NOTE: In biography of William Read Shelby and some other biographies of Shelbys of the time, the birthplace is erroneously claimed to be Cameron, Wales, when in truth it was Tregaron, Carnarvon, Wales.
Shelby, William Read, Vice-President, Treasurer and Purchasing Agent Grand Rapids & Indiana Ry. Oﬂice Grand Rapids. Mich.
Born Dec. 4, 184, in Lincoln County, Kentucky. Educated at Centre College at Danvilie, Ky. Entered railway servive 1869 as secretary and treasurer Continental Improvement Co., operating the Grand Rapids & Indiana Rd. Cincinnati, Richmond & Fort Wayne Rd, Michigan Lake Shore Rd and Traverse City Rd; 1870 to 1873, also secretary and treasurer Southern Railway Security Co., operating the East Tennessee Virginia & Georgia Ry, Memphis & Charleston Rd and other southern roads ; 1877 to 1892, vice-president. treasurer and purhasing agent Grand Rapids & Indiana Rd; 1892 to date, vice-president, treasurer and purchasing agent same road and the reorganized road, the Grand Rapids & Indiana Ry; 1896 to date, also president Cincinnati Richmond & Fort Wayne, Muskegon Grand Rapids & Indiana and Traverse City Rds.
The Biographical directory of the
railway officials of America. 1906
SHELBY, William Read, ry. official since 1869: b. Lincoln Co., Ky., Dec. 4, 1842 ; s, John W., s. Evan, s. Gov. Isaac, s. Gen. Evan S.; ed. prep. school and Centre CoIl., Danville, Ky., to end of sophomere year, 1861 ; preventcd by Civil war from graduating; m. Sewickley, Pa., June 16, 1869, Mary K., d. Gen. Geo. W. Cass. Sec. and treas. Continental Improvement Co., April, 1869-87 ; same, Southern Railway Security Co., 1870-73 ; treas., 1771-87, v.-p. and treas. since 1887, Grand Rapids & Ind. R. R. C0., reorganized as Grand Rapids & Ind. Ry. Co., 1896 ; pres. Cincinnati, Richmond & Fort Wayne R. R. C0., since 1899; pres. ot Muskegon, Grand Rapids & Ind. R. R. Co. since 1899 ; chmn. State Central Com. Gold Democrats, since March. 1896. Is mem. ex-com. and Nat. Com. of Nat. Dem. party. Address: 65 N. Lafayette St., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Who’s Who in
America . 1908-9
Shelby, William Read, railroad official, was born Dec. 4, 1842, in Lincoln county, Ky. He was president of the Cincinnati, Richmond and Fort Wayne railroad company ; and president of the Muakegon, Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad company. He has been also extensively engaged in wheat raising in the northwest ; and since 1875 has managed the Cass farm, a portion of which is more generally known as the great Dalrymple farm.
HERRINGSHAW, T.W. Herringshaw’s
national library of American
biography. 5v. 1909-14.
William Read Shelby. After forty-four years of continuous official service with the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway Company, under its successive organization and reorganization, William Read Shelby retired from his position as vice president in 1913. Mr. Shelby has for more than forty years been a resident of Grand Rapids, and is one of the oldest and best known railroad men in the state of Michigan. He saw service in the Civil war, and from the close of the war until very recently his entire career was devoted to transportation in some department. His career has all the interesting features of progress from a position as minor clerk to one of the highest places in the service, his ability and personal character having won a steady promotion from one grade to another.
The Shelby family to which Mr. Shelby belongs is one of the oldest and most prominent in American history, beginning with the period of the Revolutionary war, and continuing through all the successive decades of our national existence. William Read Shelby was born in Lincoln, Kentucky, December 4. 1842. The name is a household word in Kentucky, the ﬁrst govemor of which state was the great-grandfather of the Grand Rapids railroad man. The Shelby family was founded in America by Evan Shelby, who came from Cameron, Wales, about 1730, and located near North Mountain in the vicinity of Hagerstown, Maryland, Evan, a son of Evan, was noted both as a hunter and Indian trader, and rose to the grade of brigadier general, under appointment by the state of Virginia, in 1779 for services tendered in lndian warfare. He was the first officer of that grade who saw service west of the Alleghany Mountains. Isaac Shelby, son of Brigadier General Evan Shelby, was born December 11. 1750, on the old homestead near Hagerstown, Maryland. He was one of the pioneers to the “dark and bloody ground” of Kentucky, where he founded an estate in Lincoln county, to which he gave the name “Travellers Rest.” Isaac Shelby was elected the ﬁrst governor of Kentucky, and reelected in 1812. His record in the Revolutionary War gave him distinction which will be found noted in all the larger and more comprehensive accounts of that struggle, and he was one of the chief heroes of the battle of King’s Mountain. In the war of 1812 again, at the head of a brigade of four thousand Kentuckians, General Shelbv marched to the aid of General Harrison, and participated in the battle of the Thames. ln 1817 President Monroe offered General Shelby a seat in his cabinet as Secretary of War. This honor was declined. lsaac Shelby died at Travellers Rest in Kentucky, July 18, 1826. Evan Shelby, son of Governor Isaac, was bom July 27, 1787, inherited a portion of his father’s estate, and named his share “Millwood,” and was a wealthy land and slave owner. The military services continues through Evan Shelby. who was a soldier in the war of 1812. His death occurred at Seguin, Texas, April 19, 1875.
John Warrcn Shelby, fathcr of .Mr. W. R. Shelby. was a son of Evan Shelbv. He was horn at Millwood, Kentucky, November 11, 1814, and having later obtained a portion of his father’s estate, gave it the name of “Knightland.” in compliment to his wife. On the breaking out
of the Civil war it was characteristic of the Shelby family that they never forgot their allegiance to the country which their early ancestors had helped to establish, and John Warren Shelby espoused the Union cause, and lost all his extensive properties, consisting of a valuable estate, stock and slaves. In 1875. his residence was established in the Pewee Valley, where he died Fcbruary 25, 1881. On January 16, 1840, John W. Shelby married Mary Humphrey Knight, a daughter of Dr. Joseph W. and Ann Catherine (Humphrey) Knight. Her grandfather was Dr. John Knight, a surgeon in the Revolutionary army, and descended from the family of the Scottish Earl, John Graham, of Clavcrhouse. In the history of the American Revolution, as it was fought on the western slope of the Alleghany Mountains, the name of Dr. Knight is familiar to all who have read of the specific accounts of the campaigns in the upper Ohio Valley. It was Dr. John Knight who was a companion of Col. Crawford on the expedition from the upper Ohio against the Indians about Sandusky, Ohio, towards the closing years of the Revolution. Dr. Knight and Col. Crawford were both captured by the Indians, and the doctor was forced to witness the burning of Col. Crawford at the stake, one of the barbarities committed by the western Indians, which has had a part in every historical account concerning those times. A similar torture was to be inflicted on Dr. Knight on the following day, but in the meantime he managed to make his escape and his recital of the event has been the source of the only authentic account of the end of Col. Crawford. William Read Shelby was educated at Center College in Danville, Kentucky, until his sophomore year in 1861. The outbreak of the Civil war tcrminated his studies, and as a loyal Unionist he became a member of the home guard and rendered valuable aid to the Union cause. in enlisting and recruiting men for the Federal army. During 1863-64-65 his service consisted in supplying wood to the steamers on the Mississippi River at Island No. 37, under the protection of United States gun boats. His business career began in 1865 when he entered the employ of the Adams Express Company in their ofice at Louisville. Several years later, in 1869, he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, aml took the position of secretary and treasurer of the Continental lmpr0vemcnt Company, a company composed of such eminent financiers as General G. W. Cass, Thos. A. Scott, William Thaw, of Pennsylvania; Hon. S. J. Tilden and F. J. D. Lanier of New York; Hon. John Sherman and Reuben Stringer of Ohio. This company was organized under a charter from Pennsylvania for the purpose of building railroads. His service as secretary and treasurer continued from 1869 to 1877.
From I870 to I873 Mr. Shelby was secretary and treasurer of the Southern Railway Security Company, a company which operated in East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia roads, the Memphis & Charleston and other southern railroads. in I869 Mr. Shelby was elected secretary and treasurer of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company. To look after his duties in this connection he moved his residence in 1871 to Grand Rapids, and that city has ever since been his home. His connection as secretary and treasurer continued until 1887, when he was promoted to vice president and treasurer of the same corporation. At the reorganization of the company, beginning with 1893. and during the reorganization period from 1893 to 1896, Mr. Shelby was acting president. At the completion of the reorganization in 1896, he became vice president and treasurer of the new company, under the name of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway Company. This position belonged
to Mr. Shelby until January 1. 1913. at which date he retired on a pension after forty-four years of continuous service. His work as a railway man includes other important positions. From October 24, 1899, to January 1, 1913, he served as president of the Cincinnati, Richmond & Fort Wayne Railroad Company; was president of the Muskcgon, Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company, from October 16. 1899, to January 1, 1013; was president of the Traverse City Railroad Cmnpany from 1899 to the first of 1913.
His work as a railroad man has not absorbed all his energies, and the development of farming interests in diferent sections of the country has been a matter in which he has long been keenly interested. Since I875 Mr. Shelby has been manager of the “Cass Farm,” a portion of which is more generally known as “The Great Dalrymple Farm” in North Dakota. He is president of the “Lake Agriculture Company,” owners of twenty thousand acres of land in what is known as the Kankakee Valley about fifty miles south of Chicago, the land being situated in both Indiana and lllinois. On this large project of reclamation from conditions of an original swamp more than two hundred thousand dollars have been expended by this company.
Mr. Shelby was a member of the executive committee and the national committee of the national Democratic party in 1896. His name is found among those of the forty original Gold Democrats at the Chicago conference, a conference which led to the Indianapolis convention of the Gold Democrats, and the nomination of the Palmer and Buckner ticket and the subsequent defeat of W. J. Bryan. lt was Mr. Shelby who offered the original resolutions resulting in what has since been known in political history as the Gold Democrat Campaign of 1896. Mr. Shelby was chairman of the State Central Committee of Michigan for the gold wing of the party in 1896.
Among other relations with the business and civic community of Grand Rapids, Mr. Shelby is a director in the Old National Bank of Grand Rapids, and was also a director in its predecessor, the First National Bank. For many years he was a member of the board of education at Grand Rapids, and chairman of its committee on grounds, and to his efforts and work may be credited the establishment of the beautiful play grounds now to be found in this west Michigan metropolis. Another public service that is well remembered for its efficiency and public spirit was his membership and presidency of the board of public works in Grand Rapids from May, 1888, until May, 1893.
At Sewickley, Pennsylvania, on June 16, 1869. Mr. Shelby married Miss Mary K. Cass, daughter of General George W. Cass of Pittsburg. Seven children were born to them, ﬁve of whom survive, namely: Cass Knight, born September 18, 1870; Charles Littleton, born August 9, 1872; Walter Humphrey. born March 1, 1875, and died in 1902; Ella Dawson, bom February 20. 1876; George Cass, born December 5, 1878; William, born April 30. 1881. and died in infancy; Violette. born April 23, 1882. The Shelby home in Grand Rapids is at 65 Lafayette Avenue, N.E.
MOORE, C. History of
Michigan. v.2-4. 1915.
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