Shay, Wm. F.

August 10th, 2009


William Field Shay was born at Northumberland on January 27, 1853 to Philip and Mary Elizabeth (Wallis) Shay.  His mother died soon after his birth and he was taken to Muncy where he lived with his grandparents until about twelve years of age.  By 1868 he and his father’s family moved to Watsontown where he clerked at his father’s store.  William graduated from the Watsontown public schools and became a student under Judge Oscar Foust for three years after which he was admitted to the Bar of the County on August 2, 1875.  He had been admitted to practice before the courts in central Pennsylvania as well as the Superior Court, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the United States Courts.

William married Mary Alice Hower in 1884.  M.Alice was born in October 2, 1855 and was the daughter of the Hon. Chas. Hower of Selinsgrove.  They resided at 510 Main Street.

William Field Shay was a member of the school board having served as Chairman of the State Association of School Directors and later as president.  He has served on town council in 1880 where he has filled the position as Solicitor for Watsontown as well as the Watsontown National Bank.  He served as Chief Burgess from 1906 to 1909. In 1915 he was made president  of the Watsontown Old Home Week Association.  He was a major proponent of building the water works at Watsontown as well as securing the Wilkes-Barre and Western railway (later known as the S.B. & B.) to locate their terminus at Watsontown.   Mr. Shay was was also one of the promoters in securing the brick road from Watsontown to McEwensville, one of the first improved and brick roads in this section and also in securing the improved paved Main street in Watsontown.  He was one of the instigators in locating the Susquehanna Trail through the Watsontown section.  He was one of the organizers of the Watsontown Memorial Park Association.  He led in a movement to bring the brick works to Watsontown, making the community known as the “Brick City.” At the time of his death he was president of the Watsontown Cemetery Association. 

Mr. Shay served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Danville State hospital for 27 years and had been a director for 35 years.  Attorney Shay was a member and trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Watsontown for many years.  He was a member of Watsontown Lodge, No. 401, F. & A.M. being raised to Master Mason on April 29, 1874 and serving as Worshipful Master in 1881 as well as secretary from 1875 to 1876 and 1891 to 1899 and treasurer from 1900 to 1936.  He was also a member of Warrior Run Royal Arch Chapter, No. 246 being past high priest, a member of the Commandery, Council, the A & A Rite and the Shrine. 

Wm. Field Shay died on April 3, 1937 at his home.  His wife M. Alice died on December 25, 1939.  They are both buried in Watsontown Cemetery.

[The Record and Star, Silver Anniversary Edition, 1907, pg 13; Williamsport’s Gazette and Bulletin, April 5, 1937, pg 10;  History of Northumberland County, Bell, 1071-1072; Milton Evening Standard, April 3, 1937, pg 1, 3.]
according to the newspaper obit he was born on Janaury 25, 1853. 

Last Modified: 08.10.09 

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