In the year 1834, while many early settlers were staking claims in Lake County, Ind., the Belshaw family settled in LaPorte County. George Belshaw came with his wife, Elizabeth, and their seven children from England* in 1834, and located at Rolling Prairie (also called Door Prairie) in LaPorte County, where they settled on farms. Their sons were George, Willam, Henry, Charles and Samuel, and their daughters were Mary and Ann.
In 1836, the family moved to the West Creek area of Lake County. In 1853, George and Elizabeth moved to Oregon with sons George, Charles and Samuel. Son George had married Candace McCarty, daughter of Lake County Judge Benjamin McCarty, a frontiers man who was also the founder of West Point, an 1840 settlement of Cedar Lake.
Daughter Mary was married in LaPorte County to M. Seffens, and did not come to Lake County with the rest. The youngest daughter, Ann, born in England in 1828, died at the West Creek homestead in 1846, at 'the age of 18. A publication called the 'Indiana Messenger,' Cedar Lake, on July 15, 1846 wrote a memorial.
It stated that she died on Sunday 21st June 1846, at the residence of her father, in Lake County. "The deceased was born in England A.D. 1828. In early childhood, with the other members of her family, she crossed the ocean and found a home in America. At the early age of 11, she made a public profession of the religion of the Bible, was baptized by Elder A. Hastings, and united with the Rolling Prairie Baptist Church." At her death she was a member of the Cedar Lake Church.
Many more memorials were written about this couragous pioneer girl.
Son William, one of the sons remaining in Lake County when the family moved to Oregon, secured a tract of land from the government, and developed a good farm in West Creek Twp. He traveled to his native England to visit relatives in 1846. In 1847 he was married to Harriet Jones, who was born in Ohio, the daughter of Harry Jones, who was now living in West Creek township.
Children of William and Harriet Belshaw were John, who was a farmer in Eugene Oregon; Charles, who also moved to Oregon; Lucy, who married Sherman Hayden of California; Florence, who married James Chitwood of Lowell, and their only child, Lutie Chitwood, became the wife of Rev. Edmund Worley, a well-known minister in the Lowell area and now deceased; Mary, later Mrs. Cathcart of Laporte; William Edward was married on Christmas Day 1874 to Lucina Brannon, daughter of James and Eleanor (Foster) Brannon, the pioneer family we wrote about in last month's column.
William Edward Belshaw stayed at the old homestead farm to assist his father until he was 24 years of age. He acquired his own land at what is now 10618 Belshaw Rd., a part of the old original homestead near the old Oakland School.
His wife, Lucina, educated in the district schools and Lowell High School, was a student for two years at the Western Female Seminary at Oxford, Ohio. She was a teacher for six years, and also a Sunday School teacher. Her twin brother was Lucian Brannon.
In 1895, William E. Belshaw retired from farming and moved to his brick residence on N. Nichols St. in Lowell, just north of Commercial Ave. Here he was busy growing fruit. Historian Ball wrote that W.E. Belshaw was well known to the people of Lake County and that his career has been honorable, straight forward and worthy of respect. He died in 1924.
The children of William E. and Lucina (Brannon) Belshaw were James W., Lewis D., Albert B., Julia and Edith.
James William Belshaw was an attorney in Lowell , attended Lowell High School in 1892, and Valparaiso Normal, and taught school at Lowell for a short time. He was married to Maud Hoshaw in 1898. Their children were Ernestine, Elliot, William and Edward E., who also became an attorney in Lowell.
Son Lewis also attended school at Valparaiso Normal, taught school for a time, then went into the farm implement business. He married Emma Stuppy, who also taught school. Their children were Mabel, Florence, Lewis and Emily.
Albert B., the third son of William E. and Lucina, stayed on the farm when his father moved to Lowell. His farm was just west of the town of Belshaw. He was married to Matilda Hadders, a sister of August Hadders. They had two sons, Burrell and Earl.
Daughter Julia studied music at Steinway Hall in Chicago, was a teacher in this area, and was married to John Hinesly. The youngest child, daughter Edith, married Charles Nichols, who was in the insurance business. They had one daughter, Madeline.
Back to the first Belshaw family in lake County, the other son of George and Elizabeth who stayed in this area to farm was Henry Belshaw. Born in England, he also came with his parents to America in 1834.
He was married to Mary Smith. Children of Henry and Mary were Elizabeth, who married Simeon Sanger; William H.; J. Charles; Eunie, who married Dr. John Daum; Candace, married in 1884 to E.W. Dinwiddie of Plum Grove; and Jennie.
Henry worked his Pine Grove farm in West Creek township until he retired and moved to Lowell. He died about 1900. Very little was written in the history books about this branch of the family.
Near the original homestead of the pioneer Belshaw family is the Town of Belshaw. The right of way for the Indiana Harbor Railroad Co., later known as the New York Central Railroad, was purchased from William E. Belshaw in June 1905, and the Railroad was built in the summer of 1906.
The following year George Bailey, Henry Hathaway and F.C. Brown purchased more land from Belshaw to be used for a grain elevator and a house. This was known as the Belshaw Elevator Co., and is still doing business under that name.
In 1908, the Elevator Co. purchased a small tract of land for a store. It was leased by George Coffenberry, who opened a general store. Two years later the building and stock were purchased by John Heaney, who operated it for several years, then sold and the building was removed.
In 1913 F.C. Brown, John Heaney and Henry Hathaway purchased 10 acres of land from Albert Belshaw. This land was located on the south side of Belshaw Rd. and just east of the railroad, and was divided for business and for homes. The people who wished to buy lots, paid fifty dollars, and drew their lot from a hat.
A lumber yard was built, known as the Dye Lumber Co., and later it was run by Ruge and Gragg. Another general store was built on the south side of the road, owned by George Newland, later purchased by Loren Love, who converted it into an apartment building. There was a hardware and implement store built by Bowman, a barber shop operated by Ray Heaney, and a blacksmith shop operated by Ray Heaney, and a blacksmith shop operated by George Kirchenstien. There also was a garage, a dance hall, the first Methodist Church, and several new homes were built.
At the present time the only business is the Elevator Co. About twenty homes are still in the little town with the pioneer name.
Material for this month's column was taken from the following publications: The Lowell Centennial Book, 1952; Lake County by Rev. T.H. Ball, 1884; and The Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Ind. 1904, by Rev. T.H. Ball. Thanks to Mr. Burrell Belshaw who helped with the story of his family. Burrell is the son of Albert B. Belshaw and the grandson of William E. Belshaw.
* NOTE -- A 2009 e-mail to Lowell Town Historian Richard Schmal stated: "You may know that the Belshaws came from the village of Keyworth in south Nottinghamshire. After arriving in New York, William Belshaw began to write a letter back to his family in England, describing their experiences in some detail. This letter has survived, and is the subject of a booklet produced by the Keyworth and District Local History Society. A small portion of a second letter has also survived, mentioning that the family had reached Rolling Prairie, LaPorte Co., IN."
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