An American Family History

Isabelle Solinger Groves Shelton Fox Welch


Isabelle Solinger Groves Shelton Fox Welch was born in Hardensville, Illinois on August 15, 1853 according to her obituary, but she was probably born in Ohio. Her parents were William Solinger and Rachel Tumbling (Tumbland). At the time of the 1860 census, her family was living in Crawford, Illinois.

Her grandson, Richard Fox related that

she told of coming across Illinois as a little girl to Iowa. Unlike the movies, the wagons moved very slowly and she and her sister, Mary would roam to one side of the wagons and the other exploring the land. Mary was much bolder and mischievous while Isabelle was sweet and loving. Isabelle used to laugh as she related all the tricks Mary had pulled on her. Of course I can't remember one of them.

. . . Isabelle was a true frontierswoman. She didn't have the education that perhaps you and I have, but she could survive where we would starve. She taught my mother [Inez] so much about surviving in the wilderness. She knew exactly what each plant and herb would do. Which were edible and which weren't. She could locate hazelbrush which in those days was thick in places in Iowa and bring back bags of hazel nuts (known as filberts I believe).

She and Grandpa Welch (her last husband) practiced ecology. She would cut up apples from her trees into wedges and with a darning needle run string through them and tack them up under the eves (like Xmas lights) to dry and always had an endless supply of dried apples. She [had] the rain gutters on the house rigged up so that the first rains went off on to the lawn and once the dust was washed off the roof she would turn a simple valve and the rain water would run into a large barrel. She would use that nice soft water to wash her hair and for other things that hard well water might damage.

Grandpa Welch's sons would bring them a side of beef or pork and they knew how to preserve the meat without refrigeration. They rendered their own lard from the pork and that is where I learned how delicious cracklings could be.

They never owned a refrigerator or any modern conveniences such as an auto--they walked wherever they wanted to go. My dad eventually bought them a radio and they really enjoyed it. When the station on the radio would sometimes fade out they would tell us: "That feller on the radio went way back." The had a root cellar at the back of the house to keep potatoes, etc. It was there that I learned the downside of having to use the glossy pages from a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog for toilet paper. Not the most comfortable practice I must say. I doubt that they ever owned a toothbrush or went to a dentist.

She married Ridraldo T. Groves on August 14, 1870 in Crawford County, Illinois. They had a son named Edward Groves. Ridraldo died before the 1880 census.

She married her second husband, John W. Shelton, about 1878. John was born about 1850 in Indiana. Their oldest child was Clyde D. Sheldon who was born in 1879 in Iowa. He died before the 1880 census. Union County, Iowa records indicate that the child of John Shelton died on March 29, 1880 of brain fever.

In 1880 the J. W. Shelton (Shelden) family was living in Afton, Union County, Iowa. The household consisted of J.W. Shelton age 30, Isabel Shelton age 26, Clyde C. Shelton age 1, E. Groves age 7 and J.C. Henderson age 27 who was Irish and the hired help. John could not read or write and worked in a restaurant.

She and her husband, John, appeared in the 1885 census in Chariton living with their children Leonard Shelton, Maud Shelton, and Thomas Shelton. As Richard Fox related it, after

Mr. Groves died . . . Isabelle and her sister Mary married brothers named Shelton. Isabelle had three children by Mr. Shelton and Mary had several children by her husband.

She married John Fox on April 9, 1893. Their son and life together is described in detail in the section on John and Isabelle Fox.


In the 1830s settlers began arriving in Iowa from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Iowa became a state in 1846.

American pioneers migrated west to settle areas not previously inhabited by European Americans.



Lucas County is in south central Iowa. It was founded in 1846 and the county seat is Chariton.

Illinois became a state in 1818. A large influx of American settlers came in the 1810s by the Ohio River.


Married: At the residence of Rev. A. Allison, last Sabbath afternoon, April 9th, 1893, Mr. J. N. Fox and Mrs. Isabelle Shelton.  Both parties reside in the city.
Chariton Patriot, 12 April 1893

In 1914 when John died, she inherited all his property both personal and real, of whatever kind that he owned at the time of his death, in addition to what she may be entitled to by law, to have and to hold for her own use during the term of her natural life. On her death the property went to her son Earl.

Tom, Maud, Isabelle, Earl and William


Isabelle married William P. Welch in 1920. Richard Fox wrote

Wm. Welch, Isabelle's last husband was very kindly toward me and to me he was my Grandpa. He looked very much like the depictions of Santa Claus, with the handle bar moustache, but no beard. Rosy cheeks and twinkling blue eyes. Up until he reached 75 had would do a little jig for me, but at 75 he said he was too old for that (he lived well into his 90's.


On Thursday evening, September 30th, an interesting wedding was solemnized at the office of Justice J. H. Hickman, who performed the ceremony, the contracting parties being Mr. William P. Welch and Mrs. Isabelle Fox, both of this city. Upon their return home,  a neighborhood reception was held at the home of the bride's son, Mr. Earl Fox. Delicious refreshments were served and some useful gifts were bestowed upon the worthy couple. Mr. and Mrs. Welch will be at home to their friends on East Woodlawn avenue after November 1st. 
Chariton Herald Patriot, 7 October 1920 


Richard Fox wrote "Grandma Isabelle was the kind of Grandma every small boy dreams of. She was full of love and kindness. She always had a piece of apple pie ready for me." 

Isabelle died on January 23, 1935 at the age of 81 years. She was buried with her third husband and son, Earl, at Salem Cemetery.
Children of:
John Newton Fox and
Sarah Jane Ricketts
  • Clara Fox Wood
  • Eliza Fox Smith
  • Bonham Fox
  • Merrit Fox
  • Orpha Fox
  • Etta Fox O'Dea
  • Mae Fox McKelvey

    Isabelle Solinger
    and R. Groves
  • Edward Groves
  • Isabelle Solinger
    and John Shelton
  • Clyde D. Sheldon
  • Leonard William Shelton
  • Maud May Shelton Netherow
  • Thomas Del Shelton
    John Fox and
    Isabelle Solinger
  • Earl Fox




    Mrs. Wm. P. Welch died at her home on east Woodlawn avenue on Wednesday morning, Jan. 23, 1935, at the age of 81 years, 5 months and 8 days. She had been in failing health for some time.

    Funeral services, conducted by M. C. Lorimor, of Ottumwa, formerly of Chariton, were held at the Beardsley Funeral Home on Friday afternoon at two o'clock, and burial took place in the Salem cemetery. 

    Isabelle Solinger was born in Hardensville, Ill., on Aug. 15, 1853. When quite young she came to Iowa and for many years her home had been in Chariton, where she was well known and highly esteemed. 

    She is survived by her husband, Wm. P. Welch, of this city, and by four sons, Edward Groves of Winfield, Kansas; Leonard W. Shelton, of Reed Springs, Mo.; Thomas Shelton, of Des Moines, and Earl Fox, of Chariton; and one daughter, Mrs. Maud Netherow, of Des Moines; also one sister, Mrs. Lucy Burrell, of Lawrenceville, Ill., and a number of grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and many friends.
    (courtesy Frank Myers)

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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