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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
E. C. Belt
Clearly defined purpose and consecutive effort in the affairs of life will inevitably result in the attainment of a due measure of success, but in following out the career of one who has achieved success by his own efforts there comes into view the intrinsic individuality which made such accomplishment possible, while there is at the same time enkindled a feeling of respect and admiration. The qualities which have made Mr. Belt one of the prominent and successful men of Oelwein have also brought him the esteem of his fellow townsmen, for his career has been one of well directed energy, strong determination and honorable methods.
E. C. Belt was born in Kosciusko county, Indiana, on May 3, 1840, and is a son of Aquilla and Henrietta Elizabeth (Lewis) Belt, the father having been born in Licking county, Ohio, February 21, 1808. In the agnatic line the Belt family is traced to English sources, where several members of the family sat in the House of Lords. Soon after the close of the American Revolution two brothers of this family came to the United States, and from one of these brothers the subject of this sketch is directly descended. In the fall of 1850 Aquilla Belt brought his family from the Hoosier state to Iowa, stopping in Lima county near Mt. Vernon where he rented a farm for two years and in the meantime was looking for a permanent home, finally locating at what was then called Greeley's Grove, in the extreme northern part of Buchanan county--in fact the north line of their farm was the north line of the county, bordering on Fayette. There the father took up a tract of land from the government, and also bought some timber land. At that time there were but seven families in that part of the county, and Aquilla Belt was the only Methodist within twenty miles. He succeeded in getting a Methodist minister to come to Greeley's Grove, the result being that a class was organized, of which Mr. Belt was elected the first class-leader, a position which he retained for many years. To Aquilla and Henrietta Belt were born six children, three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Carleton, became a Methodist minister, and after years of effective and successful service in his church, he is no retired and living at Whittier, California. The younger son, George W., is living at Marshalltown, Iowa. Catherine became the wife of Marion Richmond, a Methodist preacher now located in Jasper county, Missouri. Matilda is the wife of Samuel Nicholson, a farmer in Iowa county, Iowa. Eliza is the wife of Leonard Brooks, a traveling salesman, their home being in Waterloo, Iowa.
E. C. Belt was reared on the paternal homestead and received his early education in the common schools of his neighborhood, later attending school at Fayette, after which he taught school for some time in the district schools. He was reared to the life of a farmer and agriculture has always had a strong fascination for him. He is now the owner of two splendid farms near Oelwein, one of two hundred and the other of one hundred and nineteen acres. In addition to the cultivation of this land, in which he has been uniformly successful, he has also given considerable attention to the handling of live-stock, raising, buying and shipping large numbers of cattle, in which line also he has prospered. In 1891 Mr. Belt moved to Oelwein and engaged in handling real estate, at the same time retaining the personal management of his farms. He has not, however, permitted husbandry to absorb his entire attention and is interested in several other enterprises which have had a vital bearing and influence on the prosperity of the community. When the First National Bank of Oelwein was organized he became a stockholder and was chosen vice-president of the institution, retaining that position up to January 4, 1908, when he severed his connection with that bank and was instrumental in organizing the Iowa Savings Bank, of which he became president, in which position he is now serving. His forceful character and strong business qualities eminently fit him for a position of this nature and much of the remarkable success which has attended the bank thus far has been due to his indefatigable efforts and his personal influence. The present official directors of the Iowa State Savings Bank are as follows: E. C. Belt, president: W. E. Robinson, vice-president; J. W. Kint, cashier; W. G. Walrath, assistant cashier; directors, C. R. Brown, S. J. Fox, R. J. Young, G.A. Starr, J.J. Galvin, Robert Conner, George Schneider, W. E. Robinson, W. G. Walrath, E. C. Belt. The bank has enjoyed remarkable growth from the beginning, as the following statement of deposits shows: January 8, 1908 (date of opening), $2,207.76; January 4, 1909, $110,241.24; January 4, 1910, $194,710.28; April 4, 1910 (date of examining committee meeting), $302,246.77. The capital stock of the bank is thirty thousand dollars, and it is considered now one of the strong and influential financial institutions of the county, its rapid growth being conclusive evidence that it enjoys the confidence of the people. The sound, conservative banking methods adhered to by this bank have won, and the courteous treatment and the principle of reciprocity practiced by its officers is one of its valuable assets. The bank transacts a regular commercial business, though a specialty is made of the savings feature, which has already proven a popular department. To insure to the depositors absolute safety the bank officials purchased one of the very best burglar-proof manganese steel screw-door safes money could buy. This make of safe has many times defied the attacks of burglars--in fact, it is not known that one of these safes was ever opened by force. Another important and popular feature is the ladies' department, a feature which is not found in many banks in cities several times the size of Oelwein. A room was specially planned and furnished for the comfort and accommodations of lady patrons of the bank or others who may desire a resting place when in the city.
Mr. Belt also has other extensive interests, including a store on North Charles street, also one on Frederick street, one-sixth interest in the Glass block, and one-fourth interest in the Temple block. He has a modern, commodious, attractive and cozy residence on Charles street, the first, in fact, to be built on that street.
Mr. Belt married Juliet Lilly, a daughter of C. W. Lilly, a prominent farmer living at Independence, Iowa, and to them have been born four children, two of whom are living, namely: Cora, who married Charles Ozias, of Carthage, Missouri, and they have to children, Donna and Myrtle; Bert Lee married Bertha Bell, the daughter of A. Bell, and lives at Oelwein.
Politically, Mr. Belt is a stanch Republican and takes an intelligent interest in the trend of public events, though he has steadfastly refused to accept nomination for public office. Religiously, Mr. Belt and his wife are active members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and he was chairman of the building committee which had in charge the erection of the beautiful church which that denomination now owns in Oelwein. Fraternally, he is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and of the Order of the Eastern Star, to which Mr. Belt also belongs.
Mr. Belt's life work has been crowned with a large measure of success, but his prosperity has come to him as a result of energy, perseverance and hard work, his career thus illustrating most forcibly the power of patient and persistent effort and self-reliance. Mr. Belt is of an optimistic temperament and genial disposition, and makes friends easily, being one of the most popular and highly esteemed men in this section of the county.
~transcribed by Mary Fobian for Fayette County IAGenWeb
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