Shelbyville, located along the east bank of the Duck River, was designated the county seat of Bedford County in 1810. Clement Cannon donated 100 acres of land to be used as needed for future buildings to be used for conducting the business and courts of the county. A public square was laid out and a small frame courthouse was built there by 1811. A subsequent brick courthouse was destroyed by fired in 1863 along with a large portion of county records. The current courthouse was built ca. 1873. Shelbyville remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War, and earned for itself the nickname, "Little Boston."
James Deery was Shelbyville's first merchant, He opened a general merchandise store here in 1809. Clement Cannon built a mill on Duck River about 1815.
Early merchants included Benjamin Strickler, John Eaken, John and Spencer Eakin, Peter Donnelly, Hugh Wardlow, Robert Stephenson, among others.