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The Story of John W. Shaw

Years ago, when I started writing about my cemetery adventures, I visited Wesley Cemetery near Wesport, Indiana. I initially wanted to explore this cemetery because I drove by it one day and the stone wall and steps that border the front of the cemetery caught my eye.

On my first visit, we found the broken statue of John W. Shaw. This was back in 2011 and you can read my original post here. I’d been wondering if the statue had ever gotten fixed, so I went back a few weeks ago.

And it was! Almost as good as new, I assume. This time, I looked for information about John W. Shaw, something I didn’t do back in 2011. I uncovered a lot of interesting things.

It turns out, John W. Shaw isn’t even buried in Wesley Cemetery. He was shot and killed during they Philippine Insurrection on May 14, 1900. He was buried on the Philippine Islands the next day. When his father found out about his son’s death, he decided to erect a statue in his honor.

The statue stood for many years, until the 1960’s when vandals toppled it from its base. It was even stolen at one point, but the guilty thief ended up returning the statue.

It wasn’t until 2006 when a local man named Bill Ford made an effort to repair the statue. He drafted documents that estimated what repairs were needed and how much they would cost. However, Bill passed in 2009 and nothing ever came from his efforts…

Until 2014, when Joy Kruter began raising money to get the statue repaired. She took the statue to Dale Johnson of Old World Carving in Ohio to make new legs for John W. Shaw, and then John Walters, the Graveyard Groomer, put all the pieces back together. (Visit the Graveyard Groomer’s Facebook page to see some incredible before, during, and after pictures!)

On May 25, 2015 there was a rededication ceremony in the cemetery. John W. Shaw was finally home and in one piece! Descendants of Shaw were there when the statue was put back in its rightful place. The statue stands watch over Shaw’s family home and the school where he was a teacher before the war.

Currently, the statue is the only known statue in the state of Indiana to honor the Spanish-American war.

Sources: Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3

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