Isaac Shelby

Isaac Shelby (1750 - 1826)

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Gov. Isaac Shelby
Born in Hagerstown, Washington, Marylandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 19 Apr 1783 in Boonesborough, VA (Now KY)map
Descendants descendants
Died in Travelers Rest, Lincoln, Kentucky, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 4 Sep 2019 | Created 31 Mar 2011
This page has been accessed 1,997 times.

Preceded by
Office created at statehood
June 1, 1792

4th Governor
Charles Scott
Isaac Shelby
1st Governor
of Kentucky

Seal of the State of Kentucky
5th Governor
Succeeded by
2nd Governor
James Garrard

6th Governor
George Madison
Gov. Isaac Shelby served in the Virginia Militia during the American Revolution
Service started:
Service ended:
SAR insignia
Isaac Shelby is an NSSAR Patriot Ancestor.
NSSAR Ancestor #: P-288390
Rank: Colonel in Virginia Militia
Gov. Isaac Shelby served in the War of 1812
Service started:
Service ended:
Isaac Shelby was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in the War of 1812.


Isaac Shelby was one of the heroes of the Battle of King's Mountain, South Carolina in the Revolutionary War. He was the first Governor of Kentucky serving 1792-1796. He served again as the 5th governor 1812-1816 and led the Kentucky troops in the War of 1812. He is listed in the Kentucky Encyclopedia. Shelby County, Kentucky is named for him as well as counties in Ohio and Iowa. His biography from The Kentucky Encyclopedia follows:
SHELBY, ISAAC. Isaac Shelby, Kentucky's first governor, was born near Hagerstown, Maryland, on December 11, 1750, to Evan and Letitia (Cox) Shelby. The family moved to western Virginia in 1772. Young Shelby gained military experience in Lord Dunmore's War and the Revolutionary War. He emerged from the latter as one of the heroes of the Battle of King's Mountain, South Carolina, on October 7, 1780, when Great Britain's Maj. Patrick Ferguson was killed and his command was eliminated. In late 1783 Shelby and his bride, Susannah (Hart) Shelby, moved to his preemption holding near Knob Lick in Lincoln County, and his reputation made him a leader in Kentucky politics. He participated in several of the conventions that preceded Kentucky's statehood in 1792, and on May 17 of that year the state's electors unanimously chose him as the first governor. He served from June 4, 1792, to June 1, 1796. After leaving office, Shelby spent sixteen years developing his properties and increasing his fortune. In 1812, as war with Great Britain became imminent, the public persuaded him to run for governor again. The electoral college had been discarded by then, and Shelby defeated Gabriel Slaughter easily, 29,285 to 11,936, on the strength of his military experience. He held office from August 24, 1812, to September 5, 1816. Shelby insisted that Gen. William Henry Harrison be given top command in the western theater, and he pushed for a statewide preparedness program. In 1813 Shelby raised 3,500 troops, double the number requested. With the permission of the General Assembly, he personally led the troops to join Harrison's army. The doughty sixty-two-year-old governor was active at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, when the British and the Indians were decisively defeated; for this he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. After his second retirement, his last public service of consequence occurred in 1818, when he and Andrew Jackson negotiated with the Chickasaw Indians the purchase for Kentucky of the area west of the Tennessee River that became known as the Jackson Purchase. In his first administration, Shelby provided sound, reliable leadership in the implementation of the new constitution. His role was much like that of George Washington on the national scene three years earlier. Shelby was a Jeffersonian Republican as that party emerged, and he sought federal assistance in curbing the Indians in the Northwest and in securing the vital use of the Mississippi River. His refusal to take action against pro-French groups upset the federal administration, but Shelby proved correct in his belief that the GenĂȘt affair would collapse of its own accord when GenĂȘt failed to win support for France in the United States. The economy proved stable, as adequate finances were found for a relatively passive government.
Shelby's second administration was dominated by the War of 1812, and he paid little attention to domestic concerns. The militia laws were revised in an effort to create a more effective organization, and women were urged to sew and knit for the cause. But the Kentuckians who fought in the Battle of New Orleans were poorly equipped. When Shelby left office, honored by most Kentuckians for his service, he returned once more to his farm Travelers Rest, south of Danville, where he died on July 18, 1826. He was buried in the family cemetery.


  • Nine U.S. states have named counties after Governor Shelby: They are: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.


  • Sylvia Wrobel and George Grider, Isaac Shelby: Kentucky's First Governor and Hero of Three Wars (Danville, Ky., 1974)
  • Patricia Watlington, The Partisan Spirit: Kentucky Politics. 1779-1792 (New York 1972). LOWELL H. HARRISON
  • Source: Title: U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900; Author: Yates Publishing, Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.Original data - This unique collection of records was extracted from a variety of sources including family group sheets and electronic databases.
  • Isaac Shelby on Wikipedia
  • Find A Grave: Memorial #11823

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Isaac by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Isaac:

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You may wish to add the following in the bio section at the top if he served in Lord Dunmore's War

and in the bio replace "Lord Dunmore's War" with

Lord Dunmore's War

posted by [Living Lechner]

Rejected matches › Isaac Shelby

Isaac is 19 degrees from Danielle Liard, 13 degrees from Jack London and 13 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.