Sunday, January 31, 2016

Geter Crosby Shidle (1831-1889)

Portrait from the Proceedings of the Supreme Council, 1889.

   Prominent Pennsylvania masonic leader Geter Crosby Shidle receives a write-up today, and in addition to his being a leading figure in Pennsylvania masonry served as a member of his state's legislature for one term beginning in 1874. A lifelong resident of the Keystone State, Geter Crosby Shidle was born in Pittsburgh on October 14, 1831, being the eldest of six children born to James (1800-1879) and Elmira Crosby Shidle
   Little could be found in regards to Shidle's early life in Pittsburgh or his education. After "attaining his majority" he joined with his father in the latter's wallpaper business, operating under the name of Jas. Shidle & Son. Their partnership continued until James Shidle's death in 1878, whereafter Geter "carried on the business under his own name". In the early 1860s, Geter Shidle married to Annie Rachel Jackson (1839-1894). The couple were wed for nearly thirty years and had a total of six children: Henry B. (1862-1864), Hunt Mills Butler (died in infancy in 1867), Annie (1871-1875), Geter Crosby (died aged 4 months in 1875), William L. (1876-1878) and Geter Crosby (1879-1945).
   Joining the Masonic order in 1854, Geter C. Shidle became a member of the Milnor Lodge No. 287 in May of that year and would serve that lodge as both Worshipful Master and Secretary. He was Knighted into the Pittsburgh Commandery in 1859 and in that same year became a member of the Zerubabbel Royal Arch Chapter, No. 162, of which he would serve as treasurer. Shidle would continue his rise through the masonic ranks and in 1872 became Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania. Acknowledged as having a career "honorable to himself and useful to his fraternity", Shidle also held the post of President of the Masonic Veterans of Pennsylvania and was trustee of the Masonic Fund Society.
   In addition to his wallpapering business Shidle made headway into other areas of Pittsburgh public life, including being a charter member of the Masonic Deposit Savings Bank of Pittsburgh in 1869.  He would later be named as a Director of the Dollar Savings Bank and Union Insurance Company and in 1874 made his first move into city politics when he was elected to the Common Council of Pittsburgh. In that same year, he was elected as one of Allegheny County's representatives to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
   Taking his seat at the start of the 1875-76 session, Shidle sat on the house committees on Banks, the Library, and Retrenchment and Reform. Following his term, Shidle was elected as the President of the Masonic Bank of Pittsburgh (serving from 1886 until his death) and in 1887 was appointed by then Governor James Beaver to the Pennsylvania State Board of Charities. Shidle would turn down that job, however, sighting a contract to paper the Allegheny County Workhouse as making the position "incompatible." After many years of prominence in Pittsburgh public life, Geter Crosby Shidle died on June 11, 1889  in Atlantic City, New Jersey, having gone there out of health concerns. He was survived by his wife Annie and following her own death in 1894 was interred alongside her husband at the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

Portrait from "A Library of Freemasonry", Vol. 4. 1906.

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