Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Giants in a giant land

The four Shields brothers, of White Rock, Texas, were billed as being between 7 feet 8 inches and 8 feet 0 inches tall, but in reality none of them exceeded 7 feet 0 inches. They were between 6 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 11 inches when they joined a Barnum & Bailey sideshow around 1880. They were also known as The Texas Giants

Shadrick Archibald Shields (a.k.a. Shade Shields at 6 feet 8 inches), Augustus Orion Shields (a.k.a. Guss Shields at 6 feet 9 inches), John Franklin Shields (a.k.a. Frank Shields at 6 feet 10.5 inches), and Jack Robinson Shields (a.k.a. Jack Shields at 6 feet 11 inches) each made about six dollars a day as 'The Texas Giants.' Three of the brothers returned to Texas after 10 years, but Shade trouped on into the 1890s. At one point, he and his tall, Irish wife, Annie (formerly knownn as Annie O'Brien, wife of Patrick O'Brien), were billed as 'The Texas Giant and Giantess.' After Shade retired, he and Guss ran a saloon in Greenville. But in his last years, recalling the magic of the big top, Shade spent most of his time on Missouri riverboats with his good friend and fellow circus veteran, 36-inch-tall Major Ray, who had formed one half of 'the smallest married couple in the world.' 

One of the newspaper clippings below writes of 7 real Shields Brothers (with a claimed combined height of over 50 feet!). The 1870 census even lists 8 Shields brothers and their approximate birth years: 

James Shields - 1839
Robert Shields - 1842
Thomas J Shields - 1844
Josiah P Shields - 1848
Augustus O Shields - 1851
John F Shields - 1853
Shadrick A Shields - 1857
Jack R Shields - 1859


  1. Everything is bigger in Texas.

  2. At least three of them would have been of military age in 1861.

    Did they serve in the Confederate Army, possibly under Major General John Bell Hood?