It can be an interesting and somewhat humbling experience to reflect on how this city of ours got started years ago. Who were those tenacious citizens who first established businesses and homes and raised families here? Just what were their lives like, we have to wonder? In early December of 1925, a Bloomington newspaper headline announced that the 'First Child Born in Lexington' had been summoned by death, following a brief illness. The article relayed the story of one of Lexington's prominent citizens, Mrs. Emily Shade, who passed away on December 14 at the age of 87 after being born here in 1838 and living here her entire life.
Emily was a daughter of early settlers Jacob and Elizabeth Spawr, and she was actually the very first child born within the corporate limits of Lexington. She and her husband Samuel were lauded as early 'pillars' of this growing community. The following information about this first child born here was taken from the Daily Pantagraph:
Her obituary tells us that Emily "was united in marriage to Samuel S. Shade on October 20, 1858, he proceeding her in death on May 1, 1896. She is survived by three children, Luella, at home; Harry S. Shade; Mrs. Margaret Montgomery; one grandchild and a sister, Mrs.Noah Franklin of Lexington.
Mrs. Shade's parents were close intimate friends of Abraham Lincoln, and she said some of the
pleasantest memories of her life were of his frequent visits to their home during her early childhood. She was a lifelong member of the Methodist Church of Lexington, and was very prominent in church and social circles; she was greatly loved by a wide circle of friends."
Emily's husband Samuel was described in his obituary as an "able businessman and model citizen. He came to this city in 1855 and followed his trade which was that of a carpentar. In 1868, he formed a partnership with Jacob Best and began a lumber business in Lexington which was profitably and successfully conducted for many years. In 1891, Mr. Best retired and was succeeded by H.S. Shade and the firm has been S. S. Shade & Son." Samuel managed the lumber business until his illness and death in 1896.
Emily's and her husband's union was described in his obit as 'a happy one' and their home life was 'an ideal one'. It was noted in the obituaries that their daughter Luella was a member of the first graduating class of Lexington High School.
As we review Lexington's development, we find that the Shade Lumber business, managed by Samuel and then H. S. Shade, was quite an integral part of our town's history for many years. After passing, Emily and Samuel Shade were laid to rest in the Lexington Cemetery.