John E. Sheal


JOHN E. SHEAL, an honored and influential business man of Steubenville, Ohio, and one of the owners of the large milling establishment, operated under the name of Raney, Sheal & Co., was born in Liverpool, England, August 19, 1836. He was the son of James and Mary Ann (Erwin) Sheal, both of whom were natives of county Down, Ireland, of Scotch-Irish descent. His father was born in about the year 1786, and his mother, who was the daughter of Robert Erwin, was born in about the year 1798. THe father of our subject, during his earlier manhood, was a sea captain, and while acting in that capacity he made various trips over the waters of the oceans, and was the owner, at different times of a number of vessels. He was the owner of the "Mountaineer", and was on that vessel when she was wrecked off the coast of Ireland, and interesting painting of which wreck is now in possession of the subject of this sketch. He also, at one time, owned the "British Heroine", which, up to that date, was the largest vessel that ever sailed in the waters of the English channel. He finally disposed of his last ship, and in about 1837, when our subject was yet an infant child, he came to America unaccompanied by his family, and after a brief stop in Pittsburgh, he purchased and located upon a tract of land about four miles from New Castle, Penn. At that time it was in Beaver county, but is now Lawrence county. After he had gotten fully located, he sent for his wife and seven children, who arrived safely in this country in the following year and were met by the husband and father in Pittsburgh, and the family re-united, at once sought the home near New Castle. From that time until his death the father led the life of a farmer. Both he and wife spent the remainder of their lives on the above farm, his death occurring in 1867, and hers in 1876. In this connection it may be said that the old home place near New Castle is still in possession of members of the family.John E. Sheal, whose name precedes this history, spent his boyhood at the old homestead. At eleven years of age he entered an academy at New Castle, which he attended until he was about eighteen. At twenty-one years of age he went to Minnesota and spent one summer at Minneapolis and St. Anthony. Returning home in the fall he spent the winter with his parents, and in the following spring, which was that of 1858, he returned to St. Anthony, from which place in the following July he went to Winnipeg, British America. There he remained giving his attention to the fur business, until 1865, making one visit to his parents in 1863. In 1865 he returned home, and shortly after he engaged in a wholesale and retail grocery business in New Castle, Penn. He was married there, March 7, 1867, to Miss Lois Raney, daughter of James and Sarah (Parks) Raney, former residents of New Castle. In 1868 Mr. Sheal removed to Steubenville, Ohio, having previously arranged with this father-in-law and brother-in-law to build a flouring mill at that place. The mill was completed in 1869, and with each of the three partners owning a one-third interest, it was set in motion under the firm name of Raney, Sheal & Co. It has continued under that name ever since, a period of twenty-one years, and has done a very large business, no milling firm in the upper Ohio valley having a more honorable reputation. Mr. and Mrs. Sheal have had a family of five children. THeir names are: James R., Mary L., Robert E., Sarah and Leander, all of whom are living except Sarah, who died in infancy. Mr. Sheal is a member of the Masonic lodge, and in politics he has always been an ardent republican. With the exception of serving as postmaster of Pembina, Dakota, about one year, during his northwestern residence, he has avoided political services entirely and has devoted his undivided attention to his business pursuits. Mr. Sheal is a man of easy manner and kind disposition, and as a business man his standing is of the best.

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