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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

SHIRAS, Oliver Perry

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The Shiras Memorial was constructed at Eagle Point Park in honor of the many contributions legal scholar Oliver Perry Shiras gave to this community.Photo courtesy: Cathy's Treasures, 156 Main, Dubuque

SHIRAS, Oliver Perry (Pittsburg, PA, Oct. 22, 1833--Seabreeze, FL, Jan. 7, 1916). Judge. Largely through the efforts of Judge Shiras, citizens of Dubuque today enjoy EAGLE POINT PARK. Shiras also helped organize the Young Men's Library Association and served ten years as its president. He served as a trustee of FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) and vice-president of the Public Library Board.

Dubuque City Directory, 1857-1858. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Shiras came to Dubuque soon after his graduation from Yale in 1856. During the CIVIL WAR he served as aide-de-camp to General Francis J. HERRON in campaigns through Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana. After the war, Shiras returned to politics and his legal practice in Dubuque. He served on the City Council in 1866 and 1867, filling out an unexpired term of an elected official who moved from the ward from which he was elected.

Shiras served as a Republican delegate to many state and congressional conventions. On August 2, 1882, during President Arthur's administration, he was appointed United States Judge of the Northern District of Iowa and held the position until his retirement in 1903. Among the many important legal decisions in his career was the one he returned in the case of Washburn & Moen Company vs the Beat-Em-All Barbed Wire Company of Cedar Falls, Iowa. After hearing over three hundred witnesses, Shiras returned a verdict in favor of the defendants that resulted in prairie farmers no longer being victimized by high-priced fencing.

Grave marker in Linwood Cemetery.
During Shiras' twenty-one-year judicial career he served as a judge of the Northern District, held circuit court in states that were part of the Eighth National Judicial Circuit, and was a member of the Circuit Court of Appeals for five years.

Oliver Perry Shiras, George SHIRAS, Jr., and Francis J. Herron were second cousins. Oliver & George Shiras's mother Eliza and Francis J. Herron where first cousins.

The Shiras and Herron brothers all came to Dubuque around 1855 from the Pittsburgh area. George Shiras II (b.1806) married Elizabeth Perry Herron and had George Jr. (III) (b. 1832), Oliver Perry (b. 1833) and Francis Herron Shiras. Eliza Herron's (b.1809) father was Francis J. Herron's (b. 1837) uncle Rev. Francis Herron (b. 1774). Francis J. Herron's father was Francis Herron's brother and Francis J. Herron's uncle John Herron Jr. (b. 1792). Elizabeth Herron Shiras and Francis J. Herron's grandfather was also named John Herron Sr.

Francis J. Herron also had a brother, David R. Herron, Lieutenant in the 3rd Iowa Light Artillery Battery, also known as the Dubuque Battery, organized in Dubuque. And besides Oliver P. Shiras serving as aid de camp to Br. Gen. Francis J. Herron during the Civil War, Herron had a nephew, James A. Herron, son of brother William A. Herron (b. 1821), who served on his staff.

It should also be noted U.S. Supreme Court Justice George Shiras, Jr. married Dubuque born Lillie E. Kennedy (b. 1842) daughter of Robert T. Kennedy (b. 1819). It appears Robert T. Kennedy and several of his children are buried in Dubuque.

See: Oliver Perry Shiras








Genealogy research by John Pregler