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Sarah 'Etta' (Dillow)


Sarah and John Shinneman

Sarah "Etta" (Dillow) Shinneman was born on March 5, 1862 in Madison County, OH, the daughter of William B. and Evaline (Summers) Dillow.

She and her husband were pioneer settlers of New Mexico, and her daughters were active in the Shinneman family reunions of the 1930s in Illinois.

When Etta was an infant, her mother died. The following year, on March 3, 1863, at Piqua, OH, her father remarried to widow Elizabeth (Houser) Baker.

Then, sometime prior to 1881, the Dillows migrated to Illinois, settling in the town of Weldon near Clinton, DeWitt County. 

On Oct. 6, 1881, when Etta was age 19, she married 22-year-old John Perron Shinneman (1859- ? ), the son of Isaac and Mary Melissa (Rusk) Shinneman, and a native of Weldon. The ceremony was performed by justice of the peace R.P. McHenry. At the time of marriage, John was a farmer residing in Nixon Township, DeWitt County.

The Shinnemans produced a family of 11 children born over a 21-year span between 1883 and 1904. They were Nellie Viola Krantz, Melissa "Maude" Porter, Melvina Giroux , Leonice "Lee" Edward Shinneman, Ira Earl Shinneman, Guy Raymond Shinneman, Verna Marie Shinneman, Opal Faye Shinneman and Theodore Leslie Shinneman, Emma "Irene" Benz Long Blackwell and Rata May Noonan Perry.


Etta and John's 1881 marriage license, DeWitt County



John and his Wadkins Products truck

John is seen here with his truck and an unidentified boy. The lettering on the side of the truck reads "WADKINS PRODUCTS." It's not known whether this photo was taken in Illinois or New Mexico, or somewhere in between. 

Circa 1883, when their eldest daughter Nellie Viola was born, the Shinnemans lived in Iowa. Third daughter Rata May was born in Fort County, IL in 1887; while the three youngest children Verna Marie, Opal Faye and Theodore Leslie born in Iroquois County, IL, with the balance born in DeWitt County. Sadly, young son Guy died on May 25, 1899, at the age of six months, and was laid to rest in Weldon.


Shinneman booklet

A well-written but anonymously published family history booklet about the Shinnemans, seen here and on file today at the DeWitt County Genealogical Society in the Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton, DeWitt County. One of the sources of information and photographs -- but not the author -- was William Joseph Shinneman of Long View, TX. According to this excellent booklet, the story of the Shinnemans' migration to New Mexico is as follows:

After the death of their young son, Guy Raymond in 1899, they moved to Watseka, Illinois where they owned a large farm. John was stricken so badly with rheumatism that he found it impossible to work the farm. He moved his family to town and opened a men's shoe and clothing store. However, during the winter of 1909 he decided to move the family once again, this time to the Pecos Valley in New Mexico. They settled in Dexter, Chaves County, New Mexico. John and his oldest son Leonice (Lee) rode an emigrant train carrying household goods, merchandise from the store, farm tools, and livestock, while the rest of the family came in a passenger car to their new home. John and Lee built a large store building in Dexter. After a while they added groceries and general merchandise to their business of men's wear and shoes. John no doubt believed the weather in New Mexico would relive the pain of rheumatism. However, this trip must have been an arduous journey for him and his family, one filled with hardships. New Mexico had not yet become a state at this time. It did not become a state until it was admitted on June 6, 1912, our 47th in the union of the United States of America. 

Etta passed away on June 4, 1945, of causes not yet known. 

John's fate is unknown, but will be reported here when learned.


Etta (center) with her daughters


~ Daughter Nellie Viola (Shinneman) Krantz ~

Daughter Nellie Viola Shinneman (1883-1960) married Jacob George Krantz (1878-1963). 

They resided in Pittwood, Plato, Clifton and Watseka, IL. The Krantzes had four children -- Naomi Pearl Sisson, Ira Edward Krantz, Chester Perron Krantz and Gladys Faye Seber. 

In 1929, the family made their home in Gary, IN, and Nellie and her sister volunteered to help arrange the annual Shinneman Reunion, held that year in Urbana, IL. They also attended the 1934 reunion in Bloomington, IL at Miller's Park. In 1937, with her mother and uncle James Madison Dillow in attendance, Nellie was elected vice president of the reunion. She ascended to the presidency in 1938, when 65 relatives assembled at Crystal Lake Park, including her son Chester and his wife and son. Circa 1938, the family's mailing address was 1057 West 45th Street in Gary. 

Nellie died sometime in late 1959 or early 1960, as her death was reported at the 1960 reunion, with a silent prayer held in memory of her and several other cousins who had died the past year. 

Jacob passed at the age of 85 in Gary on Dec. 9, 1963.


~ Daughter Melissa "Maude" (Shinneman) Porter ~

Daughter Melissa "Maude" Shinneman (1885-1960) was born in 1885. 

She married Harry Porter (1879-1963 ? - ? ). They lived in Dexter, NM and had one son and two daughters. 

Maude served on the committee on arrangements for the 1923 Shinneman Reunion held at Nelson Park, Decatur, IL. 

She passed away on March 4, 1960, at the age of 75. When the Shinneman Reunion was held on Aug. 21, 1960, at Weldon Park, a silent prayer was held in Maude's memory as well as her sister Nellie Krantz and brother in law Earl Perry, who had died in the past year.


Six sisters who had not been together in a half-century, photographed at a Shinneman reunion for an article in the Clinton (IL) Journal, Aug. 22, 1955. Seated, L-R: Maude, Faye and Rata. Standing, L-R: Verna, Melvina and Irene


~ Daughter Rata May (Shinneman) Noonan Perry ~

Daughter Rata May Shinneman (1887-1969) was born in 1887. 

She married twice, first to Charles Noonan ( ? -1915?) in about 1908. He died in or before 1915, after only several years of marriage. 

Her second husband was Earl Perry (1893-1960?), and they had one son. The Perrys resided in Washington State. On Aug. 21, 1955, Rata is known to have attended the 32nd annual Shinneman Reunion, held at Weldon Park in Weldon, with 32 families and 91 individuals present. Joining her at the 1955 reunion were her sisters Fay Sides, Maude Porter, Irene Benz, Verna Bailey, Mellie Giroux and brother in law Chester Krantz. 

Earl passed away in late 1959 or early 1960, and was remembered with a silent prayer at the 1960 Shinneman Reunion. 

In 1964, Rata was living in Pasco, WA, and traveled to the Shinneman Reunion, held at Nelson Park in Decatur, where she received the "one coming farthest" award. Nothing further is known. 


~ Daughter Melvina "Mellie" (Shinneman) Giroux ~

Daughter Melvina "Mellie" Shinneman (1889-1970+) was born in 1889. 

She married William Giroux (1881-1964). 

In 1929, she and her sister Nellie Krantz, both living at Gary, IN at the time, were appointed by Orval Shinneman to serve on the committee on arrangements for the sixth annual Shinneman Reunion, held on Aug. 18 at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana, IL. Attending were 102 individuals, and "a bountiful dinner was enjoyed at the noon hour." Mellie and Bill and the Krantzes also attended the 1934 reunion, attended by 94 relatives and friends, at Miller's Park in Bloomington, IL. 

In 1938, the family's mailing address was 341 Filmore Street in Gary. Mellie attended the 1955 reunion, held in Weldon, and her husband Bill received the oldest person present award in 1956.


Miller Park, Bloomington, IL, site of the Shinneman Reunions of the 1930s


~ Son Leonice Edward "Lee" Shinneman ~

Son Leonice Edward "Lee" Shinneman (1891-1941) was born in 1891. 

At the age of 21, he married 18-year-old Lucy McVicker (1894-1966) on Aug. 14, 1912, in Roswell, Chaves County, NM.

Circa 1938, the Shinnemans made their home in Dexter. They also lived in British Columbia, Canada; and Chehalis, WA. They had six children. 

Lee passed away at age 50 on Dec. 4, 1941 in Chehalis, WA, just three days before our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor and plunged into World War II. 

Lucy outlived him by almost a quarter of a century. She died at the age of 72 on Jan. 18, 1966 in Port Angeles, WA. They rest for eternity in Toledo, WA. 


Ira Earl Shinneman

~ Son Ira "Earl" Shinneman ~

Son Ira "Earl" Shinneman (1893-1974) was born in 1893. 

He married Rachel Ellen Bogardus (1899-1968) in Roswell, NM on June 24, 1916. 

They moved to Wisconsin at some point in time, and in 1938 their postal address was Eken Park, Madison, WI. 

Their five children were Buford Allen Shinneman, Norma McFadden, Rachel Ellen Goth, Jack Perrin Shinneman and John Perron Shinneman. Sadly, son Jack died at the tender age of 3 1/2 years. 

Rachel passed away at the age of 69 on March 27, 1968, and is buried in Madison. 

Earl outlived his wife by six years, and died in 1974. 


~ Daughter Emma "Irene" (Shinneman) Benz Long Blackwell ~

Daughter Emma "Irene" Shinneman (1896-1984) was born in 1896 and was married three times. 

Her first spouse was George Benz (1879-1957), whom she married in 1913. Circa 1938, when they were on the Shinneman Reunion mailing address, their address was Carlsbad, NM. They had a son Clarence Albert Benz, and four daughters. 

George tragically was killed at home by intruders on Aug. 23, 1957, while Irene was away visiting their daughters. George's death was reported at the 1958 Shinneman Reunion, held on Aug. 17. Son Clarence Albert Benz, of Columbus, GA, gave a reading at the 1972 Shinneman Reunion of old Civil War letters of the Rusk family. 

Irene later married Carey Long ( ? - ? ) in 1961 and W. "Carl" Blackwell ( ? - ? ) in 1964, as "Blackwell" was her name as shown on the reunion mailing list. Irene died in 1984, and is buried with George in Carlsbad.


~ Daughter Verna Marie (Shinneman) Bailey ~

Daughter Verna Marie Shinneman (1900-1988) was born in 1900. 

She married Ira Irl Bailey (1889-1962) on Christmas Eve 1919, when she was age 19 and he 30.

They lived in Lone Oak, TX and Lake Arthur, NM, and had two sons, Weldon Irl Bailey and William Herman Bailey. 

Verna is known to have traveled to Illinois to attend the 1955 Shinneman Reunion, held on Aug.  21 in  Weldon. 

Ira died on July 19, 1962, with burial at Lone Oak. Verna's name was on the 1977 Shinneman Reunion mailing list, and her address at that time was Lone Oak.


~ Daughter Opal "Faye" (Shinneman) Sides ~

Daughter Opal "Faye" Shinneman (1902-1978) was born in 1902. 

At the age of 22, she married 33-year-old Carlos D. Sides (1891-1968) in Roswell on Aug. 16, 1924. 

They resided in San Bernardino, CA, and had one daughter, Evelyne Mozell Patty. 

Faye's name is on the 1938 Shinneman Reunion mailing list, and she is known to have attended the 1955 reunion in Weldon with five of her sisters.


~ Son Theodore "Leslie" Shinneman ~


Perry Shinneman,
home from Vietnam

Son Theodore "Leslie" Shinneman (1904-1978) was born in 1904.

He married Rosella "Mae" Froby (1925-2002). They made their home in Sioux Falls, SD. 

They had two sons -- Ronald Dean Shinneman and Perron "Perry" Leroy Shinneman. 


Perry reunites with Shirley

Theodore passed away in 1978, at the age of 75. 

Mae outlived her husband by almost a quarter of a century. She died in 2002.

Son Perron Leroy "Perry" Shinneman (1935-2005) was born in 1935. He served during the Vietnam War as a lance corporal in the U.S. Marines. In action against Viet Cong in April 1966, his left leg was destroyed when stepping on an enemy booby trap seven miles south of DaNang. Upon his return home to South Dakota, he was the subject of a photograph taken at the airport that ultimately was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and became an icon for anti-war sentiment around the world. The image, taken by Ray Mews for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, shows Perry hugging his wife Shirley at the airport, standing on his only leg, and with his crutch lying flat on the runway. Another image seen here, taken by Carroll Myett in August 1967, shows Perry marching in a parade, using crutches and wearing a military cap marked "Sioux Falls." He became uncomfortable that fame brought, as he believed he was just "one of the guys." Perry passed away on Christmas Day 2005, with his death highlighted in an Associated Press story published by the Washington Post and in other newspapers and magazines nationwide. The airport photograph was the Minerd.com "Photo of the Month" for March 2014.


~ More ~

According to the Shinneman genealogy booklet, "This large family is scattered to different parts of the United States. However, at a Shinneman reunion held in Illinois on August 21, 1955, six of the sisters met after fifty years apart. There were approximately 150 members of the family in attendance."

Much of the information for this biography has been drawn from the Shinneman booklet whose author is unknown. We are grateful for this magnificent material, and would like to acknowledge and thank the individual(s) by name who were responsible for its preparation. If you can provide this, please contact us

We also are grateful to Karen (Lisenby) Fugate of Decatur, IL, who in 1983 compiled a Shinneman genealogy, providing extensive records of the family reunions from 1923 to 1977. The family group sheets in the package were made possible through the cooperation of descendants of Milo Jesse and Mary Melissa (Rusk) Shinneman. Notes show that 100 copies of the booklet were published at the first printing, with copies deposited not only in DeWitt County but also at the Decatur Genealogical Society Library, Warner Public Library, Weldon Public Library, Rolling Prairies Library in Decatur, and Hope Welty Library in Cerro Gordo, IL.


Copyright 2000-2001, 2007, 2012 Mark A. Miner

Perron Shinneman airport reunion photo by Ray Mews and used with permission of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Shinneman parade photo by Carroll Myett