Mark Shaw: Saver Of Souls, Undertaker, Supervisor

By Mark Gutglueck
Mark Bailey Shaw, the son of Isaac and Salome (Freeman) Shaw, was born on November 17, 1862, in Waterville, Nova Scotia. When he was six, his family moved to Berwick in Kings County Nova Scotia. In Berwick he attended primary school in the public school system. Shaw would claim that his most valuable early education came from his mother, who was highly educated, having attended and graduated from Mt Holyoke Seminary.
At the age of seventeen, Shaw entered Horton Collegiate Academy at Wolfville, Nova Scotia and then matriculated to Acadia University, and was graduated in the class of 1886, with the degree of A.B. In the summer of 1889 he received the degree of A. M. On June 7, 1886, he married Antoinette Dewis, daughter of Captain Robert Dewis, of Nova Scotia.
Shaw’s natural inclination was to become a man of the cloth. He began preaching at the age of eighteen. On July 17, 1886 he was ordained at Cow Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He began his ministry there, having four small churches in the district under his charge. He worked strenuously, having to do hard driving to preach a sermon every other Sunday in the four churches under his over-parsonage. He was remunerated with the sum of five hundred pounds annually and provided with a residence.
In May, 1888, he was summoned to Yarmouth to “The Milton Church” of that city and he was in residence there until September 1889, when his health began to fail precipitously. An uncle from Los Angeles who was in Nova Scotia at the time, D.A. Shaw, convinced him to come to California to regain his health. He arrived in San Bernardino on October 8, 1889, but went straightaway on to San Diego. There he had a meeting with the deacons of the church at Fallbrook, and they offered him the charge of the place of worship there. He accepted and remained as that church’s pastor for six months.
The Baptist Mission Board of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had a missionary station in India, at Vizianagran, Madras Presidency, about half way between Madras and Calcutta and about 212 miles from the latter city. The board was seeking a minister with the requisite qualities to take charge of this mission field and, impressed with Shaw’s record, despite his youth offered him the residency in Vizianagran. He accepted that offer and resigned the pastorate at Fallbrook, departing for Nova Scotia to prepare for his trip.
In September 1890 he sailed for India from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and arrived at his destination on December 1. His headquarters was a bungalow of eighteen suites of rooms only ten feet above sea level. He rapidly mastered the language and worked hard until January 1, 1895, when he resigned and returned to Fallbrook via Vancouver, British Columbia. He remained in Fallbrook one month and then assumed the pulpit in Ontario for nine months. On April 1, 1896, he returned to Fallbrook and there he remained until October 18, 1899, when he came to San Bernardino.
He succeeded Dr. A.J. Frost as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in San Bernardino. Frost was greatly respected by the members of the congregation and many considered it to be presumptuous of Shaw, still a relatively young man, to fill the pulpit of such an illustrious preacher. Within a very short time, however, Shaw proved to them he was making the church more successful than it had ever been. He soon persuaded the trustees to sell the old church and erect a grand new structure at Fourth and G streets.
On November 1, 1909, he retired from the ministry to enter the undertaking business with John Barton, with whom he remained associated for some time. On February 1, 1911, he established his own business at Fifth and E streets in partnership with John Dean. The following year Harold Shaw joined with his farther and the firm became known as the “Mark B. Shaw Company.” Later, another son, Douglas, joined the firm.
On April 1, 1909, Governor James Gillett appointed Shaw to the post of Chaplain of the Seventh Regiment, California National Guard, and in 1916, he accompanied his regiment to the Mexican border. While he was there he was notified that he had been elected San Bernardino County’s Fifth District supervisor. He returned in December and was sworn in on January 1, 1917, remaining in office until December 3, 1918, at which point a brief break in his service to his adopted county came about because of his call to military duty. When the U.S. entered World War I, then known as the Great War, the Seventh Regiment was activated and Shaw, by then referred to as Dr. Shaw, accompanied his regiment to the training encampment in Arcadia. He was disqualified because of his age, and he returned to San Bernardino where he was immediately reappointed to the board of supervisor by Governor William B. Stephens. He also served as a member of the school board and on the board of the old detention home at Tenth and B streets.
Following a period of illness, Mark B. Shaw died at his home on July 25, 1922. He was survived by his widow, Mrs. Antoinette Shaw; four sons, Harold D., Herbert, and Douglas M. of San Bernardino, and Wayland Bartlett of Buena Park; two daughters, Mrs. Muriel Shaw Brown and Vernal Emily Shaw of San Bernardino, and ten grandchildren.
Mr. Shaw was a member of Keystone Chapter No. 56, Valley Council No. 27, St. Bernard Commandery, and Phoenix Lodge No. 173, F. and A.M.; he was a Patron of the Gate City Chapter, Eastern Star; a life member of the San Bernardino Lodge of Elks; a member of the Modern Woodmen, Woodmen of the World, Knights and Ladies of Security, Valley Lodge No. 37 of the Knights of Pythias; the Pioneer Society; Lions Club; American Legion and other civic organizations. He was one of the organizers and first chaplain of the San Bernardino Post, American Legion. He was active in instigating the building of the Pioneer Log Cabin and held an honorary life membership in that society, acting as assistant secretary for several years.

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