Vanessa Brown

SHANNON, JOHN MOORE (1849–1928). John Moore Shannon, West Texas pioneer sheep rancher and businessman, son of William and Mary (Moore) Shannon, was born in New Orleans on May 15, 1849. After his birth Shannon's family migrated to Australia. At seventeen Shannon set out for California, where he managed a sheep-shearing crew. In 1879 he left for Australia to visit his dying mother, and on his trip back to the United States in 1880 he met his future wife, Margaret Campbell. They were married in her native Scotland on April 22, 1881, and returned to the United States to settle in Missouri. After a real-estate failure Shannon moved to Texas to take advantage of the employment opportunities in the sheep industry (see SHEEP RANCHING). With only $2.65 in his pocket, Shannon arrived in 1883 in Colorado City, where he immediately hired out as a railroad laborer; he herded and sheared sheep for Arthur Anderson and the Rix brothers and dug postholes for J. Wright and John Wesley Mooar. In 1885 Shannon formed a partnership with A. F. Clarkson and Ben Griffith to build a fence on the XIT Ranch. The profits from this venture enabled Shannon to purchase sheep and enter the ranching business. He moved into Irion and Crockett counties and bought land until he accumulated over 125,000 acres. Shannon contributed to the development of West Texas by organizing and directing numerous banking institutions, including the Ozona National Bank, the First National Bank of Snyder, and the Central National Bank of San Angelo. He was a major investor in several insurance companies and financed the establishment of a telephone system between Ozona and Fort Stockton. He promoted organizations of wool and mohair producers in the San Angelo area (see WOOL AND MOHAIR INDUSTRY). He also aided the economy of the area by cosigning on nearly $3 million worth of loans for ranchers who would have otherwise gone bankrupt.

Shannon's reputation as a business and ranching entrepreneur is synonymous with his reputation as an eccentric millionaire who dressed like a sheepherder and disdained social amenities. He had no qualms, for instance, about cutting his toenails at his desk, much to the dismay of his business partners. "They needed cuttin'," he claimed. Shannon also wore his boots until his toes bled, and when someone suggested he buy new boots, he declared, "Goodness, no, Sonny, breaking in the new boots would be worse than the pricklypear." Shannon was a staunch Republican but not a churchgoer; he believed that "religion was alright for women and children but not worth a darn for a man." Since he and his wife had no children, Shannon wanted to leave his estate to the people of West Texas for the establishment of a hospital. He died on May 28, 1928, in San Angelo, and was buried in Fairmount Cemetery there. With an estate worth $2 million, Margaret Shannon acted on her husband's wishes and established the Shannon West Texas Memorial Hospital in San Angelo.

James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959). J. Evetts Haley, The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado (Chicago: Lakeside, 1929; rpts., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953, 1967).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Vanessa Brown, "SHANNON, JOHN MOORE," accessed June 24, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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