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Although not a direct ancestor of my husband, Marshall Mark (Mark) Blythe or our children, Isaac Shelby is of great interest to us for a couple of reasons. First, he was renowned for and distinguished himself for his actions in battle against United Empire Loyalists in Canada in the War of 1812, ultimately defeating Loyalist forces at the Battle of the Thames in southern Ontario. We are also related to and are descended from Loyalists who settled in this area. For a lengthy period of time, we lived in Trenton, Ontario which is located in the area of Loyalist activities and battles against American forces. This area is steeped in this history and it is still considered to be an honor to be from a Loyalist lineage.
Marshall Matthews Blythe
Portrait of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky.
Second, because Isaac Shelby is so revered in history, there are accurate portraits of him during the latter period of his life available. Upon comparing portraits of him with recent pictures of my father-in-law, Marshall Matthews Blythe (father to my husband Mark and grand-father to my children Erin and Stuart), the resemblance between them is quite remarkable. For clarification, Isaac is first cousin six times removed to my father-in-law.
Isaac Shelby (December 11, 1750 – July 18, 1826) was a revered and decorated soldier and the first Governor of Kentucky.
The son of Brigadier General Evan and Letitia (Cox) Shelby, Isaac was born December 11, 1750 near North Mountain, Frederick (now Washington) County, Maryland.
Having been raised with the use of arms, he became proficient at an early age and was very familiar with and accustomed to the hardships and stresses of frontier life. Isaac worked on his father’s plantation. However, having received an education, he was occasionally employed as a surveyor and also as Deputy Sheriff.
About 1773, the Shelby family moved to the Holston region of Southwest Virginia, now East Tennessee, where they established a new home. A timeline of Isaac Shelby’s military and political career thereafter is as follows:
Isaac Shelby served at the Battle of Point Pleasant as a Lieutenant under his father, Brigadier General Evan Shelby, in the Fincastle Company on October 10.
Second in command of the garrison of Fort Blair (until July 1775), which was built on the site of the battle. An uprising of the Shawnee and Delaware Indians compelled Isaac to take up arms and he served as a Lieutenant under his father Brigadier Evan Shelby in the Battle of Point Pleasant in West Virginia.
He fought in the Battle of Kenhawa of 10 October. This was believed to be the most severely contested campaign ever fought with the north-western Indians.
After July of 1775, he visited Kentucky and surveyed lands for the Transylvania Company.
After returning to Kentucky due to failing health, he became involved in the Battle of Long Island Flats.
At the first onset of the Indians, the American lines were broken and Shelby, who was there only as a volunteer Private, seized command, reformed the troops, and severely defeated the Indians.
In July he was appointed by the Virginia Committee of Safety to the position of Captain of a company of minute men. However, he was not called into service.
Governor Patrick Henry promoted Shelby to Captain and made him Commissary-General of the Virginia forces.
He attended the Long Island Treaty with the Cherokees, which was finalized at Fort Patrick Henry on July 20, 1777, at which his father was one of the Virginia commissioners.
Helped to provide supplies for the Continental Army and for the expedition projected by General McIntosh against Detroit and the Ohio Indians.
Provided boats for Clark’s Illinois campaign and collected and provided supplies upon his own personal credit for the successful campaign waged about the same time against the Chickamauga Indians.
In the spring he was elected as a member for Washington County of the Virginia legislature.
In the fall, Governor Thomas Jefferson made him a Major in the escort of guards for the commissioners appointed to run the western boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina. By the extension of that line, his residence was found to be within the limits of North Carolina.
He resigned his commission, but was at once appointed Colonel of Sullivan County by Governor Caswell.
Upon receiving news of the fall of Charleston on May 12th, he returned home to an urgent summons for help from Colonel Charles McDowell.
He organized a force and about July 25, he joined McDowell at the Cherokee Ford, South Carolina.
On July 30, Shelby captured the major Loyalist stronghold, Thicketty Fort (Fort Anderson), at the head of the Pacolet River. On August 8, his command successfully repulsed a party sent by Major Ferguson at the second Battle of Cedar Springs.
Upon receipt of the report of General Gates’ defeat at Camden on August 16, operations under McDowell and Shelby were halted.
On August 18, he was largely responsible for the victory at Battle of Musgrove’s Mill on the north side of the Enoree River.
As a result of a threatening message dispatched by Ferguson, Shelby held even greater resentment and determination and in consequence, with the assistance of John Sevier and others, he organized and conducted the expedition against Ferguson.
On October 7, they overwhelmingly defeated Ferguson’s combined Provincial and Loyalist force in the Battle of King’s Mountain.
Shelby has also been credited with the plan for the attack, which led to the Battle of the Cowpens on January 17.
In February, the legislature of North Carolina adopted resolutions of thanks to Shelby and his compatriots for their services at King’s Mountain.
Similar resolutions were adopted by the Continental Congress on November 13.
As a result of repeated uprisings by Cherokee Indians during the first half of the year, it was impractical to send forces from there to assist.
A treaty with the Cherokees was negotiated on July 20.
In October, upon receipt of a delayed message of appeal, Shelby raised 500 mounted riflemen and was accompanied by Colonel John Sevier in command of 200 more.
He marched to join Greene, by whose order they reported to General Marion on the Santee.
The joint command of Shelby and Colonel Hezekiah Maham, of the Carolina dragoons, contributed greatly to the capture of a strong British post at Fair Lawn, near Monck’s Corner, South Carolina on November 27.
Meanwhile, having been elected a member of the North Carolina legislature and having obtained a leave of absence, he attended the sessions in December.
Reelected to the North Carolina Assembly, he attended the legislative sessions held at Hillsboro in April.
He was appointed one of three commissioners to superintend the laying off of the land south of the Cumberland River allotted by North Carolina for military service in the Revolution.
Completed the laying off of the land south of the Cumberland River.
Appointed a Trustee of Transylvania Seminary (later Transylvania University).
Chairman of the convention of militia officers held at Danville on Nov. 7-8 (was also a member 1787-1789).
In January 1791, he was appointed a member of the Board of War, which was created by Congress for the District of Kentucky, and was charged with providing for the defense of the frontier settlements mounting punitive expeditions against the Indians.
For several years he served as High Sheriff of Lincoln County.
Member of the convention (April 2-19) which framed the first constitution of Kentucky.
In May he was elected Governor, taking office on June 4 and serving four years.
During his administration many events of importance to the infant commonwealth occurred, not the least being the part it took, under Shelby, in supporting Wayne’s campaigns against the Indians in the Northwest Territory.
At the close of his term, he declined reelection.
Retired from service.
Elected Governor of Kentucky a second time in August.
He actively participated in the planning and preparation for war.
With a sword presented to him by Henry Clay as voted by the legislature of North Carolina for his gallantry at King’s Mountain 32 years before, Shelby assembled and personally led 4,000 Kentucky volunteers to join General Harrison in the Northwest for the invasion of Canada, resulting in the defeat of the Loyalists on October 5 at the Battle of the Thames.
He was given the portfolio of War in March by President Monroe, but declined due to his age.
Isaac Shelby was awarded a gold medal by Congress on April 4 in recognition of his patriotic and heroic services.
Shelby and General Andrew Jackson were commissioned to hold a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians for the purchase of their lands west of the Tennessee River.
He was President of the first Kentucky Agricultural Society, formed at Lexington in 1818.
He was Chairman of the first Board of Trustees of Center College, founded in 1819 at Danville, Kentucky.
Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky – Traveler’s Rest Burying Ground Plaque.
After his death on July 18, he was buried at his historic home, “Traveller’s Rest,” and a monument was erected over his grave by the state of Kentucky. Counties in nine states have been named Shelby in his honor. __________ An account of Governor Isaac Shelby by Samuel M. Wilson is as follows:
Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky – Grave Marker.
“In person, Shelby was of a sturdy and well-proportioned frame, slightly above medium height, with strongly marked features and florid complexion. He had a hardy constitution capable of enduring protracted labor, great privations, and the utmost fatigue. Habitually dignified and impressive in bearing, he was, however, affable and winning. A soldier born to command, he nevertheless evidenced a high degree of political sagacity and executive ability. Numerous difficulties confronted him during his first administration, when the new government was passing through its formative stage, and much depended on the choice of officials then made by the executive. Shelby exhibited rare selective intelligence and an extraordinary mastery both of men and measures. Kentucky at this time experienced constant dread of the occlusion by Spain of the Mississippi River, and use was made of this situation by designing men to promote speculative ventures and political schemes hostile to the true interests of both Kentucky and the Union. Through it all, Shelby pursued a wise and moderate course which baffled the plots of all conspirators and held Kentucky firmly to her federal moorings.During his second administration, the pressure of the war with Great Britain fell with extraordinary and unremitting severity upon the state, and he showed himself not only a prudent and farseeing counselor, but an active, resourceful, and patriotic leader. His energy, determination, and perseverance knew no bounds, and his devotion to duty was unflagging.”
You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.
It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.
All data for this and numerous others on this site are available for free access and download.
Shelby, John Todd: KERR, C. ed. History of Kentucky, v. 3-5, 1922 #4.
History of Michigan; Moore, C.; v. 2-4; 1915; Shelby, William Read.
Family Data Collection – Births; Shelby, Alfred, 1765.
Family Data Collection – Individual Records; Shelby, Nancy, 1792.
1860 US Census; Shelby, John Warren, b. 1835; PO Lexington; Roll M653_365; Pg 0.
Shelby, Isaac Flournoy: KERR, C. ed. History of Kentucky, v. 3-5, 1922.
The Pioneer Mothers of America 1; Shelby, Susannah Hart; Green, H.C. and M.W.; 3 v., 1912.
American Biographical and Historical Dictionary; Shelby, Isaac; Allen (W); 1832.
Military Heroes of the War of 1812; Shelby, Evan; Peterson, C.J.; 1848.
Evan and his family immigrated to America from Tregaron, Wales in approximately 1735, when he was about ten years of age, and settled in what was later called Antrim Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
In 1739, they moved into Prince George’s (later Frederick) County, Maryland where his father died in July 1751.
Evan Jr. continued to reside in Maryland, near the North Mountain, Frederick County (now a part of Washington County) where he obtained by either deed or patent nearly 24,000 acres of land. He became interested in the Indian fur trade and was concerned in trading posts at Michilimackinac and Green Bay.
On February 26, 1745, Evan Jr. purchased property from his father, called “Maiden’s Choice” in Prince George County, Maryland.
In his publication “The Birthplace and Childhood Home of Isaac Shelby in Washington County, Maryland”, 1972, Gerald J Sword describes how Evan and Letitia Shelby lost the fight for their land (part of “Maidens Choice”) to Dr Charles Carroll. It’s not clear who aptly renamed the land to “Shelby’s Misfortune”.
Mr. Sword states:
“…The reason for Letitia to appear in court was to answer charges that she instructed their ‘Dutch servant man’ to cut down and burn the tree marking the beginning point of this land.
In June 1754, Shelby gave a recognizance of 6,000 lbs of tobacco for the appearance of his wife to answer the charges against her in the Frederick Co. Court. The case was continued from time to time until the June court of 1758:
“A suit on behalf of the Lord Proprietary vs Letitia Shelby for destroying a bound tree for a tract of land belonging to Dr Carroll, when it was ‘maked struck off after 15 continuances…”
Evan’s great skill as a hunter and woodsman led to his appointment as Captain of a company of Rangers in the French and Indian War, during which year he made several successful expeditions into the Allegheny Mountains.
He fought many battles in what is called Braddock’s War and was noted for his performance in the battle fought at Loyal Hanning, now Bedford, Pennsylvania.
During the French and Indian War, Evan participated in General Edward Braddock’s campaign in 1755 and laid out part of the road from Fort Frederick to Fort Cumberland. He led the advance of the army under General Forbes, which took possession of Fort Du Quesne in 1758.
Having served as First Lieutenant in Captain Alexander Beall’s company 1757 to 1768, he was commissioned by Governor Sharpe of Maryland as Captain of a company of rangers, and also held a commission as Captain under the government of Pennsylvania. He was in the advance party of the force under General John Forbes, which took possession of Fort Duquesne in 1758, and crossed the Ohio River with more than half his company of scouts, making a daring reconnaissance of the fort.
On November 12, 1758, near Loyalhanna, he is said to have slain with his own hand one of the principal Indian chiefs.
In the same war, he served later as Major of a detachment of the Virginia regiment.
For several years after the conflict, Evan was a Justice of the Peace.
In May 1762, he was chosen one of the Managers for Maryland of the Potomac Company. He sustained heavy losses in the Indian trade from the ravages growing out of Pontiac’s Conspiracy of 1763, and most of his property in Maryland was subjected to sale for the satisfaction of his debts.
Hoping to better his fortune he moved, probably in 1773, to Fincastle County in southwest Virginia, where he engaged in farming, merchandising, and cattle ranching. He again became a prosperous landowner and influential frontier leader.
In 1774, he commanded the Fincastle Company in Dunmore’s War, and in the battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774, he succeeded near the close of the action to the chief command as a result of the death or disability of his superior officers and he utterly routed the enemy.
His son, Isaac, served under his command as his Lieutenant in the Battle of Point Pleasant, which he was instrumental in winning. Isaac commanded the fort there until July, 1775, when his troops were disbanded by Lord Dunmore.
After returning to Kentucky due to failing health, he became involved in the Battle of Long Island Flats. At the first onset of the Indians, the American lines were broken, and then Shelby, present only as a volunteer Private, seized the command, reformed the troops, and defeated the Indians, with the loss of only two badly wounded men.
This battle, and John Sevier’s defence of Watauga, frustrated the rear attack by which the British hoped to envelop and crush the southern colonies.
In 1776, he was appointed by Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia a Major in the troops commanded by Colonel William Christian against the Cherokees, and on December 21, he became Colonel of the militia of the County of Washington, of which he was also a magistrate.
In 1777, he was entrusted with the command of sundry garrisons posted on the frontier of Virginia, and in association with Preston and Christian, negotiated a treaty with the Cherokees.
When Sevier, in 1779, projected the expedition that captured the British stores at Chickamauga, Shelby equipped and supplied the troops by the pledge of his individual credit. In this year he was commissioned a Major by Governor Thomas Jefferson, but, when the state line was run, his residence was found to be in North Carolina. He then resigned his commission, but was at once appointed Colonel of Sullivan County by Caswell.
He was in Kentucky, perfecting his title to lands he had selected on his previous visit, when he heard of the fall of Charleston and the desperate situation of affairs in the southern colonies. He at once returned to engage in active service and, crossing the mountains into South Carolina in July, 1780, he won victories over the British at Thicketty Fort, Cedar Springs, and Musgrove’s Mill. But, as the disastrous defeat at Camden occurred just before the last engagement, he was obliged to retreat across the Alleghanies. There he undertook with John Sevier the remarkable expedition which resulted in the Battle of King’s Mountain and turned the tide of the revolution. For this important service he and Sevier received the thanks of the North Carolina legislature, and the vote of a sword and a pair of pistols.
As a result of the new boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina, it was discovered that his residence was in North Carolina, and in 1781, he was elected a member of its Senate. Five years later, the Carolina Assembly made him Brigadier General of the militia of the Washington District of North Carolina, the first officer of that grade on the “Western Waters”.
In March 1787, as commissioner for North Carolina, he negotiated a temporary truce with Col. John Sevier, Governor of the insurgent and short-lived “State of Franklin”.
In August 1787, he was elected Governor of the “State of Franklin” to succeed Sevier but declined. Having resigned his post as Brigadier General on October 29,1787, he withdrew from public life.
An excerpt from “The Shelby Family Papers” is below. The letter is in deplorable condition and torn in a number of places. Also, Evan’s spelling makes it a challenge to read.
12 Jul 1783
Letter to Capt James “Jimmy” Shelby, from his brother Evan Shelby Jr.:
“…if Brother Moses is coming in with you give my kindist love to him…I am plesed your coming home ? ? ? Esdeys? account for shee is been living with the old man ever since I come home and takes the greatest ? you ever saw any person in your life and has put the old man so much against me that he wont let me come hardly on his plantation without thinking to shute me, and swears that if you or Moses offers to trick him when you come home that he will shute you the minute you attempt it ? but I think if you was come we can worke them well eneff ?, all, Jonny is liveing at the old mans and says he will get all he can from the old mans as he sees in what manner the asteate is like to go______I am Sir Jimmy your affectionate brother Evan Shelby Jr”
Peace must have prevailed, as on 13 Oct 1783, Sullivan County, North Carolina.Evan Shelby gives his “beloved sons” Moses and Evan land in Fayette County, Kentucky.
In 1787, Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby Jr. married Isabella Elliott.
In 1786, the North Carolina Assembly appointed him Brigadier General of militia of the Washington District of North Carolina.
In March 1787, North Carolina Commissioner Evan Shelby negotiated a temporary truce with Col. John Sevier, governor of the short-lived State of Franklin.
In August 1787, he was elected Governor of the State of Franklin to succeed Sevier, but declined. He resigned as Brigadier General on October 29, 1787, the last of his public service.
Evan Shelby Jr. appears to have had a strained relationship with his family, at best. In particular, his relationship with his own father appears to have been entirely split apart. Some of the reasons for this are outlined in the excerpts below.
Excerpt from “Isaac Shelby KY’s First Gov & Hero of Three Wars”, by Wrobel & Grider, 1974:
“…Evan Shelby’s pleasure in life seemed almost improper to some of his children. The eldest son John, reported that Evan was giving large “frolics” at his Holston plantation [Sapling Grove] & courting a young woman named Isabella Elliott. She required that Evan deed a third of his estate to her before they married…”
[Sullivan Co TN-BK 1, p. 277, 24 Jan 1787; Registered 9 Jul 1788 - marriage agreement]
Excerpt from “The Shelby Family Papers”:
“At the age of 67 (1787) , against the wishes of a furious family, Evan and Isabella married and had two sons and a daughter. Within 10 years of Evan’s death in 1794, Isabella remarried to Alexander Dromgoole – they had a son and daughter. Isaac Shelby (Gov), in settling his father’s estate wrote “I have no farther demands against sd Isabella…nor has she any farther claim either dower or otherwise…Alexander Dromgoole is on no pretence whatever to set foot on the Sapling Grove Plantation belonging to me…”
There is not much mention of General Evan Shelby’s second marriage, but the following paper was found among the papers of Governor Isaac Shelby, who was his father’s executor:
“I now certify, to whom it may concern, that I performed the ceremony of marriage between the late Gen. Evan Shelby and Isabella Elliot (widow of James Elliott), when I acted as one of the associate Judges of the assumed state of Franklin. Given under my hand, this 14th day of November, 1779.” Signed: Jno. Anderson. Witness: J. A. Thompson, J. Shelby.
Below is an abridged version of an account of an incident involving Captain Evan Shelby, who was a Justice of the Peace at the time. He apparently wasn’t being too cooperative and had a temper.
Archives of Maryland website: Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 27 March 1766.
“In the case of Catherine Wheate, dau of Conrad Wheate, Sept 1766 – charged that Thomas Hynes with being the father of her Bastard Child…
“…Most humbly sheweth That your Petitioners, with great Sorrow and regret find themselves obliged to accuse two of their own Members of a Scandalous Abuse of that Power which your Excellency hath thought proper to intrust them with in joint Commission with your Petitioners.”
“That without insisting upon other irregularities, your Petitioners will Confine themselves at present to the Information they have received of Capt Evan Shelby,and Mr Joseph Warford, in a case of Fornication…”
“…Capt Shelby threatened that if ever he catched Conrad Wheat in Maryland he would have him cropp’d for disobeying his Orders in not giving up the Child,and declared that if he had gone there in Person he would have burnt Wheate’s House over his head…”
“…That during these Transactions, Capt Shelby demanded of Joseph Warford a Warrant for the young Woman’s fine, which Mr Warford refused to Grant,he also refused to sign one drawn up by Capt Shelby…Whereupon the Capt Signed it himself, had her immediately taken into Custody…”
“That Capt Shelby at Length Proceeded to the Marriage Ceremony, which he performed by asking the young Man whether he would take that Woman to his lawful Wedded Wife? and put the same question, mutatis mutandis to the young Woman; after which he pronounced them to be lawful Man and Wife, saying Jump Dog, Leap Bitch, and I’ll be damned if all the Men on Earth can unmarry you…”
“…That the new Couple were put to bed in Mr Warford’s own Bed, with the usual Ceremonies of throwing the Stocking &c. Mrs Warford having previously received five Shillings for the use of said Bed. And the whole Proceedings on the Riot quashed at once…”
“That some time after the young Couple had been left to themselves, the young Man wanted to leave his Consort: and opening the Door would have come out. But was prevented by Capt Shelby, who opposed him with a fork in his hand, which he threatened to Jobb into his Gutts if he attempted to leave his Wife…”
“…Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the aforesaid Capt Evan Shelby, and Mr Joseph Warford may be left out of the Commission for the Peace in Frederick County, that the whole Body (otherwise, We hope, respectable) may not be wounded through their Sides or laughed at as their Associates…”
27th March 1766.
On February 24, 1776, he became the Commissioner to meet the companies to be enlisted at Mr. Joseph Grey’s.
Excerpts from “Revolutionary Virginia – The Road to Independence”, Vol. VI; The Time for Decision, 1776; Compiled and edited by Robert L. Scribner and Brent Tarter; Published for the Virginia Independence Bicentennial Commission, University Press of Virginia:
Saturday, 24 Feb, 1776, Page 136:
“resolvd. That William Preston, William Ingles & Evan Shilbie (Shelby), be Commissioners to meet the Companys to be enlisted at Mr Jos(eph): Grey’s the 4th of April next to review the Soldiers and make report according to the ordinance.”
Thursday, 4 Apr, 1776, Page 327:
“Fincastle County Committee – Two Meetings at New Dublin. Present William Preston Chairman, John Montgomery, Antho(ny) Bledsoe, Andrew Boyd, Jos(eph) Cloyd, William Davies, James McCorkle, Stephen Trigg, Evan Shelbie (Shelby), William Ingles, Walter Crockett, James McGavock, William Doack (Doack (Doak) and Thomas Madison, Gentlemen.”
“It appearing to the Committee that a part of Capt. Coxe’s Company live very inconvenient to their muster ground & a number sufficient to form a Compy. Enoch Osburn is recommended for Captain, James Ward for Lieutenant, and Thomas Hart for Ensign to the sd. Compy.”
Order’d that Majr. Antony Bledsoe, Capt. Evan Shelbie (Shelby), and Capt. James Thompson, be a sub Committee or any Two of them to Examine into a Complaint Lodgd. Against Robert Tremble, and make a report at the next Committee. Footnote: The “Complaint” had been “Lodgd.” Against Lieutenant Trimble at the committee meeting of 24 Feb, 1776 (q.v. and n. 7) Despite the present order, there is no known record of any action respecting that militia officer.
Letitia having died in 1777, Evan remarried at age 67 to a widow, Isabella Elliott, by whom he had three more children: James, Letitia and Eleanor.
There is also a third marriage described on page 192 of “Revolutionary American Soldiers” to a Catherine, by whom he supposedly had children Moses and Catherine. However, it is widely believed that this third marriage is erroneous, the author having confused this Evan with a later Evan who married a Catherine. The two children are believed to actually be the Moses and Catherine of Evan’s first marriage to Letitia. The tradition of reusing names in each successive generation has frequently caused confusion.
Excerpt of an account of Brigadier Evan Shelby Jr. by Samuel M. Wilson:
“Shelby, Evan (1719 – Dec. 4, 1794), soldier and frontiersman, was baptized in October 1719 at Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales. He came to America with his parents, Evan and Catherine (Davies?) Shelby, about 1734, the family first settling in what is now Antrim Township, Franklin County, Pa.
In 1739, they moved into Prince George’s (later Frederick) County, Md., where the father died in June 1750. Evan, Jr., continued to reside in Maryland, near the North Mountain, Frederick County, in which locality, now a part of Washington County, he acquired, by deed or patent, nearly 24,000 acres of land. He also became interested in the Indian fur trade and was concerned in trading-posts at Michilimackinac and Green Bay.
He was in Braddock’s campaign in 1755, and laid out part of the road from Fort Frederick to Fort Cumberland.
Having served as first lieutenant in Capt. Alexander Beall’s company in 1757-58, he was commissioned by Governor Sharpe of Maryland captain of a company of rangers and also held a commission as captain under the government of Pennsylvania. He was in the advance party of the force under Gen. John Forbes q.v.] which took possession of Fort Duquesne in 1758, and crossed the Ohio with more than half his company of scouts, making a daring reconnoissance of the fort. On Nov. 12, 1758, near Loyalhanna, in a personal encounter, Shelby is said to have slain with his own hand one of the principal Indian chiefs (Banvard, post).
In this same war, he served later as Major of a detachment of the Virginia regiment.
For several years he was a justice of the peace.
In May 1762 he was chosen one of the managers for Maryland of the Potomac Company. He sustained heavy losses in the Indian trade from the ravages growing out of Pontiac’s Conspiracy of 1763, and most of his property in Maryland was subjected to the satisfaction of his debts.
Hoping to better his fortune he moved, probably in 1773, to Fincastle County, in Southwest Virginia, which he had previously visited, where he engaged in farming, merchandising, and cattle-raising, became again a prosperous landowner and a conspicuous and influential frontier leader.
In 1774 he commanded the Fincastle Company in Dunmore’s War, and in the battle of Point Pleasant, Oct. 10, 1774, he succeeded near the close of the action to the chief command in consequence of the death or disability of his superior officers.
In 1776 he was appointed by Governor Henry of Virginia a major in the troops commanded by Colonel William Christian against the Cherokees, and on Dec. 21 he became colonel of the militia of the newly created county of Washington, of which he was also a magistrate.
In 1777, he was entrusted with the command of sundry garrisons posted on the frontier of Virginia, and in association with Preston and Christian negotiated a treaty with the Cherokees near the Long Island of Holston River.
In 1779 he led a successful expedition of two thousand men against the Chickamauga Indian towns on the lower Tennessee River, for which service he was thanked by the Continental Congress.
By the extension of the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina it was ascertained that his residence lay in the latter state, and in 1781 he was elected a member of its Senate.
Five years later, the Carolina Assembly made him brigadier-general of militia of the Washington District of North Carolina, the first officer of that grade on “the Western Waters.”
In March 1787, as Commissioner for North Carolina, he negotiated a temporary truce with Col. John Sevier q.v.], governor of the insurgent and short-lived “State of Franklin.”
In August 1787, he was elected Governor of the “State of Franklin,” to succeed Sevier, but declined the honor.
Having resigned his post as Brigadier-General on October 29, 1787, he withdrew from public life.
He married first, in 1744, L’titia Cox, a daughter of David Cox of Frederick County, Maryland. She died in 1777.
His second wife, whom he married early in 1787, was Isabella Elliott, who survived him.
He is buried in East Hill Cemetery, Bristol, on the Tennessee-Virginia line.
Shelby was of a rugged, stocky build, somewhat low in stature and stern of countenance. He possessed great muscular strength and unbounded energy and powers of endurance.
He was straightforward and, at times, rather blunt in speech, absolutely fearless, and always prompt to take the aggressive in any action or enterprise, civil or military, in which he engaged.
For a man of his day, he was well educated, and he was noted for his probity and patriotism.
He left many descendants, of whom the most celebrated was his son, Isaac Shelby q.v.], the first Governor of Kentucky.”
– Samuel M. Wilson
Tombstone for Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby Jr.
Evan died on December 4, 1794 at the age of 74 at Kings Meadow (now Bristol), Sullivan County, Tennessee and was buried two days later in nearby East Hill Cemetery.
His will dated February 21, 1778 was probated October 25, 1798 at Frederick County (now Washington County), Maryland.
With regard to the will of Brigadier Evan Shelby, Jr., a letter from James Thompson to his brother-in-law, Governor Isaac Shelby, is held amongst the “Draper Collection”, 16DD33, Wisconsin State Historical Society. It reads:
Memorial Plaque for Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby Jr.
- I expect before this time you have heard of your father’s death which happened about the third of December. Would it not be well to fall upon some method to settle his affairs, it will prevent them from going to destruction, which will be the case if something is not shortly done. He left no will that I know of if you will devise some method I will cheerfully assist in the business He never had a title for the land he livd on but the sellers? will make it any time, when applied to There remains something unpaid on it, yet I believe the estate is not in debt any amt__I wish you could come into this country & see how his business lyes__pray write me the first opportunity…none of his connections here will undrtake to do anything I wish title for the land to be made to his son Jimmy…
I am yours Jas Thompson 25 Jany 1795″
Evan’s will was evidently filed in Sullivan County, but was destroyed by the burning of the court house during the battle of Blountville in the War Between the States, 1863.
However, a copy was entered in the Washington County, Virginia, Will book No. 2, page 186, having been probated there on October 25, 1798.
A transcript of the will on record follows:
Dated 21 Feb 1778:
“I Evan Shelby being of sound mind and memory do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament, do dispose of my Estate as follows, Viz. It is my desire that all my just debts be first paid.
Item. I give to my eldest son John Shelby that Tract of land whereon he now lives on Wattago River in the State of North Carolina the purchase money and officers fees that may be due for the said land is to be paid out of my Estate by executors hereafter to be mentioned, my land laying on Buffalow Creek a branch of Wattago aforesaid, I desire my executors to sell and dispose of all the money arising there from to be equally divided between my two grandchildren Evan and Sarah Shelby. Also I give to my said grandchildren to be delivered to them in one year after my death each one a mare to be of the value of twenty-five punds each; I give and bequeath to my son Isaac Shelby, all my part of that tract of land laying in Washington County and State of Virginia known by the name of the Hazel Lands, being one third part of the said whole tract (being on the south and southeast end thereof) which I purchased from Col. William Preston in partnership with John Shelby son and in case the said land cannot be made good by the said William Preston according to my purchase of him, then my desire is that my son Isaac Shelby shall receive in lieu thereof one hundred and fifty pounds out of the remaining part of my estate.
I give to my daughter Catherine Shelby Six Hundred pounds Virginia currency to be paid to her as soon as my lands lying in the State of Maryland can be sold by my executors, and if the sale of the said lands do not amount to six hundred punds the deficiency to be paid her by my executors out of the remainder of my estate.
I also give and bequeath to my said daughter Catherine the mare and her two colts which I had formerly given to her and four couws, also a feather bed, and furniture for it;
I give and bequeath the remaining part of my estate both real and personal to my fours sons vis. Isaac Shelby, James Shelby, Evan Shelby and Moses Shelby to be equally and fairly divided among(s)t them, and lastly my desire is that Isaac Shelby, James Shelby, and Evan Shelby be my executors, to whom I give full power and authority to sell and dispose of my estate in the best manner that each one may receive his or her own part of my estate as before mentioned
…21st day of February, 1778
..signed Evan Shelby
Witnesses: James Thompson, Geo. Blackburn, John Patterson”
Was Brigadier Evan Shelby born in 1720 or 1725?
Although all known sources and accounts of Brigadier Evan Shelby, Jr. state that his birth was in 1720, the research below indicates that Evan’s birthdate was actually in 1725.
The reason for the previous errors, as deduced by Ms. Martin, was that there was no indication of a death date of the youngest Evan Shelby who was born in 1720. However, he must have died as another Evan Shelby was born to Evan (Dhu) and Catherine in 1725 and he in fact was the one who immigrated with the family to America.
The following was posted to the DYFED listserve on February 9, 2010 by Shirley Martin of Dyfed, Wales:
I would like to correct the date of the Christening of Evan Shelby who emigrated to America about 1735 together with his family. In all the family trees I have looked at give his christening date as 23 October 1719. Before 1753 the year started in March and March is month one.
The Parish Clerk in 1719 named the month up to August, and then the rest were just given a number, so September was month seven, October was month eight etc., December was therefore month 10. Therefore Evan was born on the 23 December 1719. However, this Evan died as an infant in January 1721 and was buried on the 8th of January 1721. (D.C. Rees in “The History of Tregaron” made the same mistake.)
The Evan who emigrated to America was born in 1725 and was christened on the 14 March 1725. Somebody has entered a X against most of the Shelby entries in the original register, but has missed marking the death of the first Evan.
I transcribed all the burials in the Tregaron register up to 1920 for the National Burial Index. I had difficulty in reading sections of the original Parish register in the National Library of Wales and I would have liked to photograph them, but was not allowed to. However, I obtained permission to photo the copy in the Tregaron Parish Church. I was then able to load them on to my computer and enlarge the pages which made them much easier to transcribe.
My work was checked by Auronwy James of the Cardiganshire Family History society, before they were sent off to the National Burial Index.
I have started on the baptisms and have covered 1711 to 1812, but it has not been checked. The early section is in Latin and it takes me a while to transcribe the dates. The Latin is the parish clerk’s own version of the language.
Thank you listers for answering my email, I will send another email concerning the areas I am interested in.
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Welsh Quaker ancestors are the major cultural group that comprises the majority of the ancestry of my children (on my husband’s side). One of the benefits of researching this culture is that the people were religious, often educated (could read and write) and were very good at documenting vital statistics and events. As a result, there are several very good written resources available that directly cite or are based upon this documented data.
One of these sources is “Historical Collections of Gwynedd, Pennsylvania“. This is a well-researched and highly detailed account of Gwynedd Township, Montgomery County and the Welsh immigrants who settled there.
William Penn was a Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania (photo credit: wikipedia.org)
Here is the index of chapters in the document:
Chapter 1. The Place: The Scope of its History.
Chapter 2. Remarks upon the Geology of the Township. [Gwynedd lies at the southern edge of the Mezozoic, or Red Sandstone belt...]
Chapter 3. Traces of the Indians. A history of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) can be found here.
Chapter 4. The Arrival of the Welsh Settlers, Alternatively, here is brief summary of all the early Welsh settlements in Pennsylvania.
Chapter 5. Edward Foulke’s Narrative of his Removal.
Chapter 6. The Origin of the Township’s Name. [Gwynedd is the Welsh name for the mountainous North of Wales, meaning the White or Pure Land] . Gwynedd is pronounced in Welsh as Gwin-eth (dd = th) and was pronounced this way for at least 100 years here. Almost all of the first settlers of Gwynedd came from within 10 miles of Fron Goch, a village just north of Bala in Wales.
Chapter 7. Number of the First Settlers: Growth of Population. [see Map of 1698 settlement]
Chapter 8. The First Settler’s Homes: Personal Details [see picture of William John House, 1712] [note the William John house, on West Point Pike in Upper Gwynedd, was demolished in the early 20th century]
Chapter 9. Establishment of the Friends’ Meeting [Sketch of Gwynedd Meeting-house before 1897]
Chapter 10. Details Concerning the Early Friends
Chapter 11. Narrative of John Humphreys, of Merion
Chapter 12. Early Monthly Meeting Records of Marriages; Other Lists of Marriages and Deaths
Chapter 13. Evans Family Genealogy [go to Evans descendancy in Register format]
Chapter 14. Roberts Family Genealogy [go to Roberts descendancy in Register format]
Chapter 15. Foulke Family Genealogy [go to Foulke descendancy in Register format] [see also Foulke Family Association web site]
Chapter 16. The Early Roads
Chapter 17. Early Settlers in Montgomery
Chapter 18. Affairs Before the Revolution
Chapter 19. Gwynedd in the Midst of the Revolution: Sally Wister’s journal. Here is more information about Sally’s journal at the Foulke Family Assoc. web site
Chapter 20. Revolutionary Details [see map of unknown soldiers buried at Gwynedd meeting]
Chapter 21. Taxables in Gwynedd in 1776
Chapter 22. The Boones, Lincolns, and Hanks
Chapter 23. St. Peter’s Church
Chapter 24. Social Conditions Among the Early Settlers
Chapter 25. Agriculture, Slaves, Schools, Hotels, Stores, etc.
Chapter 26. Genealogical Details Concerning Early Families
Chapter 27. Biographical Notices
Chapter 28. Additional Chapter –1897
Another document I have used extensively in my research is “Pennsylvania Founding Families”. This document is searchable on Ancestry.com. Although this is a subscription site, they do offer a free trial of the Ancestry.com US Deluxe Membership.
To search this document: navigate to Ancestry.com; scroll to near the bottom of the right sidebar and select “Stories, Memories and Histories” under the “Stories & Publications” heading; select “Social & Place Histories”; under “Filter by Location”, select “USA”; in the “Title” search box at the top of the left sidebar, enter “Pennsylvania Founding Families” and click search; and select “Pennsylvania Founding Families, 1681-1911″. This is the same process you would use to search any publication or narrative document offered by Ancestry.com.
Yet another valuable source for Welsh Quaker genealogy in the USA is “Ellwood Roberts’ Biographical Annals, 1904: Montgomery Co, PA“, which is available on the US GenWeb Archives site.
Although the Welsh Quaker ancestry is not my own, it is one of my favorite cultures to research (next to the Acadians, which is my own family’s ancestry), for the most part due to the detail in the narratives, documents and records available to researchers. This helps to bring the lives of those Quaker ancestors to life for the researcher.
The headings are links to the cited documents. For more facts and dates about the above mentioned individuals, check out our family’s extensive genealogy database.