Oceana County Michigan
Genealogy and History



An extract from the Pentwater "News" of 1878, when the village was but one year old, will contract with another from the same paper in 1881, which we append below:

"The village of Barnett, in Shelby Township, started last year, seems to be building, just now, quite rapidly. W. H. Churchill, the postmaster of Shelby, has removed the post office to Barnett Station, - where it presents a very neat and imposing appearance - and, in company with Mr. Neff, Mr. Churchill is keeping a hardware and variety store. Mr. E. J. Shirts, lately of Lansing is keeping a small dry goods store, and is now arranging to build quite a capacious one. Mr. William Branch, in company with another gentleman, has just opened a boot and shoe and general variety store, and all seem to be in prospect of doing a good business. Dr. C. F. Sweet is building a new drug store, and G. W. Woodward, Esq., the newly elected supervisor, is about erecting a grain warehouse, for the purpose of buying and storing farmers' produce. This will be quire an important feature of the town, as the opening of a cash market for produce is a very great help to any village. Messrs. Malcolm & Williams have a very fine mill in operation here, and thousands of dollars have been paid by different parties for logs, this Winter, to be sawed  up into lumber by this mill. Messrs. Williams & Son are about putting up a new store, and will, as soon as it is finished, remove their stock of goods into it from their present location at Shelby Corners. Stumps are very thick in the village of Burnett, but time and labor will soon efface them, and Barnett may erelong be a very pleasant village."


Shelby, MI (Bird's Eye View - 1910) - contributed by Paul Petosky

The following is from a recent issue of the "News", and shows the village as it is:

"In 1872, when the first iron horse rumbled over Section 17, of Shelby Township, a few rude buildings, not exceeding half a dozen in number, might be seen in the vicinity of what is known as Churchill's Corners, in which were grouped all the  business interests of the place. A total inventory of all stock in trade of all stock in trade of the business houses at this time might have amounted to $2,000, but would scarely exceed that amount. Farms, with small clearing upon them, owned by Churchill, Randall the Elliotts, Jason Carpenter, and others, were noticed, but did not appear to offer very encouraging inducements to a stranger, and travels generally gave a sigh of relief as they passed, thankful that they were not located in this out-of-the-way spot, among the immense forests which surrounded these hardy pioneers. But the railroad came, a portable mill was built on the site now occupied by C. A. Hawley's extensive mill operations, and a few enterprising persons, noting the wealth of the soil, the magnificent forests of fine timber growing, its favorable location as a trading center, went to work and platted a village, using the old farm of E. W. Elliott, Pentwater's present landlord, for the site. Buildings began to spring up as if by magic, stores to be built, stocks of choice goods to arrive, the great and abundant yield of the soil encouraged farmers, and farm improvements kept pace with the work in the embryo village, and just when the people needed some money, the pigeons came in countless millions, and the Wealth they brought gave a new stimulus to business. Other business enterprises began to start up; William's Bros' mill, Halstead's wagon works, the stave factory, Rankin's coal kilns, whose business headquarters are in Shelby, all of which poured into the business contribution of Shelby, thousands of dollars monthly. Merchants, commencing poor, accumulated and spent their surplus in improving and building up the place. Two beautiful places of worship and one of hte finest school buildings in the county were erected and today Shelby is a village of nearly one thousand inhabitants, representing nearly every trade and occupation, with two hotels, live dry goods and grocery stores, three groceries, two hardware, two harness shop, two jewelry establishments, one meat market, four blacksmith shops, two sawmills, one planing mill, two extensive wagon and carriage shops, five church organizations, establish lodge of Odd Fellows and Masons. Sidewalks extend both sides of Main Street, though the entire business portion of the village. The people point with pride to their business houses, and say that today an inventory taken of capital employed in business would carry the amount into the hundreds of thousands, and yet not a failure to record against us. Shelby is located in the midst of one of the most fertile farming counties to be found, her shipments making her especially noted as a potato and wheat producing section, while her fruit, hay and corn products are now bringing her into prominent notice. As a trade center, she draws from southern tier of towns she divides with Hart. she is very favorably located upon the railroad, and has the advantage of two trains a day, each way. Taken, all in all, Shelby is a big ten-year-old, and is justified in being proud of her own growth."


Wheeler Bros. general store was established December, 1874, by R. H. Wheeler and M. A. Bailey. In September, 1878, C. C. Wheeler purchased the interest of Mr. Bailey, and now the line is Wheeler Bros., and in this they did a business amounting to $41,000. carrying a general assortment of dry goods, groceries, and ready-made coal kilns. The store is located on Michigan Avenue. Store room twenty by ninety; side room for clothing, etc., eighteen by forty-three warehouse on railroad track.

E. F. Coon established in 1881, on Michigan Avenue, a business in dry goods and groceries.

White & Dewey's general store in situated on Michigan Avenue, doing a business of $10,000 annually. Business was established by M. C. White as a grocery in 1878, and in the Fall of 1879 G. E. Dewey bought an interest, and it has since been carried on as a general store.

Shirts Bros. general store on Michigan Avenue was established in 1881, doing about $10,000 annually. Partners are E. J. Shirts, and his son, J. D. M. Shirts. They established the first store in what is now Shelby village, September 11, 1872; sold in 1874, to D. P. Glazier, and then to G. W. Newman, and since May 15, 1881, A. G. Avery occupies the same building with a general stock, doing a business of about $10,000 annually.

R. W. Twining commenced a grocery store, November 21, 1881.

The first hardware store in the village was by Churchill & Neff, in 1872, the latter taking the whole business in 1876, and on July 15, 1880, Gaylord & Hill purchased the business. Size of building, ninety-four by twenty-eight, doing a business of $10,000 a year. They also deal in agricultural implements, manufacture tin ware, and sell paints, oils, sash and blinds.

Shirts & Rathbury's jewelry store on Michigan Avenue was established in 1880.

A H. Stewart had for a time in the same store a stock of musical instruments and sewing machines, but is now by himself.

Hugh Johnston's boot and shoe store was established March, 1879. The business annually amounts to about $7,000. He carries a full assortment of manufactured goods, and also makes to order.

F. W. Van Winkle's drug, book, and stationery business, in Post Office Block, established November, 1881, does a business of $5,000 annually.

R. W. Hamlin established the first drug store in 1873-74, and a year later, Elliott Brown established a business in the same line in another place. In 1875, Burt Royal purchased the entire stock of both, and continued the business until 1877, when it was purchased by Keyzartee & Runner. In 1879, Runner Bros., became the sole proprietors, which, together with book and stationery business, they still carry on. Joseph Tyler, in 1882, purchased the hardware business of Dickerson & McCallum, established the year previous on Michigan Avenue.

Shelby, MI (Hotel Shelby - 1909) - contributed by Paul Petosky


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