704 E. St. Rd. 44 Rushville Indiana 46173


Knowles Shaw

Ross, Butler County, Ohio, USA
Death 7 Jun 1878 (aged 43)
McKinney, Collin County, Texas, USA

Musician and hymn writer. He was born in Butler County, Ohio and grew up in Rushville, Indiana. As a young boy his father died leaving his grieving son with the charge to take care of his mother and the admonition to prepare to meet God. He also left the boy a violin which he cherished throughout his life. Shaw set out immediately to care for his family by working wherever and whenever he could. By the time he was eighteen years old he had experience as a carpenter, plasterer, cobbler, store clerk and teacher. The bright and talented adolescent also became famous for his violin playing and was in demand to entertain at parties and dances. One night while playing at a party where the alcohol was flowing freely he recalled the admonition of his dying father to prepare to meet God. He was so struck by that memory that he left the stage, and when the audience urged him to continue playing he relented saying that he was sorry for his past actions and that he was now going to change his life's course. The young man became active in the Temperance movement and began preaching in nearby churches. His musical talent coupled with his powerful oratorical skills once again allowed him to develop a following and soon "The Singing Evangelist" was traveling throughout the country holding revival meetings. The popular preacher began to compose music to accompany his evangelistic efforts and from 1868 to 1878 he had published five hymnals. He also wrote several hymns including "Bringing in the Sheaves" and "The Handwriting on the Wall" and he composed the music for several more songs including "I am the Vine" and "We Saw the Not". At the height of his ministry he was killed when a train, bound to McKinney, Texas, derailed and plunged down a deep ravine. The nation grieved the death of this famous evangelist with over a thousand mourners attending a memorial service in Dallas. When the body was returned to Rushville, Indiana the crowd assembled for his funeral was so large that the service was held in the courthouse square because there was no building large enough to hold the assembled throng. Although the train accident cut short his life Shaw is remembered as a pioneer in the American religious music genre and several of his hymns are still popular today.