Biography of Chester C. Shelden

Last Updated on June 27, 2011 by

Chester C. Shelden has followed in the profession which his father, the late Alvah Shelden, did much to dignify and honor, and is now proprietor and editor of the Walnut Valley Times at El Dorado, his father’s old paper.

The late Alvah Shelden was for thirty years owner and editor of the Walnut Valley Times. He was born at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, January 13, 1849, a son of Benjamin and Louisa (Vaught) Shelden, the former of German and the latter of Dutch ancestry. When Alvah was three years old his parents removed to Little Rock, Arkansas, and a year or so later to Helena in Karnes County, Texas. Benjamin Shelden was shot and killed in 1859 in his own door yard by a Southern sympathizer because of Mr. Shelden’s fearless and outspoken anti-slavery sentiments. Martin Vaught, the brother of Mrs. Benjamin Shelden, then living in Jefferson County, Kansas, started at once for Texas to bring back his widowed sister and her five children. He made the journey on horseback, starting early in October, 1859, and made the trip in thirty-five days. After settling up the affairs of his brother-in-law, he started for Kansas in May, 1860, in a covered wagon drawn by five yoke of oxen. Fifty head of cattle and eight horses were also driven along, and the trip to Kansas consumed six weeks. There were adventures and dangerous experiences along the road through Texas and the Indian country. Indians made several attempts to stampede the cattle.

Arriving at Chelsea, Kansas, the family remained there until the next fall, and then went to Paris, Illinois, where Mrs. Shelden and her children made their home with John Vaught, her father. In the meantime Alvah Shelden had been growing to a vigorous manhood and in 1868, at the age of nineteen and the responsible head of the family, he started for the West and arriving on the South Fork of the Cottonwood River in Chase County, Kansas, rented a farm.

From the money that represented the profits of that year the family bought 240 acres in Chelsea Township on Cole Creek, and built a house of native lumber, much of it walnut. Alvah, aided by his younger brothers and his uncle Martin Vaught, framed the house and finished it. The readers of Kansas history will appreciate the hardships and privations incident to the development of and payment for a home at that time. Upon Alvah Shelden, the oldest of the three sons, rested the greater part of the burden. Through his perseverance, pluck and ambition he succeeded in the accomplishment of his object.

From early youth Alvah Shelden was an inveterate reader. Through his grandfather’s library and the country schools, which he attended in winter months, he acquired a good education. This was supplemented by his keen observation and a thorough understanding of human nature. In 1872 he taught his first country school; in 1874 he was made assistant cashier in the Farmers and Citizens Bank of El Dorado, and in 1876 was elected county superintendent of public instruction of Butler County.

On January 28, 1877, he married Miss Mary M. Lamb, who was born in Ohio April 19, 1856, and is still living in El Dorado. Her career is sketched under her name on other pages of this publication. After his marriage Alvah Shelden established a home of his own. In 1878 he was re-elected superintendent of the county schools and in 1879 was appointed to succeed Mrs. M. J. Long as postmaster of El Dorado, a position he held five years.

In March, 1881, Alvah Shelden bought the Walnut Valley Times from T. B. Murdock. After thirty years of continuous ownership and editorial management he retired from active work March 1, 1911, transferring the newspaper and the business to his son, Chester C. Shelden. In June of the same year he was stricken with angina pectoris and never recovered, his death occurring December 17, 1911.

Chester C. Shelden was born in El Dorado August 30, 1880, was educated in the local public schools, graduating from high school in 1898. In the meantime he had learned the printer’s trade in his father’s office. He worked in that office for several years, and then went on a tour. He was employed in newspaper establishments from coast to coast, as reporter and desk man. A varied experience had given him not only technical knowledge but an acquaintance with the country and its people. In 1911 he succeeded to the place of his father in the ownership and management of the Walnut Valley Times and had been giving his best energies to his profession and business. From time to time he had become interested in the local oil industry.

Mr. Shelden is an old-line republican, but had been well satisfied to exert his influence on politics and civic affairs through his work as a newspaper man and not as an office holder. He is affiliated with Patmos Lodge No. 97, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, with Imo Lodge No. 48, Knights of Pythias, with El Dorado Lodge No. 128, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and is a former member of Wichita Lodge No. 427 of Elks. He belongs to the Kansas Editorial Association and while on the road had a card in the International Typographical Union. Mr. Shelden’s home is at 215 Mechanic Street.

He was married in Wichita in 1904 to Miss Elizabeth Summers, daughter of E. O. and Sarah Summers. Her parents still live in Wichita, her father being an engineer for the Missouri Pacific Railway. Mr. and Mrs. Shelden have three children: C. C., Jr., born February 8, 1906; Frances, born August 4, 1908; and Alvah E., born February 10, 1913.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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