Biography of Joseph M. Shelton

JOSEPH M. SHELTON. – “Present misfortune is our future weal,” wrote the old homilist; and in human experience it has been well enough proved that in adversity is the power of a man’s character developed.

Joseph M. Shelton, the subject of this sketch, had lived in comfort and prosperity on the family plantation in Caswell County, in North Carolina; but, in common with so many of the foremost Southern families, the Sheltons sustained heavy losses in the war, and by the liberation of the slaves of which Joseph’s father was a large owner. It was then that Joseph showed the force of character and sturdy determination which, in later years, have made him one of the leading men of the Northwest. He determined to be no longer dependent on his father, and, leaving the old plantation, crossed the plains with an ox-team, arriving in Denver, Colorado, in 1865. The Godfrey train, with which he traveled, was several times attacked by hostile Indians; and Mr. Shelton distinguished himself during these skirmishes by his bravery and ability as a leader of men.

In Colorado he engaged in stock-raising in Boulder county, where he remained for seventeen years. it was during his residence there that he found his lifelong companion. In March, 1866, he was united in marriage to Miss Missouri C. Jones. Mrs. Shelton is one of those women who in ancient times were accounted the mothers of heroes. With the sweetness and gentleness of the truly refined lady, she combines the nobility of mind and the force of character that distinguish the typical women of the West. She was born in Missouri in 1845. She is of the true pioneer strain. Her father, John Jones, of Virginia, having come to Missouri in 1840, – also became a citizen of Colorado in 1873, whither he took the largest band of cattle hitherto driven there.

Having heard much of the wonders of Washington Territory, Mr. Shelton, in 1882, disposed of his interests in Colorado, and early in the same year arrived at Walla Walla. After devoting some weeks to an examination of the country, he finally fixed upon the Kittitas valley as the spot where he could make his home; and accordingly he located on the farm where he now resides, situated about five and one-half miles due west of Ellensburgh.

When Mr. Shelton arrived in the Kittitass valley, there was not a road laid out in the section; but with his characteristic energy he circulated petitions to remedy this, and soon had the country opened up with good roads in all directions. His farm embraces four hundred and forty acres under cultivation, wit a fine house and commodious barn capable of accommodating some thirty-five he3ad of stock. On the farm he raises wheat, barley and oats, reckoning thirty, sixty and sixty bushels of each cereal, respectively, a good yield. In October, 1885, Mr. Shelton imported some fine Hereford stock, the first brought into the territory, believing them to be the cattle best adapted tot he country, as they are beefy and good mothers, and can weather the rigorous winters. Raising fine stock, particularly Herefords, and buying, and shipping cattle, have been his chief occupation since that time.

In public matters Mr. Shelton has always taken a deep interest, though he has never been a politician; and in 1884 his neighbors elected him to the office of county commissioner for a term of two years on the Democratic ticket with almost no opposition. During his term of office Mr. Shelton assisted materially in the building of the new courthouse, the bonds for which were placed upon the market at the remarkably high figure of eighty-seven and one-half per cent.

Mr. Shelton has now a family of five children. Four, Joseph Lee, Dulcena May, Minnie Eva and Bertha Bell, were born in Boulder county, Colorado; while the youngest, Pearl Sarah, was born at the home in Kittitass valley. He resides at the farm with his family, and is one of the leading citizens of the county. His sagacity in business affairs, his careful and methodical habits, and his uniform justice, have won for him the respect and esteem of all his fellow-citizens.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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