• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Clarence Charles Shelton, Papa's grandfather
7 April 1888 Henry, Marshall, Illinois

In 1978 Patricia Shelton Erdman [a first cousin to Papa] gathered photos, memories and stories from the children of her grandfather, Clarence Shelton, (and many other relatives) in preparation for the first ever reunion of his family.

In the short history prepared at that time she states, " ... his mother lived in Henry, Illinois at the time of his birth. He was recorded to be the third child. His parents were both 35 at the time of his birth and his father was born in [Ohio] and his mother was born in Pennsylvania. Older brother, Martin [Edward Kear], was born 22 September 1884 in Mossville, Peoria County, Illinois. His sister, Mary Edna [Kear] was born [about 1886]."

Father: Reuben Thomas Shelton (1853-1892)
     Son of Joseph Shelton and Elizabeth Cochran

Mother: Mary Agnes Kerr (1853-1889)
    Daughter of George Kerr and Lowetta Williams

"Anna Rathbun, a first cousin, writes of Clarence Shelton: Aunt Mary died shortly after Clarence was born so Grandma Lowetta Kear [spoken Care] took him for a while but he was not getting along very well. She took him to the doctor and he said that what Clarence needed was a mother's milk or he would not live much longer. Since mother (Stella Kear Newell) was nursing my sister Pearl, who was about 8 months old, she brought him home to live with the family and she nursed him just the same as if he was her own until he was old enough to eat like any baby does."

Clarence's mother died about January 1889. He would have been about 8 or 9 months old. His cousin Pearl was born 28 August 1888. She is approximately 5 months younger than he is. Pearl would have been 8 months old in April 1889. Clarence would be 1 year old at that time.

"She also gave him fresh cow's milk. She kept him until he was big enough to get around by himself. Then he went back to Grandma's, as Mama was expecting again. She said he was almost 2 years old. Clarence was just like the rest of us and I remember he was just like my older brother Oscar. Clarence was always welcome and came to our house and stayed for days sometimes, as it was like home to him. 

" As far as I know Clarence went to school in Sparland [Illinois], as that is the first school I went to. He was Pearl's age and they were older than I was, so were not in the same room I was. There were 4 rooms in our school. The first 4 grades were in room 1, the next 4 grades in room 2, and the first 2 high school grades in room 3 and the last 2 high school grades in room 4. Rooms 3 and 4 were up stairs and I don't remember being in room 2 but once. The teacher sent me in to ask Pearl something but I don't remember what it was.

Grandmother Lowetta Kear and her son Edward Kerr
with Grandson Edward Shelton end this 1900 US Illinois census page 
The 1900 census shows Clarence as a 12 year old living with his Grandmother in Sparland, Illinois. He attended school 9 months of the previous year, can read and write, and he speaks English.

Clarence Shelton's name is on the top line of this Illinois US
1900 census page (after his grandmother, uncle and brother
 at the bottom of the previous page)

Anna continues, " My Uncle George [Kear] gave Clarence a bad time, so he came to our house often, until Uncle George moved away. Clarence stayed with Grandma more until then. 

He and his brother Ed didn't get along either. Ed always bossed Clarence, as he was about 3 years older, and always put the blame on Clarence if he could.

"Uncle Ed Kear never had children so was always taking children into his home as he and his wife Addie loved children. Ed and Clarence were also know to have lived with them too. The family lived in and around Sparland, Illinois.

"About 1904, when Clarence was 16 or 17 years old, he ran away from home and lied about his age to get into the Navy. He said he was 18 years old to get away from Ed and Uncle George. It seems Ed had done something and told Uncle George that Clarence did it, so Uncle George gave Clarence a beating. That was when he ran away from home and joined the Navy.

"We didn't see him again until he got out of the Navy and he came to our house. Mama (Stella) talked him into going back and staying with his Grandmother, as her health was failing her.

" He got a job working in the timber, cutting cord wood, as they used a lot of cord wood for props in the coal mines then. He stayed until Ed came home too. Ed wouldn't stay very long as he wanted to go out and do as he pleased and he couldn't do that around Grandma. Grandma was always boss wherever she was and we did not dare to question her about anything, as she was old, and we were not to talk back to her or be contrary when Grandma was around. Clarence stayed at our house afer that, as it was close to where we lived and Mama told him he couldn't batch it and stay in a tent in the winter. He also helped us, as he was like one of the family, and my father was crippled."

Spouse: Sarah Isabelle McNicholl
    Married 4 June 1913 Entiat, Chelan, Washington

Martha Doris Dugan married Clarence Shelton in Las Vegas, Nevada 20 June 1945. In the history mentioned above she says, "His health was never good. X-rays showed over half his lungs were scar tissue from working in the mines in his younger years." 

George Kear, his grandfather that took him in as an orphan child worked in the coal mines. From the above statement of Martha Shelton Childs we may conjecture that Clarence worked in those coal mines also. We know that as an adult he worked mostly in the timber and sawmill/lumber business.

Died: 27 December 1953 Barstow, San Bernardino,California,USA
Buried29 December 1953 Barstow, San Bernardino,California,USA