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Shelton, Rebecca

Name: Shelton, Rebecca
Sex: F
Birth: Abt. 1829
Death: 16 Mar 1917
Marker: No
Spouse(s): John M. Shelton
Parents: Nelson and Rachel Wood*
Children: William Henry Shelton, John Gibbons Shelton, Julia Shelton Fuller Mays
Affiliations: Founding Member, First Baptist Church, West Main
Notes: Undertaker – J H Montague
* In interviews and in her book, Rebecca Fuller McGinness gave her grandmother’s name as Rebecca Wheat Shelton and her great grandmother’s name as Rachel Wheat. (Rebecca Fuller McGinness: A Lifetime, 1892-2000, pages 7-8) However, when Rebecca Shelton died in 1917, her son John Gibbons Shelton served as the informant for her death certificate and gave the names of her father and mother as Nelson Wood and Rachel Wood. 

(Charlottesville, Virginia)
Saturday March 17, 1917
Page 6

Although Mrs. Rebecca Shelton’s obituary in the Daily Progress said that she was to be buried at Oakwood, the official records show that her burial was at Daughters of Zion Cemetery.

John Gibbons Shelton (left) and Julia Shelton Fuller (center), the son and daughter of John M. and Rebecca Shelton, are both buried at Oakwood Cemetery, as is Julia’s daughter, Rebecca Fuller McGinness (right).

John and Rebecca Shelton’s son John Gibbons Shelton was the principal of Union Ridge/Albemarle Training School from 1903-1930. He also edited and published the Charlottesville Messenger, Charlottesville’s African American newspaper, from 1910 until about 1927.

Rebecca Fuller McGinness, the Sheltons’ granddaughter, daughter of Charles and Julia Shelton Fuller, lived to be 107 years old. She taught for many years at the Jefferson School and late in life, with Florence Bryant Coleman, she wrote a memoir, one of the best books available on the history of the African American community in Charlottesville. She spoke often and glowingly in her book of her grandparents, Rebecca and John Shelton, and told how they helped build the church:

“I love my church, First Baptist Church, almost as much as my grandmother loved it. She thought that there was nothing in the world like First Baptist. I guess it was because my grandparents were some of the founders of the church . . . My grandfather was a carpenter. After working all day, he and other former slaves worked on the church in the evening. The women took meals to the workers at the church.” (from Rebecca Fuller McGinness: A Lifetime, 1892-2000, pages 68-70)

Like John and Rebecca Shelton, many of the founders of the First Baptist Church are believed to be buried at Daughters of Zion Cemetery.

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