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The Sheldon Magazine

Rev. H. O. Sheldon spent a lifetime collecting and documenting information on Sheldons.  He organized this information into what he called The Sheldon Magazine.  From June 1855, until October 1857, he published four volumes as proof copies that he sent to his correspondents for corrections and additions. These proof copies were never intended to be a final product.

Rev. Sheldon wrote in the Preface of Volume I:

After the MS. [manuscript] has been in the hands of the printers more than three years (the delay and slow progress having been accounted for), we commence the publication of that part of the Sheldon Magazine, which comprises the list.

This is not the promised work, but a cheap proof edition, of the list, which we send to subscribers, and others, for corrections, or additions.

We rely upon their kindness to examine those parts within their acquaintance, and to furnish those corrections and additions in their power.

Rev. Sheldon noted elsewhere that the price of the revised work, not less than 480 pages on fine paper, with biographical and historical notes, postage pre-paid, is $3.00 in advance.

He intended to publish a fifth volume, but this, and the final publication of the first four volumes was never accomplished during his lifetime.  The Sheldon Family Association, with revisions and updated indexes, reprinted Volume I in July 1973, Volume II in October 1965, Volume III in November 1962, Volume IV in February 1961, and the previously “unprinted” Volume V in July 1957.

In his “Historical Preface” to the “Unprinted” Volume V, (S#5297×6-2) Carew Sheldon writes:

His [Rev. H. O. Sheldon] type and property were lost during the Civil War.  About 1882, he sent out a printed postal card from Oberlin, Ohio, asking for revised data.  He said that he had 17,000 names obtained by over 3,000 letters and years of travel.  The NEH&G Register, January 1883, 37:90, printed the same announcement and that “this work will soon be put to press.”   He had died two weeks before, aged 83 years, and his obituary appeared in the next issue.

In the Library of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, in Philadelphia, among some 8,000 cataloged letters written to (S#4445) Rev. Sheldon Jackson, the famous missionary and U.S. Agent to Alaska, will be found many pleas to him, dated from 1893 to 1906, requesting the manuscript which he had obtained from Rev. H.O. Sheldon so that they could print it.

Apparently it [the original leather-bound manuscripts] was passed on in 1905, to (S#4384) U.S. Senator Philetus Porter Sheldon, owner of the Jamestown (N.Y.) Post, for publishing.  Then it disappeared.

After many years of searching throughout the U.S. by this editor, it was found nearby in Medina, N.Y., in 1955, by your Genealogical Committee Chairman in the possession of (S#9521×1) John Layton Sheldon, Jr., an attorney who had been publisher of the Lockport (N.Y.) Journal.  He stated that he had obtained it about 1906, from Jamestown in a parcel post package after requesting it, but that nothing had been printed.

This invaluable manuscript, started 130 years ago [this, remember, was in 1957], consists of about 700 pages of 9″x14″ rag ledger folio beautifully written and bound in morocco.  It had been rewritten and revised 5 times. The third revision being The Sheldon Magazine, 1857, shows that there are over 1,500 typographicals in the printed copies.

Volume V is a revised edition of the unprinted part with additional data taken from the card files to fill in the blank spaces with later data, plus 16 pages of indexes.  One folio, pages 122r to 140r , is still missing and will be printed as Volume VI, if and when it is found.

July 25, 1957, (S#5297×6-2) Carew Sheldon, Editor

Volume VI was located and published in 1969. In the “Preface” to Volume VI, (S#6770×4-1) Leland Locke Sheldon, Editor and Transcriber, writes:

This completes the printing of approximately 1,000 additional Sheldon Families and their connections which the Rev. Henry O. Sheldon had written into his personal copy of his four original pamphlets between 1857 and 1882. These notations were between the printed lines in their appropriate places, or on pages numbered 141 through 158r, in his handwriting and followed the same form used in his other folios.

What happened to pages 122 through 140r still remains a mystery.  They were probably misplaced during the over 70 years the other folios were in Alaska, then in Jamestown, and finally in Medina, New York.  They were found here in 1955, by the Chairman of the Genealogical Committee of the Sheldon Family Association.

Rev. H.O. Sheldon intended that in each line in these pamphlets, seven important items of genealogical value be available to researchers.  All seven items appear in the designated columns unless the data is not available at the time of publication. The explanation of each column follows:

  1. Identification number and names of Head of Family and Spouse.
  2. Date of death of Head of Family and Spouse.
  3. Identification number and Given Names of children in order of birth.
  4. The page number in the Sheldon Magazine on which additional data on this person is found including his or her children, or a * indicating that in the files of the Genealogical Committee of the Sheldon Family Association, there is additional data available on this person or descendants.
  5. The year in which this child was born.
  6. The name of the spouse, if any, of the child listed in column 3.
  7. The residence, if known, of the child listed in column 3 and/or any other pertinent information that may be helpful to a searcher.

Some volumes of The Sheldon Magazine are out of print.  The Genealogy Committee of the Sheldon Family Association has decided not to reprint the Magazine.  Instead, a project is underway to enter The Sheldon Magazine and other genealogical material held by The Sheldon Family Association into a computer format.  The final plans for publishing this material, in excess of 50,000 names, have not been finalized.

The above article was prepared by (S#4727×514) Wayne E. Nelson from information in The Sheldon Magazine and other Sheldon sources.