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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Lewis Shelmandine

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[This information is from pp. 63-65 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Lewis Shelmandine, formerly a prosperous farmer and cattle dealer of Jefferson, was born in this town, July 16, 1811. He was a son of John and Lizzie (Washburn) Shelmandine and grandson of Richard Shelmandine, an Englishman, who was one of the first settlers in Jefferson. Richard Shelmandine married a Miss Kniskem, of Blenheim, and resided upon a farm in this town for the rest of his life. He and his wife reared four sons and one daughter; namely, Henry, Borant, Benjamin, John, and Mary. Henry was a lifelong resident of Jefferson. Borant, who was in his younger days a hunter, later went to Oil Creek, Pa. Benjamin settled in Pennsylvania. Mary married Obadiah Ruland.

John Shelmandine, father of Lewis, was born in Jefferson, and here spent the active period of his life in tilling the soil. In 1801 he married Lizzie Washburn, of Danbury, Conn. She became the mother of nine children, namely: Kate, who is no longer living; Joseph, who died in Jefferson in 1888; Rebecca, who died in Farmington, Pa.; Rhoda, who died in Illinois; Lewis, the subject of this sketch; Daniel, who died in Blenheim; Reuben, who died in Jefferson in 1894; Sally, who died in New York; and Charles, who died in Ohio. John Shelmandine died at the age of forty-seven years, leaving his wife with a large and dependent family. She, however, was an exceedingly capable woman, and succeeded in bringing up her children. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and a devout Christian.

Lewis Shelmandine was but fourteen years old when his father's death made it necessary for him to become self-supporting, and he began industrial life as a farm assistant. While still a young man he engaged in farming on his own account, and shortly after his marriage he returned to the homestead farm. His energy and thrift soon placed him among the leading dairy farmers and cattle dealers of the county, his farm in the meanwhile having been increased from about one hundred to four hundred acres. He raised, bought, and sold live stock, took many prizes at fairs, purchased premium cattle, which he sold at a profit, and became widely known as an excellent authority in all matters relating to the live-stock business. He was a progressive as well as an industrious man, and quick to appreciate every improvement in agricultural machinery, being the first farmer in Schoharie County to purchase a mowing machine. In 1856 he built a new farm residence, and in 1871 he erected a handsome house in the village, where his last days were spent.

On March 6, 1834, Mr., Shelmandine was joined in marriage with Harriet Pitcher, who was born in the town of Summit, February 5, 1813, a daughter of Horace Pitcher. Eight children were the fruit of their union; namely, Charles, Elizabeth, Phoebe A., Catharine, Sarah M., Mary, Emeline, and Rominda. Charles married Lydia Brockway, and resides in Eminence, N. Y. Elizabeth is the wife of Frank Hannay, of Eminence. Sarah M., who married David G. Proper, of Summit, died February 28, 1870. Mary first married William L. Proper, who died leaving one son, Lewis. She afterward married David S. Palmer, a resident of Jefferson. Emeline married T. O. Burnett, and resides in Summit; and Rominda married Byron Burnett, and resides in Cobleskill. Charles and Elizabeth were formerly school teachers. All the children united with the Methodist Episcopal church.

In politics Mr. Shelmandine went from the Whig party to the Democratic party, became a Republican at the breaking out of the Civil War, and in his last days joined the party of Prohibition. He assisted in building the Methodist church at East Jefferson, of which he was for some years a steward and trustee. Benevolence was one of his leading traits, and he relieved the suffering of the poor with a willingness free from ostentation. He died March 5, 1889, surviving his wife some nineteen years, her death having occurred February 23, 1870. Mrs. Shelmandine, like her husband, was an earnest member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and both were mourned as a severe loss to the community.

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