Albert M. Shaw by A. W. Baker
Albert M. Shaw, of Lebanon, is a native of Poland, Me., born May 3,
1819. He came to, and has spent most of his active life in, New
Hampshire, where a wide field for the exercise of his energy and
abilities was open to him. His parents, Francis and Olive (Garland)
Shaw, had four children,—three sons and a daughter,—of whom Albert M.
is the oldest.
Mr. Shaw's father was a successful merchant, able and willing to give
his children the advantages of a fair education, and such special
training as would fit them for callings towards which their proclivities
and natural abilities inclined them. At the age of twenty, Albert,
having acquired such an education as could be obtained in the public
schools of his native state, went to Boston and spent nearly two years
in the study of civil engineering and practical work for building
railroads. He had made such progress that he was engaged to assist in
the construction of a branch railroad from the Boston & Providence road
to Stoughton, a distance of about six miles, and executed this
assignment so well that he was made superintendent of the work of
constructing a branch railroad from Natick to Framingham, and afterwards
was engaged in the construction of the Old Colony road, which occupied
him until 1845.
Previous to this, preparation had been made to build the Northern
Railroad from Concord to West Lebanon. He came to New Hampshire in 1845,
and engaged in the building of the road, and remained on the road until
the entire line was completed. With this road he has been closely
identified nearly ever since. For eighteen years he was its civil
engineer and road-master; and during the entire time that the late
ex-Governor Stearns was its president was his trusted and confidential
adviser and executive officer. He has also served in its board of
directors, and superintended the construction of its principal branches,
including the Sugar River and Peterborough & Hillsborough roads.
The activity of Mr. Shaw has, however, been by no means satisfied with
his duties upon the Northern road. Since 1848 he has been engaged in the
building of the Kennebec & Portland road in Maine, the Portsmouth road
in this state, the air-line road from Rochester to Syracuse in New York,
and that from Waterloo to Huntington mines in Canada, besides the
building of the Granite hosiery-mills at Franklin, and the carrying to a
successful conclusion many private enterprises for himself and others.
In 1872 he was called to the important position of superintendent of
road-way of the Central Vt., and its branches.
While building the Northern road he became acquainted with Caroline
Dearborn Emery, of Andover, whom he married in 1848, and soon after
located his home in the beautiful village of Lebanon, where he still
resides with his wife and two sons, William F., and Albert O., who are
engaged in business near by. His only daughter, Mary Estelle, died in
The same qualities which have made Mr. Shaw successful in business have
given him prominence in social and political life. He has always taken
great pride in Lebanon, and has been a leader in most of the projects
which have added to her beauty and stability. His support has, from the
first, helped establish her schools, strengthen her churches, and
sustain her social and charitable associations, and his enterprise has
contributed largely to her material prosperity.
In politics, Mr. Shaw is a Republican who works hard, manages shrewdly,
and gives liberally, that his party may win. He doesn't like to be
beaten, and seldom is. He has done much for his neighbors and friends,
and they have lost no opportunity to honor him. In the stormy days of
1862 and 1863, when strong men were needed, he was sent to the popular
branch of the state legislature, to which he was returned in 1881. In
1863 he was sent by the governor to look after the interests of New
Hampshire soldiers on that ever memorable field of Gettysburg, a duty
for which his warm sympathies and his executive ability eminently fitted
him. In 1876 he represented Lebanon in the constitutional convention,
and in 1878 and 1879 was the state senator from that district. He was
appointed a consul to the province of Quebec by President Lincoln in
1864, was a presidential elector in 1868, and in 1877 was one of the
three commissioners appointed by Gov. Prescott to build the new
state-prison. In all of these positions, his extensive knowledge of
public affairs, his tact in dealing with men, and his skill and courage
in overcoming opposition have enabled him to acquit himself with great
credit, and render those for whom he acted most valuable service. The
prison, which is one of the few public buildings in this country that
cost less than the estimates, is a monument to his business capacity and
He is a great reader on scientific matters, is interested in books of
travel and adventure, especially in those relating to the arctic
regions, and gratifies his taste in the collection of a library.
Mr. Shaw is a Royal Arch Mason, and takes an interest in the mystic art.
He attends the Methodist church, and is a liberal contributor to all
that pertains to the success of that society. The worthy poor find in
him a sympathizing friend, always prepared to contribute to their
necessities in a most liberal manner. He is good to himself, and true
and generous to his friends. Mr. Shaw is fond of hunting and fishing,
loves the woods and streams for their own sakes, as well as for the
relief and rest they afford him; amid the busy employments of his life
some part of the season is pretty sure to find him "camped" in the wilds
of northern New Hampshire or Maine.
Mr. Shaw has many acquaintances among the prominent men of the day. As a
companion he is lively, genial, fond of fun, relishes a joke at the
expense of others, and can take one at his own expense with becoming
meekness, if it will not be otherwise spoiled.
He is at present engaged in caring for the large property interests
which have resulted from so long a term of skillful industry and