William Woodburn Skiles

William Woodburn Skiles

William Woodburn Skiles (1849-1904) was born 11 December 1849 in Cumberland County, Penn. to John Gettis Skiles and Sarah Jane Martin. His parents moved to Jackson Township in Richland County in 1854 when he was 6 and he was raised on a farm. John was a cabinet maker but took up farming when they moved to Ohio. William Skiles earned money for college by teaching school in the winter and farming in the summer. He chose Baldwin University in Berea and studied law under Matson & Dirlam in Mansfield.

His younger brother George followed the same path to college and once they passed the bar exam, they formed the law firm Skiles & Skiles. They made their name taking up damage cases against railroads.

Skiles was involved in many of the early businesses in Shelby, from stockholder and director of the Shelby Steel Tube Company, Shelby Electric Company (Shelby Lamp), Shelby Stove Company and president of Citizens Bank. He also was a founding member of the Shelby Water Company.

He was a passionate supporter of education and was president of the Shelby Board of Education for 17 years.

A staunch Republican, he ran for the 14th District U. S. House of Representatives in May 1900.  It was a hotly contested nomination, winning after 2,101 ballots were cast. Skiles was just beginning his second term when he died from pneumonia.

In 1928, W. W. Skiles Football Field was named after him after a donation from his widow, Elderade Dora Matson Skiles.

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