Charles Edgar Shadinger was born on July 14, 1868 in Mendota, Illinois to Henry Swartz and Nellie Armenia (Parks) Shadinger. Henry “Harry” Shadinger was a farmer and civil war veteran with strong skills as a liveryman. In 1871, the Shadinger family migrated to Dickinson County and Harry received a land patent for 168 acres in Section 4 in Buckeye Township, 7 miles north of Abilene. The family moved into town around 1876 and his father built the Shadinger Livery Stable in the 400 block of NW. 2nd Street, which later became known as the Opera House Livery Stable.
Charles was commonly known as “Ed”. Ed and his younger brother, Roy, attended Abilene schools and in May 1886 Ed graduated from the Abilene Commercial School. That August, he became a printing apprentice for the Abilene Chronicle newspaper, which was published by Albert Wilkerson Hargreaves. This was his first experience in the printing business which would become is primary vocation. In January 1887, the Shadinger’s moved to Chapman, Kansas where Ed became the printer for the Chapman Courier. An opportunity at the Denver Press in Denver, Colorado lured Ed west in early 1890. However, this move west was temporary as he returned to Abilene in August to manage the Enterprise Publishing Company in Enterprise, Kansas. A few months later, Ed would start working for the Abilene Chronicle again. In February 1891, Ed accepted a position with the Santa Paula Chronicle in Santa Paula, California.
Ed had grown up knowing Miss Jessie Ann Jeffcoat since they attended school together in Abilene. Jessie’s father, Amasa Jeffcoat, was in the livery business as was Ed’s father, so the families knew each other well. In December 1891, Jessie boarded a train in Abilene and traveled to Santa Paula where she joined Ed. The couple were married on December 12, 1891 in Santa Paula, California and returned to Enterprise in April the following year. Ed worked for the Enterprise Journal, Abilene Herald, and Chapman Standard. In the fall of 1893, Ed expressed interest in purchasing the Chapman Standard from J. C. Russel, but a deal was not made. That November, Ed purchased Frank Strother’s interest in the Junction City Sentinel and became a partner with Abel Wheeler Chabin. Mr. Chabin purchased the Sentinel in 1890 and previously owned a newspaper and been the postmaster in Onaga, Kansas. The new firm was Chabin & Shadinger. Ed and Jessie moved to a house on 6th Street west of Madison Street in Junction City. This partnership was short lived when Ed sold his interest four months later and returned to Abilene.
Ed and Jessie had two children: Gladys Lorena (Hogan) (b. 1893) and Gerald Charles (b. 1901). While in Abilene, Ed was involved in several fraternal and civic organizations. As a young man, he was a member of the Camp 63, Sons of Veterans, which as the name implies included sons of civil war veterans. Ed held leadership positions in the Knights of Pythias, Cyrus Chapter No. 25 Royal Arch Mason, Order of the Eastern Star, Fraternal Aid Association, and Abilene Rotary Club (President 1928-1929). He was a member of the Commercial Club (currently the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce) and served as President of the Abilene Municipal Band for several years between 1900-1920. At one time he was a member of the Grace Reform Church, but transferred his membership to the Presbyterian Church in which he served as a Trustee. Jessie was also involved in the church, Order of the Eastern Star, and Job’s Daughters.
By 1894, Charles’ skill and knowledge of the printing business was substantial and he decided to start a job printing business. In September of that year, he partnered with D. Tell Nutt in the job printing firm of Shadinger & Nutt. The Shadinger & Nutt Printing Company occupied part of the 2nd floor in the old Post Office building, which was a three-story building at the southeast corner of Cedar and NW. 3rd Streets (currently occupied by John Purvis, Attorney and Xpressions Salon). In February 1895, Shadinger & Nutt attempted to purchase the Abilene Dispatch newspaper, however, agreeable terms could not be reached. After this failed attempt the print shop relocated to the 2nd floor over the Gleissner Drug Store near the southeast corner of Broadway and NW. 3rd (currently USD 435 Administrative Offices). D. Tell Nutt decided to sell his interest and the firm was dissolved in July 1895. He would continue to work for the firm at different times.
In June 1898, Ed and Roy Shadinger along with Jabez Campbell Gault purchased the struggling Abilene Monitor newspaper from Ulysses Sanford Grant Gaines. They consolidated the print shop with the newspaper office. Mr. Gault was the newspaper editor and the ownership firm was Shadinger Brother & Gault. However, this partnership lasted only 4 months when it was dissolved. The print shop moved to the 214 N. Cedar Street (now occupied by Black & Company Realtors and Clippers Edge). The brother’s new firm was Shadinger & Shadinger (Shadinger Brothers). Always investing in the business, they introduced a gasoline engine to operate the presses in 1899. Roy sold his interest in the company to E. G. Kenyon of Yates Center in May 1900. The new firm name was Shadinger & Kenyon. Roy moved to Los Angeles, California and became a very successful salesman and manager for the American Type Foundry Company.
W. W. Bolles sold the property at 102 NW. 3rd Street to Ed in January 1902 and the printing business promptly occupied the space. Today, the west half of the Benjamin F. Edwards office sits on this site. In 1904, improvements were made to the office and an engine room was added to the building. Improvements were made to the 2nd floor for an apartment, which the Shadinger’s lived in for a short period of time after they sold their house on E. 1st Street. The business would remain at this location until March of 1911.
Jacob L. Kruger, the building contractor, sold the property at the south corner of Mulberry and NW. 2nd Street to the Shadinger Printing Company in January 1911. This site is now occupied by the eastern most building at the Webb Home Center. The partners of the business at the time of this purchase were Ed, Ed’s brother-in-law, Lawson Eugene Jeffcoat, and Benjamin Frank Myers, who had been an employee of the print shop for a number of years. During the first week of March, the employees of the print shop moved the machinery and supplies to the newly purchased building. When the move was complete, Charles treated the staff to an oyster dinner at the Home Rule Café (108 NW. 2nd) and a picture show. Ed bought Frank Myers’ interest in the business in 1921.
Throughout the years dozens of employees worked in the print shops. Among those were: W. B. Shawhan (1900), J. W. Saunders (1901), Theodore Wilvert (1903), Raymond Sanborn (1905-1907), D. Tell Nutt (1903-1907), Dr. Baldwin (1909), Francis Morton Duckworth, Frank Clarence Curts (1909), Elmer Clark (1914-1915), Blanche Mikulecky (1913-1915), Herbert Pike (1916-1917), Benjamin Frank Myers (1899-1921), Christopher Dunable (1913-1914), George McCormick (1916), Charles Lambing (1918), and Gerald Shadinger (1922).
The Shadinger’s moved their residence more often than their business changed. The family lived at a house on NW. 2nd Street between Walnut and Elm Streets in 1898. That July, there was a barn fire in the middle of the block and four properties including the Shadinger house was threatened. The Johntz house at the corner of Walnut and NW. 3rd Streets was also threatened. Three barns were destroyed and all of the homes were spared. The Shadinger’s moved to the Boutin house at NW. 4th and Spruce Streets in October 1898 and less than a year later they moved into the Trott House on NW. 3rd Street. In 1900, Ed purchased a cottage on E. 1st Street and made significant improvements to the property, which he would sell in 1904 at the time he purchased 102 NW. 3rd Street. By 1906, they lived at 114 NW. 5th Street.
Ed purchased the vacant lot at the northwest corner of E. 1st and Olive Streets and built the 2-story home addressed 221 E. 1st Street. They moved into this house in May 1908. Ed again purchased a vacant lot at the corner of Cedar and 10th Streets and started excavating a basement in October 1912. In January 1913, the family moved into the Carroll Boarding House at 107 W. 1st Street while their new home at 911 N. Cedar Street was being built. They moved into the new house that July. Four years later, this house would be purchased by Alfred Doidge. By 1918, the Shadingers had purchased the home at 910 NW. 2nd Street.
Jessie died unexpectedly on April 12, 1936 at the Dickinson County Memorial Hospital in Abilene after a short illness. Her funeral was held two days later at the Presbyterian Church. Gerald would eventually become the manager and took care of the business after Ed’s day to day involvement ceased. After Jessie’s death Ed lived at 205 E. 1st Street, with his daughter’s family. Ed died 5 years later (August 30, 1941) in Abilene and his funeral was held at the Presbyterian Church. The couple are laid to rest in the Abilene Cemetery.
After his father’s death, Gerald owned and operated the print shop. In the early 1940’s the business was moved to 207 NE. 3rd Street. In the 1950’s, Gerald took on a partner and it became Shadinger-Wilson Printing. The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle purchased the business and only held it for a short period of time. Ralph Hilton bought it from the newspaper in 1971 and continues to operate as Abilene Printing and Office Products Company at 207 NE. 3rd Street.