1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shaw, Henry Wheeler

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SHAW, HENRY WHEELER (1818-1885), American humorist, known by the pen-name of “Josh Billings,” was born of Puritan stock at Lanesborough, Massachusetts, on the 21st of April 1818, the son of Henry Shaw (1788-1857), who was a representative in Congress in 1817-1821. The son left Hamilton College to go West. In 1858 he settled in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as a land-agent and auctioneer, and began writing newspaper articles, especially for the Poughkeepsie Daily Press. His “Essa on the Muel bi Josh Billings” (1860) in a New York paper was followed by many similar articles, chiefly in the New York Weekly and the New York Saturday Press, and by several popular volumes, among which are Josh Billings: His Sayings (1866), Josh Billings on Ice (1868), Everybody's Friend (1876), Josh Billings: His Works, Complete (1876), Trump Kards (1877), Old Probabilities (1879), Josh Billings' Spice-Box (1881), and Josh Billings' Farmers' Allminax, burlesquing the Old Farmers' Almanac, issued annually between 1870 and 1880, and collected into a volume in 1902 under the title Josh Billings' Old Farmers' Allminax. He died in Monterey, California, on the 14th of October 1885. His platform lectures, such as “Milk,” “Hobby Horse,” “The Pensive Cockroach,” and “What I kno about Hotels,” his mannerisms and apparently unstudied witticisms made him conspicuous.

See Life and Adventures of Josh Billings (New York, 1883), by Francis S. Smith.