A Guide to the Elijah L. Shettles Papers, 1792-1940
Elijah LeRoy Shettles was a Methodist minister, magazine editor, publisher, and bibliographer. Born in 1852 in Mississippi, Shettles spent his eighty-eight years working as a teacher, a farm-implement salesman, a law student, a pressman for a newspaper, a freight agent, a public weigher, a coal supplier, a gambler, a saloonkeeper, an insurance solicitor, a preacher, a church administrator, an editor, a book collector and dealer, and a representative of several university and public libraries. He was also a friend of the governors of two states, companion to men of prominence in business and letters, chaplain of the Texas Senate, publisher of books, and humanitarian.
From 1881 to 1891 Shettles traveled the Southwest as a hard-drinking, cheating, itinerate gambler, who frequently stopped long enough in a town to operate a gambling hall and saloon; most of these years he spent in Texas. In 1891 he felt a calling to the Methodist ministry. Shettles' ministerial career, all of it in Texas, spanned over thirty years. In 1908 he was made assistant editor of the Texas Methodist Historical Quarterly. Shettles retired in 1921 and moved to Austin, where he devoted himself to book collecting. He made significant contributions to the development of the libraries at Rice Institute, Sam Houston State Teachers College, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Texas. Shettles died in 1940.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Shettles, Elijah Leroy," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/SS/fsh29.html (accessed October 15, 2009).
Shettles’ papers include correspondence, diary, reminiscences, genealogical notes, biographical sketches, legal documents, land papers, maps, military papers, financial papers, notes, reports, minutes, proceedings, book lists, literary productions, newspapers, printed material, clippings, and photographs. The papers concern Shettles’ activities as secretary of the Fredonia Grange (1873); Elder of the Methodist Church; book collector, seller and authority; contributor to the libraries of the University of Texas and Southern Methodist University; assistant editor of the Texas Historical Quarterly (1908); publisher of William S. Reed’s The Texas Colonists and Religion and Don Biggers’ Our Sacred Monkeys (1933); author of historical sketches for the Arkansas Methodist; Shettles’ autobiography; historical sketches of Southern Methodist University and the University Methodist Church; manuscript of History of Oil Industry in Texas by Don Biggers; early Southern history including letters relating to Sam Houston, Indian affairs and the Civil War, a Cherokee land claim and the diary of A. B. F. Kerr; the court case of H. C. Hansen v. Texan Oil and Land Company of Delaware; and personal correspondence.
Elijah L. Shettles Papers, 1792-1940, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers