Evan Shelby




Evan Shelby

Evan Shelby was born in Wales during the reign of William and Mary and was baptized in March, 1690.  He married his wife, Catherine Morgan, in 1716.  His baptism, marriage and the baptism of five of his children are on record in the parish register of the Church of England in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales. He may have been a farmer and sheep raiser in Wales as was a common occupation in that mountainous region. He could write his name, which is more than many of that period could do, and the little handwriting that remains is clear and distinct.

Evan Shelby came to the colonies with four small sons in 1735 and first settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The records are clear that the family obtained grants of land there and in Prince George County, Maryland.  Their holdings were near Hagerstown, on the Conocodheague Creek in what is now Washington County, Maryland and extended into Pennsylvania.  The reason for their coming to the colonies is not known.  The execution of Charles I had brought unrest and rebellion to their country which did not end until the invasion of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (later Charles II) in 1745.  Politics may have been the reason, but it is more likely that the call of the new country, the desire for more freedom and wider frontiers were the real reasons for their coming to the new world.

Their farm was called "Black Walnut Point" and now lies in the center of the present county of Franklin, five miles north of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border.  However, within four years the sheriff sold "Black Walnut Point" to pay off a debt Evan owed to another Welshman, one Richard Phillips.

Evan then secured a warrant from the Maryland Land Office for 1200 acres across the line in Western Maryland.  This was called "Maiden's Choice" and is 12 miles west of Hagerstown.  A patent for this was issued to Evan by Lord Baltimore’s agent on 7 August 1739.  In time he had acquired some 4,000 acres all within a short distance from his home.  "Maiden's Choice" now lies in the Clear Springs district of the present Washington County, Maryland.  "Black Walnut Point" is in Pennsylvania although it is in the same valley.  The Mason Dixon line runs between the two places. During the next 11 years he obtained other land warrants and secured patents on them until he was in possession of 2,500 acres.  With the exception of Rich Lands and a 50 acre piece called "Hunt's Cabin", all of his land seems to have been located between Conococheague Creek and the east side of North Mountain, about 10 or 12 miles west of the site of Hagerstown. He disposed of some of his land from time to time by sale and some of it was conveyed as gifts to his sons.

Evan Shelby died intestate in the spring or early summer of 1751.  His wife, Catherine, and son, Evan, Jr. were appointed joint administrators of his estate.

The Inventory of Evan's estate was not very large and didn't appear to be worth a whole lot, but did show that he had several slaves. Sons, Moses & John, signed as the nearest kin on 6 Aug 1751. James Davies and Isaac Baker signed as witnesses. The sale of his possessions took place on 6 Sept 1751.  From a few later notations, it appears that the sale did not cover all of Evan's debts.  As late as 1754 his wife, Catherine, and son, Evan, were still being sued for his debts.

Children of Evan Shelby and Catherine Morgan were:

1.  Evan Shelby, Jr. was born 23 October 1719 in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales, and died 04 December 1794 in Sapling Grove, Sullivan County, Tennessee.  He married Letitia Cox, daughter of David Cox and Susannah, in 1744.  She was born 1725 in Maryland, and died 07 Sep 1777 in Charlottesville, VA. He married second Isabella Elliott.  She died after 1794.   

Evan Jr. became a fur trader, was in Braddock's Campaign (1755), served as first lieutenant to Capt. Alexander BEALL in 1767-8, and later held commissions in both Maryland and Pennsylvania. About 1773, he removed to Sapling Grove where he erected Shelby's Fort in what was then Fincastle County, Virginia, and later Washington County, Virginia, but is today Bristol, Sullivan County, Tennessee. In 1774, he commanded the Fincastle Company in Dunmore's War, and was at the battle of Point Pleasant on 10 Oct of that year. In 1776, Virginia Governor Patrick Henry appointed him Major in the troops commanded by Col. William Christian against the Cherokees. On December 21, of that same year, he was appointed colonel of the militia of newly-created county of Washington, and in 1779, he led an expedition against the Chickamauga Indian towns on the lower Tennessee River.

In October 1780, Evan Shelby, Jr. and his volunteer militia joined almost a thousand frontiersmen in the march on British Colonel Patrick Ferguson. The one-hour Battle of King's Mountain, at which Ferguson was killed and the British troops routed, is credited by most with having turned the tides of war in the south.

In 1781, he was elected a member of the North Carolina Senate, and in 1786, the North Carolina Assembly appointed him brigadier general of militia of the Washington District of North Carolina. In March 1787, North Carolina Commissioner Evan Shelby negotiated a temporary truce with Col. John Sevier, governor of the short-lived State of Franklin. In August 1787, he was elected governor of the State of Franklin to succeed Sevier, but declined. He resigned as brigadier general on October 29, 1787, the last of his public service.

By Letitia Cox, Evan Shelby, Jr. had seven children:  Susannah, John, Isaac, James, Catherine, Moses and Evan.  By Isabella Elliott he had three more children:  James, Letitia and Eleanor.  His son, Isaac (right), also had a distinguished career and, in 1792, was elected the first Governor of Kentucky.

2.  John Shelby was born 10 Jun 1723 in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales, and died 1794 in North Carolina.  He married Sarah Davis 1750 in Maryland, daughter of David Davis and Catherine Davis.  She died after 1787. On May 19, 1750 he received one hundred and fifty acres from his father, probably a wedding gift. He fought in the French and Indian War and reached the rank of lieutenant. After the war he moved to Pennsylvania but in 1773 he sold his farm in Pennsylvania and moved to Sullivan County, Tennessee near Evan Jr.’s farm. He stayed in Sullivan County until at least 1806. The date of his death is unknown.  He and Sarah Davis had eight children: John, Isaac, Thomas, Catherine, David, Evan, Louise and Sarah.

3.  Moses Shelby was born 05 May 1728 in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales, and died 13 Oct 1776 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  He married Isabel Alexander, daughter of William Alexander and Agnes Alexander.  She died 1780 in Cabarrus, NC, USA.  Moses is the subject of the next generation.

4.  Rees Shelby was born about 1730 in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales, and died Bet. 1810 - 1812 in South Carolina.  His wife’s name was Mary.  She died after 1787 in South Carolina.  In December, 1758 Rees Shelby turned over his property in Pennsylvania to his son, Evan, shortly after that he and the rest of the family left their Pennsylvania home for the Carolinas. 

We have no record as to where Rees first settled when he reached the south.  We do know that his brother, Moses, went directly to some place in South Carolina and it is of course possible that Rees did also.  However, the earliest record of Rees' presence in this region is one showing that on June 2, 1762, he bought one hundred and twenty-two acres of land on Clear Creek in Anson County, North Carolina, while his brother Moses, coming up from the south, also bought a tract in that vicinity at the same time.  In 1776, he is listed as a private in the Mecklenburg County militia.

By 1787 Rees began to sell off some of his land and on June 2nd of the following year, he secured from the state of South Carolina a grant of three hundred acres in Cheraw District just over the North Carolina/South Carolina line.  While living in South Carolina, Rees brought his land holdings to some six hundred and seventy acres.  His place of residence there is not known exactly, but it was supposedly in the northwest corner of Chesterfield County.

Rees Shelby is not listed in the christening records for his parents, Evan and Catherine, nor has any document come to light saying "son of . . .” Therefore, there is a chance he could have been Evan's brother rather than his son.

Since the Chesterfield county court house was destroyed during the Civil War, we have no knowledge as to whether he died intestate or not and hence no complete list of his children, or when each of them was born.  It is believed that Rees and Mary Shelby had at least eight children:  Evan, Jacob, Jonathan, Thomas, David, Isaac, Rees and Mary.

5.  Eleanor Shelby was born 10 Jul 1730 in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales, and died 1803 in York Co., South Carolina.  She married John Polk 02, the son of William Polk and Margaret Taylor on 2 Oct 1758 in Anson Co., North Carolina.  He was born 1739 in Cumberland Co., Pennsylvania and died in 1785 in Mecklenburg Co., North Carolina.  The marriage of Eleanor Shelby and William Polk was only the first of several marriages between the Shelby and Polk families.  We’ll explore these intermarriages more in other parts of this history.

Capt. John Polk served in the French and Indian Wars 1760-1766 and the Revolutionary War 1775-1780. He served as a Captain in Col. Francis Locke's regiment at the Battle of Ramseur's Mills. He was also a planter and Indian Agent for the Catawba Indians. He assisted in keeping the Indians friendly with the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Children of Capt. John and Eleanor Shelby Polk: Charles, John, Shelby, Taylor and Eleanor.

6.  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. 

By Elizabeth Balla, David Shelby had four children:  David, Jonathan, James and Elizabeth.  By Catherine Bell he had three more children:  Rees, Eli and Mary.

7.  Mary Shelby was born 14 Aug 1735 in Maryland, and died 26 Nov 1813 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  She married Adam Alexander, the son of William Alexander and Agnes Alexander and the brother of Isabel Alexander who married Mary’s brother, Moses.  They were married 04 Aug 1752 in Somerset County, Maryland.  He was born 28 Apr 1728 in Cecil County, Maryland, and died 13 Nov 1798 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  They are both buried in the Rock Springs Graveyard, near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Adam Alexander was one of the original signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Talk of freedom from British rule was prevalent in Mecklenburg County in the spring of 1775. A committee of citizens drew up a document known as the Mecklenburg Resolves on May 31, 1775. They reorganized their local government and declared themselves "independent of the Crown of Great Britain." This document was published in the North Carolina Gazette in New Bern on June 16, 1775. It has great historical importance but has never drawn the interest and curiosity of historians, politicians and citizens as much as an alleged previously written document known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

Controversy has existed for decades about the possibility of a "declaration of independence," often referred to as the "Meck Dec," which was reportedly written eleven days prior to the Mecklenburg Resolves. Was the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence written on May 20, 1775, more than a year before our founding fathers met in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776?  According to legend, the original Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was signed by more than twenty-five prominent citizens of Mecklenburg County on May 20, 1775.  There is no original copy of this document because it is alleged to have been burned in a fire at the home of the Secretary of the convention, John McKnitt Alexander, Adam’s uncle, shortly after its signing. However, many do not believe the story of the loss in a fire.   The question of whether the original document ever existed has been debated for decades and there is much information to support both sides of the argument.

Adam also served as a delegate to the Catawba Indians. He owned a store and a mill, as well as a home in another location. Justice of the Peace, member of the Mecklenburg County Court and Elder of Clear Creek Presbyterian Church were just some of the titles given him during his lifetime.

Although he had no will, when his property was evaluated at the time of his death, and it is reported that he had more than 30 books, a large collection for this time period.

Adam Alexander and Mary Shelby had 8 children:  Isaac, Catherine, Sarah Shelby, Charles Taylor, Evan Shelby, Margaret, Adam Rankin and Mary.


Nicholaus von Beckenbach (1705 - ca 1750)

Johann Christian Beckenbach (1739 - ca 1790)

Johann George Beckenbach (1772 - 1834)

Johann Jacob Beckenbach (1797 - ca 1850)

Peter Beckenbach (1836 - 1878)

Charlie Geiger Beckenbach (1869 - 1932)

Edwin Ford Beckenbach (1906 - 1982)


John Simons (1715 - 1780)

Shadrach Simons (1758 - 1801)

John Joseph Simons (1793 - ca 1858)

Henry James Simons (1818 - ca 1870)

John James Simons (1842 - 1969)

James Elmo Simons (1870 - 1935)

Madelene Shelby Simons (1913 - 1985)


Heinrich Dufe (ca 1760 - ca 1810)

Peter Joseph Dufe (1784 - 1846)

Peter Duffy (1815 - 1883)

Peter J Duffy (1851 - 1924)

Annie Elizabeth Duffy (1877 - 1935)


William Peake (ca 1800 - ca 1832)

Joseph Peake (1826 - 1876)

Lucy Charlotte Peake (1851 - 1883)


James Bradley (1720 - 1788)

Francis Bradley (1743 - 1780)

James Alexander Bradley (1768 - 1839)

Margaret Weir Bradley (1813 - ca 1880)


Shelby Phillip (ca 1650 - 1731)

Evan Shelby (ca 1690 - 1751)

Moses Shelby (1728 - 1776)

Evan Shelby (1748 - 1825)

Moses Shelby (1784 - 1826)

James Madison Shelby (1814 - 1889)

Jane Eliza Shelby (1846 - 1902)


Michael Vogg (ca 1800 - ca 1845)

John Frederick Vogg (1824 - 1901)

Margaret Vogg (1856 - 1878)


Alexander Coachman (ca 1640 - 1671)

Tilney Coachman (ca 1660 - 1716)

John Coachman (1700 - 1750)

James Coachman (1732 - 1789)

Joseph Coachman (1761 - 1814)

Mary Lynch Coachman (1792 - ca 1857)


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