The present solid prosperity enjoyed by the people of Hancock county may be attributed in a large measure to her early settlers. In the days of the settlement, when a wilderness was the only welcome tendered a stranger, little to encourage and much to discourage came to his lot. But those sturdy and self-reliant men who came to their new homes with a determination to succeed and worked persistently and honestly, became later the prosperous and honored citizens of this locality. Belonging to this band of worthy pioneers is the subject of this sketch and a review of the lives of the noteworthy citizens of Hancock county would not be complete were we to omit mention of him.
Benjamin F. Shelby was born in Union county, Indiana, May 15, 1829, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Williams) Shelby, who were both Southerners by birth, the former having been born in Mason county, Kentucky, and the latter in South Carolina. Josephs father, Joshua Shelby, was also a native of Mason county, Kentucky, and was a farmer by occupation. He migrated to Union county, Indiana, when this state was yet a territory. He entered land in the county, cleared and cultivated a good deal of it and resided thereon until his death. His son Joseph was reared in the Blue Grass state, but removed with his parents to Union county, Indiana. He served in the army for nine months during the war of 1812 and participated in battles with the Indians. His wife had received a land warrant for one hundred and sixty acres of land in Center township, Hancock county. Joseph Shelby settled in Union county after his marriage, but in 1834 sold his farm of one hundred acres and in the spring of the following year came to Hancock county, making the journey by wagon. Upon the arrival here he settled on the place where the subject now lives and also purchased other land, two tracts, one of two hundred acres and another of one hundred and sixty acres, in section 26, and eighty acres south of there. This land was all a dense wilderness at that time, but they courageously went to work to created a home amid such discouraging surroundings. A round-log cabin, eighteen by twenty feet in size, with two rooms, was erected and a vast amount of labor was expended in the effort to clear the land make it cultivable. Mr. Shelby died in the spring of 1849, aged seventy years, a faithful and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Shelby was formerly a Whig, but later became affiliated with the Democratic party, never however, holding any public office. The children born to this worthy couple were as follows: Joshua W., deceased, was a farmer in Buck Creek township; Eliza Ann, deceased; Lydia became the wife of Moses Dunn, of Buck Creek township, and both are deceased: John M. is a farmer residing in Center township; Rebba Jane was the wife of John D. Mints, of Buck Creek township, and both are also dead; Benjamin is the immediate subject of this review; Susanna, who married James Bennett, lived in Buck Creek township and both have passed away; Hampton B. was a resident of Indianapolis, in which city he was killed.
Benjamin F. Shelby lived at home until the death of his parents and received the benefit of a common school education. On the 17th of January, 1855, he was united in marriage with Miss Sarah A. Parker, of Buck Creek township, Hancock county, and a daughter of John and Isabella (Forsyth) Parker. The latter couple were natives of Brown county, Ohio, and removed to Indiana in 1835; and settled in Buck Creek township, this county, where they remained until their deaths. They had the following children: Rebecca, deceased; Zerelda, living in Kansas; John A., of Buck Creek township; Sarah A., wife of the subject; G. W. of Buck Creek township; Willis, of the same township; Amos, of Green Tower, Indiana; Angie, the wife of Ed. Howard, of Greenfield, and Campbell, of Buck Creek township. The children born to Benjamin F. Shelby and wife are enumerated as follows: Joshua W., a farmer and trader at Lebanon, Boone county, Indiana, has been twice married, first to Louisa Johnson, and, second, to Etta Parr; Louisa A., is the wife of Scott Mints, of Buck Creek township, and the mother of two children, William and Jessie; Mary Jane is the wife of Charles Day, of Indianapolis, and their children are Cecil and Olive; Josiah H., who is farming in Center township, married Clara Martin and they have one child, Gracie; George W., a real estate agent, living at Indianapolis, married Gussie Mesh and is the father of three children, Norris, Julius and Matilda; Selodius M., of Indianapolis, married Eva Cook, and they have one son, Hershcel; Andrew J., an attorney-at-law at Lebanon, Indiana, married Pearl Ball and is the father of two children, Joy and Madge; Minnie M. is the wife of Edwin Johnson, of Greenfield, and the mother of one son, Clarence; Benjamin F., Jr., a hardware and stove dealer at Paris, Illinois, married Clara Dillmore, who with their one child is deceased; John B. is an attoney-at-law at Lebanon, Indiana, and is unmarried; Angie B. is wife of Levi M. Thomas, of Vernon township, and Noble W. is at home. Andrew J. studied law in the office of James L. Mason at Greenfield and graduated in law at Danville, Indiana. Since his marriage the subject has continued to reside on the home place and is engaged in general farming, also giving considerable attention to live stock. Of the latter he makes a specialty of hogs and has some fine specimens of the Poland China and English Berkshire breeds.
Politically Mr. Shelby is firm and uncompromising in his support of the Democratic party, while religiously he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. They have a large circle of warm personal friends and because of their many sterling qualities possess the respect and esteem of the entire community in which they reside.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 238-240.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI May 30, 2002.
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