In 1875, Joseph Shelley settled in the area now know as Maytown. He is perhaps the first European to have settled in the Maytown area. He was born in England in 1850.
Mr. Shelley, joined the English navy at the age of 15, and in the 1860s found himself, at the age of 16, aboard the English frigate, Liverpool, anchored off Vancouver Island. Finding this new territory interesting and full of promise, Joseph and some of his fellow crew mates jumped ship and headed for places south. His travels and jobs took him from Victoria to Seattle to Tacoma to Steilacoom to Olympia to what is now Maytown where he decided to settle down. Being too young to apply for a land grant, he laid claim to the land by "squatting" on it, eventually owning up to 160 acres. During the course of his lifetime, he built four homes on his property, the last of which is still standing. Mr. Shelley married Sarah Gunstone in 1875. They had eight children.
In a 1941 interview with C.N. Talcott of Olympia, Washington, Mr. Shelley recounted a story about his early days in Olympia. In January of 1875 a portion of Budd Inlet froze over to the depth of 2 inches to 3 and one half inches. Joseph Shelley was a crew member of the schooner Fontelroy which was at anchor in Butler's Cove, which was also frozen over. Mr. Shelley and a fellow crew mate, Mr. Fred Green, walked across the ice from the ship to the shore to enable them to go into town for supplies. Upon their return, the tide had fallen, causing the ice to settle and break up and float away. Mr. Shelley recounted that never, while walking across the ice, did they ever consider the danger, only realizing such upon returning to the ship and finding that the ice was now gone.
Mr. Tallcott, in his notes, made mention that Mr. Shelley, age 91 at the time of the interview, was still tending the animals on his farm and chopping his firewood. Joseph Shelley died on October 8, 1946 at his home in Maytown. Sarah Shelley died some years earlier on January 4, 1932, in their Maytown home.
Terry Whipple is the great grandson of Joseph Shelley.