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David Shelhammer is a self-made man and a most successful one according to any standard as may be shown by the appearance of his many farms, the total acreage of which is two thousand, two hundred and fifty, seven hundred of which are in Logan county, Illinois. Beginning his career on a Pennsylvania farm where he was born in 1830, David Shelhammer steadily progressed until today he is rated as one of the wealthiest men of Logan county. For the first twenty-nine years of his life he worked in Pennsylvania, where his parents, both of Revolutionary stock, spent their entire lives. His paternal grandfather served through the war of 1812.
At the age of twenty-nine years David Shelhammer left the home state and journeyed west. He worked out by the month, his average monthly wage being twelve dollars. By the practice of a careful and close economy he saved enough money to purchase a small farm. His first venture being made, success came rapidly to the careful and practical young man, who rapidly accumulated other farm properties.
Mr. Shelhammer was united in marriage to Miss Delilah Jane Downing, a daughter of one of the pioneers of Logan county, her father being one of the settlers of 1822 and also one of the most successful of the early pioneers. At his death he left an estate of some six hundred acres. Mrs. Shelhammer, who was born February 10, 1842, in Logan county, died June 22, 1909. She too is of Revolutionary stock and also claims relationship with the heroes of the war of 1812, her paternal grandfather having served throughout the latter war, while her great-grandfather on the same side of the house had served his country during the war for independence.
Mr. and Mrs. Shelhammer were the parents of five children James, the eldest, lives in Sangamon county, Illinois, and has a wife and two children. Sarah is the wife of Thomas West, of Logan county. Charles died when three years old. Albert is married and lives in Logan county. He has one child living and one deceased. Augusta M. married A. M. Park. They live on the Shelhammer homestead and are the parents of one child, Harold David Park.
Of the vast acreage of which Mr. Shelhammer is the owner the greater portion of it lies within the confines of other states than Illinois, where he owns seven hundred acres as was mentioned previously. The balance of his property is divided among the states of Mississippi, Minnesota and Iowa, where Mr. Shelhammer has spent considerable time. From the position of a farm hand at twelve dollars per month to the owner of an estate of over twenty-two hundred acres was not made in a brief period but on the contrary has been gained by patient labor and the practice of economy of strictest kind. It has been by just such methods that Mr. Shelhammer has won such material success in life, though he has never forgotten to practice those virtues that go toward the making of a worthy man, and as such is he esteemed by a wide circle of friends and neighbors.
History of Logan County, Illinois, by Lawrence B. Stringer. Chicago: Pioneer Publishing Company . pp. 145-46.
Submitted by Cheryl Rothwell who is the great great granddaughter of Delilah Jane Downing Downing Shellhammer by her first marriage to William Nelson Downing.