Back to Hamilton County

Back to History Contents

History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory

Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon, Illinois
December, 1960

Page D-18

Descendents of Joseph Shelton Reporting……..

 Joseph Shelton

Joseph Shelton, an early settler near Dahlgren, was born in 1793, some say in the eastern part of the United States, though most of the descendents feel that he was born in Kentucky.

[1812 Flag]

Joseph Shelton was a private in the War of 1812.  He fought in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, and the Shelton heirs have an old watch he found on the battlefield at New Orleans.  He served, probably as a captain, in the Indian Wars in Illinois in 1816 or 1817.  The Shelton heirs have his old rifle and powder horn that he carried in the Indian War.  When this period of service was ended, he was discharged near where Chicago now stands.  His horse was lame, so he turned it loose and walked to Southern Illinois.  The captains in the Indian War furnished their own horses, and the pay was $8.00 per month.

Joseph Shelton was married somewhere in the East in about the year 1817, and about 1820 he and his wife settled a mile north and a mile west of what is now Dahlgren.

Their first baby was born and died at the home northeast of Dahlgren.  When Mr. Shelton was gone into the woods to make a coffin in which to bury the baby, a panther came to the door of their cabin.  Mrs. Shelton drove the hungry animal away with a stick with fire on one end of it that she had grabbed from the fireplace.

One summer a long, hard rain had put out the fire which they always tried to keep near their cabin in order to have fire with which to cook.  Mrs. Shelton rode a horse twelve or fifteen miles east to the nearest neighbor to get some fire in an iron pot.  She covered the glowing coals with ashes so it would not out during the long journey back home.

The children of Joseph and Mrs. Shelton included: Sopha, who married Nathan Garrison, the grandmother of David M. and Roman Garrison; Pernecie, who married a man named Rawls; Nan, who married a Mr. Richardson; Julie Ann, who married a Mr. Atchinson; Sylvester, who was the grandfather of Lawrence and Frank Shelton who live near Dahlgren; and a son whose name is unknown who was the grandfather of Carl, Bernie and Earl Shelton. * (See below)

Joseph Shelton again served his country as a major in the Black Hawk War in 1832.

He was a very dignified man, and relied greatly on ceremony.  It is often told that when he was coming home if his wife did not come out and meet him and say, “alight, Mr. Shelton, and come in,” he would ride right on by!

David M. Garrison, one of the grandsons of Joseph Shelton, has an old kettle about four and a half feet in diameter which has been in the family a long time.  This kettle was originally used near Shawneetown, Illinois, to “boil down” salt water for salt in the early 1800s.

Joseph Shelton is buried on the old Shelton homestead northeast of Dahlgren.  His heirs held a Shelton Reunion every year from 1915 to 1925.  

*Update: Joe D. Garrison "a son whose name is unknown was the grandfather of....", should read: Albert Shelton, was the grandfather of Carl, Bernie and Earl Shelton.  Wilson Albert was the son of Josiah Shelton who was a brother to Joseph C. Shelton.

Joseph C. Shelton was born March 1, 1793 in Pittsylvania Co., VA.  As a small child his family moved to Kentucky where he grew up and married Nancy Fagin Chaffin January 15, 1850 in Christian Co., KY.  This may be why some thought he was born in Kentucky.  Linnie Pernecie Shelton married James Rawls; Nan (Nancy) Shelton also married Aaron Flatt; Julia Ann Shelton married James Arnold Atchison; Rebecca Shelton married James Garrison; Leonard Chaffin married Mary Blake, and Sylvester married a Melissa.


Page D-19

Mrs. Eva Gage Reporting…….

Nelson Zellers 

Nelson Zellers was born February 20, 1841, at Hagerstown, Maryland.  His parents decided to move from their Maryland home to the State of Ohio when he was quite young.  He grew to manhood in the Buckeye State in the city of Zanesville.

In April 1861, young Nelson Zellers enlisted as a private in the Union Army.  He was assigned to Company G, Sixty-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and served two enlistments without a discharge.

He served in some of the hardest fought battles of the War.  He had a great admiration for the Stars and Stripes and honored the Union very highly as long as he lived.  It was his strong conviction that no flag should ever fly over this nation except Old Glory, and that was what caused him to enlist and fight in his country’s service.

[Civil War Union Flag]

In his later years of life, he often told members of his family that on numerous occasions he had seen President Lincoln when the Commander-in-Chief visited battle zones.  Some of the troops were of the opinion that their President was an infidel, but Zellers stated that he knew Lincoln requested the men to have prayer before going into battle.

All the engagements that Nelson Zellers took part in are not available to this Bureau.  However, we know that the worst wound that he received (which caused him to remain a cripple for the rest of his life) occurred at Rice’s Station, Virginia, four days prior to the surrender of the Confederate forces by General Robert E. Lee to General U. S. Grant.  We are informed that Zellers was hospitalized for a considerable length of time as a result of this wound from which he never completely recovered.

He received his discharge from the Army on December 7, 1865.  He decided to make his home in Illinois, and in 1866 he located on a farm in the vicinity of Dahlgren, Illinois, and remained a farmer by occupation until his retirement.

On March 26, 1872, Nelson Zellers was married to Emily J. Thierry.  To this union were born the following children:  Minnie, Frank, Eva, Etta Stillman, and three children who died in infancy.

Nelson Zellers was one of those sturdy pioneers who believed in sound principle, whether it be in military life or civilian life, and he held to the theory that the common good of the community and the welfare and progress of his fellow men were the things that counted most.  The sacrifices that he made in the war and the kind of life that he followed as a citizen pointed up the kind of character that was to be found in Nelson Zellers.  He was a convert to Christianity, and joined the Presbyterian Church at Belle Prairie, Illinois.

He was keenly interest in his farm and was actively engaged in that pursuit until he entered retirement, when he moved to town in 1906.  

Back to Hamilton CountyBack to History Contents