Transcription: Biography of William Read Shelby; National cyclopaedia of American biography.

NOTE: In the biography of William Read Shelby as well as some biographies of earlier Shelbys, the birthplace is erroneously claimed to be Cameron, Wales, when in truth it was Tregaron, Carnarvon, Wales.

Biography of William Read Shelby
Biography of William Read Shelby

1842-1930 (handwritten)

SHELBY, William Read, railroad president was born in Lincoln county, Ky., Dec. 4, 1842, eldest son of John Warren and Mary H. (Knight) Shelby, and a descendant of Evan Shelby, who came from Cameron, Wales, about 1740, and settled near Hagerstown, Md. Evan, son of Evan Shelby, was appointed brigadier-general by the state of Virginia, in 1779, for services rendered in Indian warfare. His son, Isaac Shelby, was the first governor of Kentucky. William Read Shelby acquired his eduation in the preparatory schools and at Centre College, Danville, Ky., his studies being cut short by the civil war, and subsequent occupation of Kentucky by the Federal and Confederate troops. As a member of the “Kentucky Home Guard,” he enrolled and recruited men for the Federal army. In 1863-5 he supplied wood to steamers on the Mississippi river at Isalnd No. 37, being protected by U. S. gunboats. From then until 1869, he was employed by the Adams Express Co., at Louisville, Ky., removing to Pittsburg to become secretary of the Continental Improvement Co. Among its first undertaking was the contract to build the Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad in Michigan and Indiana. Mr. Shelby took charge of a branch office at Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1871, having in the year previous been elected secretary and treasurer of the Grand Rapids & Indiana and the Michigan & Lake Shore railroad companies. On Jan. 1, 1892, he was made first vice-president of the former company, retaining the positions of treasurer and purchasing agent. In June, 1896, the Grand Rapids & Indiana


William Read Shelby bio
Biography of William Read Shelby

Railroad Co. was sold out under foreclosure proceedings ; a  new company, with the same name, was organized, and Mr. Shelby elected vice-president, treasurer and purchasing agent. In 1870-73 he held also the office of secretary and treasurer of the Southern Railway Security Co. On Oct. 16, 1899, he was elected president of the Muskegon, Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Co. and president of the Big Rapids & Western Railroad Co., and on Oct. 14, 1899, he was elected president of the Cincinnati, Richmone & Fort Wayne Railroad Co. Mr. Shelby has been extensively interested in the development of farming interests in various sections of the country. He is a member of the board of directors of the First National Bank, later known as the ” Old National Bank, ” of Grand Rapids, and a stockholder in various manufacturing and mercantile concerns ; a member of the board of education, and chairman of its committee on grounds ; in 1888-93 he was a member and part of the time president of the board of public works. Mr. Shelby is a Democrat, and it was on his motion in the sound money conference in Chacago that the “Indianapolis convention” was held in 1896, causing the defeat of the Chicago platform and Bryan. He was chairman of the sound money Democratic organization in Michigan, which conducted so vigorous a campaign against “Free Silver and 16 to 1.” Mr. Shelby was married, June 16, 1869, at Sewickley, Pa., to Mary C., daughter of Gen. George W. Cass, the issue being five sons and two daughters.

The National cyclopaedia of
American biography.  v.1-13.
1898.  1893-1909.


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A fifties’ child, mom, wife, avid genealogy researcher, web contributor and author/owner of four blogs including Empty Nest Ancestry, Feathering the Empty Nest Nest, Top Web Blog Tips, Job Bully, and our extensive family genealogy database site at Blythe Genealogy.

5 comments on “Transcription: Biography of William Read Shelby; National cyclopaedia of American biography.

  1. Thomas Shelby

    Evan Shelby was from Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales, not Cameron.
    His family baptismal records can be found at St. Caron’s Church
    Go to for photos

    • You will see that the data on my site for Evan Shelby refers to his birth in Tregaron, not Cameron. The only mention of Cameron is in a direct quote from a source in the notes attached to this profile and I did not use this information as it was wrong. I cannot, however, alter the original quote due to copyright. I am aware of the Trolinger site and I’ve quoted it in my notes, including the fact that she did not find any mention of the Dhu name in earlier records. I’ve documented direct quotes and cited the sources in my notes.

      • Thomas Shelby

        Hi Christine,

        My comment was not directed as criticism towards you; I was refuting the Cameron misinformation from the text.

        As for the use of “dhu” in you tree, I give up.

        Somehow an actual birth document from St Caron’s seems like an indisputable, LEGAL, record verses a casual, undocumented use in a book or DAR.

        If I used your name, Christine, as Christina on a DAR request, or in a book I published, and another researcher picked it up and insisted on using Christina, even though you provided a birth certificate, well I think (hope) you get the point.

        You do an excellent job of listing your sources, thanks for that at least.

        I tire of this; to quote an old song “there is none so blind as he who will not see”

        Good luck,

        For those reading these comments, and I don’t think this is too harsh, be very careful with information found on this site

        • As I stated, I do not dispute what was found in the original birth records. However, ‘Dhu’ was a documented nickname within the family and is documented as such in a couple of sources I’ve used. Simply because of the possibility that it may be valid, much less the fact that this nickname is documented, I choose to include it. My policy regarding information on my site is clear, the information is made available by me freely and I take my standards of research very seriously, but I do choose to use information that may not be sourced or documented if it is believed to be true. I clearly state all controversies – as in the notes regarding this nickname where I quote from the very site you mention with the argument against the use of ‘Dhu’.

          When a name differs between sources, I enter the others either as a nickname (as in this case) or ‘alternate names’ which is the purpose of that entry in genealogy databases. Again, Dhu is a nickname, just like Chris is my nickname, but shows as ‘Christine’ on my birth certificate. I also have definite circumstances in my father’s side where the given name changes when a sibling or other relative dies and the family chooses to use that name for the surviving sibling from then on, and surnames are changed for personal preference (like my father’s family name Turmaine having been Turmel but was changed by an ancestor due to his objection to the ‘el’ ending being feminine in nature).

          I don’t take offense. I’m used to my conclusions on some controversial data being debated, but stand by my usual practices. My policy with regard to data on this site is clearly written on this site’s main page at, and is explored in more detail in the post on Empty Nest Ancestry, titled “We must know the genealogy questions before we can find the answers.”. I’m sorry if you’re offended by my continued arguments on this matter, but I truly do thank you for the references you’ve cited that I haven’t already consulted. I will be doing so as soon as I have a chance. Sadly, I’m so busy with my blogging that my actual research is on the ‘back burner’.

          I do appreciate the compliment about my detailed source citations.

          Again, for all my readers, please be aware that the information in my database is only as good as the sources cited. If there is any question or dispute about an entry, it is clearly documented in the notes and is evident by the quality or lack of sources.

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