JOSEPH SHELLENBERGER. The name Shellenberger has been actively identified with the business affairs of Ransom since 1887. In that year Mr. Joseph Shellenberger came to Ransom and started his son in the lumber business. Two years later another son engaged in the grocery business. Others of his family have become identified with the community from time to time, and three of them are now among the active business men of Ness County, two in Ransom and one in Utica.
Mr. Joseph Shellenberger himself came to Ransom in 1905, and has acquired extensive business interests in stores and also in farm lands in this section. He is now a man past fourscore years, yet shows no intention of giving up active work, and still finds pleasure in diligence though the pressing necessity for hard work has long since passed away. He is a man of varied interests and activities. Early in life he showed a genius for various mechanical industries, and is a past master of several trades. Thus wherever he found his lot in life cast he was able to make a living and render a worthy service.
He was born in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, June 13, 1834, and was brought up on a farm. His ancestors were among the pioneers of Pennsylvania. His great-grandfather, John Shellenberger, came from Germany and established a family in America during colonial days. As a family they were largely farmers, many of them are still found in Juniata County, and others have gone to many of the states of America. The father of Mr. Shellenberger was also named Joseph. He spent his life as a farmer in Juniata County but died in Stephenson County, Illinois, at the age of seventy-seven. After the fall of the whig party he became aligned with the republican organization and his church was the Mennonite. His wife was Hannah Snyder. Their children were: Amos, who spent much of his life in Pennsylvania but died at Covington, Ohio; Catherine, who married Jacob Shellenberger and died in Covington, Ohio; Fannie, who married Benjamin Shoemaker and died in Stephenson County, Illinois; Martha, who became the wife of Benjamin McConnell and died in Stephenson County, Illinois; Joseph; Ephraim, who lives at Freeport, Illinois; Herman, who was a farmer in Iowa and died at Villista in that state; Hannah, who was twice married, her second husband being Mr. Younz, of Stephenson County, Illinois.
A Pennsylvania farm, district schools, and the times and conditions of seventy years ago were the early environment of Mr. Joseph Shellenberger. That he made wise use of all his opportunities cannot be doubted. As a boy he learned the art of growing grain and stock, and he also perfected himself in the trades of blacksmithing, the operation of a saw mill and grist mill, and could do a fine job of brick laying and the spreading of plaster. Particularly he became a master of the broom making art, and he worked at that trade during the winter seasons for the greater part of his active career,
Arriving at his majority, he started out for himself, worked for a time in his brother's shop, and later took up broom making. After his marriage he migrated to Nebraska, going to that territory in 1856. That was at the height of the political troubles growing out of the Kansas-Nebraska situation. He has an intimate knowledge and recollection of some of those early conditions. In going to Nebraska he went by railroad as far as Jefferson City, thence by boat to Weston, Missouri, and from there took a stage to Rockport, Missouri. He soon crossed the river into Nemaha County, Nebraska, and pre-empted a quarter section of land within three miles of the Missouri River. That was his home until after the war. Nebraska being a territory during the war its residents could not be forced into the military service, and Mr. Shellenberger felt that his duty did not call him into the war. His wife died on the old Nebraska homestead in the summer of 1864.
In 1865 he moved to Northwest Missouri and located in Andrew County. There he followed farming on a place seven miles from Savannah until 1892, when he left the farm and located in Mound City, Holt County. In the meantime he had started his sons in business in Western Kansas, and ten years ago he sold his interests in Northwest Missouri and brought his capital to Ness County.
Mr. Shellenberger always took a very active interest in local affairs in every community where he has lived, and particularly in Missouri. He was for years a member of the school board and road overseer in his section of Missouri. Politically he has practically grown up with the republican party. Only his removal to the territory of Nebraska prevented him from voting for the first republican standard bearer in 1856. That campaign was so bitter that it was almost worth a man's life to make any decided expression of opinion. While he was going to Nebraska on the boat up the Missouri River a vote was taken, and only one woman had the courage to express her choice for Fremont as president. In that section of the West the pro-slavery men were so numerous and outspoken that they dominated and overawed all except the most courageous who were in favor of free-state institutions.
The first wife of Mr. Shellenberger was Elizabeth Ullery, a daughter of Daniel Ullery. Her death in Nebraska has already been noted. She was the mother of the following children: E. D. Shellenberger, of Mound City, Missouri; Ida, widow of William Orem, of Manhattan, Kansas; Julia A., widow of John Ordnung, of Burlington Junction, Missouri. Mr. Shellenberger married for his second wife in Nemaha County, Nebraska, in February, 1865, Mary C. Showalters. Her father, Jeremiah Showalters, came out of Virginia. The children of this union are: William Henry, of Manhattan, Kansas; Elias P., of Grand Junction, Colorado; Daniel, who died at Boulder, Colorado, leaving a family; Herman, of Geneseo, Kansas; Ira, a merchant at Utica, Kansas; Etta, wife of Bird Smith, of Mound City, Missouri; Charles, in the lumber business at Ransom, Kansas; George, also a merchant at Ransom; Walter, of Clifton, Colorado.
Mr. Joseph Shellenberger erected the business house for the S-D Mercantile Company at Ransom and has also supplied other buildings necessary to the business carried on by his sons. His own home is one of the best in Ransom. Mr. Shellenberger is a member of the Church of God.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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