A modern history of New Haven and eastern New Haven County, Volume 2
By Everett Gleason Hill
Hon. John Orrin Shares
Hon. John Orrin Shares is well known in business circles of Hamden as a successful operator in the field of real estate, but is even more widely known because of the important part which he has played in public affairs of the community. He is now judge of the town court of Hamden. As a member of the legislature of 1897 he was connected with the lawmakers of Connecticut and it was during this service as a member of the state legislature that he introduced the bill to create the town court of Hamden. Judge Shares was born in North Haven, Connecticut, October 2, 1867, and is a son of Horace Putnam and Susan Charlotte (Ives) Shares. His father was born in Hamden, Connecticut, May 8, 1836, a son of Daniel W. and Janette (Bassett) Shares, the former a well known inventor. Horace P. Shares was for many years identified with brick manufacturing in New Haven and did much to promote the industry in his section of the state. In the middle ’50s he carried on farming in North Haven and then took up the manufacture of brick in connection with his father-in-law, Alfred Ives. About 1859 he assumed the management of the Warner, Mansfield & Stiles Brick Company of Nortli Haven Center, thus continuing until 1863, in which year he established a business of liis own in the Quinnipiac valley. Later he purchased of his former employers one of their yards and operated both until 1887. In the operation of his plant he introduced improved machinery and equally improved processes of manufacture and greatly developed the industry. He was the first to introduce the Philadelphia repress system and in 1880 he adopted the pallet system for drying brick. His sound judgment and keen sagacity enabled him to readily recognize the value of any new idea put forth in connection with brick manufacture and to adopt it or reject it according to its real worth in connection with the business. He traveled quite extensively in America and in Mexico and showed great interest in the development of Rock Ledge, Florida, where he spent the winter months from 1884. There he built the Rock Ledge Hotel, which was successfully conducted under his management and which became a popular resort with Connecticut’s winter residents of Florida. During the summer months Mr. Shares resided at Short Beach. He passed away hi Pasadena, California, January 23, 1902. He was married October 9, 1854, to Susan Charlotte Ives, a daughter of the late Alfred Ives, of North Haven and a representative of one of the old and prominent families of this state.
Judge Shares, their son, whose name introduces this review, supplemented his district school education by a course in the New Haven high school and then took up the brick manufacturing business with his father, with whom he was thus associated until he reached the age of twenty-nine years. He then engaged in business on his own account in Cheshire operating a brass rolling mill for ten years, but his plant was destroyed by fire in 1909. He has made his home in Hamden except for about five years spent in New Haven. After the fire he embarked in the real estate business in Hamden. in which he has since been active, negotiating many important realty transfers.
On the 2d of May, 1889, Judge Shares was united in marriage to Miss Codie May Munson, who was born in Hamden and there passed away May 30, 1910. Her parents were Henry W. and Charlotte (Thomas) Munson, natives of New Haven. To the first marriage of Judge Shares was born on January 16, 1892, a son, Lester Munson, who is now located in Bay City, Michigan. For his second wife Judge Shares chose Miss Nina May Chappell, of New Haven, whom he wedded on the 25th of November, 1913. She was born in New Haven and is a daughter of Joshua M. and Ida (Riggs) Chappell, the former a native of Centerport,’ Long Island, and now’ engaged in the oyster business in New Haven. There are two children of the second marriage: Sylvia Chappell, born November 25, 1914; and Janace, born March 16, 1917.
In his political views Judge Shares is a republican, having supported the party since attaining his majority. In 1896 he was elected to the state legislature and served in the session of the following year, during which time he introduced a bill to create the town court of Hamden, of which twenty years later he became presiding judge. He served as clerk of the committee on roads, rivers and bridges while in the state legislature. He was appointed deputy judge of the town court of Hamden by the Connecticut legislature of 1915 and after serving two years was commissioned judge on the 3d of June, 1917, and is now serving in this capacity. He has been one of the active republicans of the town of Hamden since reaching man’s estate, yet he is not blindly following party leadership. On the contrary he is an independent thinker, nor binds himself to any course but guides his actions by what he believes to be right. Fraternally he is connected with Day Spring Lodge, F. & A. M., Pulaski Chapter, R. A. M., Crawford Council, R. & S. M., New Haven Commandery, K. T., and Pyramid Temple, %A. A.,,0. N. M. S. He has also attained the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite. ‘He-likewise belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen; is a member of the Quinnipiac Club of New Haven; a veteran of Company F, Second Rcgim’ent, Connecticut National Guard, better known as the New Haven Grays, and now holds a commission as captain of Company H, Second Regiment, Connecticut Home Guard. He is one of Hamden’s most prominent men, is widely known throughout the state, and his political activities have gained him high endorsement, while his pronounced social characteristics have won for him the warm friendship and high regard of all with whom he has been associated.