|Birth: ||Jul. 23, 1859|
LEMUEL CRITTENDEN SHIRLEY – No object lesson could be presented to the student of history more striking than the transformation wrought in California during the past half century. Lemuel Crittenden Shirley well remembers the appearance of the country thirty-six years ago, when he first came to California from Kentucky. He was born near Glasgow, Ky., July 23, 1859, a son of Robert and Ann (Gee) Shirley, both Kentuckians. The former was a farmer, was a stanch Union man, and died at the age of eighty-one. His wife died when she was thirty-five years of age. They had six children, only two of whom are now living. Grandfather Elijah Shirley was born in Virginia and migrated to Kentucky, where he helped to develop the country.
Lemuel Crittenden Shirley was reared in Kentucky and attended the public schools until he was sixteen; from that time until he was twenty he worked with his father on the home farm. He then worked two years for wages, receiving one hundred dollars per year. He felt that California held better opportunities for a young man, and having an uncle, Benjamin Ely, near Winters, Yolo County, decided he would come West and join him. He arrived in October, 1881, and at once went to work for Mr. Ely, remaining with him three years, after which he worked at carpentering two years in Winters. The next year he was foreman on a ranch. With his farming experience in California and in the East, and with twenty-five hundred dollars he had saved, he felt equal to undertaking ranching for himself, and in 1886, with his brother, C.E. Shirley, leased twelve hundred acres of the Pratt grant, Butte County, and bought the farming outfit for six thousand dollars. He paid down one thousand and reserved fifteen hundred dollars for his first year's expenses. He planted eight hundred acres to grain, using two eight-mule teams in his work. He found that he would need more money to carry him through the year, and went to see J.H. Rice at Dixon, the man who owned the property he was farming. He obtained five hundred dollars and Mr. Rice advised him to get a Holt combined harvester and said if the dealer would not sell to him, that he, Mr. Rice, would go on his note, but he obtained it with no security except his own note. Mr. Shirley was successful from the beginning, and the first year reaped twenty thousand bushels of wheat which he sold for $1.65 per cental. After Mr. Shirley had made his clean-up for the year he took a trip back to Kentucky to visit his family and friends.
In 1888 the brother, C.E. Shirley, died, and Lemuel C. continued farming on the Pratt grant alone until 1906. As he succeeded he leased more land; at one time, from 1893 to 1897, with S.J. Nikirk, he also farmed the Phelan ranch of two thousand acres, besides leasing two thousand acres more of the Pratt grant for two years of that time. He had four eight-mule teams and his partner had three eight-mule teams; they had two combined harvesters and were kept exceptionally busy for they raised large quantities of wheat and barley. In 1897, when his lease for the Phelan ranch was up, Mr. Shirley bought his present ranch of one hundred forty acres, located three miles north of Chico on Shasta Road, and known as the Waste place when he moved onto it. He ran the Pratt ranches until 1906, when he sold off a part of his outfit, continuing to raise from five to six hundred acres of grain each year. On his home place he has set out thirty-five acres in French prunes and ten acres in peaches; for irrigating his orchards and alfalfa he sunk a well and installed an electric pumping plant with a capacity of eleven hundred gallons per minute. He raises hogs and sheep, increasing his flock to one thousand ewes of the Merino breed. For thirty-one years he has operated a combined harvester and since 1906, besides doing his own work, cuts for others. Since 1914, his sons run the harvester.
At Madison, Yolo County, Mr. Shirley was married to Miss Martha Howard, a native of the Lone Star State, and they have had five children born to them: Beulah May, Mrs. Britton Lobdell of Chico; Robert C.; Joseph Howard; Eugene E.; Leola M., a graduate of Chico Normal School, was engaged in teaching, and is now the wife of Rev. Galen L. Rose of Chico. The other children are graduates of Chico High School, and Eugene E. supplemented his education with a course in the department of agriculture at the University of California. The three sons were associated with their father in business until they volunteered and enlisted for service in the United States forces against Germany. Robert C. and Howard are in the aviation section of the signal corps, and Eugene E. is in the medical department, One Hundred Sixtieth California Infantry. Rev. Galen L. Rose has volunteered as a chaplain. In 1887 Mr. Shirley made his first trip back East; in 1907 he took his family back on a two months' trip to visit his father, who was then living. He has been very successful and with his family enjoys all good things that go to make for happiness and right living.
Mr. Shirley is a Democrat in politics. In 1902 he was nominated on that ticket for the office of supervisor and at the election won by six hundred majority in a Republican district. He took the oath of office in January, 1903, and served four years; the last year he was honored by being elected chairman. In 1906 he was a candidate for reelection and won by about the same majority, serving until January, 1911. The district had grown until there were over two thousand Republican majority, and when Mr. Shirley was renominated for his third term he was defeated by only one hundred fifty votes. He served the county impartially and gave excellent satisfaction to his friends and constituents. His motto always has been a square deal for everybody. He is a stockholder of the California State Life Insurance Company of Sacramento. He was made a Mason in 1884, in Buckeye Lodge, No. 195, F. & A.M., at Winters, Cal., but transferred his membership to Chico Lodge, No. 111, F. & A. M. Both Mr. and Mrs. Shirley are members of Josephine Chapter, No. 104, Order of Eastern Star. Mr. Shirley also belongs to Chico Lodge, No. 113, I.O.O.F., and to Great Oak Camp, No. 136, W.O.W. He and his wife are active members of the Christian Church at Chico, of which he is a member of the board of trustees. Transcribed by Marie Hassard 23 October 2008. Source: "History of Butte County, Cal.," by George C. Mansfield, Pages 1050-1052, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918.
Martha A. Howard Shirley (1863 - 1953)*
Beulah May Shirley Lobdell (1890 - 1978)*
Robert Crittendon Shirley (1892 - 1937)*
Leola M. Shirley Rose (1896 - 1974)*
Plot: Sec 8,C Lot 125 sp 3
Maintained by: Adriana
Originally Created by: J
Record added: Nov 21, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 61968670