Louis Coffman SHELBY

HAIRSTON.org ID#229, b. 25 April 1888, d. 23 May 1969
Father*Charles S. SHELBY b. 5 Apr 1854, d. 22 Nov 1900
Mother*Hester Henry BAKER b. 15 Aug 1860, d. 30 Sep 1928
Birth*Louis Coffman SHELBY was born on 25 April 1888 in Bartlett, Shelby County, Tennessee.1

He was the son of Charles S. SHELBY and Hester Henry BAKER
Census 1900Louis Coffman SHELBY appeared on the 1900 census of Charles S. SHELBY on 1 June 1900 in Civil District 15, Dist 51, image 3, Shelby County, Tennessee; Charles 46, Hester B 30, Charles Jr. 14, Louis C 12, John B 10, Hester B 6, Mattie A 4, Allie M 1.2

Census 1910Louis Coffman SHELBY appeared on the 1910 census of Hester Henry BAKER on 21 April 1910 in 1088 Vollentine Street, Ward 21, District 250, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee.3

Marriage*Louis Coffman SHELBY married Stacie Beatrice SMITH, daughter of Augustus G. SMITH and Mary Elizabeth BLANKENSHIP, on 15 August 1917 in was married by Dr. Walter M. White at the A. G. Smith home on Waldron Blvd., Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee. Stacie wrote in her bible "On a Sunday afternoon in Feb 1917 my sister Ora and I went in the front door to a Christian Endeavor meeting and I met Louis C. Shelby who became my husband that Aug 15, 1917. He passed away May 23, 1969." They were married 3 months short of 52 years when he died.4,1
Residence*Louis Coffman SHELBY and Stacie Beatrice SMITH lived after 15 August 1917 in 1008 Volentine Avenue, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee. 
Military*Louis C. Shelby was with the 306th Calvary Army Brigade at Ft. Clark, Texas. They were waiting for orders to go to France during World War I. While in Texas they patrolled the border with Mexico.

ResidenceLouis Coffman SHELBY and Stacie Beatrice SMITH lived in 1920 in 930 Crockett, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee. 
Census 1920*Louis Coffman SHELBY appeared on the census of 16 January 1920 in Crockett Place, Memphis Ward 21, Dist 181, Shelby County, Tennessee.5

Census 1930*He appeared on the census of 2 April 1930 in Summer Avenue, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee.6


Census 1940*He appeared on the census of 3 April 1940 in 362 North Montgomery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee.7

Census 1950*He was Head of Household in the 1950 Federal Census on 1 April 1950 in 362 Montgomery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee. Louis C. Shelby 61, wife Stacie B. 52 living with a lodger Nathan Ostrich 23 and Sammie and Mattie Pore renting the apartment above the detached garage.8

Photo*He was photographed Stacie and Louis Shelby - 50th Wedding Anniversary in Memphis, Tennessee - 1967: left to right sitting: Stacie Shelby Portman and Joy Shelby Hairston, standing: Jessica Portman, Kirk Portman, Stacie Smith Shelby, Ralph Portman, Louis Coffman Shelby, Martha Shelby McDermott, Austin McDermott, Robert E. Hairston, Jr.


in 1967. 
Death*He died on 23 May 1969 in VA Hospital, Atlanta, Dekalb County, Georgia, at age 81.9,1 
Burial*He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Lot #81 - 11, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee.10

Obituary*Obituary: from the Commercial Appeal, May 24, 1969

Louis Shelby Is Dead At 81; Newspaper Was Life Work

Going-to-work time was 4 a.m., hours before the first light of day with the dew still fresh and the air chilly in all seasons.

There was a Depression and the job of delivering newspapers meant a lot. It meant money to get through school for some, food on the table for others.

But for those who yesterday recalled the days in the 1930s when they worked out of this newspaper’s circulation office on Evergreen at Poplar, it meant having known Louis C. Shelby.

Louis Coffman Shelby died yesterday at the age of 81 in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Atlanta. He retired as a district manager of this newspaper’s circulation department in 1957, ending a career which began before the turn of the century.

“The older I got, the more I appreciated Mr. Shelby,” said Memphis insurance executive James M. Breytspraak, when told of Mr. Shelby’s death. Mr. Breytspraak was one of those who worked for Mr. Shelby. “I couldn’t have gotten through school without him. He was a fine gentleman. He wasn’t just interested in delivering papers. He was interested in you.”

Mr. Breytspraak and others such as Dr. Alfred H. Page, a surgeon, and architects Wells Awsumb and his brother Richard Awsumb were saddened by Mr. Shelby’s death. And their recollections of the man who gave them their first jobs show why.

They remember him as a quiet, religious man who smoked a pipe and wouldn’t settle for “doing just enough to get by”.

“If a boy would stray from the straight and narrow, he would take him aside and talk to him,” said Dr. Page.

He was also the kind of man who read classics, wrote poetry just for the fun of it and had some of the prettiest azalea bushes in town around his home at 362 North Montgomery, which was sold several years ago to make way for the expressway.

He and his wife, Mrs. Stacie Smith Shelby, still maintained an apartment in the Townhouse Apartments on Central.

Mr. Shelby’s life was The Commercial Appeal and his church. He was a life deacon of Lindenwood Christian Church.

“He just couldn’t stand to be away from the paper,” said his wife. Seeing that other people got to read it, was a way of life for Mr. Shelby which began when he was eight years old helping his father deliver from a horesedrawn buggy. His father, a member of the family for which Shelby County is named, died when Mr. Shelby was 12, and he took a route of his own to help his family.

With the exception of the time in the service and the four years selling life insurance, it was to be his life’s work. He attended the old Memphis Law School and was a charter member of Stonewall Masonic Lodge.

And he could ride a bicycle better that anybody else. In 1912, he won the last official bicycle race race held in Memphis. The course was over Parkway from Overton Park to the Fairgrounds and back.

“He always wanted a son,” said his wife, “and that’s one of the reasons he loved his job --- because he worked with boys.”

Mr. and Mrs. Shelby had three daughters. They are Mrs. Ralph Portmann of Glendale, Ohio, Mrs. Austin McDermott of College Park, Ga., and Mrs. Robert E. Hairston of Miami, Fla. He was visiting his daughter in Georgia when he died.

He also leaves three sisters, Mrs. Robert Hicks of Silver Springs, Md., Mrs. Albert Austin of Charlottesville, Va., and Mrs. Gentry C. Carroll of 1835 Felix, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The funeral will be Monday with Memphis Funeral Home in charge. Burial will be in Elmwood cemetery.

At sometime in his life, Louis C. Shelby wrote the following poem;

"A tomcat sat on the backyard fence,
His feet were full of blisters,
He picked his teeth with the end of his tail,
While the wind blew through his whiskers." 


Stacie Beatrice SMITH b. 10 Sep 1897, d. 15 Feb 1977

Sources (www.HAIRSTON.org)

  1. [S164] Shelby. Bible - Shelby Family 1826-1970. N.p.: n.pub., unknown publish date. Martha Carroll, unknown location.
  2. [S1900] 1900 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
  3. [S1910] 1910 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
  4. [S52] Marriage Certificate or Register.
  5. [S1920] 1920 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
  6. [S1930] 1930 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
  7. [S1940] 1940 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
  8. [S1950] 1950 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
  9. [S51] Death Certificate.
  10. [S256] Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee.
Last Edited18 Sep 2023