In the lower two
photographs in your ask the staff section is my Uncle Shade (Shadrick
Archibald "Shade" "Captain" Shields) with his wife Giantess,
Annie O'Brian (stage name), who was Christiana Dorothea
"Ruth" Dunz born in Germany who had red hair. PT Barnum
decided she should be Irish because of her hair. Uncle
Shade and Annie O'Brian, whom he always referred to as Ruth,
toured with PT Barnum, Barnum & Bailey, John Robinson's
Show, Sells Brothers Circus, Forepaugh-Sells Circus and
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Shade toured as long as he
could. He loved the life. He stopped touring after Annie
died around the turn of the last century (1902-1903).
The photo on the cover of the Texas Giants Book
(is from a similar cabinet card as the image
above) has "Shade" (b. Dec. 1, 1855) age 18, 7'
8"; "Guss" (b. ca. 1852) age 24, 7' 10"; "Frank" (b.
September 27, 1853) age 24, 7' 11 1/4", Jack (b. August 21,
1859) age 20, 7' 11 1/4". It appears the ages and heights
were not accurate, P.T. Barnum may have made Shade the
youngest as he was the shortest of the Shields Giants. None
of the Giants were as tall as PT Barnum's ruler made them
appear. For example, Uncle Shade was 6' 6" and his wife Aunt
Ruth was 6' 7". My cousin, Weldon Shields who wrote the
book Texas Giants seems to have made an effort to have his
record comply with P.T. Barnum.
The Shields Giants began
touring with the PT Barnum's sideshow in 1877. Frank, Jack
& Guss were over 7' tall but they were not just under 8'.
They wore built up shoes, tall hats and PT Barnum's rule did
not have the full 12" per foot. Only one descendant of the
giants was 7' tall and that is Frank's grandson
**Marcus Ross Freiberger, my Aunt Varina Shields Freiberger's son.
Marcus played basketball
and received a gold metal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic
games. He died June 29, 2005, age 79.
My grandfather, Frank Shields married 3 times. He first
wife, Laura Sedora Bolton died in childbirth and bore him
one child. His second wife, Fannie Angelina Peoples died of
small pox and bore him three children. My grandmother,
Achsah Anna Ross bore him 14 children and gave birth to the
last child, Uncle Jack, 6 months after his death on November
07, 1910. My father, Duren Howard Shields was one of the
younger boys, he had two younger brothers. Consequently,
there are grandchildren and great grandchildren near the
PT Barnum's Circus with the Shields Giants toured in London,
England; toured through the United States & Canada with
"Barnum and London United Shows" in 1887. The Shields
Giants were in the Barnum's Giants & Midgets Exhibit in
Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York and there is
a photo of them in one of the books on Barnum. It is the
photo where they have the tall hats similar to a drum major
hat. Uncle Jack, Giant was not in the photo. Aunt Hattie
(Hattie Mae Shields Shanks, daughter of Frank Shields, Texas
Giant) stated the substitute man is George Sturgis.
Barnum's circus was home
based in New York City, NY and wintered in Florida.
Martha grand daughter of Frank Shields
added - March 05, 2008
great-grandson of Frank Shields I wanted to let you know I
find you site a joy and appreciate the preservation of the
grateful for mention of my father, Marcus Freiberger, and
his accomplishment winning a Gold Medal in the 1952 Helsinki
Olympic Games. In the context of PT Barnum performers minor
details may only obscure the show, but for the record I
wanted to confirm the following to you
Ross Freiberger height 610 (however, some basketball
programs exaggerated at 611). He was born November 28,
1928 and died June 29, 2005, as Martha accurately states.
Therefore his age at time of death was 76, not 79.
Also added to According to Martha
Images of the Shields Brothers
Cabinet Card of
Shields Brothers The Texas Giants - private collection