Biography of Emmor J. Sheldon

Emmor J. Sheldon, former mayor of Paola, and former county attorney of Miami County, had been an active member of the bar for over a quarter of a century. He was born on a farm in Osage Township of Miami County December 23, 1862, and is a member of an early pioneer and very prominent family in this section of Kansas. He is the third of the four children born to Dudley M. and Ruth B. (Hall) Sheldon. His father was born in Pennsylvania and his mother in Massachusetts. The paternal grandfather Sheldon came from Germany, was a farmer, and in the early days moved to Canandaigua, New York, near Rochester. The Halls were also farmers. Dudley M. Sheldon had a very meager education, though he made up for his early deficiencies and always passed as a very well read man. His active career was spent as a farmer. In 1857, under the influence of the spell of the West, he went to Illinois, and for a few years rented a farm at Wyanet in Bureau County. In order to better conditions for himself and family he journeyed still further in 1860 and sought a home in the vast and boundless prairies of Kansas. He made the journey from Northern Illinois in company with several other families, the heads of which were O. P. Tenny, John Wells and William Wells. They made up quite a caravan with wagons drawn by oxen. It required ten weeks to make the journey to Miami County, Kansas, a section which was then just being settled. All of them took up claims of 160 acres each and broke out some of the virgin land with their ox teams. The homes of this little colony were near the Miami Indian Mission, which many years later was moved to Oklahoma. Here the Sheldons and the others endured the privations and hardships of pioneer times, including the Civil war, drought, grasshoppers and other contingencies. Dudley Sheldon was a practical carpenter, and he made that skill a means of service both to himself and to others. He hewed the logs, split the shingles, and erected his own log house. The logs in this building were of solid walnut, and the frame was covered with weatherboarding rived from the native timber by his own hands. It contained two rooms, one above and one below, and it was the habitation in which the family lived until the place was sold in 1888. Among his experiences as a Kansan he enlisted in 1861 as a private in Company C of the Twelfth Kansas Infantry. He was with that regiment in its service up and down the western border, principally in Southern Missouri and Arkansas, until 1864, when in a fight at Wilson Creek, Arkansas, he was wounded in the thigh and was given his honorable discharge on account of the injury. While he was away fighting, his wife and the older children took care of the farm. After selling his old homestead Dudley Sheldon moved to another farm a half mile away and lived there until his death in 1891. His old home was on the Wire Road, along which in the early days there was almost a constant traffic between Fort Scott and Leavenworth and Kansas City. Almost daily the freighters stopped and fed at the Sheldon farm. Dudley Sheldon became a greenbacker in politics, though for the greater part of his life he voted as a republican and made himself prominent and influential in party affairs. He served as township trustee and as a member of the school board and his life was one long expression of public spirit. He took a prominent part in farmers movements, and was organizer and for a time was manager of the Grange store at Fontana. While he succeeded as a merchant, the confinement of the store was not congenial to him and he soon returned to his farm as his first and last love. He was an active member of the Baptist Church and his wife joined him in worship in that denomination.

Of their four children the oldest was the late Winfield H. Sheldon, one of the ablest lawyers Miami County ever had. He was born on a farm in Monroe County, New York, March 10, 1851, and in the ’70s began the study of law under Simpson & Brayman. He was admitted to the bar June 24, 1879, and in the same year was defeated in the race for county attorney. In 1886, again on the republican ticket, he was elected to that office and re-elected in 1888. In 1890 he resumed practice and steadily rose in power and prestige as a lawyer. In 1897 he was an unsuccessful candidate for judge of the District Court. In 1901 Governor Stanley appointed him judge of the Tenth District Court to fill the vacancy due to the new law providing for the regular biennial elections, and in 1902 he was regularly elected and again elected in 1906. During his second term his death occurred on May 22, 1909. Judge Sheldon was married September 25, 1872, to Sarah J. Russell, who is now living with her daughter, Mrs. Winifred Miller, at Neosho, her daughter being the wife of a prominent business man of that city. Judge Sheldon and wife had the following children: Iva, now the wife of J. S. Shepard, of San Francisco, California; Jay, who enlisted in the noted Twentieth Kansas Regiment for the Philippine war and lost his life while in the service; Emmor R., manager of the Wilson Hardware Company at Garnet, Kansas; Burton, of the Standard Oil Company at Neodesha; and Mrs. Miller.

The other two brothers of Emmor J. Sheldon were David M., who at one time was manager of the Blacker Lumber Company of Fontana, later was a lawyer, and died January 24, 1901; and Henry O., who occupies a farm near Fontana.

Emmor J. Sheldon grew up in Miami County, had the experience of the usual Kansas farm boy, and secured his early education in District No. 20. His real education was acquired in the university of hard knocks. He read law with his brother and also with Capt. T. M. Carroll, now deceased. Mr. Sheldon was admitted to the bar in June, 1889, and at once became associated in practice with his brother Jack in Sheldon and continued until the latter went on the bench. He then became a partner of Maj. B. F. Simpson, and since 1908 the firm had been Sheldon and Shively. This is a firm with a large practice in the State and Federal courts and its prestige had been securely established.

Mr. Sheldon had always voted as a republican. He served six years as secretary of the Board of Education at Paola, was county attorney from 1909 to 1913, and in 1915 was elected mayor of the city, his term ending in April, 1917. As mayor he was instrumental in having Paola improved by a thoroughly efficient electric lighting system, other improvements were made on the city parks, and paving and other matters of community benefit were carried out. For three years Mr. Sheldon had been president of the Chautauqua Association. Besides his private clientage he is attorney for the Frisco and Missouri Pacific Railway and for the Miami County National Bank.

On August 21, 1899, he married Jennie K. Mayberry, a native of Pennsylvania, and a daughter of Alexander and Susan B. Mayberry. They have two children. Roy E. is now manager of the Portable Skating Rink at Sebring, Ohio. Ruth is the wife of Edward Vander Vries, principal of the Tucson, Arizona, High School. Mrs. Vander Vries is an accomplished cornetist and pianist, was liberally educated in music and for two years traveled on the road as a professional musician.

Mr. Sheldon is interested in various fraternal organizations, including the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Fraternal Aid Union, the Rebekahs, the Brotherhood of American Yeomen and other insurance societies. He had filled chairs in the last four orders named and had been a member of the Grand Lodge for the Fraternal Aid Union every other year since 1901 and is trustee of the local lodge at Paola. He and his wife are working members of the Presbyterian Church.



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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