Bitten by the Genealogy Bug – discovering the Shelnutts

Like many before me, I have been bitten by the genealogy bug, all of which started with a quest to find out who the people were in an 1858 letter written to Sarah Derickson Harvey about getting “Derry’s no top wagon” and “expediting the African”. This is clearly a reference to the Ground Railroad which was very active in Wilmington, Delaware.

As it turns out, there is an overwhelming amount of historical and genealogical information on the web and I started to look at other sections of the family. The Shelnutts proved to be fairly easy to track down. My research really took off when I discovered Bill Patterson’s web site (now longer in existence) which had not only has pedigree charts but also good historical notes on the family. Unfortunately, Bill is no longer with us.

In addition to census and other documents found on, the family was respectable enough to rate mentions in the Atlanta Constitution for social and political activities providing more insight to their times and issues. Most importantly are 2 key sources, J.B. Shelnutt, Sr’s 1935 book, Christian Living and A Pioneer Church in the Oconee Territory which helped bring people to life more than the census forms can.

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