+ Robert Erwin Sheal 1871 – 1958

Born: Mar 1871 at Steubenville, Ohio, USA

Parents: John E. Sheal 1837-1910 and Lois Raney 1838-?

Siblings: James 1868-?, Mary 1870-after 1940, and Leander 1878-after 1940

Married: Lillian Louise Oram 1876-1956 on 25 Oct 1899 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Divorced 5 Feb 1908

Offspring: Jane Oram Sheal 1903-1981

Died: 8 Apr 1958 in Washington DC, USA buried in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio.


Robert was born in Steubenville on the eastern border of Ohio, near the industrial city of Pittsburgh. Both his parents had been born in Pennsylvania.  John E Sheal was a miller and grain dealer of Irish extraction and Lois Raney’s parents had been born in Pennsylvania.

odern day

Ore Shipping Industry, Conneaut, Ohio, May 2010

In the 1900 census Robert and Lillian were ‘roomers’ on Harbor Road in the port of Conneaut near Ashtabula, to the east of Cleveland.

… daughter Jane says of her parents, “Mother was a gay blithe spirit who needed to be cherished. Dad was totally engrossed in his work, a genius in his particular field of engineering and inventions. But he could lose himself in his work. It was nothing for Dad to work eighteen hours a day seven days a week, while Mother sat at home alone wondering and worrying. His particular work at that time was supervising the installation of loading and unloading equipment for iron ore and coal and so many workers feared they would be replaced. Threats and beatings of the installation crews were frequent. Dad never gave it a thought, too wrapped up in his work, and totally devoid of fear”.

The couple divorced in 1908.  In the 1910 census Robert was a lodger at 5607 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.  By the 1920 census he owned his own home 2101 E 100th near Cedar that he shared with his siblings Leander and Mary.  Robert’s daughter Jane and her husband Frank Lausche were living with them during the 1930 and 1940 censuses.

The notice of Robert’s death in the Plain Dealer ran, with a bit of editing so it makes sense:

R. E. Sheal, 87, Dies; Mrs. Lausche’s Dad. Robert Erwin Sheal, father-in-law of U.S. Sen. Frank J. Lausche, died yesterday in the Medical Center Hospital, Washington. He had, suffered a stroke March 19 and since had been in the hospital. He was 87. Mr. Sheal, an engineer of national reputation, was the …[the husband of] … Mrs. Sheal, the former Lillian Oram of Cleveland, [who] died two years ago. For several years they made their home with the Lausches in Columbus. He had made his home with them in Washington.

So it seems that although they divorced in 1908 Robert and Lillian subsequently lived together in their old age. Maybe this was after Robert’s retirement when he no longer was totally engrossed in his work and a constant source of concern to Lillian.

Some of Robert E Sheal’s Patents:

Cog track for moving structures
United States Patent 1435341

Conveying machinery
United States Patent 1503999

Self-unloading boat
United States Patent 1942839

Movable bridge
US 736819 A

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