Shelburne township was settled in 1871 and organized on September 6, 1879. It shares its name with townships and villages in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, and a county in Nova Scotia. It did not see rapid settlement in the early days due to its distance from the railroad.

A railway station known as Burchard lies within Shelburne township. It was named in 1886 in honor of H. M. Burchard, a Chicago and Northwest land agent in Marshall.

The railway village of Florence was also platted in Shelburne on October 9, 1888. It was named after Florence Sherman, the daughter of the town’s founder.