Genealogy by Martha

Cross - Love - Culpepper - Herron - Mordecai - Shelby - Cobb

Gov. Isaac Shelby, Sr.

Male 1750 - 1826  (75 years)


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  • Name Isaac Shelby 
    Prefix Gov. 
    Suffix Sr. 
    Born 11 Dec 1750  North Mountain, Frederick Co., MD Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Elected Between 1792 and 1796  KY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Elected Between 1812 and 1816  KY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 18 Jul 1826  Lincoln Co., KY near Stanford Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1534  MyTree
    Last Modified 27 Apr 2011 

    Father Brigadier General Evan Shelby, Jr.,   b. 1720, Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Dec 1794, King's Meadows (now Bristol), TN Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
    Mother Letitia Cox,   b. 12 Jan 1727, Raccoon Cr, Gloucester Co, NJ Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Sep 1777, Charlottesville, Albemarle Co, VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 50 years) 
    Married Abt 1744  Prince Georges Co, MD Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F4583  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Susannah Hart 
    Married 19 Apr 1783  Boonesboro, KY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +1. Gen. James Shelby,   b. 13 Feb 1784, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Aug 1848, Lincoln Co., NC Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years)
     2. Sarah Shelby,   b. 8 Oct 1785, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Oct 1846, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 61 years)
     3. Evan Shelby,   b. 27 Jul 1787, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Apr 1875, Sequin, Quadalupe Co., TX Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years)
     4. Thomas Hart Shelby,   b. 27 May 1789, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Feb 1869, Fayette Co., KY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years)
     5. Susannah Shelby,   b. 20 Mar 1791, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1867, Danville, Lincoln Co., KY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
     6. Nancy Shelby,   b. 23 Dec 1792, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Aug 1815, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 22 years)
     7. Isaac Shelby, Jr.,   b. 30 May 1795, Frankfort, KY Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Nov 1886, Danville, Lincoln Co., KY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 91 years)
     8. John Shelby,   b. 5 Mar 1797, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Oct 1815, Frankfort, KY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 18 years)
     9. Letitia Shelby,   b. 11 Jun 1799, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Jul 1868, Owensboro, KY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 69 years)
     10. Katherine Shelby,   b. 14 Mar 1801, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. May 1801, Travellers Rest Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
    +11. Alfred Shelby,   b. 24 Jan 1804, Traveller's Rest Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Dec 1832, Traveller's Rest Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 28 years)
    Last Modified 17 Jul 2017 
    Family ID F4586  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 19 Apr 1783 - Boonesboro, KY Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • General Evan Shelby's eldest son, Isaac, governor of Kentucky, born
      in North Mountain, Maryland, 11 December, 1750; died near Stanford,
      Kentucky, 18 July, 1826, acquired a common English education, and the
      principles of surveying at Fredericktown, and before he was of age
      served as deputy sheriff of Frederick county. In 1771 he removed with
      his father to the present site of Bristol, Tennessee, and followed
      with him the business of herding cattle till 1774, when, being
      appointed lieutenant in his father's company, he served in the battle
      of Point Pleasant, which he was instrumental in winning. He commanded
      the fort at that place till July, 1775, when his troops were disbanded
      by Lord Dunmore, lest they should join the patriot army. During the
      following year he was employed at surveying in Kentucky, but, his
      health failing, he returned home in July, 1776, just in time to be at
      the battle of Long Island fiats. At the first furious onset of the
      savages, the American lines were broken, and then Shelby, present only
      as a volunteer private, seized the command, reformed the troops, and
      inflicted upon the Indians a severe defeat, with the loss of only two
      men badly wounded. This battle, and John Sevier's defence of Watauga,
      frustrated the rear attack by which the British hoped to envelop and
      crush the southern colonies. Soon afterward Governor Patrick Henry
      promoted Shelby to a captaincy, and made him commissary-general of the
      Virginia forces. When Sevier, in 1779, projected the expedition that
      captured the British stores at Chickamauga, Shelby equipped and
      supplied the troops by the pledge of his individual credit. In this
      year he was commissioned a major by Governor Thomas Jefferson, but,
      when the state line was run, his residence was found to be in North
      Carolina. He then resigned his commission, but was at once appointed
      to the colonelcy of Sullivan county by Governor Caswell. He was in
      Kentucky, perfecting his title to lands he had selected on his
      previous visit, when he heard of the fall of Charleston and the
      desperate situation of affairs in the southern colonies. He at once
      returned to engage in active service against the enemy, and, crossing
      the mountains into South Carolina, in July, 1780, he won victories
      over the British at Thicketty Fort, Cedar Springs, and Musgrove's
      Mill. But, as the disastrous defeat at Camden occurred just before the
      last engagement, he was obliged to retreat across the Alleghanies.
      There he soon concerted with John Sevier the remarkable expedition
      which resulted in the battle of King's Mountain, and turned the tide
      of the Revolution. For this important service he and Sevier received
      the thanks of the North Carolina legislature, and the vote of a sword
      and a pair of pistols. Having been elected to the general assembly,
      Shelby soon afterward left the army to take his seat, but, before he
      left, suggested to General Horatio Gates the expedition which, carried
      out by Morgan under General Greene, resulted in the victory at
      Cowpens. Being soon afterward recalled to South Carolina by General
      Greene, he marched over the mountains with Colonel Sevier and 500 men,
      and did important; service against the British in the vicinity of
      Charleston. In the winter of 1782-'3 he was appointed a commissioner
      to survey the lands along the Cumberland that were allotted by North
      Carolina to her soldiers, and this done, he repaired to Boonesborough,
      Kentucky, where he settled as a planter. He was a delegate to all the
      early conventions that were held for obtaining the separation of
      Kentucky from Virginia, and succeeded, in connection with Thomas
      Marshall and George Muter, in thwarting the treasonable scheme of
      General James Wilkinson and his associates to force Kentucky out of
      the Union and into an alliance with Spain. When, in 1792, Kentucky was
      admitted as a state, Shelby was almost unanimously elected its first
      governor. During nearly the whole of his administration the western
      country was in a state of constant irritation, in consequence of the
      occlusion of the Mississippi by Spain; but, by his firm and sagacious
      policy, this discontent was kept from breaking out into actual
      hostilities. Finally, by the treaty of 20 October, 1795, the Spaniards
      conceded the navigation of that river; and Shelby's term of office
      expiring soon afterward, he refused to be again a candidate, and
      returned to the cultivation of the farm which he had reluctantly left
      at what he deemed the call of his country. He subsequently refused all
      office except that of presidential elector, to which he was chosen six
      times successively under Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe; but, on the
      eve of the second war with Great Britain, his state again peremptorily
      demanded his services. Our first western army had been captured,
      Michigan was in the hands of the enemy, and the whole frontier was
      threatened by a strong coalition of savages, armed by Great Britain.
      Instinctively the people turned to Shelby, and he consented to serve
      as governor "if there should be a war with England." Organizing a body
      of 4,000 volunteers, he had them mounted on his own responsibility,
      and at the age of sixty-three led them in person to the re-enforcement
      of General William Henry Harrison, whom he joined just in time to
      enable that general to profit by the victory of Perry on Lake Erie.
      For his services in this campaign Shelby received a gold medal and the
      thanks of congress and of the Kentucky legislature. In March, 1817, he
      was tendered the post of secretary of war by President Monroe; but he
      declined, and never again held any office except that of commissioner
      for the purchase from the Chickasaws of their remaining lands in
      Tennessee and Kentucky.
      (Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM)From
      the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell
      and Holston Rivers, page 17.

      After killing John Duncan at Moore's Fort the next strike of Logan,
      the Mingo Chief, was at the fort of General Evan Shelby, near the
      present Bristol. At this time General Shelby was away on the Lewis
      Expedition to Ohio. On October 6, 1774, the Indians captured a slave
      girl belonging to Shelby.

      In a letter dated October 9, 1774, Major Arthur Campbell reports the
      raid on Shelby's settlement in this manner:

      On last Thursday evening, ye 6th instant, the Indians took a Negro
      wench prisoner, belonging to Captain Evan Shelby, within 300 yards of
      his home. After they took her some distance, they examined her, asking
      how many guns were in the fort and other questions relative to the
      strength of the place. They asked her if the store was kept there now.
      After they had carried her off about a mile, they saw or heard a boy
      coming from the mill; they immediately tied the wench and went off to
      catch the boy. While they were gone the wench luckily got loose and
      made her escape. She says they knocked her down twice when she refused
      to tell in what situation the fort was; and she says one was a large
      man much whiter than the rest, and talked good English. It was the
      same kind of person Mr. Blackmore saw in pursuit of the Negro he
      relieved. (1)

      (1) Calender Virginia State Papers, Draper Mss 3 QQ.


      (Liberation of Georgia)
      Georgia militia were called on by Col. Isaac Shelby of North Carolina
      to assist in driving the British from an encampment at Musgrove's Mill
      on the Enoree River. Elijah Clarke answered this call with some 300
      men, and helped Shelby rout the British foes on August 17, 1780.
      Clarke suffered a serious wound during the battle. His return trip
      took him through South Carolina, where he meted out justice to the
      Tory occupiers. Clarke returned home and after a brief rest reformed
      his brigade to attack Augusta. Clarke nearly succeeded in taking
      Augusta from Loyalist Thomas Brown, but was stymied when British
      Regulars arrived from Ninety-six in support of Brown's militia.

      Since the defeat of the Continental Army at Savannah the British had
      been trying to make inroads with the farmers in the Georgia
      backcountry. Repeated attempts to disarm those not trusted by the
      British and Tories met with little success. These soldiers and militia
      met Whig resistance with force, killing men, assaulting women and
      children, and destroying property. As Clarke returned from his near
      victory at Augusta he stumbled upon a group of some 400 backcountry
      women and children who were fleeing the ravages of these British and
      Tory soldiers. He and his men escorted them to the Watauga Valley of
      North Carolina (now Tennessee), firmly in the control of the Whigs
      whom he had aided at Musgrove's Mill. Clarke's militia then joined
      Thomas Sumter to win the battle of Blackstock (variously described as
      a ferry, a plantation or a farm), defeating Tarleton Banistre on
      November 20, 1780. Returning to Georgia his men dispersed for Winter.
      Spring would bring better news.

      Listed in the Battle of King's Mountain:
      Shelby, David
      Shelby, Evan Jr., Major
      Shelby, Isaac, Colonel
      Shelby, James, Captain
      Shelby, John
      Shelby, John, Captain
      Shelby, Moses (w)
      Shelby, Moses, Captain
      Shelby, Thomas

      The oldest, and for this reason, the most noted of the Kentucky estates, is Travelers Rest--The Shelby homestead.
      The first certificate of settlement and pre-emption granted by the Governor of Virginia was to Isaac Shelby for raising a crop of corn in the county of Kentucky, in the year 1776, on the land which Shelby made his farm in 1780.
      The name Travelers Rest was given to this grant on account of its being the resting place of all the early settlers on their way into "settlements" and the camping grounds for the friendly Indians who were passing to and fro, to treat and trade with the whites. Isaac Shelby always supplied the Indians with corn when they camped on his place and treated them otherwise so well that he was known amongst them as "old King Shelby" The charred remains of the old oak tree still stands near which they always camped, under which several noted treaties were signed.
      Travelers Rest is in Lincoln County - One of the original counties into which Kentucky was divided in 1760 by the legislature of Virginia, and is five miles from Danville, the first capital of Kentucky before it was a state. Here were erected the first courthouse and jail- both built of logs.
      It was in this courthouse that the numerous conventions were held to consider and decide upon the expediency of a separation of Kentucky from Virginia and to petition Congress for admission of the new state into the federation by the name of Kentucky which was done n the 4th Feb 1791.
      In accordance with the provisions of the Constitition of the State, Isaac Shelby was two years after declared Governor, and again in 1813, when past seventy, he was solicited to become a candidate, and only consented on the condition (so honorable to his love of country) that the United States were involved in war. He was elected.
      In answer to a call for volunteers in the Summer of 1813 Governor Shelby placed himself at the head of 4,000 men, who he commanded in the decisive battle of the Thames.
      He was awarded a sword by his State for his gallant conduct, and a resolution was introduced in Congress, assigning a gold medal to him and General Harrison - His ranking officer.
      Owing to some prejudice against the latter, the vote was delayed on session on learning this, Governor Shelby requested his friends in Congress- Mr Clay and Col. Richard M Johnson, to permit no expression of thanks unless he was associated with General Harrison.
      The vote was passed at the next session and awarded a medal to each. In General Harrisons report to the Secretary of War he says: I am at a loss has to mention the merits of Governor Shelby, being convenced that no euloguin of mine can do him justice, the Governor of an independent and greatly my superior in years, in experience and in military fame, he placed himself under my command and was more remarkable for his zeal and activity, than for the promptitude and cheerfulness with which he obeyed my orders.
      Governor Shelby was appointed Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Monroe, but declined on account of the infirmitives of age.
      Governor Shelby's wife was Susannah Hart, the daughter of Captain Nathaniel Hart of Hanover County, Virginia, who was an officer in the Revolutionary War, and was also one of the pioneers of Kentucky. They were married in the Fort at Boonesborough April 19, 1783. The bride spun and wove her wedding gown of flax grown near the fort. It was two widths of linen, of a texture so fine that it could be drawn through her wedding ring. The ring and gown are still in possession of the family.
      The wedding gifts of the bride were a horse, saddle and bridle, a set of blue stone china, captured from the English and some house linen. The wreck of the saddle and bridle is still in existence and several pieces of the china are in possession of Mrs Grigbsy of Washington City, a grand daughter of Governor Shelby.
      The newly married couple journeyed from Boonesborough to Travelers Rest on horseback, carrying their worldly goods in saddle bags.
      They went to housekeeping in a log cabin which stood on the site of what is now the family graveyard, where in old age, they were buried.
      The year after his marriage Isaac Shelby began the erection of a more spacious and comfortable house than the rude log cabin. It contained seven rooms with walls of rough stone nearly three feet in thickness. The woodwork was all made from walnut timber on the "grant" and done by two men who are now amongst the wealthiest and most respected citizens of the state. No cut nails were to be had at that time and the pinning was done with wooden pegs, on the order of shoe pegs of the present day. Whilst the carpenters were putting on the roof Governor Shelby was obliged to keep a guard of armed men stationed around the house to prevent them from being shot by hostile Indians. In this age of progress and improvement, when thousands of spacious and costly edifices go up as if by magic, it is difficult to realize that it took two years of hard and incessant labor to build this modest stone house.
      The first addition made to the original house was a very large room at the end of a long back gallery, called the weaving room. In it were the spinning wheels and looms used in the manufacturing of cotton, woolen and linen goods of which were made all the garments worn by the family and numerous slaves of Governor Shelby.
      The negro women did all the work under the dir4ect supervision of Mrs Shelby. There are in the family today many beautiful table cloths, large and handsome counterpanes and many yards of linen sheeting manufactured by Mrs Shelbys women slaves from flax grown on the farm.
      It was never the custom in Kentucky for the slave women to work in the fileds. The farmers wives were expected to find employment for them, and to train them in all domestic industries. They carded, spun, wove, dyed and made into garments the various farics manufactured; they made the garden and orchard; they manufactured by the most primitive method sugar and syrup from the sugar maple trees, so abundant at that time, they "rendered up" the lard, cured the hams, compounded sausage and souse from the hogs slaughtered made soap, starch and blueing for home consumption; raised the poultry, attended the dairy and trained in all household service.
      Farmers wifes had also the care of all the sick --white and black, and often of the domestic animals. But they were expected to read many other books than their Bible, to know something of music, French, the different schools of philosophy or politics, prohibition of women's rights, and they were only expected to discuss such subjects as pertained to their "peculiar sphere". They were respectable and obedient wives, affectionate mothers, and were indefategable in the care and training of their slaves.
      It is a question whether the negros or the white women of the south have most reason to rejoice over the result of the war --The Emancipation Proclamation, yet the very heavy responsibility and hardships of slavery and the times combined to make a race of women seldom equaled for strength of intellect, physical and moral courage and personal endurance to these qualities in Mrs Shelby were added others that would make her a remarkable woman in this more polite age. It is said of her that no lady in Kentucky has ever filled the elevated position she occupied as the Governors wife with more grace and dignity.
      There is a portrait pained of her when she presided as first mistress in the Governor's mansion in which the extraordinary beauty of her hands is remarkable by all who sees it.
      Dispite the arduous duties of an unusually protracted official career, Governor Shelby found time to make many improvements on his house and farm. He built a school house of stone, in which his children were educated under private tutors. He also built a dairy and other out houses of stone and put up comfortable quarters for his slaves.
      One of the chief beauties of Travelers Rest was the avenue of forest trees, more than a mile long, trough which ran a broad, smooth, white pebbled road, over which the trees arched, making a lovely drive in all seasons.
      No home in Kentucky is as associated with the great names of our own country as Travelers Rest. It was the rendezvous of the pioneer patriots of the state. The Boones, Browns, Breckinridges, Harts, Marshalls, McAfeers, Floyds, etc, Amongst the distinquished guests entertained here were President Madison and Andrew Jackson, Gen. Lafayette, Gen Rogar Clark, Gen Wilkinson and Gen. Winfield Scott, Aaron Burr, Ames Kendell, Henry Clay, Felix Grundy and Thomas Hart Benton.
      Governor Shelby and his wife lived and died in the home of their youth, leaving a large family and a magnificent land estate, lying principally in the counties of Fayette and Lincoln. The Shelbys were among the most influential families in the state.
      At the death of Governor Shelby, Travelers Rest passed to his youngest son Alfred, who married his first cousin Virginia Hart and died a few years later, leaving his widow of twenty two with three children. In some respects Mrs Virginia Hart Shelby ws the most remarkable woman Kentucky has ever produced. She was gifted with a beauty so exquisite that it would have been fatal to a woman of less strenqth of mind and character in the exposed and responsible position in which whe was placed so young. Immediately after her husbands death she modestly but bravely assumed the management of his large estate, and devoted fifteen years of her life to it with such energy, judgement and fidelity, that no farmer in the country around was nearly so successful as she. Today you can hear from the gray haired farmers, traders, and bankers stories of her wonderful success in every department of her business. She was considered on of the best judges of stock in the state and the different fairs was awarded premiums on her cattle, hourses, mules, sheep and hogs, on the products of her farm, orchard and garden, dairy and her own handwork, also on the linen goods she had woven by her women from flax grown on the farm and woolen fabrics from the fleeses of her own flocks, many yards of which are still in the possession of her own family, as well as numerous pieces of silver awarded as premiums.
      It must not be supposed that she was at all what would be called a masculine Woman. To the contrary, she was indowed with an unusual share of womanly graces, and the sweetness of her voice was as remarkable as the beauty of her face.
      She was a devoted mother and an earnest chritian, and altogether a thoroughly successful business woman. There was no woman of her day in Kentucky who was so general a favorite in Society, or more beloved by her friends and family.
      To the surprise of all that knew her, after fifteen years of widowhood she married her relative, the distingqushed Divine Dr R. J. Breckinridge.
      Although she gave her children the best educational advantages, dispensed the most generous hospitality, and gave liberally to her church and different charities she turned over the estate to her children on her second marriage, more than double in value, and to her husband she brought a handsome fortune which she had accumulated for herself.
      The only children who survived her was her daughter Susan Preston, who married Col. J. Warren Grigsby of Virginia.
      Col. Grigsby had spent most of his life (up to the time of meeting his wife) in Europe, and had just begun the practice of law in New Orleans when he married.
      To gratify his wife he removed her to her ancestral home, to which she was passionately attached and until the breaking out of the war they devoted themselves to the improvements and embellishment of the home and farm.
      The house was enlarged and the interior somewhat modernized. Most of the spacious fireplaces, stretching nearly across one end of the rooms, with their huge buck logs and smaller ones of ash piled up on bright brass and irons, gave way to grates in which crackled Kentucky coal, as abundant now as wood was sixty years ago.
      But the small deep windows in the strong thick wall with a row of portholes near the ground, gave the whole house. Still somewhat the appearance of a fortress and the exterior retains much of its primitive and vunerable appearance. For years there was not in the Blue grass region of Kentucky, a woman who dispensed such generous and eleqant hospitality as Mrs Grigsby.
      Col. Grigsby was a man of rare culture and courtleness and was strikingly handsome and no man in the state enjoyed in a higher degree of confidence and esteem of the people generally. He was the soul of honor-- trusting others as he would be trusted. He lived by the proverb of the exact gentleman--noblese oblige, rather than that of the modern man, or the land shark "business is business" After four years of gallant service in the Confederate Army he returned to find himself in such business complications as to make it necessary to mortgage Travelers Rest.
      This, with already failing health, soon put him in his grave. Mrs Grigsby remained at Travelers Rest alone with her children during her husband's absence in the Army, and she needed all of her inherited heroism to fight the bloodless battles of war. Hers was a case of exceptional sorrows and sacrifices.
      For some years after her husband's death, she struggled heroically to save Travelers Rest by paying off the mortgage but the fatal blow came at last.
      The mortgage foreclosed and she and hr children were made homeless and penniless, and now amongst strangers, three brave women are making a fight with adversity that proves them worthy descendants of the hero of Kings Mountain. Yet like "my lady in the sad refrain of the song, they long for the old Kentucky home far away."
      Travelers Rest is still owned by one of the descendants of Governor Shelby, but it is shorn of much of its beauty.
      The 3,400 acres that once spread over the river and magnificently wooded valley, lying above the "fort of knobs" have dwindled to one third of the original tract, and here, as elsewhere in the Blue grass region, the finest forest trees have been felled. There is no trace left of the once beautiful avenue.
      -