KSGenWeb - The Primary Source for Kansas Genealogy

KSGenWeb Digital Library

Biographical Sketch
of
James W. Belts
Brown County, Kansas

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
KSGENWEB INTERNET GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  In keeping with the KSGenWeb policy of providing free information on the Internet, this data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied materiel.  These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other gain.  Copying of the files within by non-commercial individuals and libraries is encouraged.  Any other use, including publication, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission by electronic, mechanical, or other means requires approval of the file's author.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The following transcription is from a 750 page book titled "Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas, dated 1900.  These have been diligently transcribed and generously contributed by Penny R. Harrell, please give her a very big Thank You for her hard work!

Gold Bar

James W. Belts has long been identified with the development of Brown county.  He was born in Livingston county, New York, near the village of Danville, August 10, 1818, his parents being John and Mary (Welch) Belts, the former a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and the later of Pennsylvania.

Their marriage, however, occurred in the Empire State.  The paternal grandfather was John Belts, who emigrated from Germany to Canada, and about 1812 took up his abode in New York, where he carried
on farming.  His children were William, Henry, George and John, all of whom died in New York.  The mother of our subject, Mary Welch, was also of German lineage, her ancestors having located in Pennsylvania at an early day. 

Her parents, however, removed to Danville, New York, where the father secured a tract of land and improved a farm.  It was one of his relatives, a Mr. Falkner, who laid out the town of Welsh.  In the family to which Mrs. Belts belonged were seven children, of whom she was the youngest. The others were Jacob, Henry, Conrad, Catherine, Elizabeth and Magdalen.  The religious faith of the Welch family was that of the Lutheran church.

The father of our subject was reared in the Empire state and worked at the carpenter's trade, but during the greater part of his life carried on agricultural pursuits.  He died in New York, after which his widow emigrated to Illinois, making a home for her children in Fulton county, where her death afterward occurred.  She, too, was a member of the Lutheran church, as was her husband.

Their children were: Mrs. Lucinda Bevan; Mrs. Elizabeth Gay; Mrs. Mary Barbour; James W.; Henry, of New York; Jacob, who died in Illinois; and Albert and Conrad, who are living at Ligonier, Indiana.

James W. Belts of this review, was reared on the home farm in the Empire state until seventeen years of age, when he began serving an apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade.  He was educated in the common subscription schools, and after putting aside his text books he followed carpentering for some time, when, becoming interested in the slavery question, he resolved to investigate it in the south.

Accordingly he went to Kentucky, where he spent two or three years, finding that the conditions were not as bad as had been represented in the east.  He then started for his home in New York, but becoming ice bound on the Ohio river he made his way to Columbus, Indiana, where he engaged in
contracting and building.  In this way he constructed the Presbyterian church, but failed to get all of the money which was to be paid for its erection.  While working at carpentering at that place he became
acquainted with one of the prominent families of the town, and forming more than a friendly attachment for a sister of the household determined to abandon his plans of returning to New York.

He was married there, continuing to make his home in Columbus for eleven years.  His wife bore the maiden name of Sarah M. Spencer and was born in Clinton county, Ohio, in 1832.  Her father was a farmer of that state, and many of the Spencer family were well known and successful educators.

Mary Spencer removed from Ohio to Columbus, Indiana, making her home with her sister, who was the wife of Smith Jones.  The members of the Spencer family were: Milton, a prominent resident of Ohio; Allen, also of the Buckeye state; William, who died in California; James, deceased; Margaret E., wife of Dr. Morgan, of Indiana; Elizabeth A., wife of Smith Jones, of Columbus, that state; and Sarah A., wife of our subject.

After remaining in Columbus for ten years Mr. Belts made a visit to his old home in New York, and on again returning to the Hoosier state took his team and went on a prospecting tour of Illinois, visiting his brother-in-law, Mr. Barbour, who lived in that state.  The nation was at that time greatly agitated over the question of slave territory and in 1856 Mr. Belts came to Kansas to aid in reserving this state as free territory.

He left his family at their old home and secured a squatter's claim on a quarter section of land adjoining the farm upon which he now resides.  Subsequently he purchased the property of a squatter who lived next to him, and when the land came into market he entered to from the government.  He had no capital on reaching Brown county, and in order to pay the man who brought his tool chest to the locality for him he hewd out a set of house logs.

His next task was rough carpenter work and the splitting of eighteen hundred rails.  He soon found plenty to do, and in the intervals of his work for others he built a small frame house for himself.  A very energetic and industrious man, he was thus enabled to get a start.  He broke and fenced his land and about this time took a contract for splitting nine thousand rails for George and Ben Winkles at a dollar per hundred.  With the money thus earned he purchased his first yoke of oxen, and in order to secure another team he built a house for a man in the neighborhood.

With his two teams he engaged in breaking the prairie, and from time to time made permanent improvements upon his own land.  In the fall of 1858 he sent for his family, who started late in autumn of that year.  They were ice bound at Mt. Pisgah, on the Missouri river, but he found friends, one of whom furnished him with a team, and another with a wagon and a third loaned him some money.  He also found three or four men who paid him something for driving them to their destination.

In this way he reached his family, who had remained at Mt. Pisgah seven weeks, and after a short stay there Mr. Belts started for Brown county with his wife and children, reaching his destination on the
9th of January, 1859.  He has since been a prominent settler of this locality, prominently identified with its substantial growth and improvement.

He has added to his land until he now owns 400 acres.  His original homestead is situated on Spring creek, where he has made many permanent and beautiful improvements that add to the value and attractive appearance of the place.  His residence is a commodious two story frame dwelling, built in modern style of architecture and in the rear are large barns and substantial outbuildings for the care and shelter of grain and stock. 

He also has an excellent orchard, and his yard is adorned with ornamental shrubs and flowering plants until today he is the owner of one of the finest farms in his section of the county.  When he arrived here there were only three settlers within six miles of him, and all were living along the creek.  The western half of the county only contained 350 population.

For a few years the friends and opponents of slavery worked earnestly, the one hoping to make this a slave state, the other to rid it of the institution of slavery.  The Indians were never troublesome, and, although there were no laws to protect the people, progress continued and gradually the state equalled other commonwealths in all its advantages and privileges.

Mr. Belts took a firm stand to make this a free state and used his influence in that direction.  In business he has been very energetic and now is largely living retired, enjoying a rest which is truly earned.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Belts have been born the following children: John G., a coal operator of Missouri City; Ellen, deceased wife of A. A. Piles; Emma, now Mrs. Chase; Mrs. Elizabeth Frink; Mollie, wife of F. Hubb, of Arizona; Charles, a twin brother of Mollie and the operator of the home farm; Sadie L., wife of E. N. McCune; and Bessie F., wife of Rev. S. L. Dulin, who is located in Pierce City, Missouri.

The parents are consistent members of the Congregational Church.  In former years Mr. Belts was a Democrats, but afterward became independent, claiming his right to vote for the men whom he regarded the best qualified for office.  At the last election he cast his ballot for McKinley and has been a strong supporter of the President's administration.  He filled many minor offices, including the justice of the peace, and at all times he has been loyal to every interest which he believed would prove a public benefit.

He is familiar with the history of the county from the period of its earliest development.  During 1860 and 1861, when the hard times and drought caused much suffering among the people, he took his team and went to Iowa, where he traded salt for ground wheat.  On the return trip, however, he was snow bound, and seven weeks elapsed before he reached his home.  He has been a leading factor in the agricultural progress of the county and at all times has given his encouragement and aid to every interest and measure which he believed would prove a public good.  He has seen the wild lands transformed into beautiful homesteads, and is justly proud of the advancement which has been made in northeastern Kansas.

  Gold Bar

Last update: Monday, October 06, 2003 02:47:58


The Digital Library of the KSGenWeb is a non-commercial entity dedicated to free access to records of genealogical value. All documents contained herein may be freely copied for personal and library use, as long as the KSGenWeb Statement of Use remains attached. These records may not be published in any format, including electronic (web pages or CD's) and print, without prior written consent of the contributor. In order to insure continued free access, violators of this policy will be vigorously pursued.

We invite all contributions of transcribed records with genealogical value. This could range from wills and letters from your personal family records to indexes of your county's marriage records. There are many, many more examples, of course. Anything you have that you are willing to contribute will be gratefully accepted. For more information, contact Kenneth Thomas, KSGenWeb Digital Library Coordinator at kgthomas5@earthlink.net.

We also accept any non-copyrighted printed materials that you have access to and would like to see transcribed and placed on-line. If the material is copyrighted and you are the copyright holder, please include written permission for use by The KSGenWeb Digital Library. These may be mailed to Kenneth Thomas, 26 Circle Dr., Windsor, MO 65360-1610.

Sunflower  KSGENWEB DIGITAL LIBRARY PAGE
Sunflower  KSGENWEB HOME PAGE


Blue Skyways LinkHOME PAGE for KANSAS STATE LIBRARY
An Extra special thanks to Blue Skyways, Home page for Kansas State Library, for donating space for the many KSGenWeb pages.


Page Design, HTML Coding and Layout - Copyrightę1998-2004 by Kenneth Thomas, All Rights Reserved.
The KSGenWeb Project logo Copyrightę1996-2004 by Tom & Carolyn Ward, All Rights Reserved.
For the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.  Permission is granted for use only on an Official KSGenWeb Project page.
The Official USGenWeb Project logo designed by Linda Cole.