William G Marshall – Deaf Shoe Maker

William G. Marshall arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1879 to set up one of Lincoln’s earliest shoemaking shops. He, like both his parents, was born deaf.

William G. Marshall (standing, third from left) arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1879 to set up one of the city’s earliest shoemaking shops. He was born in New York City on November 1, 1854, to George B. and Olive (Berg) Marshall. Like both his parents, William was born deaf. He attended the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville, Illinois, from 1863 to 1869. While living in Union, Iowa, he married Julia Ann McCoy on October 26, 1875. Their three daughters, Rebecca, Julia Starr, and Maude Diamond, were also born deaf like their father and grandparents.

William’s father, George (possibly the older man seated second from left), joined him in the shoemaking trade in Lincoln by the time of the1880 US Census. The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln) called William an “artist in the profession” and said there was “no more honorable gentleman in the land deserving of your patronage.” Sadly, William died of an obstructed bowel at age 29, on August 4, 1884.

William G Marshall

This photograph was taken in 1879, shortly after he opened his shoemaking shop, by early Lincoln photographer Ephraim Clements. The photo was likely taken in Clements’ studio on S. 11th Street, where a skylight would have provided proper lighting for the photograph. Marshall and his worker likely transported the tools of their trade including bundles of leather, a sewing machine, and samples of boots.

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