The Shinn family had been in the United States for a very long time, with some ancestors serving in the Revolutionary War. In 1778, they established the town of Shinston, West Virginia.
Elvin O. Shinn was born on December 24, 1894 in South Dakota. Before 1928, Elvin married Eliza Ernestine Guy, who was born on September 7, 1905 in St. Paul. Ernestine’s parents were James A. and Inez Guy, both born in 1883. In 1933 the Guys lived at 6508 Minnetonka Blvd. (house built in 1916). James Guy, whose family came from Indiana, was a superintendent at the Prestolite plant (which was bought out in 1946). When he retired, he and Inez moved to Florida. He died in October 1949. Inez moved to Garden Grove, Cal., and died in January 1965. Ernestine was a long-time Park resident, and was valedictorian of her graduating class in 1923. Ernestine had three brothers: Harold, James Francis (who went by his middle name), and Robert. She also had a sister, Erma, the youngest.
Elvin, his wife and family were very active in the Union Congregational Church. When the new church was built in 1941, the Shinns, including the boys, helped build it. When the Education Wing was dedicated in 1952, most of the Shinns sang at the dedication ceremony. At one time there were 12 Shinns in the adult choir, plus a number of kids in the junior choir and cherub choir. In a program from the 75th Anniversary in 1945, Ernestine is listed as one of the “witnesses” to the burning of the mortgage. She also belonged to a sewing circle at the church. After the new wing was added with a nice Fellowship Hall, she became chief cook. She cooked for “The Men’s Club,” which met once a month on a Monday night. The Shinns were known to keep their Christmas decorations up til Easter.
The Shinns lived in a two story home at 3954 Alabama, about a block north of Brookside Drug, since at least 1933. Their next door neighbors were school superintendent N. H. McKay, his wife, Jessie, and son, Don McKay. Dick Shinn and Don McKay were close friends. Don was killed in an auto accident many years ago. In 1946 the Shinns moved to 4131 Excelsior Blvd., a house that was built in 1884. Nancy Hanke, who lived across the street at 4100 Excelsior Blvd, remembered: “Many a night we all played ‘kick the can’ in their yard on Excelsior Blvd. I just hated the summer of the polio scare, all I could do was watch from across the street while all the Shinn kids had fun.”
Elvin worked at Northwestern Bell until his retirement in 1960. He died in February 1970. The house on Excelsior stayed in the family until November 1987, just before Ernestine died in January 1988.