John Francis Shannon
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

HON. JOHN FRANCIS SHANNON—Few young men in the early thirties have accomplished so much in personal effort or have won so much in public honor as John F. Shannon, of Troy, New York, insurance executive, city assessor, and former representative to the State Assembly. A native of the State of Connecticut, Mr. Shannon's people have been prominent for several generations in the manufacturing interests of this State, his grandfather, John Shannon, coming to this country from Ireland in about the year 1853, and conducting a shoe manufacturing establishment on Bank Street, New London, Connecticut, before the Civil War. At the outbreak of hostilities at that time, he enlisted at Fort Trumbull, in the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery, and served through several engagements during the war, and received his honorable discharge. His father, John Shannon, the eldest of five children, was born in New London, Connecticut, was a gunmaker by trade, and became a contractor in the manufacture of gun barrels for the Davenport Fire Arms Manufacturing Company of Norwich. His paternal uncle had also been a superintendent of lock manufacturing establishments and firearms plants in Norwich, Connecticut. John Shannon married Carrie Kniffen, who is now a resident of Troy.

John Francis Shannon was born at Norwich, Connecticut, March 3, 1889. His father died when he was five years of age, and when he was seven he came with his mother to the city of Troy, New York, and here attended Public School No. 14 until he was fourteen years of age. During these early days, days of struggle for his mother, he sold milk in the early mornings before going to school, and when he reached the age of fourteen he secured a position as messenger boy. Thus it appears that he began life with great seriousness, as it was presented to him through his mother's struggle. When slightly older he secured a position in an electrical supply house as a helper, and the concern doing also an extensive business in the contracting line, Mr. Shannon learned the trade. During this time he completed his education by attending night schools, both in the public school buildings and at La Salle Institute, gaining much along technical lines and also reaching out into classical fields. At the age of eighteen years Mr. Shannon became identified with the Home Telephone Company, as assistant wire chief, which position he filled for eight years. For six years thereafter, he was with the New York Telephone Company, this organization being the successor of the Home Telephone Company. On July 3, 1921, Mr. Shannon entered an entirely different field of business endeavor, opening an office where he has since been active in the general insurance and real estate business. He handles important interests in real estate, and in the insurance line represents the Travelers' Insurance Company, of Hartford, Connecticut; the Queen Fire Underwriters of America; the Newark Fire Underwriters, of Newark, New Jersey; and the New Amsterdam Casualty Company, of New York, and Baltimore, Maryland; of which latter company he is general agent in Troy. He is achieving marked success in his business endeavors and is taking a leading position in his chosen field of activity. Since his early youth, even before attaining his majority, Mr. Shannon felt a deep interest in public afifairs and was an active worker for the program of the Democratic party, of which he is still a loyal supporter and in which he has attained the position of a popular leader. In 1912-13 he acted as messenger to the Board of Aldermen of the city of Troy, and in 1913 was elected to the Board of Supervisors from the Fourteenth Ward, his term of service covering the years 1914-15. He had the distinction of being the first and only Democrat elected to this board from the Fourteenth Ward, and served also as chairman of the charity committee. While serving as supervisor Mr. Shannon was elected to the New York State Assembly from the First Assembly District of Rensselaer County, and the quality and scope of his work in the public service is well appraised in the fact that he was reelected four times. During his first term in the Assembly he continued to fulfill the duties of supervisor until the expiration of his term in that office. He did much constructive legislative work, acting on important committees, and giving especially helpful service on committees that had to do with welfare activities along many lines. One of his first responsibilities at the State house was his appointment to the committees of commerce and navigation, and he also served on the railways committee for two years. In 1918, during the World War, he was made a member of the committee on military affairs, and during that and the following year he served, too, on the ways and means committee. While at all times he was faithful to the interests of the State as a commonwealth and to its every section, he was instrumental in the efifect of his influence, in the passage of a number of bills that bore directly on improvements or benefits for the city of Troy and its environs, and the county of his residence; yet in every case in which he distinguished himself in this connection, the result was of more than local benefit. He was instrumental in the abolishment of the toll system of the Congress Street Bridge in Troy, and through his efforts also, the Greenbush Bridge became a free thoroughfare. In both of these instances Mr. Shannon led the fight in the Assembly and held the deciding vote. He also did much active and constructive work for the harbor and dock improvements in Troy and had passed the bill for the Front Street railway improvements. It was due to him also that the bill was passed changing the method of taxation in the city of Troy, which saves the city about $50,000 a year. On the humanitarian side he was one of the principal promoters of the Child Welfare Bill, which placed the State of New York among other progressive States of the union in the attitude taken on the care and oversight of the children of the Commonwealth. On the expiration of his fifth term as a legislator, Mr. Shannon was elected to the Board of Assessors of the city of Troy, his period of service beginning with the year 1920 and continuing for four years. He was again electedin 1923 for another four-year term, and his work is doing much for the just and equitable distribution of the burden of public expense among the taxpayers of the city. Mr. Shannon is a member of the Young Men's Democratic Club; and having served as a fireman for twelve years as a member of the Arba Read Steamer Company, and served as trustee for one term, he is now a member of the Exempt Firemen's Association. During the World War he was elected president of the Fourteenth Ward Soldiers and Sailors Welfare League, and led a campaign and secured funds to erect a monument which stands in Prospect park, in memory of those sailors and soldiers from Ida Hill, who served during the World War. He is a leading member of the Knights of Columbus, of Troy, and also holds the fourth degree in the Father Van Rensselaer Assembly of the same order. He is a member of St. Francis' Roman Catholic Church, and is a leading figure in the organization of the church, particularly in the Holy Name Society, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. His recreations are athletics, and he has for a number of years been a well-known football player and boxer, fishing also being one of his relaxations.

Mr. Shannon married, on August 18, 1912, Elizabeth T. Fitzgerald, of Troy, and they have five children: Mary Elizabeth, Gertrude Antoinette, John Francis, Jr., all of whom are attending St. Francis' School; Dorothy Josephine, attending public school No. 14; and William, an infant.

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