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Fayette County, Alabama
~ Shelton Letters ~

Transcriber's Notes:
George Abraham SHELTON, born Feb 21, 1790, and his wife, Jane JOHNSTON-SHELTON, born Dec 17, 1803, were both born in Virginia.  They were married in 1820 and three of their children were born in Virginia before the family moved to Alabama.  There is a record of George A. SHELTON first buying land in Fayette County on Apr 12, 1824, with Polser (Paulson or Palser) INGLE.  The first time that the SHELTON family was seen on the Fayette County census was in 1830.  George A. SHELTON died Sept 21, 1857, and a few years later, Jane and her family moved to Logan County, Arkansas, where she died Jan 20, 1888.  She is buried in the Paint Rock Cemetery in Driggs, Arkansas.

Jane JOHNSTON-SHELTON’s sister, Olleva (or Ollie), married John KIRKLAND from Fayette County.  Another sister, Nancy JOHNSTON married a PRESTIGE (or PRESTIDGE) and moved to Louisiana.  Jane and George SHELTON’s daughters, who married into the MORRIS, SOUTH, and BRYANS families, all moved to Arkansas.

The first letter below was written by my g-g-grandmother, Missouria HUMPHRY (1840–1933), to my grandmother, Selma MACGUIRE, in 1917.  Missouria (called Maudie) was in Arkansas when she wrote this letter.

George and Jane had a son, George R. SHELTON (1829–1863), who fought for the Confederacy and died in the Civil War.  The second letter below, which George wrote to his mother and sisters in 1862, includes numerous references to friends and neighbors from Fayette County.

from Missouria Agnes SHELTON HUMPHRY to Selma Shelton CORLEY MACGUIRE
The Cedars, January 4, 1917

Dear Selma,

My father, George A. SHELTON, was the son of Abraham SHELTON, and was born in Virginia, February 21, 1790; my mother, Jane JOHNSTON SHELTON, was also born in Virginia, December 17, 1803.  They moved to Alabama, where I was born.  My father died there in 1857, and after his death, my people became dissatisfied and wanted to move.  We had an uncle living in Kansas, and they wanted to go there, so brother George and Pink MORRIS (your Aunt Laura Ann’s husband) began to wind out their business to go west.  Your Uncle (great) Edward and Aunt (great) Mary BRYANS (Tenie’s mother) had already come to Arkansas.  George sold the place in the fall, and as soon as they could all get ready, we began our long trip.  There were three families of us; your great-uncle, Pink MORRIS, your great-uncle, Lige SOUTH and their families with several small children to each family, my mother, George, myself and a young man, Lee HOPKINS.  We had two wagons, with two yoke of cattle to each wagon.  All of us walked but the little children, who were too small to walk.  We had two big tents that we would put up at night to sleep in.  I do not know how many days we traveled by land, but I know it was not but a few; then we got on a boat on the Tennessee River; we landed in Cairo, Illinois, and from there went to Saint Louis by land.  At Saint Louis we took a boat and traveled part of the way; we left the boat somewhere in Missouri and went by land to Uncle John KIRKLAND’s in Kansas; he married my mother’s sister.

I remember one time in Missouri, we camped and the well water was salt water; it would not make coffee, so we made coffee out of water that stood in the wagon ruts.  And one time we crossed a stream of water that was swollen; the men had brother George to wade in to see how deep it was; it was not too deep to cross, but the men made a “pack-saddle” and carried me across, but your grandmother (great) and my sisters would not let them carry them across, so waded the stream too.

We stayed two weeks at Uncle John’s, but the men did not like, so we came on to Arkansas; we landed in Carroll County, a mile of Berryville.  We had been on the road three months.  Pink rented land and made a crop, but the others hired out.  After the crops were made, Pink and George started out to hunt a location; they went down in Logan County, which was then called Scott County.  Pink bought land on a creek called chigger creek, three miles east of where Magazine now is; then they came back where we were, and in September we left for our new home.  George bought land a mile north of Magazine, on the Prairie branch.  Lige settled near Waldron, and Edward and Mary BRYANS on the place now owned by Jim H. LEE, Della’s father.  George made one crop, then he had to go back to Alabama to collect and finish settling up his business.  He went horseback; it seemed like I could hardly bear to see him go, that was the last time I ever saw him.  He could not collect anything at the time, so he got him a school in Mississippi.  The war came on, he went into the army and was killed.  Now your great-grandmother had four brothers and two sisters: one of her brothers was a bachelor, named Harding; he owned a ship and sailed the waters, and was lost at sea; or at least, it was supposed that he and his ship went down, for the last trip he was never heard of any more.

The breast-pin I gave you was given to me by Aunt Nancy PRESTIGE, who lived in Louisiana; that was in 1858, or about that time.  She was my mother’s sister.  The linen chest I gave you, we brought from Alabama with us.  The bureau belonged to your great-grandfather HUMPHRY, and he bought it when your grandfather was a little boy, and got it second-hand.  My clock, “Tennessee”, that is still keeping time, was bought before the war; the little chair was brought from Alabama, and my little brother Albert, died in it.  When mother died, her feet were in the chair, you know she had dropsy and could not lie down.  She was sitting in the rocking chair with her feet in the little chair.  I never want it to go out of the family.

With much love, your grandmother,

~ Missouria Shelton Humphry

Pink MORRIS is Berry MORRIS, who married Laura Ann SHELTON (daughter to George & Jane); Lige SOUTH is Elijah SOUTH, who married Elizabeth Jane SHELTON (daughter to George & Jane).  George is George R. SHELTON (son to George & Jane).  Edward BRYANS married Mary SHELTON (daughter to George & Jane).  Uncle John KIRKLAND married Olleva JOHNSTON (sister to Jane).

from George R. SHELTON to his mother, sisters, and brothers-in-law in Arkansas
Cornersville, Mississippi
March 2nd, 1862

Dear Mother, brothers and sisters:

The sweet moments have once more offered me this favored opportunity of submitting you a short missive, which leaves me well at this time, and all of Uncle Sam’s except himself, who is very sick with pneumonia.  Uncle And has moved up here, he and family are all well, and I hope these few lines may reach you and find you enjoying the same.

As for news, I have nothing more than you might expect, if you have not so much as heard it; the northern armies are gaining greatly the advantage over ours.  Roanoke N.C., with several other towns in there, have fallen with the loss of two or three thousand men.

Fisher’s Creek, Bowling Green, Fort Henry, Fort Donaldson and Nashville are all in the hands of the north, with a terrible loss of men and public property; --many of our acquaintances were at Fort Henry and retreated back to Fort Donaldson, where they were killed or captured — some whom I will name — Andrew MORRIS; Bill KIZER; L. HOPSON (that is Lee); Ben PAPASIN; Pleas KIZER; Dock LAURY; Bill RICHARDS, and many others whom I will not name; if I were back in Alabama I could tell more about them; there were twelve or fourteen thousand taken prisoner there.  The Yankees run up to Florence and Tuscumbia in Alabama; there are seven hundred prisoners in Tuscaloosa; I went to see them.

I will now give you some of the deaths in Alabama — all but one being volunteers: Lee ESPY; two RUMSEYs’ sons; Will FREEMAN, (Boswells’ son); Tim RICE’s son; Cramps’ son, and others that are not on my mind at present.  There were many out on sick furlough when these battles were fought.

Times are hard here and in Alabama.  Money hard to get; but I have had better luck than I expected; Bill WAMMACK has paid me some money on his, and has also let me have 240 bushels of corn at 75 cents per bushel; I do not know whether I have made a good trade or not, but my reasons for taking corn was, that he paid me all the money he could, and is enlisted as a volunteer for three years, and wanted to pay all he could, so I thought that corn was as sure a chance for money as a man in the army.

I landed here yesterday and met your letter dated the 12th of February, containing an unnecessary uneasiness.  It troubles me to hear your discontentment, but I am happy to inform you that I am neither killed nor robbed, and  hope to avoid such a calamity.

You inquire if R.N. DOUGHTY married; --he married Zeptha RICE’s daughter, Paltiah.

I can say to you that I have not collected any of my school money yet; I do not know whether I will get anything or not till I see them — payment of debts has almost stopped.

I can say, also, that I have had a sly notion of joining the army, as it seems that we all have got to take a part; I was offered the captaincy of a company, but you see that I have not accepted it; there is a company making up now in Alabama, among our acquaintances; they are very anxious that I should go with them as captain or Lieutenant, but I have thought that I would never take a part in this war if I could avoid it, and I do not feel right on the question yet, so I have not fully got my consent to go yet.  There is one thing you may rest assured of, that I am not going as a private as long as I can avoid it.

I can inform you that I have to go back to Alabama of loose, I have a bale of cotton there that I hold good for a debt, and my corn to dispose of in some way; I would like to send you all some money if I thought it would be safe, for I have three hundred dollars in paper money and cannot get the gold for less than twenty or thirty per cent, and I would rather you had it than myself.

Write soon, and write all the news; content yourself, and do not get uneasy, there war times about me, for we must submit ourselves to the emergency of the times.

Great excitement prevails here; Tennessee is threatening to go back to the Union, so is North Carolina.

We all send our very best love and respect to you.  Direct your letters here; let all read this.

~ G.R. Shelton

New!  George R. SHELTON, son of George A. and Jane SHELTON, was born in Fayette County, Alabama, on Apr 23, 1829.  George lived briefly in Arkansas just prior to the Civil War, but came back to Fayette where he enlisted in the Confederacy on May 8, 1862 (for 3 years or the period of the War).  He went in as 3 Corporal, Company I, 32nd Regiment, Alabama Infantry.  He was elected 3rd Lt. Aug 18, 1862.  He was captured as a prisoner of war as indicated on one muster roll dated Jan & Feb, 1863.  His rank was then 2 BVT Lt. and it was noted that he was absent without leave and was being dropped from the roll.  On the "Roll of Prisoners of War," at Camp Morton in Indianapolis, Indiana, his date of capture is reported as Jan 5, 1863, and date of death as Feb 2, 1863 [image].  On a "Prisoners of War" report that followed, Lt. J.R. (sic) SHELTON's place of capture was given as Stone's River (which is near Murphreesboro, Tennessee) and indicates that he was first sent to Nashville after his capture and was then sent to Camp Morton [image].  The battle at Stone's River claimed 23,000 casualties and was the second bloodiest battle fought west of the Appalachians during the Civil War.  Many died from wounds, and many died as results of the freezing weather and disease.  One report says George R. SHELTON died in the City Hospital at Indianapolis, so he did not have to go through the horrible experiences that many of Camp Morton's prisoners endured.

George R. SHELTON was initially buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Indianapolis.  In 1912, the federal government erected a 27-foot-tall Confederate monument in Greenlawn Cemetery, featuring the names of 1,616 persons who perished at Camp Morton and were buried at Greenlawn.  However, Greenlawn Cemetery closed in 1928, and the Confederate monument was relocated to the city's Garfield Park.  Five years later, the railroad wanted a right-of-way through Greenlawn Cemetery and the remains of the Confederate soldiers were exhumed and moved to Crown Hill Cemetery where they were buried in a mass grave.  Several years later, a granite monument was erected on top of the mound, commemorating the unknown Confederate dead.  The Crown Hill Confederate Plot is located in Section 32, Lot 285, of Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The letter that George wrote in 1862 mentions his ambivalence about the war, which would eventually claim his life [see sample of his handwriting here].  The identity of “Uncle Sam” in this letter is a family mystery.  “Uncle And” is either Andrew or Anderson JOHNSTON, both of whom were brothers to Jane JOHNSTON-SHELTON.

Generously contributed by
Shelton cousins

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31 May 2008  |  06 Aug 2008