Reverend Henry Olcott Sheldon

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The Sheldon Family Association traces its database back to the initial work of the Rev. Henry Olcott Sheldon. His seminal work has over the many years been elaborated on, yet his initial findings were very prophetic.  He detailed for us the earliest of Sheldons who came to the colonies during very turbulent times in England.  He traced the movement of pioneer Sheldons westward as the colonies formed to be a country and expanded into what we now call the Midwest. He even spent energy trying to specifically ascertain where our English roots lay. That endeavor was not successful, but it pointed to the calling the Sheldon Family Association still pursues today.  “Where did we come from?”

The Reverend Henry Olcott Sheldon or H.O. Sheldon was born In Hartford, Connecticut on 15 Sep 1799 to Joseph Sheldon and Catherine (Olcott) Sheldon.  H.O.’s roots trace back to John (8).  At the age of 19 in 1818, H.O had travelled to Ohio to purchase farmland.  He purchased land in Peru Township, Huron County, Ohio. He married Ruth Bradley on 15 Mar 1820. Together they had 12 children.

In 1823 H.O joined the Methodist Church and within a year he became a circuit preacher ascending to Deacon and Elder.  From the years 1824 thru the 1830s he travelled by horseback, stagecoach, and other types of conveyance thru central and northern Ohio and into southwest Michigan as the circuit minister. His lecturing work for the Norwalk Seminary also took him into eastern states. In 1836 he moved himself and the family to Middleburg Township, Cuyahoga County, forming a religious community that later becoming Berea, Ohio. His first wife Ruth died in 15 Mar 1859.

He next married Eleanor Hueston Robertson in Sidney, Ohio on 22 Apr 1860 and with her moved to her father’s farm in Hamilton, Ohio.  Given the distance from northeastern Ohio to southwestern Ohio, one has to imagine it is someone he met in his travels. It also has to have been an area he was familiar with because his Sheldon Family notes were first printed in 1855-1857 in Sidney.  During this time, he helped with the farm and he worked for the Missouri State Board of Immigration all along the way trying to get folks to start Methodist religious colonies. Eleanor Sheldon died on 25 Jan 1867.

01 Aug 1867, H.O. marries Permelia Tower in Oberlin, Ohio which is back across the state, very close to his original roots in northeastern Ohio.  It must have been here he started his efforts toward the founding of numerous colleges in the area; Baldwin Institute, Oberlin College and Wesleyan College. All of these educational institutions had strong Methodist ties in their creation.  H.O. died on 21 Dec 1882 at the age of 83. He is buried in Westwood (formerly known as College) Cemetery, Oberlin, Lorain, Ohio.

It is easy to see why H.O. might have been very interested in research.  He kept copious notes as he met Sheldons along his travels.  SFA has a list of many of his visits.  You can find it under the Publication section on the SFA website.  The key thing is that H.O.’s notes served as the basis of the Sheldon Magazine first published in 1855- 1857 in Sidney, Ohio.

So today 20 Sep 2020, we honor his immense contribution to the Sheldon Family Association.

This biography was written by Michael B Sheldon with extensive assistance from articles published in earlier editions including the one written for the SFA 50th anniversary.


 

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