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Henry O. Sheldon Collection - MS 349 mf

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Order of Microfilming

 Introduction

The Henry O. Sheldon Collection consists of fifty-seven volumes of journals, dating from 1817 through 1882, and four volumes of Sheldon family genealogies. The journals written by Henry O. Sheldon, document the daily activities of this Methodist preacher who settled in northern Ohio, specifically Huron County and later Cuyahoga County, and who traveled extensively throughout Ohio and the northeastern United States as a circuit preacher. The family genealogies also were compiled and later published by Sheldon.

The journals were loaned to the Center for Archival Collections for microfilming by the Firelands Historical Society, Norwalk, Ohio. The family genealogies were loaned for the same purpose by Dale Kellogg, Elyria, Ohio. No restrictions exist on the use of this collection and duplication is permitted for the purposes of scholarly research. The collection was prepared for microfilming and the finding aid was completed by Ann Bowers in March 1984.

 Biographical Sketch

Henry Olcott Sheldon was born in New York on September 15, 1799, to parents Joseph and Catharine Olcott Sheldon. In 1818, Sheldon traveled throughout northern Ohio seeking farm land to purchase. In 1819, he purchased land in Peru Township, Huron County, and began farming. On March 15, 1820, he married Ruth Bradley. She bore him twelve children, three of whom died in infancy, between the years 1820 and 1852. During this time, Sheldon joined the Methodist Church (1823), became a licensed preacher (1824) and eventually a deacon and elder of the Church. He traveled extensively throughout Ohio, specifically northern Ohio, as a circuit minister during the 1820s to mid 1830s returning to his home for short but frequent visits to check on the health of his ever-growing family and the care of his farm, and to participate in community affairs. One such community activity was the establishment of a school, the Lima Academy of Peru, Huron County, in 1822. Sheldon was elected clerk of the board. However, the academy only lasted one year. While a resident of Huron County, Sheldon was described as being "...sublime in eloquence, of noble bearing, with a voice musical and penetrating; was the type of a missionary." (A. J. Baughman, History of Huron County, volume 1. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 96.)

In 1836, the Sheldons moved to Middleburg Township, Cuyahoga County. There Sheldon and others formed a "religious community" along Rocky River, and named the community Lyceum Village. This village later became Berea, Ohio (For more information about the development of Berea, Ohio, please see Crisfield Johnson, compiler, History of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio: D. W. Ensign and Co., publishers, 1879, pp. 474-476). During the 1830s through the 1850s Sheldon continued to play an active role within the Methodist Church in Ohio and traveled extensively throughout the northeastern United States, mainly to attend religious conferences. During the late 1850s, he moved his family to Sidney, Ohio. On March 15, 1859, Ruth Sheldon died.

On April 22, 1860, Henry Sheldon married Eleanor Robertson in Sidney, Ohio and they moved to her father's farm near Hamilton, Ohio. During the 1860s, Sheldon worked for the Missouri State Board of Immigration. He traveled frequently to Missouri and upon his return trips to Oho, he attempted to induce people to settle and form religious colonies (Lyceum Villages) in Missouri. On January 25, 1867, Eleanor Sheldon died.

On August 1, 1867, Sheldon married Pamelia Tower in Oberlin, Ohio. Sheldon continued to work for the Methodist Church and care for his wife's farm until his death in December 1882.

 Scope and Content

The journals of Henry O. Sheldon (1817-1882) provide many valuable insights for the social, religious and/or state and local historian. These journals are rich in detail and fairly complete with gaps appearing only from January-December 1820, January-May 1836, and August 1847-February 1850.

Sheldon writes lengthy narrative descriptions of the people he meets as he travels throughout Ohio and the northeastern United States, his physical environment, his farming activities, and his won as well as others' religious, political, and social views, with an emphasis on the discourses with tavern keepers, dancing instructors, gamblers, drunkards and prostitutes regarding their "sins." His observations and comments also provide insights as to the formation of a national character during the early part of the nineteenth century. Sheldon provides details as to sicknesses and diseases, home herbal cures and medicines prescribed by doctors. He even performs and describes an autopsy. Family relationships are portrayed and he specifically describes the change from his first long and happy marriage to a very unhappy second marriage. Of interest to note is that his second and third marriages are motivated largely by economic reasons. Also of interest are Sheldon's descriptions of his first and second wife's verbal wills as each lay dying.

The journals written during the late 1830s provide many details on the establishment of Berea, Ohio as a religious community. Sheldon describes the many problems and frustrations in developing such a community.

For the genealogist, Sheldon keeps records within the journal entries of baptisms, marriages, and funerals performed while a circuit preacher. Also the last four volumes included in this collection are family genealogies compiled by Sheldon during the 1850s and continuing until his death in 1882.

 Series Description

LITERARY DOCUMENTS

JOURNALS
March 1817-December 1819, January 1821-December 1835, June 1836-July 1847, March 1850-December 1882.
Arranged chronologically
Includes daily entries of Henry O. Sheldon depicting his activities, travels, religious, social, and political views, as well as his relationship with family members.

SHELDON FAMILY GENEALOGY
1855-1880.
Arranged by family and by Henry O. Sheldon's numbering system.
Includes handwritten and typed entries of the various families comprising the Sheldon family genealogy. Provides names and head of family, wife, and children, as well as birth, marriage, and death dates.

 Order of Microfilming

Roll 1

  1. Journal, March 3, 1817-April 20, 1818, December 28, 1818
  2. Journal, May 2, 1818-December 10, 1818
  3. Journal, May 27, 1819-December 19, 1819, June 1, 1820-July 1, 1820
  4. Journal, January 15, 1821-September 19, 1823
  5. Journal, October 1, 1823-September 23, 1826 (scattered entries)
  6. Journal, October 29, 1825-February 4, 1826
  7. Journal, April 24, 1826-June 13, 1826
  8. Journal, June 13, 1826-September 5, 1826
  9. Journal, September 6, 1826-December 6, 1826
  10. Journal, December 7, 1826-March 31, 1827
  11. Journal, April 1, 1827-June 22, 1827
  12. Journal, June 22, 1827-August 20, 1827
  13. Journal, August 21, 1827-January 8, 1828
  14. Journal, January 9, 1828-May 10, 1828
  15. Journal, May 11, 1828-September 4, 1828
  16. Journal, September 5, 1828-February 10, 1829
  17. Journal, February 11, 1829-June 10, 1829
  18. Journal, June 16, 1829-October 9, 1829
  19. Journal, October 9, 1829-March 4, 1830
  20. Journal, March 5, 1830-July 15, 1830
  21. Journal, July 16, 1830-November 29, 1830
  22. Journal, November 29, 1830-May 11, 1831
  23. Journal, May 11, 1831-September 20, 1831
  24. Journal, September 19, 1831-April 7, 1832
  25. Journal, April 7, 1832-July 30, 1832
  26. Journal, July 31, 1832-December 2, 1832
  27. Journal, December 3, 1832-July 4, 1833
  28. Journal, July 4, 1833-January 30, 1834
  29. Journal, January 31, 1834-October 7, 1834
  30. Journal, October 8, 1834-January 12, 1835
  31. Journal, January 13, 1835-March 28, 1835 (a separate last entry in pencil dated June 11, 1881)
  32. Journal, March 29, 1835-December 2, 1835
  33. Journal, June 5, 1836-June 27, 1836
  34. Journal, June 27, 1836-June 12, 1837
  35. Journal, June 12-1837-July 19, 1838
  36. Journal, July 20, 1838-November 2, 1839
  37. Journal, November 2, 1839-February 24, 1841
  38. Journal, February 24, 1841-May 1, 1842
  39. Journal, May 2, 1842-December 10, 1843
  40. Journal, December 10, 1843-August 31, 1845
  41. Journal, September 1, 1845-July 29, 1847
  42. Journal, March 4, 1850-March 25, 1851

Roll 2

  1. Journal, March 26, 1851-February 12, 1852 (first entries in diary from November 1-9, 1850)
  2. Journal, February 12, 1852-December 25, 1853
  3. Journal, December 25, 1853-April 11, 1856
  4. Journal, April 12, 1856-September 19, 1857
  5. Journal, September 15, 1857-September 21, 1858
  6. Journal, September 21, 1858-December 7, 1859
  7. Journal, December 8, 1859-april 22, 1861
  8. Journal, April 22, 1861-December 22, 1862
  9. Journal, December 23, 1862-July 9, 1864
  10. Journal, July 10, 1864-August 31, 1865
  11. Journal, September 1, 1865-February 23, 1867

Roll 3

  1. Journal, February 24, 1867-September 13, 1869
  2. Journal, September 14, 1869-September 24, 1872
  3. Journal, September 25, 1872-November 16, 1876
  4. Journal, June 29, 1877-December 10, 1882
  5. The Sheldon Magazine--genealogical list of the Sheldons in America--includes 3rd revised edition, 1855-1857
  6. The Sheldon Magazine--2nd revised edition, 1855-1857
  7. The Sheldon Magazine--4th and 5th revised editions, 1860-1880
  8. The Sheldon Magazine--4th revised edition--published, 1857-1880 (one insert, 1959-1961)

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