, is the private residence of the Doctor, and in its plan of construction, design, and adornment, which are his work, display his excellent judgment and artistic taste. In the early part of his profession, and before the introduction of vulcanized rubber for artificial dentures, the practice was to use gold and silver plates only. He was the first to introduce into this section this valuable improvement, which has more recently come into general use in the profession. In conclusion, there is one point in the character of the Doctor, which has been entirely ignored in the foregoing sketch of his life, and which is nevertheless one of the brightest stars in the constellation of virtues that adorn his life, and that is his social qualities. Without this a picture of him would be incomplete, and lacking in one of its most essential features, one of its most pleasing aspects. And it will not be thought detracting in any wise from his skill as a dentist to say, that in our opinion he owes in no small degree the success that has crowned his professional life to that very marked trait in his character.

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