Rev. Nathan F. Shelden. This name will be recognized by many of our readers as that of an earnest worker in the cause of religion, his circuit now including Sunfield, Myers, Odessa and Tamarack churches. His home is in Castleton Township, Barry County, on a farm consisting of eighty acres on sections 14 and 23, which is tilled by a renter. Mr. Sheldon began preaching some years ago and had done considerable ministerial work before joining the Conference, which he did in 1882., His first work was in the churches near his home and his first circuit was Cedar Creek, with four appointments. He spent two years on this circuit and was then given that of Eaton Rapids, but six months later was obliged to resign it on account of ill health. Castleton Circuit was the next given him and after filling its appointments one year he was placed upon what is known as Barry Circuit, with the four places before mentioned as his regular appointments.
Tradition states that the Shelden family was established in America by seven brothers who came hither from Wales. It is a matter of historical record that brothers of Grandfather Shelden were in the Revolutionary army. That gentleman, whose given name was Gideon, was born in Vermont and died on Long Island. He married Sarah Patterson, who was of Irish descent and who died at the venerable age of ninety-four years in Lenawee County, this State. They reared five children, one being Gideon, Jr., born in New York in 1806, followed the paternal occupation – farming. For some time he lived in Canada, just over the line, and he then settled on a farm in Orleans County, whence he came to Michigan after two years residence. He located in Lenawee County taking up eighty acres of Government land which he developed into a comfortable home. He killed much wild game, trapping bears by setting a dead-fall of two heavy logs and shooting deer from the chink holes in his log cabin, around which he had an open space in which they would gather on moonlight nights. The Indians frequently visited the house. Mr. Sheldon died when fifty-four years old. He was at that time a member of the United Brethren Church although he had been reared a Quaker. In politics he was a Whig and Free-soiler.
The mother of our subject was born in Canada in 1809, just over the line from New York, of which her parents were natives. She bore the maiden name of Harriet Chapin and was a daughter of Abner Chapin, an extensive farmer and large landowner, who died in Canada when quite aged. She lived to be eighty-two years of age, surviving the many hardships of pioneer days and the dangers of life that included such incidents as driving bears from her cabin home. She was a member of the United Brethren Church. She and her husband reared five children, namely: Truman, Levy, Nathan F., Mrs. Olive M. Bolton, Mrs. Francis Beamer, our subject and his sister Olive being the only ones now living.
Nathan F, Shelden was born in Ogden, Lenawee County, this State, April 10, 1839, and reared on the farm. He pursued his studies in the district school and when twenty-two years of age began doing for himself, farming a part of the home place two years. He then, in 1862, came to Barry County and located across the road from his present home.
This country was heavily timbered and the place of which he took possession was in its primitive state. He built a log house, the shingles for which were made from trees cut on the site of Nashville. The log house is still standing, a landmark of his early days here. Mr. Shelden improved his place at the expense of some hard work and added to it forty acres across the road, thus making a farm of goodly size.
Mr. Sheldon was married November 28, 1860, to Patience D. Sheldon, who was born in Canada near the St. Lawrence, January 16, 1833, and is as devout a member of the United Brethren Church as her husband. Their union has been blessed by the birth of the following children: William, Almond, Carrie, Ulysses and Miriam. William and Ulysses are deceased. The early opportunities enjoyed by the Rev. Mr. Sheldon was not sufficient to give him a education and most of his knowledge results from self-help and personal effort. he is very well informed and makes good use of his store of facts, making all subservient to his chosen work, that of winning souls for Christ. He has been very successful in revival meetings and whether his acquaintances agree with him in his religious tenets or no, all are assured of his fervor and zeal. In politics he is a Republican; he has been Township Treasurer three years and has had some connection with educational matters as a school officer.