Ephraim Shay
8th MO Infantry (US)
Company D
Photo of Ephraim Shay

(Click here for a explanation of why people from other states joined the 8th Missouri)

Harbor Springs, Michigan, still remembers Ephraim Shay as one of their prominent historical citizens; every July they hold "Shay Days".
Ephraim Shay was born on July 17, 1839 in Sherman Township, Huron County, Ohio.   His parents insured Ephraim received a better than average education. He attended a Select School.   His first teaching work was in Shaytown, New Jersey and by January 1861 Ephraim Shay was teaching school in Bellevue, Ohio.
In 1861 (at the age of 21) Ephraim was spending his free time looking for farmland.   In June 1861, he travelled to look at land in Michigan, and then onto Peoria, Illinois, to locate the owner.   It was in Peoria that Shay learned of the formation of a Union Regiment in St. Louis.   He traveled to Bloomington, Illinois, where he joined a forming Company and then went onto Missouri.   Shay served as an Enlisted man, assigned first to Company D, 8th Regiment of Missouri Volunteer Infantry.   Likely due to his education, Shay's assignment was with the Adjutant's office and as a clerk with the Quartermasters.
Shay's tour in the Army took him to Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.   In Mississippi, Shay was assigned as a medical steward with the Hospital Corps in Chickasaw Springs.   He then became the hospital steward in charge of the dispensary in Prentiss Hospital, Vicksburg, Mississippi.   Ephraim Shay received an Honorable Discharge in 1864.


After the war, Shay moved to Michigan and entered the lumber industry.   To get his lumber out of the forest cheaper than his competitors, he invented a locomotive.   This locomotive was capable of carrying heavy loads up steep slopes.   It was designed to be fixed on the spot; so, if an engine broke down in the middle of the forest, it did not have to be taken back to the engine house.   The Shay locomotive was a boon to logging.
The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan has Shay's papers.   The papers include Shay's war diary (1861-1863) describing his military experiences, including the battles of Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, and Vicksburg, as well as orders and official documents.
Ephraim Shay passed away April 19, 1916.   His grave in Lake View Cemetery, Harbor Springs, like the man, is itself unusual.   It bears two tombstones.   One is the US Government grave marker for a Civil War Veteran.   The other, a large black rock over four feet tall, is reputed to be a meteorite from his own property.

Most of this information comes from Rick Henderson at

SOME WEBSITES for Ephraim Shay:
The Life Of Ephraim Shay
Wikipedia entry