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.
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
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.
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