Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Alos Blank Shaner (1855-1928)

Alos Blank Shaner, from the "Poultry Tribune", Vol. 23, 1917.

    The small city of Lanark, Illinois can lay claim to electing a truly odd named man as its Mayor.....Alos Blank Shaner. A one-term mayor of this Carroll County city (whose population hovered around the 1,500 mark as of the 2010 census), Shaner was an avowed advocate of temperance and in addition to serving as a Mayor and alderman was engaged in a rather unusual past-time, one as far removed from politics as one can imagine.....the breeding of chickens! Shaner gained wide prominence throughout the United States as a poultry judge and breeder, even serving as a member of the American Poultry Association Board of Judges.
    A resident of Pennsylvania for the first fifteen years of his life, Alos Blank Shaner was born in Frederick, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania on March 16, 1855, one of five children born to John and Maria Shaner. The Shaner family left Pennsylvania in 1870 and settled in Ogle County, Illinois, where Alos would complete his schoolingIn January 1877 Shaner married to Fanny C. Oltmans (1857-1955), with whom he would have three children, John Albert (1880-1942) Ina (birth-date unknown) and Iva (1895-1973).
   Early in his Illinois residency Alos Shaner began an interest in farming and the raising of poultry, and after removing to Carroll County in the early 1880s continued to build a reputation as a "poultry fancier" and breeder. A specialist in the breeding of "Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Leghorns and Colchins" as well as Poland-China hogs, Shaner's reputation in these fields was spotlighted by the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, which notes that he:
"Won his success in the poultry business through careful study and patient effort, and has mastered the full details of his work. Though he abandoned the hog raising industry when he located in Lanark, he still has engagements to act as a judge of hogs and sheep at several live stock shows and state fairs."
    Shaner's status as poultry judge wasn't just limited to Illinois, however. From the start of his judging career in 1894 Shaner would visit and judge poultry exhibitions in a total of "twenty-nine states, many of them several times", and by the early 1900s was residing in Lanark, Illinois on a "high-class chicken farm." A lifetime member of the American Poultry Association (as well as a member of its board of judges), Shaner was a longstanding advocate of temperance and held the office of President of the Carroll County Law and Order League, as well as the County Temperance League. 
   It wasn't until Shaner settled in Lanark that he began to seek political office, and in 1902 ran on the Prohibition ticket for the Illinois General Assembly. Hoping to represent the state's 12th district in the assembly, Shaner placed fourth out of four candidates on election day, polling only 812 votes to winning Republican candidate James E. Taggart's 12, 481. An electoral result from that election (featured in the Daily News Almanac) is shown below.

    Several years following his assembly loss Alos Shaner was elected as a Lanark city alderman and was still serving in that post when he was elected as Mayor of Lanark in 1911. Little information could be located on his time as mayor (as well as the length of his term), but it has been found that he was a "former mayor" by April 1914, being mentioned as such in a Pacific Poultry Craft magazine published that year. Following his term as mayor Shaner would continue to be active in poultry showings and in January 1917 won several awards for his birds at a Cedar Rapids, Iowa exhibition. 
   On February 14, 1928 Alos Blank Shaner died in Lanark at the age of 72. He was survived by his wife and two children and was interred at the Lanark City Cemetery. Fanny O. Shaner survived Alos by nearly thirty years, dying in 1955 at age 98, and was laid to rest at the same cemetery as her husband.

Alos B. Shaner, from the Poultry Garden and Home, Vol. 5, 1898.

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