Saturday, June 21, 2014

Family History 4: Flashback to Jamestown

I'm just not following my intended order at all. But since I wrote about North Carolina last week, I thought I'd continue with another of my mother's lines. So far...

7. The Revivalin' Twenties
In the Year 1920 (Dorsey Schenck)
From Quaker to Pilgrim (Harry Shepherd)

8. The Depression Thirties
North Carolina Flashback (Eli Shepherd)

1. In the late 1960s, my older sisters decided one by one to go to Frankfort Pilgrim Academy for high school. They lived with my mother's mother, Verna, while they went there. Frankfort was of course where my grandfather Harry Shepherd had taught from 1927 till he retired in the 50s, minus the years it was closed during the Depression. He died in 1963, and I imagine my oldest sister probably went there in 64 or so. Things to double check.

For the last few years of her life, until she died in 1967, my Grandma Shepherd's mother also lived there. Her name was Rene Catherine and she was going on 94 when she died. I guess her mind wasn't entirely there in her final days and she would say things like, "You're killing me" in a mousy, puny voice if you gave her a bath. My second oldest sister remembers closing the windows when they gave her a bath so that no one would call the police.

Rene Catherine Wall, later Rich, was born in Sullivan County in 1873. She had nine children, of which my grandmother Verna (originally Vernilla) was the oldest. As far as I know, she never had a vocation other than mothering. I think I already mentioned that my grandmother got a few beatings for going out to church rather than staying home to help with matters of the home.

Her husband Oscar, my mother's grandfather, was a bit of a businessman. They married in 1894 and he farmed in Sullivan. In 1910 he was selling furniture in Sullivan. In 1920 he was running a grocery store in Sullivan. In 1930 he was selling oil wholesale in Kokomo, Indiana. He died of a heart attack in 1935 while driving to Indianapolis to collect rent.

The census takers clearly had problems with my great grandmother's name. She is Renna in 1900, Bina in 1910. In 1880 she was Kena. When my grandmother's second youngest sister dropped her off to live with her, she told her mother to "Remember, Mom, you're Christian," meaning Christian Church.

2. Rena was just a few days shy of 28 when her mother, Mellisa, died in 1901. The census takers sometimes graced her mother with the more typical spelling, but she was indeed Mellisa, born in Kentucky on October 27, 1836.

The census takers had a hard time with her name, and perhaps we can see in their spellings a hint of the accent with which it was spoken. In 1850, her name is listed as Malissey and she was not attending school.  In 1900 it is Mallisa. The 1870 and 1900 census say that she could read but not write.

Mellisa was born in Kentucky to Champion Shelburn. I'm guessing she was born in the area of Bardstown, where her grandfather is buried and was living by 1820. But her father moved to north Sullivan County before she turned a year old in 1837. In the 1850 census, her brother Minor, just one year younger than her, is said to have been born in Indiana.

In 1855, when she was almost 19, she married William Walls. He would drop the "s" a decade or so into their marriage. One record remembers him as "William Tell" Walls, presumably named after the legendary Swiss hero William Tell, who apparently could shoot an apple off someone's head with a bow and arrow. There is a cemetery in Sullivan County called Walls Cemetery on the west side of Lake Sullivan that I assume has some of his relatives, although he is buried in Little Flock just south of Shelburn.

3. Champion Shelburn was born in 1800 in Lunenberg County, Virginia. But by 1805 his father had moved the family to Kentucky, apparently just east of Louisville. He had an older brother named Paschal who apparently served in the War of 1812 and settled in northern Sullivan County in 1818, where he bought 40 acres of land in the south half of Curry Township (apparently he buried some gold on his property that he couldn't find after he went blind).
Little Flock Baptist Church, now gone

Paschal was a founding member of Little Flock (Missionary) Baptist Church in 1821 and went on to found the little town of Shelburn, Indiana in 1855. He apparently never married and is buried, along with my more direct relatives, in Little Flock Cemetery, just south of Shelburn.

My great, great, great grandfather Champion apparently followed him to the area at the ripe age of 37 or so, taking my great, great grandmother and family with him. So Champion was born in Virginia, raised and married in Kentucky, and then died in Sullivan County, Indiana.

You might notice the similarity to the movements of Abraham Lincoln's family. Lincoln's grandfather moved from Virginia to Kentucky in 1781, about 20 years before Champion's family moved, and Lincoln was born nine years after Champion in 1809 in the county southwest of where Champion lived. Lincoln's family moved north to Indiana in 1816, about the time Champion's brother moved north to Indiana. Of course Lincoln's family would move again to Illinois in 1830.

4. John Wills Shelburne was born in 1763 in Lunenburg County, Virginia, where he married Charlotte Elizabeth Willis in 1784. Some time in between 1800 and 1805 he would move to Kentucky. He would die there in 1822 in Bardstown.

5. His father, Thomas Shelburne, was born in 1730 in Blisland Parish in James City Township, Virginia. Apparently, in 1755, his father moved the family (John, Thomas, James and Elizabeth) to Lunenburg County and settled on Reedy Creek. His father died soon after settling there in 1764.

6. His father was Augustine II Shelburne, who was born in 1698 in Jamestown, Virginia. He would die in Lunenburg County in 1764, a year after moving his family there.

7. Augustine II was the son of Augustine I Shelburne, born in Jamestown in 1640. He apparently died there as well in 1725. His father was Thomas Hand Shelburne, my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.

8. Thomas Hand Shelburne was born in 1595 in Wales. The family tradition passed down from my grandmother was that we had an ancestor who had come to America with Captain John Smith of Pocahontas fame. As it turns out, there is a tradition among Virginia families that Thomas Shelburne did indeed come to America in 1607 with Captain John Smith.

However, he does not appear on the manifest of the initial settlers, although the manifest was not complete. He would have been a young boy of 12 and might have come as a cabin boy or ship servant. We must also reckon with the possibility, knowing how things develop, that he may have been on one of the early but subsequent voyages that would populate Jamestown.

He married Elizabeth Augustine in 1640 in Jamestown, and died there in 1676.

9. So my mother's father's family were Scotch-Irish and Dutch. One of her mother's lines was Welsh.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My Grandma Jeffries was Verna's sister. I remember "Vernie" and "Mom Rich" in the late 60's on a visit to Frankfort with Grandma. I am Marjorie Jeffries' son. Good story and I understand the sequence pretty much as you tell it. Thank you. joekend2003@yahoo