Hiram Shields

Generations Past

There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors and no slave who has not had a king among his.  
----Helen Keller

Hiram Shields and Sarah Riffle

Click for Shields family pictures

Hiram Madison SHIELDS, born 15 March 1857 in Cottageville, Jackson County, Virginia (soon to be West Virginia). He was the son of Salathiel SHIELDS (1835-bef. 1920) & Amanda THORNTON (1837-abt. 1920).

Sarah Ann RIFFLE, born 12 December 1859 in Virginia the daughter of Lewis RIFFLE (1831-1917) & Charity GREGORY  (1838-1909).

They married on 8 April 1877 at the home of her parents inold fashion stove Mason County, West Virginia. Sara died on 20 Feb 1939. Hiram died on 27 January 1941. They had been married for 62 years. They are buried together at Mt. Flower Cemetery in Mason County, West Virginia

I know little of Hiram. Sarah Ann, however, had a more colorful personality. In those days there were a lot of stories told and superstitions believed. I don't know how much if any of these stories are true but Sarah was said to be a witch.

One story is told by the family of her daughter-in-law, Sadie Marie VANMATRE, the second wife of Julius Shields. According to them Sadie's mother-in-law was a witch who put spells on people that came true. They say that she put a spell on Sadie. The story goes that Sadie's brother bought her a pair of high heel shoes for her birthday. She went out to get the mail wearing the shoes, lost her balance, and fell down a hill. Apparently she hit her head and ended up in a state hospital in Huntington, West Virginia and there she died.

Another local story is that her son, William H. Shields and his wife Martha Grimm left their twin daughters with Sarah while they looked for work. Supposedly, while they were gone Sarah took the girls to the poor farm where they were adopted out. When the parents returned they were unable to get the girls back. I don't know how long the parents were gone or what the circumstances were but from family stories, I do know that there was a problem concerning these girls. However peace must have been restored because on the 1930 census, William is a widower and once again living with his parents.

My favorite story about Sara is from an 82 year old neighbor of the Shields. It was told to me by Shane Shields. He couldn't remember much about her except that she was a tough woman and he remembered that she told those around her that she owned one of the oxen, half of the yoke, one of the rings, and all of the man behind the plow.

Hiram and Sarah had five sons and one daughter; their daughter was my grandmother.

  1. Arthur Clayton SHIELDS was born in 18 Aug 1878; died 20 Feb 1925. He married Adelphia Parsons, (1877-?) on 14 September 1904 in Mason County, West Virginia.
  2. Della Mae SHIELDS was born 15 August 1880, died 7 September 1954; married Reuben Ellis Donohue  born 1880 in Jackson County, West Virginia.
  3. William H. SHIELDS born February 1883 in West Virginia.  He married Martha Grimm (c1865-?) on 28 May 1906.
  4. Julius C. SHIELDS, known as Jewell, was born 15 Feb 1886. He married Minnie HAWKINS (1891-b1930) on 17 April 1916. After her death he married Sadie Marie VANMATRE in October 1935. Then after Sadie's death, he married Beulah MCDANIEL. He died on 17 Oct 1958. (Newspaper Obituary)
  5. Hiram Nathan SHIELDS born May 1889, died 1970 in Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia. He married Rachel Della "Dell" Hawkins on 24 February 1919. They had one daughter. Nathan was sentenced to life imprisonment at the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia in 1922, for the beating to death of his third cousin, James m. Roush. (Newspaper Story)

    NOTE: Roy SHIELDS is listed on the censuses as a son of Hiram and Sarah but he is their grandson, the son of Della Shields and Norman Thornton. He was born 15 Jun 1902 and died of Typhoid Fever on 28 May 1927.  He is buried at Mt. Flower Cemetery with his grandparents.

Hiram and/or his family can be found on the following censuses:


For more information on Hiram and Sarah's family or other Shields please go to
the Castor Directory. You will find more information and many more names.


I am interested in sharing any family history information and in correcting any misinformation.
Please send corrections or additions to my email box.