[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

Bellesfield Peter 1804-1868 and Family


Posted By: Wilma J. Vande Berg - volunteer (email)
Date: 11/9/2021 at 13:11:26


This story was taken from the ‘Rock Valley Records & Recollections’ book written about 1976 in honor of the two hundredth birthday of our nation. It was a revision of the history written by Wilmer Bellesfield (deceased, fall of 1975) son of Samuel Bellesfield in 1955. It was transcribed for this BIOS by Beth De Leeuw of the Greater Sioux County Genealogical Society and some research notes were added.

Peter Bellesfield, his wife, Elizabeth, their sons, David and Samuel, who had served in the Civil War, and their daughters, Emily and Alice, left Janesville, Wisconsin in the spring of 1868 by ox team for the West. They arrived in Sioux County, Iowa, at Calliope (the county seat then near Hawarden) in August 1868.

There were forty acres of land on the Rock River that were still open for homesteading in Sioux Township Section 34 Southeast quarter located four miles west and one and one-half miles south of Rock Valley. About two weeks after they had filed on the land and located on it, Peter took sick and passed away. This was the first death of a white person in Sioux County. His courageous wife and family stayed there, proved up on the land, and received the land patent from the government.

The two sons, David and Samuel, built a long cabin and afterwards a frame house which was the first house built in Sioux Township. It was not intended for a hotel, but really became one, as many early settlers and travelers through the country found food and shelter there. It became known as the “Bellesfield Halfway House.” Their home was also a stagecoach stop.

As there were no bridges in those days, the river was forded except when the water was high and then canoes were used. A place in the river near the Bellesfield home which could be forded was known as the “Bellesfield Ford” for miles around. In 1872, David and Samuel reduced the pioneers’ problem of crossing the river by building a ferry boat, which they operated for years until bridges were built. The Bellesfield boys also built a “Spring House” in the Rock River which their mother used for keeping the cream, butter, and eggs.

Once the James boys, coming back from Northfield, Minnesota following the rivers along the way, stopped at the Bellesfield farm asking for food and water for their horses. Mrs. Bellesfield had just finished baking bread, and the James boys bought a loaf.

Sometimes hundreds of Indians would visit the locality where the Bellesfields lived. The Indians were partly civilized and as trustworthy as white people. There was generally a United States government guide, a halfbreed Indian, with them. On one occasion, a band of about three hundred Indians, strung out as was their custom, came from the west on their way to Pipestone, Minnesota, for a meeting with other tribes. They traveled on ponies and the old Indians and the children were carried in baskets woven between two poles, one end of the poles fastened to a pony and the other end dragging on the ground. As the basket was woven in between the ends, it made a comfortable “springy” vehicle. While the Bellesfield family was always a little uneasy when the Indians were in the area, they never bothered the family in any way.

Another early day encounter was with the wolves. Once when Emily Bellesfield was on her way home one evening after spending a few hours visiting her neighbor, she was approaching the timber and in the road stood a large wolf. She tried to frighten it away, but to no avail, so she was compelled to make a large circuit in order to pass the wolf to reach home. The next day hunters went after the wolf in force and succeeded in dispatching it.

The Bellesfields kept a post office, about one-half block from their house, by the name of Irene which served pioneers in that area.

David Bellesfield was an early day land surveyor. Samuel Bellesfield operated a star mail and stage route between LeMars, Iowa and Luverne, Minnesota. Samuel also operated many types of threshing machines in what is now the Rock Valley Community.

Samuel, who in the Rock Valley vicinity was the best known member of the Peter Bellesfield family, married Sarah Griffin about 1872. The two and their older children lived on the Bellesfield homestead until December of 1880 when they moved to Rock Valley. They built a house on Lot 8 of Block 11. Mrs. H. Reit (1805 13th Street) lives on this site and in the house at the present time. Here they reared their children – Effie, Millie, Clarence Brown, Ruie Ann, Cynthia, Amy, and Wilmer.

After moving into town, Samuel and Sarah helped to organize a group for the purpose of starting a church and Sunday School. At first, the church services and Sunday school classes were held in the school house, which later was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Dischler. This Sunday school had the first Christmas tree in the community. Mr. Howard Shipman and Samuel Bellesfield went to Sheldon to get the tree. Capt., A.D. Burnell served as Santa Claus for the occasion. From this beginning a church was built in 1882 (Methodist).

The family witnessed many interesting experiences. In the spring of 1881, they saw the old mill go down the river by flood. Many times they related how on January 12, 1888, clouds rose out of the West which looked like the wildest tornado clouds, but proved to be one of the worst blizzards to sweep this section of the country. They placed heavy articles of furniture against the door to keep it from blowing in.

Samuel retired from the threshing business to move houses. He was widely known as the “Pioneer House Mover.” Among the buildings he moved were hotels and an elevator, even taking the elevator across the Sioux River from Elm Springs to Fairview. He operated this business until late in 1916, when he was forced to retire on account of ill health. He passed away in March 1917, and is buried in the Rock Valley Cemetery.

Mrs. Amy Moore, (1433 11th Street) the only survivor of the Samuel Bellesfield family, was born in Rock Valley, and has lived most of her life here.

The old Bellesfield homestead now belongs to Mrs. Julius Merland (now a South Dakota resident), daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Chris Ranschau, who lived on the farm for many years. The house the Bellesfield boys built is still there and occupied. A kitchen and porch were added to the house b y Mr. Ranschau. What is now the chicken coop was the Bellesfield horse barn, being used to shelter the horses of travelers on the way to Sioux Falls from Sioux City. Cinders are still lying on the farm where the railroad track used to be. The Dick Dirksens now live on this farm.

Pictorial Atlas, Bicentennial 1776-1976
Sioux County Iowa (big red book)
The farm now occupied (1976) by Mr. and Mrs. Dick Dirksen was homesteaded by Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bellesfield who came to Sioux County in 1868. They and their 2 sons, David and Samuel, and 2 daughters, Emily and Alice, left Janesville, Wis., by ox team and herded their cattle across the prairies as they came.
Their homestead was just east of the Rock River. They built a log cabin and afterwards a frame house, which was used as an inn, known as the “Bellesfield Halfway House.” Many people traveling across the country stopped here for meals and lodging.
Samuel Bellesfield drove the mail stage from LeMars, Iowa, to Luverne, Minn. and passengers often made the trip on the stage to reach points farther north.
There were no bridges in those days, so David and Samuel built a ferry boat, which they operated for a number of years. When the river was low, there was a place where it could be forded. This was known as Bellesfield Ford.

(Mrs. Peter Bellesfield)
Rock Valley Register of Dec. 1, 1892
DIED— At her home five miles southwest of Rock Valley on Friday afternoon, Nov. 25th.
Elizabeth Bellesfield, aged 89 years and 5-months. The deceased was one of the early settlers of Sioux county, having located here in 1868. Her husband died in this county the same year, and she has since lived with her sons.
Elizabeth Bellesfield was born in Monroe county, Pennsylvania, in 1803, and consequently at the time of her death was over 89 years of age. She lived in Wisconsin from 1851 to 1868 the time family located here. She leaves surviving her two sons, David Bellesfield, who lives at the home place, and Samuel Bellesfield, of Rock Valley, and two daughters, Mrs. Mary Mawlam of Blair. Neb., and Mrs. Alice J. Thorpe, of Hudson, S.D. .Deceased was converted and united with the M.-E. church in her early married life and remained a consistent Christian till death.
The funeral took place at Rock Valley on Monday at 1 o'clock, services being held at the M. E. church
(from an ancestry.com family account – Elizabeth Neuhart born 2 Jul 1803 Monroe PA died 25 Nov 1892 Rock Tsp. Sioux County Iowa, daughter of Peter Newhart 1776-1833 and Maria Barbara Lear 1779-1850, was married to Peter Bellesfield born 17 Jun 1804 Monroe Co. PA died July 1868 Rock Tsp. Sioux County IA . Children were Emily 1833, Jeremiah 1835-1836, David 1836-1895, Mary Jane 1838, Samuel 1846-1922, Alice Irene 1848-1922, and L. H. Nelson Dearborn Bellesfield 1857.)

From the Rock Valley Register of May 29, 1896
Last Sumday morning at an early hour David Bellesfield passed after a long illness, at his home north of town, Bright's disease being the cause of death.
The deceased was born in Monroe county, Penn., on April 27, 1837, and in '52 removed with his parents to Janesville, Wis., where he worked
upon a farm until September 6, 1861, when be enlisted in the 8th Wisconsin infantry and served
three years in the defense of the Union in the Western department.
He saw some severe fighting, being in all the heavy engagements of this division of the army. In the assaults in and around Pilot Knob, Mo., and Corinth, Miss., he was commended for his bravery. He was at Vicksburg, Miss., on May
22, 1863, during that terrible and trying ordeal for men, and through all the siege.
He landed in Sioux county on May 10, 1868, and took up a homestead near where now Elm Springs is situated. At the time of his death he was
the oldest settler in Sioux county in point of residence.
His father, who joined him here two mouths after his arrival, was the first white man to die a natural death in this county. Deceased was a charter member of Jery Rusk Post G. A. R., under whose auspices the funeral was conducted. He was a married man his widow survives him, but no children blessed their union.
The funeral services were held a the U, P. church in this city at 2:30 p. m.. Monday, and Rev. Mr Mclaughlin delivered the oration over the remains. A very large number of comrades attended and assisted in escorting the remains to
their last resting place in the Rock Valley cemetery.
(His wife was believed to be Emma J. age 45 in 1895 census of Settlers Township Sioux County. David was born 27 Apr 1836 Stroudsburg PA and died 23 May 1896 at 60 years of age buried in Rock Valley. David's parents were Peter Bellesfield and Elizabeth Neuhart)
David Bellesfield’s (Civil War Record)
"U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles about Samuel Bellsfield
Name: Samuel Bellsfield
Residence: Janesville, Wisconsin
Enlistment Date: 18 Aug 1862
Rank at enlistment: Private
State Served: Wisconsin
Survived the War?: Yes
Service Record: Enlisted in Company E, Wisconsin 8th Infantry Regiment on 18 Aug 1862.
Mustered out on 24 Jul 1864.
Sources: Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers: War of the Rebellion"

Rock Valley Bee
Samuel Bellesfield, for forty-nine years a resident of Sioux County was born at Stroudaburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, March 10, 1846, and died at his home in Rock Valley, March 29, of cancer of the bowels, aged seventy-one years and nineteen days. In 1851 when about five years old, he with his parents came to Janesville, Wisconsin, where he grew to manhood. When the Civil war broke out, he enlisted in Company E. eighth Wisconsin Infantry, in 1862 and served three years, being in active service at the siege of Vicksburg. He spent sometime at Memphis and Mobile with the troops, going back to Madison, Wisconsin in 1865 to be mustered out of service after the close of war.
In May of 1868 the family left Janesville, by overland route, reaching Caliope, Iowa, two months later, July 23, where they stopped to secure medical aid for his father, Peter Bellesfield, who was taken sick on their way, and soon afterward died. They then located on a homestead, on the Rock River, in what is known now as Sioux township, passing through the pioneer hardships and experiencing the grasshopper days. For a number of years he with his brother David Bellesfield, operated a ferry boat on the Rock river. They also kept a wayside inn, their place being- halfway between LeMars and Sioux Falls by stage route and many were the weary travelers who found a place of refuge here, on their journey through the country and while there the James boys passed through on their way to Northfield, Minn.
In the year of 1869 the Irene post office was established, after which the subject of this sketch, drove stage carrying mail from LeMars to Luverne, for three years. He also carried mail from Worthington, Minn., to Valley Springs, S. Dak., but only for a short time.
He was married to Miss Sarah Griffin March 29 1874, and departed this life on their forty-third wedding anniversary. To this union were born seven children, two boys and five girls, namely; Mrs. Effie Hamilton, Becker, Minn.; C. B. Bellesfield, Paullina, Iowa; Mrs Millie Firman ? N. Dak . ; Mrs. R. C. Kurvink Flandreau, S.D.; Mrs. Amy Ortman, Miss Cynthia Bellesfield and Wilmer Bellesfield of Rock Valley.
In Dec. I880 he moved his family to Rock Valley, where he continued to reside up to the time of his death.
For a time he engaged in the threshing business being at that time an expert in the trade. Later he engaged in the house moving business and was known throughout north west Iowa as the Pioneer House Mover. About the first building he moved was a house on the old Buck Wheelock place south of Hudson, to the town of Hudson, then called Eden. He proved himself an expert at the business, which he followed for thirty eight years, moving elevators across rivers, which many people once thought could never be done.
Last November he felt the ravages of the fatal disease coming upon him and disposed of his moving apparatus to Kipley & Reimcrs, of Alvord, and since that time he failed fast. In January he decided to enter the Battle Mountain Sanitarium, at Hot Springs, S D , for treatment, but to no avail, so he returned home. About two weeks after his return, he seemed to get better and was able to get out of doors occasionally, until a week before his demise, he grew worse, and failed rapidly until the end.
All that medical skill and loving hands could do was administered but the voice of God was calling and he passed peacefully to the Great Beyond Thursday noon.
Besides his life companion and children, he leaves to mourn his death, one sister, Mrs. Alice Thorpe of Sioux Falls. S. D., and fourteen grandchildren.
He was a member of the Jerry Busk G. A. R. Post of this city.

( Taken from an account on ancestry.com (done by others)

Peter Belesfield born about 1750
Wife: Johanna Ella born about 1750
Chiid: David Bellesfield born abt 1772 Hamilton, Monroe, PA died 17 Sep 1849 Hamilton PA

David Bellesfield 1772-1849
Wife: Margaretha Weiss born abt 1772
Child: Peter Bellesfield 1804-1868 (The early Settler in the Rock Valley area)

Peter Bellesfield born 17 Jun 1804 Hamilton, Monroe, PA , died Jul 1868 Rock Valley, Sioux, IA
Wife: Elizabeth Neuhart born 2 Jul 1803 Stroudsburg, Monroe, PA died 25 Nov 1892
Rock Valley IA married 27 Mar 1831 Hamilton, Monroe PA
1. Emily Bellesfield born 1833
2. Jeremiah Bellesfield born 1835 died 1836
3. David Bellesfield born 1836 died 1895/1896
4. Mary Jane Bellesfield born 1838
5. Samuel Bellesfield born 1846 died 1917
6. Alice Irene Bellesfield born 1848 died 1922
7. L. H. Nelson Dearborn Bellesfield born 1857

The submitter or this BIOS was not able to locate any pictures related to this family. If anyone has a pictures please submit to our page coordinator.


Sioux Biographies maintained by Linda Ziemann.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]