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David Shelby's Geni Profile

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About David Shelby

David Shelby was born about 1732 in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales, and died Jan 1799 in New Madrid, Missouri. There is no baptism record for him in Wales and it is assumed that he may have been baptized after the family arrived in Philadelphia. He married first Elizabeth Balla, the daughter of James Balla. She died between 1778 and 1783 in Pennsylvania. His second wife was Catherine Bell. She died 07 May 1802 in New Madrid, Missouri.

In 1763, Pontiac’s Rebellion brought attacks on the white traders' caravans as they passed through the Ohio country. To stop these outrages, punitive expeditions were ordered against the tribes, one being headed by Col. Henry Bouquet, then commander at Fort Pitt. With Bouquet were two companies of volunteers from Maryland and one of them included David Shelby. This contingent, a large one, was marched toward the Muskingum River in the summer of 1764, the mere presence of which force was sufficient to make the Indians behave. David came home in the fall.

On the return of quieter times David bought from his oldest brother, Evan, Jr., on May 20, 1765, a hundred acres of the latter's immense tract known as "The Resurvey of the Mountain of Wales," that extended easterly from North Mountain toward Conococheague creek. The next year (in November) brother Evan turned over to him a thirty acre parcel, called "Green Spring," located just over the mountain on the provincial line at the entrance to the Little Cove of Pennsylvania. On which of the two holdings David lived is not clear.

By the treaty of Fort Stanwix (at Rome, New York), negotiated by Sir William Johnson, British superintendent of Indian Affairs in the North, in 1768, a wide strip of territory running diagonally across Pennsylvania west from the Allegheny mountains was opened to white settlement. In 1772, David Shelby decided to leave Maryland and moved over to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, settling near the Monongahela River in what is now Greene County. Here he secured two three hundred acre tracts, called "Validolid" and "Cross Keys," on Dunkard Creek just below the settlement of Taylortown.

In 1789 Colonel George Morgan tried to get from Miro, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, a grant of several million acres of land in New Madrid district of Louisiana across the Mississippi from the western end of Virginia (now Kentucky), on which he hoped to establish an American colony. His scheme fell through; but his advertisements of it started a movement that continued to draw many of his fellow Americans into the area for some time. Several from far off Pennsylvania joined this immigration, including David Shelby, who, in spite of his age and comfortable circumstances, could not resist the call. Selling parts of his large farm to his son, Jonathan and a David Brown in the spring of 1795 and leaving the remainder of it in the hands of his son, James, old David, accompanied by the rest of the family, including his youngest step-son, rode over the Ohio River to start life a new lifer in what was then a foreign country.

The place where they relocated was on the right bank of the Mississippi River about 60 miles below the mouth of the Ohio in what is now New Madrid County in the State of Missouri. The Shelbys were at their destination by the 20th of May and on July 21st David and other immigrants from the United States took the oath of allegiance to the King of Spain.

Married Elizabeth Balla in Bougert's, Ohio.

1764: Campaign against Indians

1772: migrated to Green County, Pennsylvania where Elizabeth died

Married Catherine Bell, widow of James Ferris

1795: migrated to New Madrid District of Spanish, Louisianna (Now SE Missouri)

This is where he died.

New Madrid County, MO Archives:

CKS Coll-Doc's at the MO Hist Soc, Jefferson Mem Building, St Louis MO. These records were examined by Cass K Shelby [CKS] on 30 Oct 1941, who made the following copies, translations and excerpts that are pertinent to the subject:

Vol. IV, No. 764, -see David's will - Deed of sale by "Catherine bell Vve duft David Shelby---------16 Janyr 1799." Signed "Cathene Bel." - This signature is run diagonally down the page, the last letter being overlapped with scrawls, evidently an attempt to make the final letter of Bell. On subsequent documents Catherine usually makes only her mark. Since her earlier writing is vigourous and plain and she spells the name fully and correctly, it would seem that by 1799 the lady had become blind or paralyzed. It was and still is the Spanish custom for matrons to use their maiden names along with their married ones, hence our ability in this case to learn what Catherine's maiden name had been. -CKS

Vol. IV, No 810, A deed in French dated 16 Aug. 1799, and signed, "Catherine (x) Bell, widow Shelby.

Vol VII, No 1234, "Inventaire Vente et Liquidation des Auccessions des deffunts Sr David Shelby et Dm Catherine Belle son Spouse. 10 May 1802. Finy les 3 Juilet 1804" (A translation of this title and part of the contents of the entry): Inventory, Vendue and Settlement of the estates of the Deceased Mr David Shelby and Mrs. Catherine Bell his wife. 10 May 1802; completed 3 Jul 1804.

New Madrid, May 10 1802. We, Don Henry Peyroux de la Coudrenieres, captain in his Majesty's army and civil & military governor of the post and district of New Madrid, having been informed by Messrs. Richard Jones Waters and Joseph Michel of this post that the widowed spouse of Mr David Shelby died at her home on Wednesday, the seventh inst. and that the said gentlemen, being themselves creditors both of the said Lady as well as of the deceased Mr David Shelby, her husband, we have directed as much for their interest as that of the minor children of the said deceased widow Shelby, the taking of an inventory and sale of their property, movable and fixed, hers as well as her deceased husband's and to properly take the inventory of the said estates, we have selected as appraisers Messrs. John Hart and Isadore Skerette, citizens of this post, and for assisting witnesses Don Pierre Antoine LaForge, clerk of this post, and Don Joseph Charpentiers, interpreter of the English language. both of whom, having accepted and promised to perform their duties....all sign...

(Report of the Appraisers, translated-CKS) Following the above mentioned instructions, we went from the town of New Madrid to the dwelling where the widowed Mrs. Shelby died, distant from the town about a league and a half (4 3/4 miles) with the gentlemen appraisers, assisting witnesses and Mr Richard Jones Waters, creditor, and having arrived there we met Mr James Ferris, being in the same house, who told us that he was the son of the first marriage of the deceaseed widow Shelby, who name had been Catherine Bell and was formerly the widow of Mr James Ferris by whom she had three living children, the first boy named John, aged in the neighborhood of thirty, and the second named Humphrey, aged twenty-seven, both in the United States of America, and the third, James Ferris, aged twenty-five and living here in New Madrid. Also, she was secondly the widow of Mr David Shelby, by whom she had three children, the first named Rees, aged about eighteen, the second called Elie, aged around fifteen, and the third, a daughter named Mary, aged ten, and besides these Shelby had by his first marriage with Elizabeth Bala two living children, who are James Shelby, aged twenty-nine and dwelling in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States of America, and Elizabeth Shelby, aged about twenty-four and now wife of James Burns, living in the Bois Brule district of New Bourbon of the province of Louisiana and having requested the said Mr James Ferris to show us the property of the estate of the deceased widow Shelby for purposes of inventory and estimate, he did so ..followed by the inventory of property [CKS did not include it]

(With the above instructions and report are several other papers, all in English and reproduced below. The first one is the original will of David Shelby, which for some unknown reason is not entered in any of the present set of will books of the county -CBS):


"In the name of God Amen, I David Shelby of New Madrid, being Sick and weak of body but of Sound mind...." "Imprimies: I give and bequeath to my Daughter Betsey, one cow and one Hundred Dollars to her Executors & assigns, this to be independent & beside her Bed, Trunk, Chest & Cloathing which she has in possession" "Item: I give and devise unto my son James Shelby of Green Conty all the Real or Landed Estate which I have remaining unconveyed within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, particularly that plantation on which he lives being part of the two tracts of Land the one called Cross Keys and the other Validolid to him and his Heirs and assigns for ever." "Item: I give and bequeath unto my wife Catherine Shelby one third part of the residue of my Personal Estate after payments of my just Debts & the above hundred Dollars to her during her Natural Life or Widowhood & at her Death or marriage to my Daughter Mary to her my siad Daughter her Executors & Adminstrators. Also to my said wife for her natural life or widow-hood the Use of my House in which I now Live and the use of one third part of my Lands adjoining the other lands which I have in this County for her support & maintainance during her widow-hood as aforesaid." "Item: I give and bequeath and Devise unto my sons Rees Shelby and Elie Shelby all the rest and Residue of my Estate, Real, Personal or mixed, particularly the Land on which I live and my other Lands in this Province and the visible Property whereof I am here possessed and what is due and owing to me from the Estate of my late Son Jonathan Shelby and from Divers Persons here and in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania equally between them to be Divided Share & Share alike their Executors, Administrators, Heirs and assigns for Ever." "Lastly I constitute and appoint my friend Major John McFarland of Fayette County & Commonwealth of Pennsylvania my Sole Executor within the said Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and I constitue and appoint my Friend Richard Jones Waters, my Sole Executor within this Province of this my Last Will & Testament and in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & Seal in the Presence of the Subscribing Witnesses, who in my Presence and in the Presence of Each other .Jany 8th 1799." David signs Witnesses: Thomas Crispin, Tudor Skerrett, R. J. Waters

 [CBS footnotes-John McFarland, was David's nephew, son of his sister Rachel.  While other signatures of David Shelby that have come to light are distinct and vigorous, the one on this paper is hardly legible, showing him to have been very feeble at the time; also, since a deed made by his wife Catherine eight days later (IV, 764 above) mentions her as a widow, it is evident that David's will was drawn up on his deathbed. In fact, he may have died the day he signed it] 

10 May 1802 New Madrid Co MO-Inv, Vendue & Settlement of the estates of the Dec'd Mr David Shelby & Mrs Catherine Bell his wife.....Statement by James Faris (Ferris) - ....2 living ch by David's 1st marr to Elizabeth Bala (sic) James Shelby age abt 29 & Elizabeth age abt 24, wife of James Burns....

New Madrid Novr 20th 1802- I James Burns the husband of Elizabeth Shelby the Daughter of David Shelby deceased; do nominate and appoint Richard Jones Waters my legal attorney for me and in my behalf and of my wife to send for, Recover and possess quittance of all what may be due my siad wife, under the will of the said deceased and in particular to scrutinize and Inspect all which accounts and claims that may be presented as well agt the Estate of the said David as against the late Catherine the widow of said David whose Estate has lately been sold according to Law - in fine to do all such acts and Deeds as may be proper in the premesis in as full and complete a manner as I could were I personally present In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand date above... signed Marque + de James Burns.

New Madrid Co, MO, Deed Book 16, page 286: Apr 23, 1839. James Shelby of the county of Greene, state of Pennsylvania, to Reuben Shelby of the county of Perry, state of Missouri. "The said James Shelby half brother of Reese Shelby deceased formerly of New Madrid, Missouri, who died leaving four half brothers one half sister and one brother his only heir their names as follows: to wit: the aforesaid James Shelby, James Faris, John Farris, Humphrey Farris, Elizabeth Shelby late Elizabeth Burns deceased and Eli Shelby the six being the only heirs as aforesaid of the said Reese Shelby deceased who formerly lived in the county of New Madrid in the State of Missouri and owned land there by deed of purchase of one Henry Masters____which lands were injured by Earthquake in the year 1812, for which injury by virtue of the law of the United States passed in the year 1815 for the benefit of those who suffered by Earthquake, a certificate of new location was granted in the name of Henry Masters by Frederick Bates the Recorder of land titles for Territory of Missouri, No.206, etc, etc. Said James Shelby now conveys to the said Reuben Shelby 106-2/3 acres of land. Sig, James Shelby. Witnesses, Richd Harrison, Nancy Harrison. Ack. Apr 26, 1839 in Greene Co, PA. Recorded in New Madrid Co, MO, 12 Feb 1894.

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David Shelby's Timeline

Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales
Age 27
Little Cove, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, United States
June 5, 1765
Age 33
North Mountain, Maryland, United States
November 22, 1772
Age 40
Washington, Pennsylvania
Age 46
Washington, Pennsylvania
Age 52
Greene, Greene County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 55
Greene County, Pennsylvania
Age 60
Greene County, Pennsylvania
January 1799
Age 67
New Madrid, MO, United States