David & Frances Shelton

David Shelton was born in North Carolina in 1812 and moved to Missouri before crossing the Oregon Trail in 1847. In 1852 he came to Olympia, but took his family the next year to the head of Hammersley' s Inlet, "Big Skookum Bay." It was there that he took out a Donation Land Claim and chose to settle. A description of the area is given in the book, Told by the Pioneers: "When David Shelton landed on his later town site, it was covered by brush and timber as thick as hair on a cat's tail." The city of Shelton takes its name from its founder, David Shelton. When the city incorporated in 1890, he became the first mayor.

David Shelton was a member of the First Territorial Legislature. In 1854 when the legislature created a new county, he named it "Sawamish" after a local tribe. Sawamish it was until 1864 when the name was changed to Mason County. In 1888 when the county seat was moved to Shelton, David Shelton donated the land for the court house. He also donated the land for several churches and was an official of the local school district. The Indians called him, "Uncle Dabby." He gave them flour and they in turn provided him with salmon.

When he died in 1897, many prominent people followed his remains from Shelton to the Masonic Cemetery. The Washington Standard lamented his passing. His obituary noted that, "David Shelton was a true representative of the hardy class of intelligent citizens who blazed the pathway of civilization in the far West.

He was a man of marked intelligence, indomitable will-power, and in his prime possessed the physical strength necessary to endure the hardships and privations of frontier life. His public acts have left their impress upon the early history of the State and his private life has been an epic of the marvelous achievements of the days when Western civilization was just finding a foothold on the western slope of the continent."

Shelton's wife, Frances, preceded him in death by almost 10 years. She was born in Kentucky. They married in 1837 in Missouri and together they had 11 children. By the time she died in 1887, only 6 of the children survived. Lying nearby is son Frank, who died of typhoid fever at the age of 22 in 1875.

Frances Shelton was the first white woman to settle northwest of Olympia. She believed in Spiritualism as so many did in those days. Her obituary noted that, "... she trusted that when she departed this life, it was to enter upon a higher and more glorious one." It also stated that, "She was a dutiful and loving wife and mother, and a good neighbor."

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