History of Bucks County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
Names and Page # Index


JOSEPH W. SHELLY, for the past five years District Attorney of the county of Bucks, was born in Milford township, Bucks county, March 26, 1864, on a farm that had been the property of his ancestors for a century and a quarter. The family of SHELLY, now very numerous in Upper Bucks, is descended from Abraham SHELLY, who emigrated from the Palatinate, Switzerland, or northern France, about 1730. On January 29, 1739.  Thomas and Richard PENN, proprietaries of Pennsylvania, conveyed to him fifty acres of land in Milford township, adjoining other land on which he was already settled, showing that he was already located in Milford at that date.  In 1740 he purchased of Morris MORRIS 260 acres additional, a portion of which was occupied by his descendants, the lineal ancestors of the subject of this sketch, until 1873.  In February 1761, he and his wife Elizabeth entered into an agreement to convey to their son Michael SHELLY 135 acres of this tract, but Abraham died before the conveyance was completed.  They also conveyed a portion of their land to their son Jacob in 1760, Abraham and Elizabeth SHELLY were the parents of six sons, - Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Christian, John and Michael, from both the first and last of whom the subject of this sketch is descended through the inter-marriage of a grandson of the former with a granddaughter of the latter.

                Abraham SHELLY, Jr., purchased land adjoining his father in 1753, which he later conveyed to his son Joseph.   The date of the death of Abraham SHELLY and Eve his wife has not been obtained, nor a full list of their children, though it is known that their two sons were Joseph and Christian.

                Joseph SHELLY, son of Abraham, Jr., as above related, received from his father a portion of the homestead.  He was a farmer and followed that vocation in Milford township until his death in November 1818.  He married Jannie YODER, and they were the parents of the following children: Jacob, Abraham, Joseph, John, Mary, wife of Michael LANDIS; Eve, wife of Peter MOYER; Anna, wife of Jacob MOYER; Barbara, wife of Peter SCHNEIDER: and Fannie, wife of John FRETZ.

                Jacob SHELLY, son of Joseph and Anna (YODER) SHELLY, married Barbara, only child of Michael and Elizabeth (MUSSELMAN) SHELLY, and granddaughter of Michael SHELLY, youngest son of Abraham the emigrant.  The land purchased by Michael, Sr., of his father, in 1761, was devised by Michael to his son John, who, dying without issue in 1770, devised it to his brother Michael, the father of Barbara, and he dying in 1790, devised it to his only daughter, who later married Jacob SHELLY, her second cousin.  Elizabeth, the mother of Barbara SHELLY, died in 1793, while her daughter Barbara was yet a minor.  Jacob SHELLY died in September 1847, and his wife Barbara in February 1852.  They were the parents of ten children, viz.; Michael; Fannie, wife of William H. OBERHOLTZER; Joseph S.: Elizabeth, who became the wife of Rev. Samuel MOYER: David: Susanna, who married Samuel K. HARLEY: John and Mary, who died young; Jacob: and Barbara, who married Levi S. SHELLY.

                Joseph S. SHELLY, second son of Jacob and Barbara, was born in Milford township, Bucks county, December 20, 1809, and died there in 1872.  By proceedings in the orphans’ court in 1848, the property, which had descended to his mother, was adjudged to him, and he continued to own it until his death.  He married Elizabeth BAUER, daughter of Andrew and Elizabeth (BECHTEL) BAUER, who was born in Douglas township, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, October 30, 1809, and they were the parents of four children.- Andrew B.: Susanna, wife of David Stauffer: Mary, wife of John Bleam BECHTEL; and Elizabeth, who died in childhood.

                Rev. Andrew B. SHELLY, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Milford township, September 23, 1834.  He received his early education at the public and parochial schools of that vicinage, and at the age of eighteen years began teaching school in the winter months, devoting the summer to study in connection with assisting his father on the farm.  In 1854 and 1857 he was a student at Freeland Seminary (now Ursinus College) at Collegeville, Montgomery county.  In 1864 he entered the ministry and became the pastor of East Swamp, West Swamp, and Flatland, Mennonite, congregations, to which he has since ministered.  He has from a youth been one of the active leaders and teachers in the doctrine of the Mennonite church, bringing to bear upon this work, as upon all that he has undertaken, an energy, earnestness and fidelity to principle that has characterized his whole life.  He has filled many prominent positions in the church, being for many years president of the general triennial conference, and a prominent member of the foreign missions and publication boards of the church.  He was for fifteen years editor of the “Mennonitche Friedensbote,” a church paper published at Milford Square, and for many years associate editor of the “Christliche Bundesbote,” a paper published in the interest of the Mennonite church at Berne, Indiana.  He has also been for many years one of the editors of “The Mennonite,” an English church paper published in Philadelphia.

                He married, October 16, 1858, Fannie WEINBERGER, born March 11, 1834, daughter of Joseph and Mary (SHELLY) WEIBERGER, and also a descendant of Abraham SHELLY, Sr., her mother being a great-granddaughter of Jacob SHELLY, son of the pioneer, Abraham.  This union was blessed with the following children: Mary Elizabeth, wife of Isaiah T. CLYMER, of Quakertown: Adeline, wife of Uriah S. STAUFFER, editor of “Quakertown Free Press”; Joseph W.: Menno and Oswin.

                The SHELLY family have nearly all been farmers and from their arrival in America, have nearly all been adherents of the Mennonite church, and true to the tenets of that faith, have taken little part in active politics or affairs of State, though taking an active interest in local affairs, in their respective neighborhoods.  They have almost invariably given their political support to the old Whig and later to the Republican party.

                Joseph W. SHELLY was born on the old Michael SHELLY homestead (purchased by his great-great-great-great-grandfather in 1740) March 25, 1864.  He received his early education at the public schools of his native township, and the Quakertown High School, and finished his elementary education, at Ursinus College.  On leaving college he taught school at Quakertown, in the meantime entering himself as a student at law in the office of the late Charles F. MEYERS, Esq., at Doylestown.  He was admitted to the Bucks county bar December 1, 1890, and formed a partnership with his preceptor, which continued for five years, since which time he has practiced alone.  He was admitted to practice in the supreme court of Pennsylvania in 1893.  Mr. SHELLY is a Republican in politics, and has from the time of attaining his majority been actively identified with the organization of his party, serving as secretary of the county committee for several years, and as its chairman for six years.  He is also a member of the Union Republican Club of Philadelphia.  He was elected to the office of district attorney of Bucks county in 1900, and was re-elected in 1903, being the only living member of the bar to serve two terms in that office, the only other instance of a re-election being that of the late Nathan C. JAMES, re-elected in 1857.   As prosecuting attorney of the county, Mr. SHELLY has made a good record, and he enjoys the confidence and esteem of the court and his fellow members of the bar.  In religion he conforms to the faith of his ancestors for many generations, and is a member of the Mennonite Church.

Test taken from page 200-201 of:

Davis, William W. H., A.M., History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

Transcribed May 2001 by Joan Lollis of IN. as part of the BucksCo,Pa.,Early Family Project,

Published May 2001 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb

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