The town of Shelbyville is named for Isaac Shelby, Revolutionary War battle hero and first governor of Kentucky. Established in 1810, it is the seat of Bedford County and has a long history as a trade center, first depending on the Duck River and then the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad in the mid-1800s.
During the Civil War, it was known as "Little Boston" for its pro-Union stance--right in the middle of the county that produced (and named) Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. In fact, the county supplied as many Union as it did Confederate soldiers. It became an industrial center by the early 1900s, with a bustling economy and several factories, foundries, mills and businesses. Among those factories were six pencil manufacturing companies, including Musgrave Pencil Company, earning Shelbyville the name "Pencil City." Pencils aren't the only writing instrument to make their mark on Shelbyville: all Sharpie markers are distributed from Newell Rubbermaid's North America Distribution Center here. The town is known worldwide for the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, a prestigious equestrian event dating back to 1939.