My Grand Father Frank

 

 


 

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 same age. 
 
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

 

**Information added - March 05, 2008

 

As the great-grandson of Frank Shields I wanted to let you know I find you site a joy and appreciate the preservation of the memories.

 

I am 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….

 

Marcus Ross Freiberger height – 6’10” (however, some basketball programs exaggerated at 6’11”).   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.

 

 

 Sincerely,

Jim Freiberger

 

Also added to According to Martha

 

Images of the Shields Brothers

 


 

Photograph,

Cabinet Card of Shields Brothers The Texas Giants - private collection

 


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