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Isaac Shelby

Isaac Shelby


Summary
Isaac Shelby was born on December 11, 1750, in Maryland. In 1773, he moved to the Holston settlements on the western frontier of Virginia. In 1774, Isaac Shelby served under his father in Lord Dunmore's War. Following that, he explored the territory of Kentucky. In July 1776, Shelby was appointed captain of a minuteman company. In 1777, he was appointed commissary of supplies for frontier militia and performed the same service in 1778 for the Continental Army.

In 1779, he supplied boats to George Rogers Clark was elected to the Virginia Legislature. In 1780, he was commissioned by North Carolina Governor Caswell as a Colonel of militia. In September 1780, he joined the pursuit of Major Patrick Ferguson and was instrumental in Ferguson's defeat at the Battle of King's Mountain on October 7, 1780. In 1781, he served under Francis Marion for the remainder of the war. In 1781, Isaac Shelby was elected to the North Carolina Legislature.

In 1782, Shelby moved to the territory of Kentucky and soon married. In April 1792, he was a member of the convention which framed Kentucky's first constitution. In May 1792, he was elected the first governor of Kentucky, but was not reelected in 1796 because the state constitution barred anyone from serving consecutive terms as governor. In 1812, Shelby was again elected governor. He personally led militia volunteers and fought at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813. In 1818, he was commissioned with General Andrew Jackson to negotiate an Indian treaty. On July 18, 1826, a stroke killed Shelby while he was at his home Traveller's Rest.


Early Life: 1750-1776
Isaac Shelby was born on December 11, 1750, in Frederick (now Washington) County, Maryland. He was the son of Evan Shelby and Letitia Cox Shelby. He spent most of his time until he was twenty-one tending his father's farm, although he excelled at wilderness skills, leadership from watching his father and what education could be managed on the frontier.  In 1773, he moved with the rest of his family to the Holston settlements on the western frontier of Virginia and what would become Tennessee.

In 1774, Lord Dunmore's War broke out and Isaac Shelby received a lieutenant's commission and served under his father Captain Evan Shelby in Fincastle County's militia Company. He fought at Point Pleasant on October 10, 1774, in fierce hand-to-hand combat with Indians under Cornstalk. Shelby's description of the action in a letter to his uncle John Shelby is considered by historian as the best account of the battle. Shelby then served as second-in-command of the garrison at Fort Blair, which was built near Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Great Kanahwa River until June 1775. Following that, he spent a year exploring and surveying lands in the territory of Kentucky.

Revolutionary War: 1776-1781
While in Kentucky on July 1776, Isaac Shelby was appointed captain of a minuteman company by the Virginia Committee of Safety. In 1777, he was appointed by Virginia Governor Patrick Henry as commissary of supplies for frontier militia. On July 20, 1777, he attended the Long Island Treaty at Fort Patrick Henry where his father served as one of the commissioners.  In 1778, Shelby now performed the same service as commissary for the Continental Army in its operations by General McIntosh against Detroit and the Ohio Indians. In 1779, he supplied boats for George Rogers Clark's Illinois campaign as well as a campaign against the Chickamauga Indians. In the spring of 1779, Shelby was elected to the Virginia Legislature from Washington County.

In the fall of 1779, he was commissioned a Major by Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson as part of a guard escort for commissioners deciding the western boundary of Virginia and North Carolina. In 1780, he was commissioned by North Carolina Governor Caswell as a Colonel of Sullivan County militia. On July 30, 1780, he captured Tory fortifications at the Pacelot River. He helped command the Patriots to victory at Musgrove's Mill on August 18.  In September 1780, he joined other militia colonels including John Sevier in pursuit of Major Patrick Ferguson, who had threaten the settlements of the western frontier. The seven colonels shared command at the victory at the Battle of King's Mountain on October 7, 1780, though Shelby is often given large credit for the winning strategy and was awarded a sword by the North Carolina legislature. In May 1781, he and some of his mountaineers arrived at Augusta, Georgia to support the successful siege of Colonels Elijah Clarke and Andrew Pickens.  He then joined and served under Francis Marion for the remainder of the war.




Battle of King's Mountain


Background
On July 25, 1780, Maj. General Horatio Gates arrived in North Carolina and took command of the Southern Department. On August 16, 1780, he was routed at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina by Lt. General Charles Cornwallis. The loss at Camden and Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton's subsequent victory over Thomas Sumter's militia at Fishing Creek on August 17th decimated the rebel resistance in the South.

General Cornwallis appeared to now have a clear path all the way to Virginia. In September, Cornwallis invaded North Carolina and ordered Major Patrick Ferguson to guard his left flank. On September 2, Ferguson left for the Western Carolinas with seventy of his American Volunteers and several hundred Tory militia. Ferguson arrived at Gilbert Town, North Carolina on September 7. When there on September 10, Major Ferguson paroled a captured rebel and sent him into the mountains with a message to the leaders there, "that if they did not desist from their opposition to the British arms, and take protection under his standard, he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword."  This threat proved to be his undoing.

The mountain men who lived in the Blue Ridge area were mostly isolated and kept to themselves, but a threat to their own moved them to action. A call to arms went out and they gathered at Sycamore Shoals. On September 25, Colonels William Campbell, Charles McDowell, John Sevier and Isaac Shelby left Sycamore Shoals in pursuit of Ferguson. Shelby and Elijah Clarke had previously skirmished with Ferguson on August 8 at Cedar Springs.

On September 30, they were joined by Colonel Benjamin Cleveland and Colonel Joseph Winston. When they reached Gilbert Town, Major Ferguson was gone. Sometime after this, the seven colonels had to decide on a chain of command until a Continental Army general officer arrived. They chose the youngest of them all, Colonel William Campbell to act as overall commander.


The Battle
The Over Mountain Men moved south in search of Major Patrick Ferguson.  On October 6, while camped at Cowpens, South Carolina, the Over Mountain Men were joined by Colonel James Williams and 400 South Carolinians. From a Rebel spy they now learned that Ferguson was thirty miles to the north, camped at King's Mountain. The colonels wanted to catch up with Ferguson before he reached Charlotte and Lt. General Charles Cornwallis' protection, so they chose 900 of the best men and horses and quickly made their way north overnight.

The combined force of Over Mountain Men under the temporary command of Colonel William Campbell arrived at King's Mountain on the afternoon of October 7, 1780. Major Ferguson had chosen the position because he felt that no enemy could fire upon his position without showing themselves. The Patriot force deliberated and decided to surround the mountain and using continuous fire to slowly close in like an inescapable noose.

The force was divided into four columns. Colonel Isaac Shelby and Colonel Campbell led the interior columns, with Shelby on the left and Campbell on the right. The right flanking column was led by Colonel John Sevier.  The left flanking column was led by Colonel Benjamin Cleveland. They moved into their respective positions and began moving toward the summit and Major Ferguson's position. The battle commenced at 3 o'clock with the middle two columns exchanging fire with Major Ferguson for fifteen minutes while the flanking columns moved into position. Ferguson used his Provincial Corps to drive back Colonels Shelby and Campbell with a bayonet charge, but then the Corps had to fall back under sharpshooter fire.  Another bayonet charge repelled Shelby and Campbell.

Because of their exposed position, Major Ferguson's men were being overwhelmed. The sharpshooters were picking them off from behind the trees and brush that surrounded the summit, while their own aim was high as they shot downhill. The Over Mountain Men then gained a foothold on the summit, driving back the Loyalists. The net was now quickly closing in. Major Ferguson finally attempted to cut a path through the Patriot line so that his forces could escape, but this failed as Ferguson fell from his horse, riddled with bullets. Ferguson's second-in-command quickly raised the white flag of surrender. Following the request of surrender, it took a while for the firing to dissipate, with cries of 'Remember Waxhaws' and 'Buford's Quarter' spurring some men to continue for a time.


Aftermath
The battle had lasted a little over an hour and not a single man of Ferguson's force escaped. Though the numbers of casualties reported varies from source to source, some of the most commonly reported figures are that 225 Loyalists had been killed, 163 wounded and 716 were captured, while only 28 Patriots were killed, including Colonel James Williams, and 68 wounded.  When Lt. General Charles Cornwallis learned of Major Patrick Ferguson's defeat, he retreated from Charlotte, North Carolina back to Winnsborough, South Carolina.





Contributed by Wanda Snyder


3. Susannah2 Hart (Nathaniel1) was born in Caswell Co., NC February 18, 1764. Susannah died June 14, 1833 in Lincoln Co., KY, at 69 years of age. Her body was interred in family cemetery at Travellers Rest, Lincoln Co., KY.


She married Isaac Shelby in Boonesborough, VA (now KY), April 19, 1783. Isaac was born in near Hagerstown, MD December 11, 1750. Isaac was the son of Evan Shelby, Jr. and Letitia Cox. Isaac died July 18, 1826 in Lincoln Co., KY, at 75 years of age. His body was interred in family cemetery at Travellers  Rest, Lincoln Co., KY. At 33 years of age Isaac became the father of James Shelby February 13, 1784. At 34 years of age Isaac became the father of Sarah Hart Shelby October 8, 1785. At 36 years of age Isaac became the father of Evan Shelby July 27, 1787. At 38 years of age Isaac became the father of Thomas Hart Shelby in "Travellers Rest", Lincoln Co., KY, May 27, 1789.


At 40 years of age Isaac became the father of Susannah Hart Shelby March 20, 1791. At 42 years of age Isaac became the father of Nancy Shelby December 23, 1792. At 44 years of age Isaac became the father of Isaac Shelby, Jr. 1795. At 46 years of age Isaac became the father of John Shelby March 3, 1797. At 48 years of age Isaac became the father of Letitia Shelby January 11, 1799. At 50 years of age Isaac became the father of Katherine Shelby March 14, 1801. At 53 years of age Isaac became the father of Alfred Shelby in "Travellers Rest", Woodford Co., KY, January 25, 1804.


Isaac Shelby was one of the heroes of the Battle of King's Mountain, South Carolina in the Revolutionary War. He was the first Governor of Kentucky serving 1792-1796. He served again as Kentucky's Governor 1812-1816 and led the Kentucky troops in the War of 1812. He is listed in the Kentucky Encyclopedia. Shelby County, Kentucky is named for him as well as counties in Ohio and Iowa. His biography from The Kentucky Encyclopedia follows: SHELBY, ISAAC. Isaac Shelby, Kentucky's first governor, was born near Hagerstown, Maryland, on December 11, 1750, to Evan and Letitia (Cox) Shelby. The family moved to western Virginia in 1772.


Young Shelby gained military experience in Lord Dunmore's War and the Revolutionary War. He emerged from the latter as one of the heroes of the Battle of King's Mountain, South Carolina, on October 7, 1780, when Great Britain's Maj. Patrick Ferguson was killed and his command was eliminated. In late 1783 Shelby and his bride, Susannah (Hart) Shelby, moved to his preemption holding near Knob Lick in Lincoln County, and his reputation made him a leader in Kentucky politics. He participated in several of the conventions that preceded Kentucky's statehood in 1792, and on May 17 of that year the state's electors unanimously chose him as the first governor. He served from June 4, 1792, to June 1, 1796.


After leaving office, Shelby spent sixteen years developing his properties and increasing his fortune. In 1812, as war with Great Britain became imminent, the public persuaded him to run for governor again. The electoral college had been discarded by then, and Shelby defeated Gabriel Slaughter easily, 29,285 to 11,936, on the strength of his military experience. He held office from August 24, 1812, to September 5, 1816. Shelby insisted that Gen. William Henry Harrison be given top command in the western theater, and he pushed for a statewide preparedness program. In 1813 Shelby raised 3,500 troops, double the number requested. With the permission of the General Assembly, he personally led the troops to join Harrison's army. The doughty sixty-two-year-old governor was active at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, when the British and the Indians were decisively defeated. After his second retirement, his last public service of consequence occurred in 1818, when he and Andrew Jackson negotiated with the Chickasaw Indians the purchase for Kentucky of the area west of the Tennessee River that became known as the Jackson Purchase. In his first administration, Shelby provided sound, reliable leadership in the implementation of the new constitution. His role was much like that of George Washington on the national scene three years earlier. Shelby was a Jeffersonian Republican as that party emerged, and he sought federal assistance in curbing the Indians in the Northwest and in securing the vital use of the Mississippi River. His refusal to take action against pro-French groups upset the federal administration, but Shelby proved correct in his belief that the Genet affair would collapse of its own accord when Genet failed to win support for France in the United States. The economy proved stable, as adequate finances were found for a relatively passive government.


Shelby's second administration was dominated by the War of 1812, and he paid little attention to domestic concerns. The militia laws were revised in an effort to create a more effective organization, and women were urged to sew and knit for the cause. But the Kentuckians who fought in the Battle of New Orleans were poorly equipped. When Shelby left office, honored by most Kentuckians for his service, he returned once more to his farm Travelers Rest, south of Danville, where he died on July 18, 1826. He was buried in the family cemetery. See Sylvia Wrobel and George Grider, Isaac Shelby: Kentucky's First Governor and Hero of Three Wars (Danville, Ky., 1974); Patricia Watlington, The Partisan Spirit: Kentucky Politics. 1779-1792 (New York 1972). LOWELL H. HARRISON


At 19 years of age Susannah became the mother of James Shelby February 13, 1784. At 21 years of age Susannah became the mother of Sarah Hart Shelby October 8, 1785. At 23 years of age Susannah became the mother of Evan Shelby July 27, 1787. At 25 years of age Susannah became the mother of Thomas Hart Shelby in "Travellers Rest", Lincoln Co., KY, May 27, 1789. At 27 years of age Susannah became the mother of Susannah Hart Shelby March 20, 1791. At 28 years of age Susannah became the mother of Nancy Shelby December 23, 1792. At 31 years of age Susannah became the mother of Isaac Shelby, Jr. 1795. At 33 years of age Susannah became the mother of John Shelby March 3, 1797. At 34 years of age Susannah became the mother of Letitia Shelby January 11, 1799. At 37 years of age Susannah became the mother of Katherine Shelby March 14, 1801. At 39 years of age Susannah became the mother of Alfred Shelby in "Travellers Rest", Woodford Co., KY, January 25, 1804.


Susannah Hart met Isaac Shelby at Fort Boonesborough and they married there April 19, 1783. The couple lived at Travellers Rest in Lincoln County where they raised eleven children. She is buried at the family cemetery at Travellers Rest beside her husband. Her biography from The Kentucky Encyclopedia follows: SHELBY, SUSANNAH (HART). Susannah (Hart) Shelby, wife of Kentucky's first governor, was born in Caswell County, North Carolina, on February 18,1764, the daughter of Capt. Nathaniel Hart and Sarah (Simpson) Hart. She met Isaac Shelby at Fort Boonesborough, and they married there two years later, on April 19, 1783. The couple lived at Travelers Rest in Lincoln County, where they raised ten children. Susannah Shelby died June 19, 1833, and was buried at Travelers Rest beside her husband. See Samuel M. Wilson, Susan Hart Shelby: A Memoir (Lexington. Ky., 1923). FRANCES KELLER BARR


Susannah Hart and Isaac Shelby had the following children:


  + 22         i.    James3 Shelby was born February 13, 1784.

  + 23        ii.    Sarah Hart Shelby was born October 8, 1785.

  + 24        iii.   Evan Shelby was born July 27, 1787.

  + 25        iv.   Thomas Hart Shelby was born May 27, 1789.

    26        v.   Susannah Hart Shelby was born March 20, 1791. Susannah died January 12, 1868 at 76 years of age. She married four times. She married James McDowell. She married James Shannon. She married John McKinney. She married James Fishback.

  + 27        vi.   Nancy Shelby was born December 23, 1792.

  + 28        vii. Isaac Shelby, Jr. was born 1795.

    29        viii. John Shelby was born March 3, 1797. John died October 11, 1815 at 18 years of age.

  + 30        ix.   Letitia Shelby was born January 11, 1799.

    31        x.   Katherine Shelby was born March 14, 1801. Katherine died April 29, 1801 at less than one year of age.

  + 32        xi.   Alfred Shelby was born January 25, 1804.