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J. Harvey Shonkwiler

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J. Harvey Shonkwiler
Born(1877-09-14)September 14, 1877
Portsmouth, Ohio
DiedJune 17, 1964(1964-06-17) (aged 86)
New Richmond, Ohio

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James Harvey Shonkwiler (1877–1964) was a popular illustrator and editorial cartoonist for the Portsmouth Daily Times in the early 20th century. [1] Shonkwiler, who signed his work "Shonk," illustrated events in Portsmouth, Ohio, for the newspaper including public meetings, political events, sporting events, and festivals.

In 1918, Shonkwiler resigned from the Portsmouth Times and accepted a position with Standard Publishing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, a religious publisher. There, he wrote and illustrated several children's books, including a series of ten books based on characters in the Bible.

Tenure at Portsmouth Daily Times[edit]

Billy Butt-In[edit]

Sketch of cartoon mascot for the Portsmouth Daily Times by J. Harvey Shonkwiler

A popular creation of Shonkwiler's was a cartoon goat mascot named Billy Butt-In. In his earlier appearances, Billy was drawn as a four-legged, unclothed goat, but in time the character became increasingly anthropomorphic. By the 1910s Billy was typically drawn upright with plaid trousers, a pipe (or cigar) and a fedora. Billy first appeared as a continuing minor character in Shonkwiler's daily cartoons around 1908. Soon the character became "The Times Weatherman," appearing in a daily one-panel, front page cartoon with a brief anecdote and a forecast of the weather for the next few days.

Later Billy Butt-In was featured in a popular, semi-regular comic strip with its own cast of characters. Among his adventures was a 1914 trip to meet Teddy Roosevelt in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with his best friend, a stereotypical African-American named Shine. Billy had somehow come into possession of Roosevelt's "big stick," and wanted to return it to him.[2]

Later Works[edit]

Shonkwiler was employed by Standard Publishing Co., a religious publisher, of Cincinnati in 1918. There he wrote and illustrated a series of ten 32-page booklets, called Bible Hero Stories. The books featured the biblical characters: Joseph, David, Moses, Paul, Jesus (Parts 1 and 2), Mark, Esther, Peter, and Daniel. .[3]Standard Publishing also published Shonkwiler's children's book, "The Adventures of Brownie Bear." [4] Shonkwiler illustrated Sunday School literature and other materials printed by the publisher.[5]

Shonkwiler was recognized for this 1915 cartoon featuring Paul von Hindenburg


Shonkwiler parodied a controversy regarding accusations against Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Harvey Wiley, and his subsequent exoneration in a September 22, 1911 cartoon, which was forwarded to Wiley by a local doctor. In a December 10, 1911 letter, Wiley responded: "I think the very funniest cartoon and the most expressive one is that which you sent me from the Portsmouth Daily Times. All of my friends to whom I have shown it have laughed most heartily at the way the cartoonist has set up the situation."[6]

Shonkwiler was profiled in the August 1913 issue of Cartoons Magazine, which credited his editiorial cartoons with helping "to exterminate one of the old-time political rings that had for years maintained a strangle hold upon the city and county." (I.e., Portsmouth and Scioto County, Ohio.) Shonkwiler's creation, Billy Butt-In, was humorously profiled in Cartoons Magazine in May 1913, which described the mascot as a popular feature whose "private correspondence is second only to that of the editor himself."[7]

Cartoons Magazine recognized Shonkwiler for his portrayal of German General Paul von Hindenburg in June 1915. "A cartoon by J. H. Shonkwiler, of the Portsmouth (O.) Times, reproduced herewith, has won the artist many compliments, and is said to have reached Von Hindenburg himself." [8] "Shonkwiler won national acclaim during World War I for a cartoon...in which he drew the German general with hair of bayonets and used similar armaments for other facial features."[5]


Shonkwiler was struck and killed by a truck near is farm home near New Richmond, Ohio, on June 16, 1964. He was known to have failing hearing and eyesight, and apparently failed to notice the approaching vehicle. Shonkwiler was buried in Portsmouth, Ohio.[5]


  1. "Cartoons Magazine". H. H. Windsor, Editor and Publisher. 9 January 2018 – via Google Books.
  2. "Billy Buttin: Billy and Shine To Meet Teddy At Last". Portsmouth Daily Times. February 24, 1914.
  3. "Bible Hero Stories". The Work and Word. November 1941. p. 264.
  4. "Cartoonist Shonkwiler Turns Author; Issues Timely Book for Christmastide". Portsmouth Daily Times. December 2, 1922.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Cartoonist Struck, Killed: J. H. Shonkwiler Truck Victim". Portsmouth Daily Times. June 17, 1964.
  6. "Shonk's Fame Spreads". Portsmouth Daily Times. October 12, 1911.
  7. "Cartoons Magazine". H. H. Windsor, Editor and Publisher. 31 January 2018 – via Google Books.
  8. "Cartoons Magazine". H. H. Windsor, Editor and Publisher. 16 January 2018 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]

  • J. Harvey Shonkwiler at Find a GraveLua error in Module:WikidataCheck at line 23: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

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