HON. BENJAMIN P. SHAWHAN
History of Idaho, Volume 2, by Hiram T. French, M.S.
The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York 1914, Page 590
The health-giving climate of Idaho has made the state famed throughout the county and has attracted travelers from the East for many years. In 1896, finding his health impaired, Benjamin P. Shawhan came from New York to Idaho, and has here found not only health, but position and happiness. Probably no section is more widely known than Plymouth Colony, founded by Mr. Shawhan with Dr. Edward Everett Hale and William E. Smythe, but this is only one of the great enterprises with which he has been connected, while in the meantime he has risen to high places within the gift of the people. Mr. Shawhan was born January 21, 1862, at Sigourney, Keokuk county, Iowa, and is a son of Joseph H. and Mary A. (Jackson) Shawhan. His father, for many years a prominent business man of Sigourney, came to Idaho in 1895, and here at once took rank as one of the foremost horticulturists in the state, being the owner of the finest orchards in the Payette valley, canyon county, known as Hopehurst. He was a member of the State Horticultural Society, and was its president at the time of his death, which occurred suddenly April 26, 1911. His widow, who was a daughter of William Jackson, an early Ohio Pioneer, survives him and makes her home at Payette. They were the parents of six children, as follows: Benjamin P.; Rev. Henry H., pastor of a Presbyterian church at Kansas City, Kansas; William J. who retired from business; Dr. G. E., a leading physician of Boise; Gertrude, who became the wife of Henry J. Sommercamp and now resides at Weiser, Idaho; and Bessie, who married Thomas E. Jones, of Payette.
Benjamin P. Shawhan was sixteen years of age when he completed his high school course, following which he spent one year in the Morgan Park Military Academy. He then commenced the study of law with Woodin & McJunkin, a well-known legal firm of Sigourney, and after one year there entered Beloit (Wis.) College. His next location was in Clay county, Kansas, where he was in partnership with his father in the buggy and implement business for one year, and was one of the organizers of the Peoples National Bank. In 1887 he went to Garden City, Kansas, to accept the position of cashier of the Bank of Garden City, and in 1889 he bought the controlling interest in the First National Bank of Garden City, of which he became president. He was married during that same year and went to New York with his bride, there becoming secretary and treasurer of the Equitable Mortgage Company. Mr. Shaw remained in New York until April, 1892. His health began to fail about this time, and he left New York and came to Idaho, settling in Payette, where he engaged in irrigation projects, building the system of the Payette Valley Irrigation Company, now know as the Co-operative Irrigation Company. After seeing it upon a sound basis sold his interests therein and turned his attention to agricultural pursuits in the Payette valley, where he is the holder of valuable lands. In 1895, in company with Dr. Edward Elliott Hale and Rev. William E. Smythe, he founded Plymouth Colony on an unique plan, specifying in the deeds sold to colonists that no intoxicants could be sold, the land reverting to the company on failure to comply with this specification. This has proved a very prosperous and successful enterprise; land purchased at twenty dollars an acre afterwards sold as high as eight hundred dollars an acre. In May, 1911, Mr. Shawhan took charge of the Cary Act Department, and continued in this capacity until March, 1913 when he resigned to act as receiver for the King Hill Irrigation System.
In 1889 Mr. Shawhan was married to Miss Eva O. Pickering, daughter of Ulysses Pickering, a pioneer of Indiana, and to this union there have been born two children; Helen, aged thirteen years; and Frederick, who is six years old. The family is prominent in church and social circles. In political matters Mr. Shawhan is a Republican. In 1908 he was elected to the state senate and in 1910 was re-elected, having the honor of being the only man to be re-elected to that body from his county.