Benjamin Whitworth Shaw was born on July 19, 1858 in Burlington, Wisconsin and was the second youngest of eight children. His parents were natives of Yorkshire, England married in April 1845. Shortly thereafter, they came to the United States.
Benjamin obtained his education in the elementary and secondary schools in Racine and would later study law in the offices of Winslow & Bronson there, under the tutledge of Judge Winslow, later one of the most noted chief justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 1881.
Benjamin came to Dakota Territory, arriving in Fargo on May 7, 1881. Two days later, he left for Hillsboro where he opened a law office and practiced for three years. He moved to Mandan in January, 1884. He was admitted to the Bar of North Dakota on May 6, 1891 upon his presentation of his territorial certificate
Famous as a frontier lawyer who never lost a murder case, B.W. Shaw as he was referred to locally, served as district attorney of Morton County in territorial days in 1887 and 1888; as city attorney of Mandan in 1887.
He was bill clerk at the ND House of Representatives in 1893, reading clerk in 1899 and assistant chief clerk in 1901. In 1894 he acted as US district commissioner. He was appointed county judge from Morton County on November 2, 1918 to finish an unexpired term and remained in that office until January 1939. He was President of the ND Bar Association in 1915-1916.
He was married May 15, 1888 to Georgia Greenwood Lanterman at Hillsboro, ND. Mrs. Shaw was born in Blairstown, NJ on October 22, 1961. He came to Hillsboro in 1881 with her mother and sisters to join her two brothers, Albert and William Lanterman (both would also eventually move to Mandan.) Georgia Shaw died April 17, 1939 eleven months after the Shaws celebrated their fifthieth wedding anniversary.
They had two children; Elenanor Shaw Ricker and son LaRue L. Shaw.
Judge Shaw was a member of the First Presbyterian Church during all his years of residence in the city and was very active in church affairs. He was treasurer of the church and conducted a Sunday School class for many years. He was selected as one of two members to "recount and reminsce" on the early days of the church during the church's golden jubilee in 1931.
He was also a member of several service organizations including The Royal Acanum and International Organization of Odd Fellows. He was also on the Board of Directors of Greenwood Cemetery, which was the first organized cemetery west of Jamestown. He was chairman of the Finnish Relief for Morton County in the spring of 1940 but would later resign due to failing health.
He died on December 13, 1940 in Mandan Hospital. He is buried in Union Cemetery beside his wife.
The Society would like to thank Trissa Shaw Ford for sharing information on her grandfather with us.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 3827 30th Avenue NW; Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at email@example.com