Biography of Timothy Shea
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies





TIMOTHY SHEA, who is recognized as one of the most prominent labor leaders in the country through his office as assistant president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, has had his official home in Cleveland for the past seven years. His early life was spent at an old country homestead in Connecticut of peculiar historical interest to the City of Cleveland.

Mr. Shea was born in Windham County, Connecticut, August 4, 1865, son of John T. and Sarah (Sullivan) Shea, and grandson of Timothy and Margaret Shea. His grandparents, were born at Kenmane, County Kerry, Ireland. His grandfather, Timothy, was a university graduate and became a professor of languages in his Alma Mater. In 1848 he and his wife brought their family to America, locating at Windham, Connecticut, where he spent his last years. John T. Shea was born in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1832, and was sixteen years of age when he came to the United States. He grew to manhood on a farm in Windham County, finished his common school education, and subsequently bought a farm of 160 acres in Windham County. He was one of the progressive and substantial agricülturists of Connecticut. In 1876 he bought an adjoining farm of 200 acres, known as the "Cleveland Farm." This farm was the birthplace of' Gen. Moses Cleveland, the founder and father of the City of Cleveland. On this old farm is still standing the house in which Moses Cleveland was born, but it has not been used as a residence since John T. Shea purchased it in 1876. It stands about a quarter of a mile from the Shea home. The members of the Shea family still own this historic old property. The old Cleveland house is a three story frame, containing twelve rooms, and the rooms were heated by fireplaces opening out on both the first and second floors from an immense central chimney of solid masonry. They had this in Colonial times, and it is said that the chimney was constructed first and the house built around it. In 1899 a committee representing the City of Cleveland visited the Shea farm with the view of purchasing the old house and transferring it to this city, to be reerected in honor of the founder of the city as the central feature of the celebration of Cleveland's one hundredth anniversary. However, building engineers pronounced the plan impossible, since the house would have to be taken apart and transpofted in sections. Consequently it still stands on its original site, although rapidly disintegrating.

On this Connecticut homestead John T. Shea spent his active career, and came to be regarded as one of the leading farmers of his day, owning one of the most beautiful estates in Windham County. He died March 18, 1898, when sixty six years of age. His widow survived him until 1914, passing away at the age of seventy six.

Timothy Shea, of, Cleveland, grew up on the old Connecticut farm, attending public schools. In his seventeenth year, in 1882, he went to work as a railroad man, becoming a brakeman on the Norwich and \Vooster Railway. Two and one half years later he was promoted to conductor. Leaving Connecticut in 1886, he entered the service of the Central Railway Company of New Jersey as a locomotive fireman, and subsequently was made locomotive engineer. He was with the Central of New Jersey until he resigned to take up his official duties with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen in 1902, in which year he was elected vice president of the Brotherhood. He has given over twenty years of service to this great railroad organization. For a number of years he was stationed at the official headquarters at Peoria, Illinois. In 1910 he was advanced to assistant president, the title of the office he still holds. In 1917 the headquarters of the brotherhood was transferred from Peoria to Cleveland, and since then Mr. Shea has been an interested and public spirited resident of this city.

In 1912 Mr. Shea was selected as fraternal delegate to the triannual conference of the Associated Locomotive Engineers and Firemen of Great Britain. At a conference held in Albert Hall at Leath, England, June 12, 1912, he made one of the addresses. During the World war he served as international president of the Brotherhood. When the railroads were restored to private ownership he resumed his duties as assistant president of the Brotherhood.

Mr. Shea is a member of the Cleveland City Club, the Cleveland Automobile Club, the Chagrin Valley Country Club, and the Knights of Columbus. He married Miss Molly Powers, a native of Peoria, Illinois, the daughter of Michael and Mary Powers. Her father was born in Cork and her mother in Skipereen, Ireland, both coming to the United States as young people, and being married here. Mr. and Mrs. Shea have one daughter, Philomene, aged ten years.


From:
A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
Publishers:
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924


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