An early prominent figure of Jay County, Shanks was a well-known lawyer and earned the rank of Colonel during the American Civil War. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1848 and commenced his law practice in 1849 at Portland, IN. He served as prosecuting attorney of Jay County in 1850 and 1851. In addition, Shanks served as a member of the Indiana State House of Representatives in 1855. During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army as a Colonel and commanded the 7th Indiana Cavalry Regiment. Shanks died in Portland, IN. on January 23, 1901 and was interred in Portland’s Green Park Cemetery.