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Comprehending a period of seven hundred and sixty-five years

With particular reference to the

descendants of

ADAM BELCHER of Southfields, Orange County, New York



Written with the advice and assistance of



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For some we loved, the loveliest and the best That from his Vintage rolling Time has prest, Have drunk their Cup a Round or Two before, And one by one crept silently to rest. * * * There was the Door to which I found no Key; There was the Veil through which I might not see; Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee

‘There was—and then no more of Thee and Me.

Rubayat of Omar Khayyam.

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I cannot tell how the truth may be; I tell the tale as ’twas said to me. Sir Walter Scott.

Many years ago there was an old colored man by the name of Dick Degroat, residing on a small farm that ran down to the edge of Shepherd Pond, in Passaic County, New Jersey.

Abram S. Hewitt, former Mayor of New York City and owner of iron mining property in the neighborhood, bought the pond, and in the fullness of time sued Degroat for a trespass, the trespass consisting of fishing in Hewitt’s pond. Degroat was very much perturbed about the matter, and finally concluded to retain Eugene Emley, State senator from Passaic County, to oppose John W. Griggs, former attorney general in the cabinet of President McKinley, who appeared for Mr. Hewitt. The presence of such distinguished counsel on a case of minor importance suggests the possibility that a joke was being attempted at the old man’s expense; but the sequel revealed that he was a match for them. When the case came to trial, Mr. Emley questioned Degroat as follows: “Mr. Degroat, when did you last fish in this pond?” The old man’s answer was: “Mr. Imley, I haint fished in that pond since Jim French fell out the boat.” And nothing Mr. Emley could say would induce Degroat to add anything to his statement.

Our attempts to obtain data for this volume have in many instances been as fruitless as Mr. Emley’s efforts to bring out what his client knew. Persevering, how- ever, after a thorough search of all available records, and a most voluminous corre- spondence with every person likely to be of assistance, supplemented where possible by personal contact, it has been possible to verify most, if not all of our statements.

This history begins with a reproduction of the coat of arms of the Belcher family of Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, England, on the assumption that the Belchers of Orange County, in the State of New York, as well as all other branches of the family in England and America, owe their existence to a common ancestor.

Various factors have contributed to the difficulty of securing connected vital statistics, probably the most discouraging of which was the destruction by fire of Bible records of great value when the Belcher homestead in Eagle Valley, in the town of Tuxedo, burned to the ground in the late nineties. This occurrence, and& the marked apathy of past generations concerning the utility of preserving their family records, have presented obstacles that in some cases could not be overcome. In this connection it may be noted that Governor Jonathan Belcher stated, in a letter written in 1732 to James Belcher of Dublin, as follows: “As to the family of Guilsborough in North- amptonshire, who had the first honour of the arms we wear, I never could find whether we were really related to them or had a just claim to the arms.” The Governor never- theless wore this coat of arms, as did all the descendants of Andrew Belcher, among whom the Orange County Belchers claim inclusion, although, as above set forth, a clear line of descent has not been established.

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It was in 1918 that the groundwork of this family history was laid, when Wil- liam H. Belcher, former mayor, counselor at law, and historian of Paterson, N. J., circulated among his brothers and sisters ‘““A Sketch of the Life of John A. Belcher,” and asked for comment and correction. This led his younger brother to propose that they collaborate jn the collection of data for a family history, and they worked together to that end until the fall of 1939, when death put an end to his invaluable aid. It was intended from the first to publish the material that had been gathered, but this was deferred from time to time until, through the unselfish cooperation of Joseph Belcher Mills of Detroit, Michigan, it is here presented.

It has been the endeavor to make this work something more than a mere statisti- cal abstraction, and to that end much biographical and narrative matter is included, among which are interesting letters from relatives in different parts of the world. Those written by soldiers and other participants in the World War and the Civil War will have a peculiar interest for their immediate families and make the book doubly valuable.

The reader will find more or less complete genealogical lines of many families who are related in some degree to the Belchers in southern New York, northern New Jersey, and elsewhere, including facts which may be of interest to a large number of maternal descent. A partial list of these families appears below:



In order to make a more complete record of Belchers who came early to America, permission was sought and received from the New England Historic Genealogical Society for the reproduction of ““The Belcher Families in New England,” contributed by Joseph Gardner Bartlett, Esq., to vol. 60 of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register in 1906. Mr. Bartlett holds that these different families “were of the same original stock.”

In Book VIII, “Benjamin Bennett and Mary Belcher and their Descendants,” will be found records of many families of Orange County whose ancestry is traced for five generations to Mary Belcher, sister of Adam Belcher of Southfields. Without the generous and unselfish assistance of Benjamin Bennett Sayer of Warwick, it would have been impossible to present these records.

In the hope that this book may be found interesting to the families whose records are presented, the writer wishes to stress the importance of recording births, marriages, and deaths as they occur, for the benefit of those who come after us.

Woopmont, CoNnNeECTICUT, June 1, 1941

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ad Scheme of (ontents BOOK I Origin and Antiquity of the Family Name

Chapter Page TA prpbAgrrpARBEY IROL. wo 6 w= 2 os fk eee He a ee 3-5 II. THE First BELCHER ON RECORD . .... . . . 2. se : : 6,7 Ti Tamme mSiN ENGEANDR». 95. .....05- «5 - . tye et bh eee 8-16 Ve DS PLCHERS OF TAMERICA: ) 795 "E Ge So 2 nt ce ee ww, ee eee | BNE22


English Lineage for Seven Hundred and Sixty Y ears

Ik. WerGrens;Recorp,AMENDED . { ... . «© «© «= «= « «© «© « « « « 25-35 II. Apam Betcuer oF Seconp RIveER eR ee ee as sk, SO 44


John Belcher of New Cornwall and his Children

i, AWG MaRwy SEGIEERINATOE COVES, Sf. 2 2 se ek we Ue Ue ATEAD I]. Apam BetcHER OF SOUTHFIELDS .. . . . . . . . . . « e . « « . 50+64 III, Bercuer Homes 1n Orance County Fo. he RM SOE cee aoe ko a) cee een oi.


John Adam Belcher of Ringwood and Eagle Valley

I. Jonn Apam Betcuer as AN Tron WorKERAND FarmMeR . . . . . . «~~ ~.-~=«~87-110 II. Cuitpren oF Jonn ApAMaAND Bripcet BetcHer . . . . . . . . ~~ «1002-125 WITAMMDEDCHER F 5 5 6 os 2 s ao © « «© « «» a. 4 102,103 CAROLINE BELCHER. . :. . (AMIN. WII . a oe . . 103-107 JAMESWEROMESBELGHERes 25 f BX PF seb pe ss eyes tl Ue eC Ce LOF=109 UANINARGISENGHIERS MM cei oe Oh tA we OU 110 IMIGRGAREIBBENCHER 0% 3 2 a ee te ee ee TORTS Il]. Toe Seconp Marriace o—r Joun Apam Betcuer . ..... . . .... . 126-131 RHE WHRIGENHOURWRAMILY . <5: . 05 9: 5 6 6 2 os » « st « « » 1262131 Henny Oniver WHRITENHOUR << ©. 2: 2. . . = . «= « « . « « oti27=191 Limam WieRITENHOUR'’S FAMILY. 9.9. . 5. 9. 9.005). «es « *s ow 21622196 IPErERSWMRITENHOUR’S FAMILY: . 2. 2 . . 1 1 ese es . 137-144 PreTveER StoranpD His DescENDANTS . . . . . . . . . . «45-151 IV. Forsaxes Mrninc ror AGRICULTURE Rn bsg Sk rs Sh MID GD Tue Bercuer Homesteapin 1911 . . . . . 2 ee «162-168

AxsstRACT OF TITLE oF BELCHER FarM . . . .. . S.tseCtti(<‘ t‘Ce:té‘(CS:té‘CS*é«S:CdC 1B

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BOOK V The Belcher and Kelley Families


I. II. II.




Il. Ill.

II. Il. IV.


Tue Story oF JoHN AND ELEANOR BELCHER Eveanor ANN KeELiey BELCHER . Joun Ke trey or Ramapo

BOOK VI Five Generations of the Descendants of John and Eleanor Belcher

. Peter BELCHER .

Mary Louisa BELCHER Nancy E.ten BELCHER Saray Ann BELCHER


Euiza JANE BELCHER Carotine AMELIA BELCHER Joun Apam BeLcHER Wivuram Henry Be cuHer .

. JosErpH WarrEN BELcHER .


Autce Ipa BeLcuer .

Eva Lermonp BELCHER Lucy Rosina BeEtcHer .

BOOK VII Other Descendants of Adam Belcher of Southfields


JOSEPH-BELCHER: ci ss «| 2 peyeger


BOOK VIII Benjamin Bennett and Mary Belcher and their Descendants



. EvizapetH BENNETT . Hannan BENNETT


Mary Bennett .



Lypia BENNETT . ; Mary Bennetr TowNnseND


. 171-180 . 181-184 . 186-194

. 197-202 . 203-205 . 206-208 . 209-211 - 2a2—2 15 . 216-218 . 219-221 2 223—225 . 226-233 . 255-259 . 260-265 . 266, 267 . 268-272 . 271-281

. 285, 286 . 287-295 . 296-300

296 296 296

_ 296, 297

297 297 298

. 299-300


. 303, 304

305 306 307

. 308-315 . 316-321 5 323-329


2392-339 . 337-343 . 344-347 . 348-349

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BOOK IX The Belcher Families in New England

Chapter Page WepUNTRODUCKORVGNOTE. 4 « 9. eM OO CCC CO ow 359354 iS -BOWARDIBELCHER.OF BOSTON. . 2 5 = © = «© ‘s » «© « + Dae a, 999=356

NES ‘Grecory BELCHER OF BRAINTREE . . « «©. « «- «© = « « « « « « 357-369

ViVi JEREMIAn| BEECHERIOF LpswicH =") =) = > «© - «= « + »« » = « « 340-379


The War Between the States and the World Var

Miscellaneous Letters

I. RemInIscENCES OF THE Civi. WaR . . . . .. . . . . . = « « ~~. 383-389 IRPARMISTICER DAV tate 0.) Smee UM Mes Sr ee aes ae ., 390,391 III. Joon Repwoop FisH—ER aT VERDUN... . .. . . . . . . . «~~. 392-394 IV. Dorotuy CANFIELD FisH—ERIN FRANCE . . . . . a “eee ae 395-414

BOOK XI Our Neighbors in Eagle Valley IBS BCOCK Oe ss em op tea cots 417 WAMOREUS. fn ee he as 419 Barparow, < <Je@hyesierai alc: 417 Morrisie.im cyeviectroiss . - .. 419,420 BROOKS sc: See wer in acecsee te 05) cp SZ AS SUTSEC Gum eee Cea ee 420 BeRRiSme ee foe eer re eee wee oe 418 TIDABACK Seip - eae eee 420 Bote. oOele > bank aco! : 419 BOOK XII Genealogies of the Belcher Family and its Branches

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Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness ; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,

Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

Henry IV. Longfellow.

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Facing Goat ior Arms (Frontispicee) . 5 2. ws us me tt ty sl tl CU ps SSC. Frontiispage GOVERNOR JONATHANIDELCHER @ 9. 0) 4) G5 2 @ we wt wah elt sl tlt ee we) «BB Brnegrer Mansion, Buizaseru, N. J: 2). c* kh. -Abcoe «= = » »§ . ~ ~ « 30 Brreapr Mansion Amsoummristps, N.Y. 5." 2 2 . 2 2 = « » «=. . «=. 50 Graves or Apam BELCHER AND HISSONADAM. . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 DORGMENPCANDIBEDIISHER: 9) oy 5s fs 8 ee ee ee le Ue le es 6120 Mary Wurirenyour, Wire or Joun ApAM BeELcHER.. . . |... or a OD Bercuer Homesreap, Bonn HEY Ee ar ee RO es oo Ry eee Se ae Poe tear, «154 Graves oF Joun ApaM BetcHer anD Mary WuriTENHOUR.. . . . . . . . ...~ .~—s«(162 FacLe VALLEY SCHOOLHOUSE . . . . . . .. =... ~. eee OF Ilimrte House Across THE Brook . . . . . .. . 15 « «ss + Mae Be 174 Joun ano Eveanor Betcuer AND THEIR CuitpREN, 1891 |. cree SU ee tea eh gene SES INVITATION To PETERS) WELCOME HOME, 4 5.2... 2 «©. |. = » «» «» « » . 199 Ezra BreckINRIDGE OF Peenasor Wireor Perer Betcuer « . . . =. =. . .. . 200 NIA RaQ USAM RCM R MME EN RE ee i hx 203 LUT VAMBERST: WISNER BELCHER] feord 4 eepieres of che gecealoey of-ibam Shek. . . 212 Mr. anp Mrs. Josepu Bercuer Miiis, oN poaRD THE QUEEN Mary, 1937 . . «ww. Joun A., Wittiam H., ano Josep W. Be tcuer, 1859 Pee MR et 2 ek i, 20D DrviMANSION, PREAKNESS Neg: puIrr 1/50 2 ee eS. 280 JosepH BELCHER OF SOUTHFIELDS . . 2. 2 1. ee ee ew ete ee oe eee

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Origin and Antiquity of the Family Name


And my God put it into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein.

Nehemiah, vit:5

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ine : dyidey rugidy Yo Waoheauoy, ot} ta 1

pall Aetiosdy

Cuaprer I

The Battle Abbey ‘Koll

Among those who have made surnames their especial study, Ferguson! takes the position that nearly all European names are based on central European or Teutonic derivations. He holds that the world was originally peopled from India by the Aryas,? declaring that races have spread out from that part of the world, climates changing their complexion and speech, also residence in valleys, on mountains, in deserts, on seacoasts, etc. In this opinion he is in practical agreement with Wells,? whose Outline of History admirably summarizes all known chronicles of human activity.

Although Ferguson does not mention the name “Belcher,” his deductions form so close an approximation to it that they may be regarded as authoritative. We quote from his Teutonic Name System, page 520.

‘If the word horn may be taken to have the meaning of illegitimate, there is another word, belis, also occurring in men’s names, which, according to Grimm, has the opposite meaning. It is found in the name of Belisarius, the famous general under the Emperor Justinian, and there are eight other instances of the same name, with some important variations, in the Altdeutsches Namenbach, Grimm refers to Gothic valis, legitimate, and makes Belisar a Gothic Valishar (hari, warrior). The following modern names are introduced:

Old German, sixth century: Belisar.

English: Belsar, Palliser.

French: Ballisier, Belseur, Pelissier.

Italian: Belisario.

In line with the foregoing, we find that in the name Belesar, as given by Ferguson, we have the equivalent of Belesur, which appears on the Battle Abbey Roll, and which resembles very closely our family name, Belcher. Burke’s General Dictionary of the Peerages of England, Ireland, and Scotland, published in 1831, refers as follows to this roll as given by Holingshed:


William ordered the foundations of a monastery to be laid on the spot where he gained the victory over Harold; from which circumstance it was called Battel Abbey. As it wgs there he won the crown, he wished the new establishment to enjoy all the privileges of the Royal Chapel, and having obtained the consent of the metropolitan and of the bishop of the diocese, declared it in a full assembly of priests and barons, “exempt from all episcopal rule and exactions.” It became, in the language of the later times, nullus diocesis.

The table containing the names was formerly suspended in the Abbey of Battel, in Sussex, with this inscription:

1Ferguson, Rebert. London, 1864. The Teutonic Name System, as applied to the family names in France, England, and Germany.

2Muller, Max. London, 1888. Biographies of Words, and the Home of the Aryas. “‘Aryas are those who speak Aryan languages, whatever their color, whatever their blood.”

3Wells, H. G. The Outline of History. New York, 1921. “One great group of languages now covers nearly all Europe and stretches out to India. These languages are not different things, they are variations of one thing.”


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As there has been considerable argument concerning the credibility of this famous list of names, it is better that we should examine the evidence before coming to any conclusion. In the Eleventh Edition, Encyclopedia Brittanica, volume 3, page 534, we are told that the Battle Abbey Roll is popularly supposed to have been a list of the companions of William the Conqueror preserved at Battle Abbey, on the site of the great victory over Harold in 1066. This authority states further:

It is known to us only from 16th century versions of it published by Leland, Holinshed, and Duchesne, all more or less imperfect and corrupt. Holinshed’s is much the fullest, but of its 629 names several are duplicates. The versions of Leland and Duchesne, though much shorter, each contain many names found in neither of the other lists. It was so obvious that several of the names had no right to figure in the roll, that Camden, as did Dugdale after him, held them to have been interpolated at various times by the monks, “not without their own advantage.” Modern writers have gone further, Sir Egerton Brydges denouncing the Roll as a “disgusting forgery,” and E. A. Freeman dismissing it as ‘‘a transparent fiction.” An attempt to vindicate the Roll was made by the last Duchess of Cleveland, whose Battle Abbey Roll (3 vols., 1889) is the best guide to its contents.

It is probable that the character of the Roll has been quite misunderstood. It is not a list of individuals, but only of family surnames, and it seems to have been intended to show which families have “come over with the Conqueror,” and to have been compiled about the fourteenth century. The compiler appears to have been influenced by the French sound of names, and to have included many families of later settlement, such as that of Grandison, which did not come to England from Savoy till two centuries after the Conquest. The Roll itself appears to be unheard-of before and after the sixteenth century, but other lists were current at least as early as the fifteenth century, as the Duchess of Cleveland has shown. In 1866 a list of the Conqueror’s followers, compiled from Domesday and other authentic records, was set up in Dives Church by M. Leopold Delisle, and is printed in the Duchess’s work. Its contents are naturally sufficient to show that the Battle Roll is worthless.

As there have been other lists published besides the four above alluded to, each differing from the others in the number of names, but all agreeing as to certain names, it seems evident that many of the published names are of families having an unquestion- able right to be included among those who actually accompanied William when he embarked on his epochal adventure. In the preface to her Battle Abbey Roll, the Duchess of Cleveland says:

No one can be more sensible than J am myself that the task of investigating the Battle Abbey Roll should have been committed to more competent hands than mine. My only excuse for attempt- ing it is that zt has in reality been unattempted hitherto, as Sir Bernard Burke, in his commentary on Holinshed’s list, has only dealt with two hundred and nine of the best-known names, passing over the remaining four hundred and twenty without notice, and Sir Egerton Brydges’ brief and peremptory annotations were evidently made in haste, and refer to an imperfect copy... . So far from being “principally composed” of imposters and intruders, the Roll contains not more than ten proved interpolations. (Italics ours.)

In Burke’s copy of Holinshed’s list we find the name Belesur. In Duchesne’s list this name is given as Bolesur. The Duchess of Cleveland’s version of Holinshed’s list makes the name Belesuz. These different spellings prove only that the original list from which the names were copied may have been so poorly written that it was not possible to be sure of every letter.

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