Isaac Shelby was born on December 11, 1750, in Maryland. In 1773, he moved to the Holston settlements on the western frontier of Virginia. In 1774, Isaac Shelby served under his father in Lord Dunmore's War. Following that, he explored the territory of Kentucky. In July 1776, Shelby was appointed captain of a minuteman company. In 1777, he was appointed commissary of supplies for frontier militia and performed the same service in 1778 for the Continental Army.
In 1779, he supplied boats to George Rogers Clark was elected to the Virginia Legislature. In 1780, he was commissioned by North Carolina Governor Caswell as a Colonel of militia. In September 1780, he joined the pursuit of Major Patrick Ferguson and was instrumental in Ferguson's defeat at the Battle of King's Mountain on October 7, 1780. In 1781, he served under Francis Marion for the remainder of the war. In 1781, Isaac Shelby was elected to the North Carolina Legislature.
In 1782, Shelby moved to the territory of Kentuckyand soon married. In April 1792, he was a member of the convention which framed Kentucky's first constitution. In May 1792, he was elected the first governor of Kentucky, but was not reelected in 1796 because the state constitution barred anyone from serving consecutive terms as governor. In 1812, Shelby was again elected governor. He personally led militia volunteers and fought at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813. In 1818, he was commissioned with General Andrew Jackson to negotiate an Indian treaty. On July 18, 1826, a stroke killed Shelby while he was at his home Traveller's Rest.
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