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Rankin Family History Project

Dr. Reuben Shelby


Dr. Reuben Shelby (deceased) was born in Green County, Penn., in 1803 and was a son of James and Hannah (Ross) Shelby. James Shelby was also a native of Pennsylvania, and was a farmer by vocation.

Reuben Shelby grew manhood on his father's farm and received only a common school education. Upon attaining his majority he began teaching school and continued until he had accumulated sufficient means to attend a medical school after which he entered the Pennsylvania Medical Institute of Philadelphia from which he he graduated. He afterward went to Texas and began practicing his profession, but after two years in the Lone Star State, came to Perryville, Mo.

This was in 1833 and in 1836 he was appointed justice of the county court, which position he filled for six years. In 1842 he was elected county surveyor and served until January 10, 1845, when he was appointed county treasurer to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John F. Hase. Dr. Shelby held the office until August, 1848, when he also resigned. In 1850 and 1851 he represented Perry County in the Legislature as speaker in the House of Representatives.

In 1874 he was placed in nomination by his friends as the Democratic candidate for State senator from his district. He was elected by a large majority and his political experience and scholarly attainments made him a most efficient member of that body. He practiced his profession for over forty years, and was a very successful physician and surgeon.

He was married three times: first to Sallie Flynn, who died about fifteen months after her marriage; second to Mary Beauvais, who died in 1857. She has four children living: Joseph (a merchant at Highland, Mo.), Louise (Mrs. Robert Slaughter), Jenning (Mrs. Walter Mattingly), and Reubena (Mrs. James T. Greenwell).

In 1861 Dr. Shelby married Marcella Manning, a daughter of Alexis and Mary (Moore) Manning. Mrs. Shelby was born in Perry County, Mo., and is the mother of five children who are living: Carrie (Mrs. Sebastian Moore), Bessie (Mrs. Joseph DeLassus), Reuben, Ernest and Reece.

The Doctor died on October 4, 1882. He was a member of the Catholic Church, as is also his widow and children.  

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The Goodspeed Publishing Company compiled a series of histories of various counties in the U.S. in the late 19th century. The information in the History of Southeast Missouri, published in 1888, was provided by the contemporary residents of Perry County and her neighboring counties. The biographies are a valuable source of genealogical information, despite a few minor inaccuracies. We are glad to present the transcribed biographies here for anyone researching Perry County's history.

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