Biography of Adam Nelson Shelman

Few men of recent years in Union township could claim a surer place in the affections of his fellow citizens than that occupied by the late Adam Nelson Shelman, who was known as a man of courage, self-reliance and of the utmost integrity of purpose, as a result of which he stood high in the estimation of his neighbors and is therefore deserving of a place in the history of his county.

Mr. Shelman was born in Breckenridge county, Kentucky, January 28, 1835, and after a successful and useful life he was called to his reward on July 12. 1898, at his home in Union township. His parents, John and Nancy M. Shelman, both died in this county, the father on May 7, 1866, and the mother on February 1, 1894, the latter being past eighty years of age. When their son, Adam N., was ten years of age they moved from Kentucky to Van Buren county, Iowa, where they lived until coming to Nodaway county, Missouri. In the former county the son married, on September 26, 1855, Sarah K. Watson, daughter of William and Elizabeth Ann (Atha) Watson, the father born in Indiana and the mother in Van Buren county, Iowa; both spent their lives and died in the latter place.

In the fall of 1856 Adam N. Shelman and wife came to Nodaway county, Missouri, whither his parents had preceded him by a few months, coming in the spring of 1856. That fall the father returned to Iowa, bringing back Adam, his wife and the oldest child, William A., then three months old. John and his son, Adam N., both entered land, the tract where the latter’s widow now resides, on the Mazingo branch, six miles northeast of Pickering and three miles from Gaynor City. John Shelman located two miles north of Adam’s place and there spent the rest of his life, dying in 1866, his widow then making her home with her daughter, Mrs. William Wray. Harrison Shelman also came here and located on the place where John Groves now lives, but he returned to Iowa during the Civil war and died there. His brother John also came here when the Shelman family first made their advent in Nodaway, but finally left the county and is now living in southern Missouri. When the Shelman family came here in 1856 the country was somewhat wild and they had very few neighbors; among them were Aunt Amanda Pistole and Martin Shelman, brother of John Shelman (uncle to Adam N., the latter’s father). Martin Shelman and his father and John Shelman and the latter’s wife, both being then old people, came here and lived several years, dying here.

The first house Adam N. Shelman and wife lived in here was a one-roomed cabin, twelve by fourteen feet, built of logs, which stood on a bare hill just east of the Mazingo, but snows and drifts having a clean sweep at this particular spot, induced Mr. Shelman, twenty years later, to build where his widow now resides, on the east side of the creek, erecting the present house about 1893; the old one is still standing. He entered one hundred and sixty acres of land and soon began to buy more land, finally owning three hundred acres, all in one body. Mrs. Shelman has since bought another farm, consisting of one hundred and twenty acres, which she rents. She purchased this place at a public sale, for a consideration of sixty dollars per acre. Most of the home farm was bought at about ten dollars per acre. Mr. Shelman had purchased a range and as soon as possible kept live stock and carried on general farming. He was a very successful business man. He was a member of the old-school Predestinarian Baptist church, attending church six miles west of Pickering, the congregation having formerly held services at the Owen home and in the school house. Mr. Shelman’s funeral was preached by his old elder, the Reverend Simmons, who recently died at Hopkins. Mrs. Shelman adheres to the same faith in religious matters.

To Mr. and Mrs. Adam N. Shelman these children were born: William Atha, of Union township; John Nelson, who died in infancy; Nancy Elizabeth is the wife of Charles Killam, of Union township; she first married Lewis Pistole, now deceased; Clara Ann Watson Shelman married Bert Killam, brother to Charles Killam, and is living in Hopkins township; Charles Andrew lives on Honey creek, Nodaway county; Rosa May is the widow of John Scott, of Union township; Henry Adam lives on Honey creek, this county; Mary E. married Minnis Holton, of Independence township, this county; Samuel E. is farming in South Dakota.

Mrs. Shelman stands at the head of several generations and she has between forty and fifty grandchildren or great-grandchildren. She is now nearly sixty-eight years of age, has been faithful in rearing her children and has hosts of warm friends throughout the township, as did her husband.

Source: B. F. Bowen & Company. Past and present of Nodaway County, Missouri. Indianapolis, Indiana: B. F. Bowen & Company. 1910.

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