John F. Shelby, a life-long resident of Hancock county, Indiana, and a descendant of one of the earliest pioneer families, first saw the light of day within the confines of Buck Creek township on June 29, 1858, a son of Joshua W. and Nancy (Dunn) Shelby. Joshua W. Shelby was born in Union county, this state, on June 16, 1815, a son of Joseph Shelby and wife. Joseph Shelby was a native of Kentucky and later a resident of Union county, Indiana, and in 1833 he and his family came to Hancock county, making the trip here in a covered wagon. Joseph entered a tract of one hundred and twenty acres of land in Center township, about two miles northeast of Philadelphia, for which he paid the standard price of one dollar and a quarter per acre. This section of Hancock county was at that time all covered with virgin forest and the summer before the family moved here, Joshua W., father of the subject of this sketch, then a young man of eighteen, came on alone and proceeded to make ready for the balance of the family. He cleared a small space in which he erected a cabin and barn of logs. Through the years which followed, the Shelby family went through the usual experiences of the pioneers of this section and through much privation and hard labor, managed to get their land partly cleared and drained before the death of the head of the family. Joseph Shelby's wife survived him a number of years, spending the latter part of her life with her youngest son, Brown, on the old homestead. Joseph Shelby and wife were the parents of six children, namely: Joshua W., John, Lydia, Becky Jane, Benjamin Franklin and Brown, all of whom are deceased.
Joshua W. Shelby remained with his parents, assisting them in making a home on their newly acquired land, until the time of his marriage at the age of twenty-four. On December 26, 1839, he was joined in wedlock with Nancy Dunn, born in South Carolina, October 4, 1813. The Dunn family were also early pioneers of Buck Creek township, their old family homestead being about three-fourths of a mile southwest of Mt. Comfort. Nancy Dunn was one of the elder of a large family of children and remembered the trip form their North Carolina home in a covered wagon to the new location in Indiana. Directly after marriage, Joshua W. Shelby built a log cabin on a part of the Dunn farm, but remained there but a few months when he entered from the government one hundred and twenty acres in section 21, of Buck Creek township, and proceeded to make a home for himself as had other hardy pioneers of this section. His land was marshy, necessitating considerable drainage, as well as the cutting of timber. He made great headway in getting his land all under cultivation and in later years built a substantial house of six rooms with double log barn and other buildings. His death occurred on January 5, 1889, and his widow survived him but a short time, passing away on May 11, of the same year.
Joshua W. Shelby and wife were the parents of seven children, as follow: Calvin F., born on March 5, 1841, died on April 11, 1914; Samuel N., September 1, 1843; Sarah J., March 20, 1848; Lydia A., September 21, 1850, died on March 21, 1915; Elvira H., June 27, 1854, died on June 5, 1877; John F., June 29, 1858.
John F. Shelby passed his boyhood and youth on the old homestead where he still resides, and received his education at the old No. 7 district school, his first teacher being Miss Welling, who taught him at the old "Poplar Log" school. John F. Shelby assisted with the home work until the time of his marriage, at the age of twenty-five, on November 23, 1883, to Sarah M. Eastes, born in Buck Creek township on September 8, 1859. She is a daughter of John N. and Sarah (Casey) Eastes, both of whom came to this county in the early days. Sarah Eastes was one of a family of seven children and had also six half-brothers and sisters.
After marriage, John F. Shelby settled on twenty-eight acres, which he had bought before his marriage, adjoining the old homestead on the northwest. For this land he paid fifty-three and one-half dollars per acre and it had on it a three-room log house and a small frame barn, twenty-four by twenty. He also farmed his father's place, continuing in this fashion up to the time of his father's death in 1889, when he received a portion of the homestead as his share and purchased the balance from the other heirs, all except fourteen acres belonging to a sister. This gave John F. Shelby one hundred and thirty-four acres and in addition to this, he has purchased eighty acres in section 24, making him two hundred and fourteen acres in all. Mr. Shelby has erected on his farm a comfortable seven-room house, also a good barn, fifty by fifty, corn-crib and granary and other buildings. He is regarded as one of the successful farmers of his section, giving his attention to diversified farming and the raising of live stock.
They are five children in John F. Shelby's family: Claude, single and at home; Carl, married Lena King and has one child, John Anthony; Grace, wife of Fred Elliott, has one child, Lois Hazel; Hazel, wife of Herbert Fink and Homer, at home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Shelby are members of the United Brethren church, which society he also serves as trustee, and he holds his fraternal affiliation with the Free and Accepted Masons through Lodge No. 140, at Oaklandon. Politically, he is a Democrat and served Buck Creek township as trustee from 1909 to 1913, discharging his duties in a manner satisfactory to all. Mr. Shelby is one of the stalwart citizens of this county, who have always stood for all that is highest and best in community life, and has added his quota to the general development of the community in which he has always lived.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 948-950.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI October 15, 2001.
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