Giles Waldo Shurtleff (1831-1904), a native of Canada, came to the United States at age three with his family. After spending his youth in Illinois, he came to Oberlin in 1853, graduating from Oberlin College in 1859. It was in Oberlin that he met Mary E. Burton (1836-1924), and they were married in 1864. She had studies at Mount Holyoke Seminary in 1858-59 and then at the Lake Erie Female Seminary, from which she graduated in 1860. She was a teacher at the Lake Erie Female Seminary in Austinburg, Ohio, from 1862-1864. Throughout her life, she was active in organizations such as the Oberlin Temperance Alliance, the Non-Partisan Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Women's Board of Missions of the Interior, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She lived in Oberlin until her death in 1924.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Shurtleff began as captain of what became Company C of the 7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was taken prisoner at Kesler's Cross Lanes, Virginia, in August, 1861, and not exchanged until a year later (August 1862). He was then assigned to the staff of General O. B. Wilcox of the 9th Army Corps with whom he served at Fredericksburg. Although discharged due to illness in the spring of 1863, the following July he became Lt. Colonel of black troops recruited in Ohio and designated the 5th U.S. Colored Troops. Shurtleff remained with this unit to the end of the war and his duty included Petersburg, Virginia (June-August, 1864). Following an attack upon Fort Harrison, near Richmond on September 29, 1864, he was wounded. In addition to his service in Virginia, he spent time in North Carolina in 1865. He was brevetted Brigadier General before his discharge.
Shurtleff returned to Oberlin to become a professor of Latin and Greek (1866-87) and he also held positions in the College of financial secretary (1873-74), secretary and treasurer (1887-93), and member of the Board of Trustees (1894-1904). Shurtleff traveled at various times raising funds for the College, and trips to Europe in 1882 and 1886-87, and was in private business from 1894. He served the community as its mayor (1868), on the village council, on the executive committee of the Temperance Alliance, and as President of the Board of Commerce and of the Village Improvement Society.
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