The Sheldon Family Association was formally founded in 1939 by a group of Sheldon descendants, to further the interest in their heritage and preserving family history. Today, the Sheldon Family Association is a non-profit 501(c)7 organization. It seeks to promote and grow its family surname databases and the history of the name (with spelling variations) by opening its membership to all individuals and researchers interested in adding to and perpetuating the family name and history.
While we were formally founded in 1939, The Sheldon Family Association (SFA) has roots going back to well before 1875 which was about the time that Henry L. Sheldon (S#3822) was gathering maps, books, portraits, bibles, furniture, china and other articles from the cellars and attics of old Vermont families for his Sheldon Museum. In the early 1900s and Just before WWI, as many as 300 to 400 Sheldons and their connections gathered at these annual reunions, an annual tradition that continues today.
The SFA has become more than just a lineage genealogy society of the initial colonial Sheldons.
- Through its research the SFA has evolved from its initial presumptions by recognizing there are more Sheldons in the USA than those who can trace themselves directly to the presumed 5 colonial ancestors.
- SFA researchers and members have added and continue to add more records and have started to use DNA evidence to expand our knowledge of the Sheldon history both in the USA and England. The purpose is to address the question of “Where did we come from?”
- SFA has reached out to a number of organizations. One is Ancestry.com where we have established a new digital database that a member can access and contribute to with permission. Another is the Allen County Public Library, the USA’s second largest family history library to scan and digitize the years of paper records, letters, and research collected by or done by SFA before the age of computers. Portions of the data will be made internet accessible. The goal of SFA is to be the definitive source of Sheldon family trees and the history associated with the name.
- SFA has expanded access to the Sheldon Family Association Quarterly by making it accessible to members via this website. We also have our own Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/227414537803233 . Individuals who join can get the latest news about developments in record research, DNA information, and association activities.
- SFA continues to hold annual “Reunion” meetings which move to different locations across the US each year. The meetings focus on visiting Sheldon family historical sites, attending instructional courses, activities to meet “cousins” and conducting our annual membership business meeting.
The SFA genealogical data began with information collected by the Reverend Henry Olcott Sheldon. He was a circuit preacher who rode from village to village in the early to mid-1800s across parts of Ohio. This was at a time that many Sheldons started moving from New England, westward. He documented many Sheldons and identified the New England “colonial progenitor” Sheldons. He knew the relationships between them were unclear, as were some of their English origins. Since then, with the research done by the Sheldon DNA project, DNA testing has shown that the 5 progenitors can be placed into two groupings. Group A consists of Godfrey (4), John (8) and Richard (22) who are all related and originate in the Derbyshire area of England. Group B consists of Isaac (5) and John (13) who are shown to be related to one another. To date there is no DNA relationship between the Group A and B Sheldons. The English origin of the Group B Sheldons is not clear. We continue to work on identifying their possible places of origin.
For more of an expanded overview, you can go to the following:
- Isaac Sheldon (S0005) ca.1629-1706 settled in Northampton, Massachusetts and is a founding father of the city. He married (1st) Mary Woodford, (2nd) Mehitable Gunn. Descendants of his were victims in the Deerfield Massacre. The Isaac line has our largest group of descendants documented.
- John Sheldon (S0013) ca. 1628-1679 settled in South Kingston, Rhode Island. He married Sarah. Her last name is unknown.
- Godfrey Sheldon (S0004) ca. 1599-1671 settled in Saco/Scarborough, Maine. He married Alice Frost. Descendants of his may have been part of the Salem Witch trials. There is a large group of Godrey descendants in Hawaii.
- John Sheldon (S0008) ca. 1630-1708 married Joanna Vincent and settled in Providence, Rhode Island.
- Richard Sheldon (S0022) was once thought to be a child of John S0008 and Joanna Vincent, but this has been proven untrue. However, DNA test results confirm he was related to John S0008 in some way. He is now listed to be one of the original progenitors. Little is known about him. This is the smallest group of descendants in our database.
The SFA also has data files on “Unconnected Sheldon Lines.” These files and trees cannot be connected to the original five. Some of the files point to new English regions. Some point to other colonial-era Sheldon ancestors who did not come in through New England and some, as we have known for some time, are from Sheldons that immigrated to the United States after colonial times but with roots back to key England sites. Hopefully, with continued research, and adding new records along with more DNA data, it will provide us with answers.
Lastly, over time the SFA has collected historical evidence, stories, books, as well as, information about family sites, towns and other places named Sheldon. Much of this information documents the impact Sheldons made as they initially settled in the original colonies and eventually migrated west all the way to Denali National Park in Alaska, where Charles Sheldon was instrumental in its creation.
As stated above, the Sheldon Family Association conducts research and collaborates with researchers. Any data that you share about yourself or your family with SFA may be seen by SFA members and researchers. Because some of the data entered comes from members, SFA cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information, although we do our best to assure accuracy. Members are asked to follow accepted genealogy guidelines with the data they submit, but it must be understood such data does not imply verification or certification of the data. By joining as a member, you accept these conditions.