By Cindy Jeffries
Extent: 10.78 Cubic Feet
Date Acquired: 05/29/2002
The Shackelford Papers, through correspondence, diaries, photographs, newspaper clippings and other materials, document the public career and personal life of William Rodes Shackelford and his family. The correspondence series consists of letters Shackelford received from his classmates at Central University, Richmond, KY acquaintances, and business associates. Glimpses of Richmond educational, social and cultural life is found in the correspondence along with discussions on local, state and national political issues are covered, especially the watershed 1896 presidential election between William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley and the Spanish American War.
Shackelford kept a diary beginning when he was 18 and entering Central University and continuing until 1912 with a break from 1890 to 1907. The diary from his Central University time includes details about his student days. Also of interest are the ledgers of Dr. S.M. Letcher which indicate who he treated and what they were treated for. The Legal Documents series includes materials from a number of suits involving the Clay family and a case involving betting on an election.
William Rodes Shackelford was born on October 26, 1869, in Richmond, the son of Mary Keen and James T. Shackelford. Shackelford was the eldest child from James T.'s second marriage. James's first wife, Mary Bates, bore two children--Daniel Bates Shackelford and James Shackelford, who died at age one. Shackelford had three brothers and four sisters--Clay Keen, John Hockaday, Sally Clay Keen, George Daniel, James Jr., Mary Keen, and an infant girl who died at birth.
Shackelford was educated at Central University in Richmond, Kentucky and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in June 1887, at the age of seventeen. In June 1888, he had conferred upon him the degree of Maister of Arts. At Central University, he participated in numerous oratorial contests and was active in Alpha Tau Omega, a men's social fraternity. Too young to be admitted to the bar, he taught in a private school for one year while still pursuing his legal studies. He subsequently took a law lecture course at the University of Virginia and was admitted to the Kentucky Bar Association in January 1891 in Richmond.
When Central University was absorbed by consolidation into Centre College of Danville in 1901, Shackelford led in the fight to retain for the benefit of the citizens of Richmond, the Central University campus grounds which were used for the Walters Institute, an educational institution for boys of which Shackelford was one of the founders. This retention of the ownership of the old campus and the ability of its Trustees to offer it as is gift to the state of Kentucky, was a major factor in the establishment of he Eastern State Normal School, now Eastern Kentucky University.
On January 29, 1907 Shackelford married his cousin, Anne Louise Clay, of Bourbon County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Cassius M. Clay, Jr. and Sue Elizabeth Clay and came from a line of pioneer settlers of Bourbon County. Shackelford and Anne had six children, only two of whom lived to adulthood--Anne Field and Mary Keen.
Early in life Shackelford developed a keen interest in politics. He as a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party. In November 1909, Shackelord was elected County Judge of Madison County on the Democratic ticket, nd took office in January 1910. He was re-elected in 1913. In August 1915, he was nominated as the Democratic candidate for Circuit Judge in the 25th judicial district (composed of Madison, Clark, Powell, and Jessamine counties), id was elected in November of that year. Resigning the office of County judge, he went on the Circuit bench in January 1916. He was re-elected Circuit Judge in 1921, 1927, and in 1933, and had, at the time of his death, served only little more than two years of the last six year term for which had been elected.
In 1931, Judge Shackelford became a candidate for the Democratic nomition for governor of Kentucky. However, when it becsme apparent that the nomination would be won by Rudy Laffoon of Madisonville, he seconded the nination of his opponent.
Over the years, Shackelford participated in various fraternal, social, and religious organizations. He was a Master Mason in Richmond Lodge No. 25, & A.M. He was elected High Priest twice in Richmond Chapter No. 16, Royal Arch Masons, and elected Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Kentucky, Royal Arch Masons, in 1914. Also, he was made a Knight Templar and elected Eminent Commander in Richmond Commandery No. 16. Shackelford s the Exalted Ruler in Richmond Lodge No. 581, B.P.0.E. He also served as ruling elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Richmond from 1915 and was for many years clerk of the session.
Shackelford belonged to many clubs and organizations including the Kentucky Historical Society, Madison County Historical Society, Pendennis Club, Filson Club, Lexington Club, and the Oleika Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S. of Lexington.
Shackelford enjoyed historical and genealogical research. He wrote two books during his lifetime, one on the history of the First Presbyterian Church of Richmond and the other a booklet on the descendents of Colonel George Shackelford.
William Rodes Shackelford died March 7, 1936 of bronchial pneumonia and is interred in the Richmond Cemetery.
Acquisition Source: Blanton, Field (Mrs. Harvey)