Biography of John Shank

John Shank, originally from Pennsylvania, is a retired, successful landowner residing in Nachusa, Illinois. Born in 1835, he’s part of a German-origin family, with ancestors who settled early in the U.S. His grandparents, devout Mennonites, had an extensive family, and his parents lived as farmers in Lebanon County, where John was also raised. Married to Malinda Grove, the couple moved to Illinois in 1867 after starting their family in Pennsylvania. They raised five children, maintaining a close-knit family unit. A diligent farmer, John acquired significant land—830 acres across three townships, including in Iowa. Respected for his industry and integrity, Shank is a committed Republican, historically involved in local politics.

John Shank, one of the most extensive landowners of Lee County, now living a retired life in the village of Nachusa where he has made his home for the past sixteen years, came to Illinois from Pennsylvania, his native state. Lebanon County was the place of his birth and the date was 1835. The Shank family is of German origin and in Colonial days was established in America. Joseph Shank, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Lebanon County, Pa., of German parentage and became one of the early settlers of Heidelberg Township, that county, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying at about the age of eighty years. His wife, whose maiden name was Fannie Over, was also born in Lebanon County and was of German descent. Both were members of the Mennonite Church. Their family numbered eighteen children, two sons and sixteen daughters, all of whom reached very advanced ages, while one son and five daughters are still residents of the Keystone State.

One of this family, Jacob Shank, became the father of our subject. He was born in Heidelberg Township, where he was reared to farm life and after reaching manhood married Miss Mollie Miller, also a native of that locality. Her parents were Henry and Susan (Troutman) Miller, who were born and spent their entire lives in Lebanon County, passing away when well advanced in years. They died on the same day and were buried in the same grave. They had lived upright lives as farming people and were members of the German Reformed Church. Their families were both of German origin and located in Lebanon County at an early day. After his marriage, Jacob Shank and his wife began their domestic life upon a farm near the old homestead, to which they afterward removed and there spent their last days. Both were about three-score years of age when they passed away. Mrs. Shank was a lifelong member of the German Reformed Church and won friends wherever she went by her goodness of heart. In politics, Mr. Shank was first a Whig and afterward a Republican.

Our subject is the fourth in order of birth of their six sons and two daughters, all of whom are married, with the exception of the eldest daughter. In their various careers, they have been successful and the sons of the family have generally engaged in merchandising in Pennsylvania. John Shank, however, has followed the occupation to which he was reared. In the usual manner of farmer lads, he spent the days of his boyhood and youth, and his education was acquired in the common schools. In the township of his birth, he was united in marriage with Miss Malinda Grove, who was also born in Heidelberg Township, Lebanon County, Pa., and is the seventh in a family of four sons and four daughters. The children were all married, and with one exception, are all yet living. Their parents, Abraham and Sarah (Strickler) Grove, were natives of Lebanon County, as were their parents before them, and doubtless the ancestry had there resided for many years previous. Farming was the occupation of both families, and that pursuit Mr. Grove followed. Himself and wife were members of the Lutheran Church and were quite prominent in that community. His death occurred at the age of eighty-one years and his wife was called to her final rest when seventy-three years of age.

Mr. and Mrs. Shank continued to make their home in Pennsylvania until 1867, which year witnessed their emigration to the West. They located in Illinois, and a few years later came to Lee County, where they have since resided. Their home has been blessed by the presence of five children: Mary A., Sarah V., Ida M., Minnie M., and John, Jr. The family circle yet remains unbroken, and all are still under the parental roof. They are intelligent and well-educated, and the family is one of which the parents may well be proud. They now reside in Nachusa, and Mrs. Shank is a member of the Lutheran Church.

For many years after coming to this county, Mr. Shank engaged in agricultural pursuits, and in his undertakings met with most excellent success. He is one of the large landowners of the community, his landed possessions aggregating eight hundred and thirty acres. Of this amount, five hundred and fifty-four acres he in Nachusa Township, one hundred and sixty acres in Nelson Township, and a one-hundred-and-twenty-acre tract is located in Cherokee County, Iowa. All of this land is improved. It is divided into five farms, each of which is well supplied with good farm buildings and all other necessary accessories. Industry and enterprise have characterized Mr. Shank throughout life and have been potent factors in his successful career. Fair and honorable in all his dealings, he has won the confidence of all with whom he comes in contact and has secured their warm regard. In politics, he is a stalwart Republican and has held a number of local offices of honor and trust.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top