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From West Coast to Webster County: Why the Shelby family chose Marshfield as their new home


“Sometimes in life there is a clear calling to do very big, scary things. Things that sound crazy. Like moving away from all of your friends and family, and your hometown, to a small town in the middle of the Midwest.” Leah Shelby’s quote sums up the experience she and her family has gone through over the past year. For this family, formerly of San Diego, California, following that call was exactly what they did. And it led them to the lovely county that we share with them as home, and more specifically, to the town of Marshfield.

Leah said, “We have never professed to be overly religious, or even attended church back home. My husband was raised Catholic, and I was brought up Christian, however the calling for change was constant. Both my husband and I agreed that God’s plan was clear.”

The San Diego life and culture posed many challenges for the Shelby’s. Leah’s husband, Jacob, worked long hours at his family’s construction business, and they did not get the quality family time they desired. “After being on lock-down during COVID, with our three daughters missing out on a lot of school experiences, and some extremely unsettling riots in the streets of our hometown, we were craving a serious change. Everyone was always in a hurry, hustling to make ends meet. There was traffic, homelessness, and a lack of community because of the COVID divide. Also, the cost of living in San Diego just was not sustainable,” Leah shared.

Another obstacle was that the Shelby’s dream of owning land and a hobby farm was not attainable in San Diego. So, in August of last year, they visited some friends they had known through her husband’s family business that lived here already. That trip must have made a worthwhile impression. It convinced them that this was where they belonged, and they “went home, packed up our house of 12 years, the dogs, cats, and kids, and moved here,” Leah said. By Sept. 15, they were Marshfieldians.

When asked what the Shelbys like most about Marshfield, Leah says, “Marshfield had everything we wanted for our family- affordable small town living, wholesome values, good schools, and room to roam.”

The community pitched in to help the settling family. Jacob got a job with his friends at Donco 3 Construction, and a real estate agent found them a rental that the family loves. They plan to live there until they find their dream home. The agent even referred Leah to a job opening at the local library. She got the job, and she is now the youth services librarian at the Webster County Library, helping many local children learn to love learning.

Their 3 daughters are acclimating to their new home well, too. Their oldest, 17, is looking for a job at a local vet clinic, another, 13, cheers for Marshfield Junior High, and their youngest daughter, 9, stays active with Marshfield Cub Scouts.

The Shelbys' positive experience with their move here is palpable, as Leah warmly explains, “Marshfield is quaint, quiet, and slow. When folks ask you how you are doing, they really want to know. People here are not in a hurry to hurry. I have experienced some amazingly thoughtful conversations in the most unlikely places, and feel like moving here has almost been like a step back in time. We are excited to see what is in store. We are also so happy to have ended up in professions where we are able to give back to a community that has so warmly welcomed our family.”

The Shelby family’s huge transition would be too daunting for some to attempt, but the Shelby’s were confident because they knew, “When God calls you to do things that seem impossible and you listen, everything falls into place according to a great and wonderful design.”


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