Most every Sunday, SheldonGenealogy.org sponsors a free Zoom chat, where anyone with SHELDON ancestry around the globe can join in to exchange information or get help on their SHELDON genealogy. Well this weekend we were joined by Steven SHELDEN who told a story about his grandfather and great uncle being surrendered to a VFW home in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, after their mother died and their father was unable to care for them. Steven belongs to the Godfrey line of SHELDONs which traces back to Derbyshire, England and I to the unrelated John SHELDON of Kingstown, Rhode Island, speculatively from Warwickshire. I have never been to Eaton Rapids, but knew the place immediately. The VFW home is located on a farm previously known as the Grand River Stock Farm. I found this plaque (sold) on Ebay—another touch of serendipity.
The 472 acres was originally acquired from the government by Matthew La “Rue” Perrine in 1838. At Perrine’s death in 1894 it was purchased by my great grandfather, Justus Warren SHELDON. Where according to the book The Only Eaton Rapids on Earth by W Scott Munn c 1952 Uncopyrighted: ” J Warren Sheldon, [who] erected a commodious farm house, a mammoth barn and outbuildings and it became known as the Grand River Stock Farm.” (p352). It was later purchased by Corey J Spencer who was instrumental in making the VFW Home a reality.
The farm which was originally timbered was the source of the oak that was used to build Justus Warren Sheldon’s Home in Eaton Rapids. More on that in a later post. Here is a colorized photo of my great aunt and great grandmother on the farm.
There are 2.43 BILLION acres of land in the US. What are the odds that two people would have knowledge of a 472 acre plot of land with connections to two different SHELDON families? Things like this happen everyday in the genealogy world. I guess that’s what I love about genealogy.
And a further bit of serendipity was shared by Steve SHELDEN. He had posted in a local Facebook Group in England where the Derbyshire SHELDONs hark from and lo and behold there are still SHELDONs living there!
50 years of Genealogical Research experience and 11 years with DNA & Genetic Genealogy. Author of Wheatonwood.com and the Beginner's Guide to Genetic Genealogy. Enjoys writing, genealogy related travel, research, "gophering" for genealogy, gardening, photography and being a grandma.
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Rev. Henry O. Sheldon
The Rev. Henry O. Sheldon is often considered the grandfather of Sheldon genealogy. While traveling as a preacher he met other Sheldons and wondered how they were all related. Eventually, he began collecting genealogies & piecing the various Sheldon branches together, first published in 1855 as the Sheldon Magazine. First Entry Monday, 4th of May, 1818, age 19, the start of his travels:
“Snowed some last night – roads wet and splashy – At half-past eleven A.M. started on a western tour – took an affectionate leave of my parents and brother and sister after receiving their advice & prayer for my preservation, — rode 25 miles – The day was wet & cold & stormy – Winds N.W.”