When John Wesley Belew was born on Feb. 20, 1850 his father, William Pierce Belew, was 30, and his mother, Elizabeth Chambers Belew, was 27. He grew up in Carroll County, Tennessee.
According to the actual census records John W. Bellew was less than a year old when he was counted in 1850. In 1860, 10-year-old John W. Belen and in 1870, 20-year-old John W. Belew continued to live in Carroll County. Notice the various spellings of the last name. The “Belen” spelling is probably a transcription error but the spelling variations are one reason it’s hard to confirm details of this family line. By the way, no matter how you spell it, it’s pronounced “blue”. And coincidentally on my dad’s side I have another Blue family. They came from Scotland by way of Nova Scotia and Toronto before arriving in Illinois. I’ll tell that story on another day.
But back to our story…
In 1871, 21-year-old John Wesley Belew married Margaret Eveline Black in Carroll County and the young couple had two sons before Margaret—maybe she was called Maggie—died in 1885. Two years later, in 1887, John married Mary Louisa Simpson in Carroll County. Together they had five children, two girls and three boys. The oldest daughter Bessie Jane, born in 1888 was my great-grandmother. The family continues to show up on the Carroll County US Census reports until 1900.
Sometime in the next six or so years the family moved west to newly opened Oklahoma Territory and set up housekeeping in far south Cleveland County. I heard they made the trip by covered wagon. In May 1907 19-year-old Bessie Jane married Will Rose in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.
In December of 1907 Eroy Belew, 28, the youngest son of John and his first wife Margaret, went to Purcell to buy Christmas gifts for the family. I think he lived in Corbett, which is about 6 miles east of Lexington. There was no bridge between Lexington and Purcell so ferries were used for the crossing. On the way home he lost one of his packages in the river and he jumped into the icy water to retrieve it. Unfortunately he got sick from the ordeal and died on December 30.
Bessie and her husband started a family in short order and in 1908 named their first son John Wesley Rose. A year later my grandpa, Thomas Edwin Rose was born. Two months later Bessie died and was buried in the Lexington Cemetery next to her brother. My grandpa, just two months old, lived with Grandma and Grandpa Belew while his brother John Wesley and his dad, Will Rose, moved back to the Rose family home just a few houses away.
John Wesley Belew lived to the ripe old age of 87 and died in 1937 in Purcell. He’s buried in the Lexington Cemetery. His wife died in 1946 at the age of 80 and was buried next to him.
Here’s my direct line of Belew family ancestors.
I have a couple of directions I’m looking to extend this line. There’s a Ballieau family from France that moved to Ireland before coming to America. There’s a similar, but different spelling of the name that comes from England to America. I’m working on both directions hoping one leads to my 6X great-grandfather Renny Beleu who was part of the South Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War. The movie The Patriot, with Mel Gibson, is loosely based on events in South Carolina during the war. The Belews lived in Union County, South Carolina. Renny and all of his sons of the right age fought for independence during the war including my 5X great-grandfather Zachariah Belew, Sr.
I found a website with census records for Carroll County, Tennessee yesterday and took a look to see what I could find. I found a lot. In addition to four Bellew families, I found the Simpsons (Mary Lucinda’s family) as well as Sellers, Tosh, and Prichard, which are families that intersect with mine as we spent some time in Carroll County, Tennessee.
There is a lot more to tell and I’ll keep working on it and share more on someone else’s birthday bio. So happy birthday to my (2x great) Grandpa Belew.