Pioneer Biographies - Riley Shelton
Riley Shelton

The family name which heads this review is one that has become well known through the identification of those who bear it with many of the important movements and enterprises which have given to Oregon her prestige among the states of the west. Riley Shelton is a native son, his father being the late Hon. Harvey Shelton, whose life left such a record of service and well doing that he still lives in the hearts of those who came to know him best in the pioneer days. Riley Shelton is now engaged in the real estate business in Scio, Linn county, and having spent the greater part of his life in this vicinity he has come to be known and honored for the many good qualities which have made him a desirable citizen of any community.

The father, Hon. Harvey Shelton, was born in Patrick county, Va., October 16, 1822, from which state he removed with his parents to Jackson county, Mo., and later to Buchanan county, of the same state, passing altogether about fifteen years in that section. In the spring of 1847 they joined the tide of emigration which was settling so strongly toward the west, and which was more noticeable in the state of Missouri than in any other of the middle western states, and with ox-teams, crossed the plains to Oregon. Harvey Shelton at once took up a donation claim on Crabtree creek, five miles southeast of Scio, Linn county, which he owned up to the time of his death, August 21, 1893. In his religious convictions Mr. Shelton was a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, having become such at the age of eighteen years, and consistently retained membership throughout his entire life, carrying into his every-day practice the principles which he honestly strove to follow. As both a patriot and politician he served his state in the Cayuse war, participating in the hardships and dangers which the pioneers were called upon to endure, and during the years of 1872, '74, '80 and '84 he faithfully served not only the Democratic party, with which his convictions lay, but also the people at large, who looked to men of honesty of purpose for the furthering of their interests, as a member of the house of representatives. Fraternally he was a member of Scio Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, being a charter member of the organization, and had always taken a lively and active interest in the Grange and Farmers Alliance.

In 1852 Mr. Shelton was united in marriage with Miss Caroline Thomas, who was born in Jackson county, Mo., November 18, 1832, and who, while still a child, removed with her parents to Texas. After their return in 1845 to her native state they made their home until 1851, when they crossed the plains to Oregon. Her father took up a claim near Scio, and August 4, 1852, she became the wife of Harvey Shelton. They resided on their farm until 1884, when they became residents of the town of Scio, where her death occurred December 14, 1901, at the age of sixty-nine years. She also was a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, and had faithfully served as a Christian throughout her entire life. She was a pioneer of the character which constitutes the foundation for the greatness of nations. She was the mother of nine children, seven of whom are now living, named in order of birth as follows: Mary C., the wife of Q.E. Crume, of Yamhill county; Riley, of this review; Henry L., of Scio; George L., of Ashland, Ore.; Melvin H., of Arlington, Ore.; Isabelle, the wife of Frank Yarbrough, of Ashland; and Enoch C., of Scio.

The oldest son now living of this family is Riley Shelton, who was born five miles southeast of Scio, Linn county, upon his father's claim, February 4, 1858, and was there reared to manhood, receiving his education from the best sources in this part of the state, after completing the common schools, entering Albany College in 1878, where he remained two years. In 1881 he began to seek a livelihood on his own resources, engaging then as employing agent for the Farmer's Warehouse Company, of Jefferson, Marion county, Ore., and a year later returning to Scio, where he became connected in a mercantile establishment with J.C. Johnson, the latter of whom now makes his home in Marion county. In 1885 Mr. Shelton retires from active life, and so remained until 1886, when he again became connected with the general merchandise business with H.A. Johnson, the brother of his former partner, and for two years the new firm enjoyed a successful era of custom, though Mr. Shelton had the misfortune to lose about $10,000 by furnishing goods to one of the sub-contractors who was engaged in building the Corvallis & Eastern Railroad. Following his withdrawal from the mercantile life in 1888 he engaged in the real estate business, which has since lucratively occupied his time. He now handles both city and country property.

The marriage of Mr. Shelton occurred in Scio in 1882, Miss Florence D.E. Montgomery becoming his wife. She was born in Oregon, the daughter of Alexander Montgomery, a native of Illinois, his emigration to Oregon having been made in an early day, via the Isthmus of Panama. He first located in Jackson county, where he engaged in mining, and at a later date he became a merchant in Scio, and still later a stock-dealer and farmer in Linn county, in the last-named business being especially successful. He now makes his home near Shedds, Ore., still interested in farming. Of the two children born to Mr. and Mrs. Shelton, Oborn Clyde died March 9, 1903, at the age of eighteen years, seven months and three days, and Audie Wave makes her home with her parents. In his political relations a Democrat, Mr. Shelton has served in many important positions in the interests of his party. He has acted as city recorder for two terms, mayor one term, school clerk for six years, and director for one term. As justice of the peace he has served three terms and as councilman three terms, both of which positions he is now creditably occupying. He has also acted as notary public, and during Cleveland's administration he held the position of postmaster from 1894. Broad-minded and public-spirited in every way, with keen intelligence and judgment to guide his actions, the official life of Riley Shelton has been a credit to the people who have given him their vote, for he has faithfully upheld their interests and the welfare of the city and community. Fraternally he affiliates with the Odd Fellows, and is a member of the Rebekahs, having passed the chairs therein, and is also active as a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He belongs to the Missionary Baptist Church, in which he officiates as trustee.

source - "Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley"

This page last updated: May 4, 2003

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