W.B. Shaw was a pioneering merchant who operated what was likely Bismarck’s first retail store… Shaw & Cathcart Co.
W.B. Shaw (one source says W.S. Shaw, but all others are W.B.) was a Colonel under General Rosecrans during the Civil War. He had some relation to John J. Shaw, likely father-son, who was the proprietor of the Merchants Hotel in Saint Paul until 1873. W.B. was once listed as an agent of the hotel.
Colonel Shaw was also a correspondent for multiple newspapers as of June 1872, including the Minneapolis Tribune, Chicago Journal, Cleveland Herald, and Boston Transcript.
The Bismarck store originated as Shaw, Cathcart, & Fisher – a partnership enterprise in Boston, Massachusetts involving Asa Fisher and W.B. Shaw. Cathcart’s involvement has been unconfirmed, as previously mentioned. The pair moved to what is now Bismarck in about May 1872, but it’s unclear whether Fisher continued in the partnership after that point.
Upon exiting the dry good retail business in 1874, Mr. Shaw entered the freighting business, which continued until at least 1876.
In 1875, when Linda Slaughter was forcibly removed as postmistress, Shaw was appointed replacement.
He was later a post-trader at Fort Berthold, where he took up residence as of 1882.
In 1885, a W.B. Shaw was reported living in Toronto, but it’s unconfirmed if this is the same individual.
By 1891, Shaw had returned to Saint Paul, where he was living on Wabasha Street (interestingly, the same street of the former Cathcart & Co).
A man named W.B. Shaw was residing in Toronto as of 1885 and operated The Shaw Sales Company out of Minneapolis as of June 1922, but it’s unconfirmed whether either of these are the same individual or of any relation.