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.