Shelby was born April 23, 1914 and was the oldest child of
Grover and Rosa Crow.
He was born and raised on a farm northwest of
Bernie, Missouri. Shelby was in the Civilian Conservation Corps from
January 1933 until October 1, 1933 and was stationed at Walcott, Arkansas.
He was then transferred to Mount Vernon. His job was to set out tress and
cut timber. For this work, twenty-five dollars a month was sent to his
parents, and he received five dollars a month. He also received clothes,
shoes, toothbrush, room and board. The CCC was President Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s program and a part of his "New Deal".
Shelby sharecropped cotton and earned enough
money to buy a one-seated Chevrolet. In the fall of 1933 he and four other
Stoddard County boys took off for California. They ran out of money before
arriving, and had to pick cotton for gas and food expenses along the way.
When they arrived in California they could not find work, Shelby became sick in
the early spring of 1934 and went to his Uncle’s house for recovery. His
uncle sent word home and Grover sent enough money to pay for a ticket home.
Shelby was married to Geneva Frances
Harrellson on October 20, 1934. Geneva was born October 20, 1915 the third
of five children born to Benjamin Conway Harrellson. Geneva was raised
northwest of Bernie in the Sugar Tree area.
Shelby and Geneva moved to the Willie Shelby
farm in 1936, where they rented and farmed 80 acres. Previous to this,
they lived on the old Kaggle Sawmill farm near the Indian Mounds. In 1937
they moved to the John Burgess farm and eventually bought 240 acres. They
operated a dairy as well as a row crop farm until 1980, when they sold the dairy
It is interesting to note that Shelby has
stated that he and Geneva had a grand total of $16.34 in their pockets, when
they got married. That would not even pay for the Minister’s fee in this
day and age