Eli Wilson (1789-1869)

Eli Wilson was one of the original pioneers of Shelby, arriving in 1818 with the Henry Whitney and Stephen Marvin families.

Eli was born August 29, 1789 in Weston, Fairfield County, Connecticut, of a poor family who bound him out for service until he was 14. He then apprenticed to learn carpentry and married Mabel Barnes on Oct. 10, 1807.

When he was 23, the War of 1812 broke out and he enlisted in the 25th Infantry Regiment in Hartford, Conn. He fell sick on the march from Connecticut to Burlington, Vermont and was left at Cambridge, New York for two months until he was ordered to return to Hartford with Capt. Peter Bradley to recruit a second company.

In the spring of 1813, they again joined their regiment, which was then stationed within four miles of Lake Ontario. The unit crossed the Niagara River to the Canadian side to attack Ft. George. Despite heavy fire, they captured the fort. The unit remained at the fort until October when they set sights on Montreal. They collected about 300 boats and proceeded to the head of the St. Lawrence River, where they encountered heavy fire, lost some vessels, and finally abandoned the campaign. His obituary headline reads “Death of Gen. Eli Wilson” but it was an honorary title as he was enlisted.

He was mustered out and went back to work as a carpenter until 1818, when a group of 20, including the Marvins and Whitneys, set out for the state of Ohio. They made the journey by wagon, crossing the Allegheny mountains to arrive in April 1818.

Eli first purchased land just south of Main Street on Gamble behind where the First National Bank now stands, and set up a saw mill on Blackfork Creek, remaining there six years, then selling about 45 acres to James Gamble. The land encompassed the eastern limit of Blackfork Creek to Gamble Street.

The Wilsons’ second home was located on high ground on what is now Mansfield Avenue between Subway and the power plant. The mansion is still standing. The front door was originally facing west, in anticipation of the S.M. & N.R. railroad coming to town. The citizens of Mansfield and beyond were in favor of routing the railroad through Ganges. When the charter was applied for, Eli Wilson was named one of the commissioners to form the company.
Eli persuaded the company to ride along the route he proposed through Shelby. When the engineer passed through Shelby, he deemed it to be the most practical and cheapest route. The first train stopped by the Wilson mansion in 1846.

Eli provided land for the first cemetery in Shelby, just west of his home, where the Shelby Salesbook, and now Shelby Fire Department now stand. It was named Wilson Cemetery after him, but also sometimes called May Cemetery after another land owner. Eli was buried in the cemetery after he died June 17, 1869 at about 80 years old. His remains, and others, were moved to Oakland Cemetery when the Salesbook negotiated with the city for more land.

Condensed from Independent News, July 1, 1869.

Submitted by Christina Yetzer Drain

Henry Wentz, Jr.

In 1834, Henry Wentz Sr. brought his family to Cass Township, Ohio from Perry Co., PA where Henry Jr. was born on Dec. 9, 1839. Henry worked on the family farm until age 18 when he began to learn the carpentry trade. At age 21, he moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana where he worked in the railroad car assembly shops.

At the start of the Civil War, on July 11, 1861, Henry enlisted as a private in Co. E., 11th Ind. Vol. Inf. and he served throughout the war in various capacities in campaigns including – Vicksburg, Winchester, Fisher Hill and finally Cedar Creek on Oct. 19, 1864.

After the war Henry returned to Crestline, Ohio. On June 8, 1865, Henry married Abraham Bushey’s oldest daughter Sarah and entered the lumber business. After a year, he sold the business and began a hardware store that he ran until about
1875. In 1875 he began an interest in the fire insurance business which he followed until 1880 when he became the secretary the Underwriter’s Mutual Fire Insurance Company, which would become the Shelby Mutual Insurance Company. Also during the mid 1880s, Henry served as the clerk for the Sharon Township Trustees and was a member of the Crestline city council.

Henry and Sarah were the parents of two sons and a daughter.

Submitted by Lisa Wentz-Steiner


Jacob Fletcher

Jacob Fletcher was born in Bedford County, PA. ca. 1809. His parents, Baltzer & Mary Means/Fletcher moved to PA from the Frederick Co., MD area. They were listed as living in Cumberland Valley Twp., Bedford County, PA, during the census years 1830-1850.

Jacob first married Elizabeth Robison, daughter of Thomas & Sarah Conrad/Robison. This marriage was of very short duration and there are no known children.

Jacob then married Hannah McFerren, daughter of William & Barbara (Weirich,Weyrich,Wirick) /McFerren, in about 1832, in Bedford County, PA. Barbara is a daughter of Valentine & Catherine Ann unknown / Weirich, Weyrich,Wirick.

Laverne Ingram Piatt notes: Any woman descending through Hannah McFerren Fletcher would be eligible to join the DAR on an existing line due to the descendency from Valentine Weirich,Weyrich,Wirick, who is in the DAR patriot index.

By 1852, Jacob and Hannah were raising a family of at least 9 children, 8 sons and 1 daughter:

David Fletcher b: April 28, 1833 in Bedford Co., Penn.
William Fletcher b: December 25, 1834 in Bedford Co., Penn.
Charles Baltzer Fletcher b: October 30, 1836 in Bedford Co., Penn.
Rebecca Fletcher b: March 11, 1839 in Bedford Co., Penn.
John Fletcher b: May 13, 1841 in Bedford Co., Penn.
Samuel Fletcher b: July 19, 1843 in Bedford Co., Penn.
Henry Fletcher b: June 15, 1845 in Bedford Co., Penn.
Franklin Fletcher b: Abt. 1847 in Bedford Co., Penn.
Hiram Fletcher b: Abt. 1851 in Bedford Co., Penn.

In about 1853-54, they sold their property in PA and moved to Sharon Twp., Richland County, Ohio. Jacob and family are listed as living in Sharon Twp., Richland County, Ohio in the 1860-1880 census years. During the period of 1856 to the start of the Civil War, Jacob and the younger sons were area farmers.
David was listed in the 1860 census as a carpenter and living at home on the family farm.

The start of the Civil War changed this family dramatically.  Sons: David, John, Samuel, William, and Henry, all enlisted in the Union cause.

David enlisted in Co. I., 15th Regt., Ohio Vol. Inf.
John joined Co. B., 121st Regt., Ohio Vol. Inf.
Samuel enlisted as a pvt. in Co. D., 15th Regt., Ohio Vol. Inf.
William joined Co. H., 64th Regt., Ohio Vol. Inf.
Henry served as a pvt. in 84th Ohio Vol. Inf. for 3 months, then
reenlisted in Co. I. 15th Ohio Vol. Inf and served until the end of the war.

A 6th son enlisted on the confederate side. (Not yet determined, but probably Charles Baltzer)

William got sick at Chattanooga, Tenn, was discharged to return home, where he died after only two days.

Samuel enlisted, April 17, 1861 in Shelby, just slightly before his 18th birthday. His first enlistment lasted 3 months, and he was discharged at Camp Chase, Ohio after spending his 3 months primarily in W.VA. and Maryland. He reenlisted and was sent to Camp Dennison, Ohio. During the following years, Samuel saw action in the battles at: Shiloh, Chattanooga, Liberty Gap, Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, and the siege of Atlanta. Samuel was discharged at Chattanooga, Tenn,
Sept. 17, 1864, after 3 yrs., 4 mos., and 21 days of active service.

Henry enlisted as a pvt. in the 84th Regt. Ohio Vols., and served 3 months. He returned home for about a year and then reenlisted in Co. I., 15th Ohio Vol. Inf. He was in the battles of: Chattanoga, Mission Ridge, and Nashvile. He was discharged at the end of the war, at San Antonio, Texas.
After their service, four sons returned to Sharon Twp. to start their families.

David Fletcher married Nancy Hawk (born about 1845) on October 01, 1868.

On November 22, 1866, Samuel Fletcher married Catherine E. Laser
(born May 05, 1843) daughter of Samuel & Catherine Henry/Laser.

Henry Fletcher married Elizabeth S. Hershiser (born June 02, 1846) on
September 03, 1868.

Charles Baltzer Fletcher appears to have been married c. 1862. He married Margaret ?
and their first child Louisa was born December, 1862. Their other child Katherine “Katie”
was born c. 1868. Both children were born in Ohio. In 1870 Charles Fletcher and family
were living in St. Louis, Mo. and Charles was 2nd mate on a steam boat.

Submitted by Tom Clabaugh