History of the Restoration Movement

William Jackson Shelburne


The Life of W. J. Shelburne

The Shelburne family preachers were known widely in early restoration history in the state of Virginia. The subject of this sketch had an ancestry leading back to the 18th Century in Virginia. William J. Shelburne was born July 4, 1874 in Pennington Gap, Lee County, Virginia. He was the son of Lucius Clarke Shelburne (1848-1926), a gospel preacher, and Orlena Angelina Wilson (1854-1943). William’s grandfather was James Shelburne (1819-1890) who was a preacher of the gospel. His great-grandfather was Silas Shelburne (1790-1871), also a great preacher, and his great-great grandfather, James Shelburne (1737-1820) was a Baptist preacher.

William was married to Clara Emily Steagall (1868-1977). They had three children, George Clark Shelburne (1908-1992), Emily Shelburne (1913-????), and William Jackson Shelburne who died in 1976.

William began preaching in the hills of Virginia, but he soon began spreading his wings westward. He attended Milligan College, and later the College of the Bible in Lexington, Kentucky. He preached throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. For a number of years he settled in Versailles and preached for the Christian Church there. He also served several years as the state evangelist of Virginia.

W.J. Shelburne was a strong supporter of the Missionary Societies and the use of the instrument in worship. He also served a a trustee of the College of the Bible in Lexington, Kentucky from 1930-1940.

The last years of his life, William suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. After a fall and a fractured hip, he died the 24th day of February, 1949.

He was buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky to await the coming of the Lord.

-Scott Harp, August 8, 2020

Report of the Marriage of William J. and Clara Steagall Shelburne

Christian Evangelist, July 4, 1907

Virginia State Evangelist

The Times, Richmond, VA, August 3, 1900, page 5

Death Notice

Messenger Inquirer, Owensboro, Kentucky, Friday, February 25, 1949

Directions To Grave

The Shelburne family plot is located in Lexington, Kentucky in the Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. Located on Hwy. 60, Versailles Rd., the cemetery is easily found just inside the New Circle Road. Enter the cemetery and take the first left. The drive will ease to the left, and then to the right. Looking to the right, look for the grave TURNER facing you and stop the car. Enter the row Turner is on and head in for or five monuments to find the Shelburne monument. The GPS location below is the actual location of the grave in the cemetery.

GPS Location
38°02'53.7"N 84°32'40.5"W
38.048257, -84.544575

Look for Turner Plot then straight in to the Shelburne Plot

William J. Shelburne
July 4, 1874 - February 24, 1949
Clara S. Shelburne
January 30, 1885 - June 5, 1977

Photos Taken 06.11.2020
Webpage produced 08.07.2020
Courtesy Of Scott Harp

Special Recognition: Special thanks to Garry L. Hill who assisted me in the location of the grave of John Jones. We took a day trip to north central Kentucky, visiting several graves of gospel preachers of yesteryear.


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