James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

The early 1890s

No doubt the Shelby family enjoyed a comparatively comfortable existence in those boom years but it was not to last. By the 1890s the price of lead ore had collapsed and the price of coal, needed to work the mine pumps, had soared. The Minera mine would close in 1914 and subsequently become a museum. Other works suffered a similar fate. Nowadays the valley has returned to being largely a place of leisure though the heritage of its industrial past has not been forgotten; museums such as the Bersham Ironworks and Heritage Centre, the Nant Mill Visitor Centre and Minera Lead Mines and Country Park, the latter being on the site of the Minera Mine, provide an insight into what life was like for John and his family.

The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News report of John Shelby's funeral mentions his involvement with the Welsh Wesleyan Chapel, Egerton Street; another article (6 Sept.) reported that he chaired its meeting to bid farewell to its minister. Later that month that same newspaper (27 Sept) carried an advertisement for the sale of the property at Greenfield, Rhosddu, in which the Shelby family was living. It was a large house with "parlor, back kitchen. pantries, cellar, and three bedrooms, with kitchen gardens at rear of premises, garden house, and small flower garden in front". By 1891 John (still a lead miner), Sarah, Miriam (dress maker), Margaret (milliner), Susannah (assistant elementary school teacher), Thomas (solicitor's clerk), Timothy (certified elementary teacher), adopted son Henry Huband and granddaughter Miriam Labron, were living at 11 Cross Street, Rhosddu, which is where John and Sarah spent their last years.

Local newspapers reports reveal a little more about the family (some are quoted elsewhere on this site); the following are from The Wrexham Advertiser, etc). On 18 December 1893, 'Sister Shelby', attended a meeting of the International Organisation of Good Templars, a temperance movement (its members were addressed as brother or sister), which was followed by a public meeting with entertainment at which she sang "Home, Dearie, Home" (23 Dec 1893). On 13 April 1894, Mrs Shelby and one of her daughters contributed gifts for the 'soiree dansette' held in St James' Sunday School for St James' Cricket Club of which Thomas and Timothy Shelby were members; Thomas was one of the MCs for the evening (14 Apr 1894). On 1 October 1895 Shelby daughters helped to arrange the tea for the annual meeting of the St James' Church Gymnasium (membership sixty and average attendance forty). The committee organised sports events and "The new appliances that had been placed in the gymnasium were of the military type, and of the same pattern as those used in the Military Training School at Aldershot." (5 Oct 1895).