Shelby, David (1799–1872)

By: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell and Brett J. Derbes

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 17, 2021

David Shelby, early settler, was born in Greene, Pennsylvania, on April 19, 1799, the son of James and Hannah (Ross) Shelby. He moved to Texas in 1822 as one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred settlers. Shelby took part in a colony election in April 1824, took his oath of allegiance to the Mexican Constitution on May 1, and became a first lieutenant in the colonial militia in June. He and his partners, James Frazier and John McCormick, received title to a league of land in the area of present Austin and Fort Bend counties on July 24, 1824. Shelby married Rachel Marshall, a widow, in 1827, and they had a family that numbered at least seven children by 1850. He was at the battle of Velasco in 1832 and the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. A post office, which became the community of Shelby in Austin County, had been named for David Shelby sometime prior to March 29, 1845. He was appointed postmaster at Shelby in 1846. In the 1850 census Shelby identified as a farmer in 1850 with real estate worth $9,547, and he owned seven slaves in 1860. He did not serve in the Civil War, but his three sons James, Rubin, and Samuel enlisted in the Confederate army. Following the war, Shelby was reappointed postmaster at his namesake town in 1866. In 1870 he was a farmer with real estate valued at $15,000. Shelby died at the home of his son-in-law James Jones on March 1, 1872. The Texas Centennial Commission erected a marker to his memory on the Shelby farm in Austin County near Shelby, Texas, in 1936.

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Lester G. Bugbee, "The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin's First Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (October 1897). Galveston Daily News, March 6, 1872. Harold Schoen, comp., Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations, 1938).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Reconstruction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell and Brett J. Derbes, “Shelby, David,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 03, 2021,

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November 17, 2021