A Father’s Monument for His Son



Co. I. 40 VOL. IN.

SEPT. 26, 1876


MAY 14, 1900.




In the Wesley Cemetery, just outside Westport, Indiana, stands a monument commissioned by a father for his son who was killed in battle.

According to Pat Smith, writing for the Greensburg Daily News on May 14, 2014, “He was killed in action while on firing line by insurgents in Augean, Mindanao, Philippines about 1:30 p.m. May 14, 1900 during a charge up a hill. A bullet entered the right side of his neck two inches below his ear which opened his right carotid artery, and passing downward, backward and to the left emerged (in the back) through the left scapula. He went into shock due to hemorrhaging and died.”

His father, N. T. Shaw of Alert, Indiana, was notified seven days later by cablegram that his son had died in battle on May 14th.  His body was not returned but instead was buried in the Cagayan Cemetery on May 15th in Cagayan, Mindanao, Philippines, in grave number 8, thousands of miles from of his home and family in rural Indiana.

Several months later N. T. Shaw received his son’s personal effects: 2 blankets, 1 Fatigue coat, 3 pair of Khaki trousers, 1 blue blouse, 1 suit underwear, 2 pair drawers, 1 chambray shirt, 1 poncho, 1 pair calf shoes, 1 barrack shoes, 1 book, 15 shell buttons, 25 books and pamphlets, a bundle of private letters, 1 pair spectacles, 2 mirrors, 1 brush and comb, one towel, 1 handkerchief, 1 belt, 1 pair shoe laces, 1 campaign hat, 2 razors, 1 razor strop, 1 handy case, 1 memo book, 5 books of Shakespeare. The total value of John Shaw’s belongings was estimated at $7.35. But one thing was missing—his watch.  N. T. Shaw wrote to the Army to find out if the watch could be found and returned.  He noted the watch had no value other than sentimental.  There is no record of whether or not it was found.

To honor his son, N. T. Shaw commissioned a statue to be erected in the Wesley Cemetery, though his son’s body was buried in the Philippines.  The statue is a cenotaph as John Shaw is not actually buried underneath the monument.  The word cenotaph originates from the Greek word kenotaphionKenos means empty and taphos translates to tomb–together they form “empty tomb.

The limestone sculpture of John W. Shaw has been broken and damaged by vandals.  The gun barrel and stock of his gun is missing and the lines where the monument has been repaired stripe the statues’ legs.  But after care and repair, the monument once again looks out, like a sentinel, on the fields where John Shaw once lived.

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