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Below is a family biography included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.   These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM ALEXANDER SHANKS, gardener, Coraopolis, was born in Ohio township, this county, Feb. 22, 1825, son of John and Eliza (Ingram) Shanks. His father was born in Philadelphia in the year 1800. He was a farmer, and came to this county in 1828, living most of the time in Franklin township, where he died in December, 1888. Mr. Shanks’ grandfather was also named John. William received a common-school education at Fairmont, and at the age of twenty-one began life for himself; two years later he settled on the island, where he worked for John Hamilton. At the age of twenty-four he married Jane Kerr, daughter of John and Sarah Kerr, natives of Ireland. His capital was fifty dollars, and he rented the Craig farm for six years, at seven dollars per acre. He then bought another small farm, but at the breaking out of the war he sold it. In 1865 he bought his present farm, which he has paid for and improved; he has two fine houses, and has now purchased the Rev. Wortman place. Mr. Shanks is the father of six children, viz.: Alexander, John J., William C. F., Harry Howard, Emma Jane, and Eliza Jane, who died at the age of thirteen months. His wife also died in February of 1872. John J. was married to Harriet Gibson, daughter of James and Margaret (Watters) Gibson. Mr. Shanks is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and has been an elder for thirty years. Owing to his having no opportunity to receive an education himself, he has tried to build up good schools in his own township, where they now employ the best of teachers. He is now holding his seventh commission as justice of the peace. He and his twin brother, Samuel F. Shanks, were the eldest of his father’s ten children. One of his brothers, James Dickson Shanks, is a minister in Philadelphia, Pa.

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This family biography is one of 2,156 biographies included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.

View additional Allegheny County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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