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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 788~


R. H. Belknap


A prominent and influential citizen of this locality is R. H. Belknap, the present superintendent of schools of Fayette county. He was born in Auburn township, August 8, 1878, of Scotch-Irish descent. The family records show that Pilgrim and Stephen Belknap, brothers, came from Scotland in an early day and settled in New York state. Hiram Belknap, the son of Stephen Belknap and the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born in New York state, September 3, 1808. He was married to Sarah Eastman, a native of New York, in the year 1836. To these were born five sons and two daughters: Charles Hiram, born August 25, 1837, is now a resident of Rapid City, South Dakota; Sarah Janette, born February 22, 1839, is now living at Petaluma, California; George William, born in 1841, is now a resident of Madison, South Dakota; Stephen Edgar, born March 25, 1848, is now a resident of Waterville, Minnesota; Riley Rosell, born December 12, 1840, is now living in Dexter, Kansas; Edward Eastman, born May 18, 1851, lives in Fayette, Iowa; Edith Esuba, born January 23, 1854, is now living in Oldham, South Dakota. These children were all born in New York State. The three eldest brothers served in the United States army during the Civil war.


In 1856 the Hiram Belknap family moved from New York to Wisconsin, which was a great undertaking in those days. From there they moved in 1863 to Auburn, Fayette county, Iowa. At this time, Auburn was one of the largest towns of Fayette county and Hiram plied his trade, that of a shoemaker, with great success.


A peculiar feature of this family was that both parents were cripples, Hiram having lost a leg in early life, and Sarah having suffered a paralytic stroke at the age of sixteen years from which she never fully recovered. Hiram died in December 1873, as the result of a fall on the ice, while returning from the village store. After the death of Hiram, Sarah lived with her children the rest of her days. She died at the home of her daughter Edith, at Madison, South Dakota, at the age of eighty-four years.


The ancestry of the mother's side extends back into colonial days and is given briefly as follows:

Joseph Clark, the grandson of a ship carpenter, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, May 19, 1719. Joseph Clark, the second, married a Miss Taylor, and to them were born three children. Joseph Clark, the third, married a Miss Lane, January 15, 1777, and settled in New Hampshire. He died June 25, 1810, and his widow died January 11, 1825; one child was born to them. James Clark, born February 15, 1784, married Polly Hinton, of Andover, New Hampshire, on October 2, 1808. She was born April 4, 1782, and died November 8, 1857; he died June 15, 1861. There were nine children born to James and Polly Clare, viz: Samuel Adams, Joseph, Charles, Dearborn, Martha, Mary, Kendall, Charlotte, Louisa.


Kendall Peabody Clark, the seventh child of James and Polly Clark, was born in Franklin, New Hampshire, December 6, 1820. At the age of twenty-three he settled in Portland, Dodge county, Wisconsin. On the 7th of May, 1848, he led to the marriage altar Betsey L. Wicker, who was born in Muckwonego, Wisconsin, July 6, 1828. One child was born March 4, 1850, who was named Betsey L. Clark. On the 19th of March of the same year the mother died, leaving the child to the care of the father. The child prospered, and in the course of time was married to Edward Belknap, and became the mother of the subject of this sketch. This will be related later. April 18, 1852, Kendall was again married, this time to Melissa L. Larrabee, who was born in Bennington, New York, June 30, 1832. As a result of this marriage, eight children were born, namely: James K., born June 20, 1853; Mary, born January 19, 1855; died March 29, 1856; Melissa L., born April 12, 1857; Fanny F., born April 9, 1859; Jennie L., born April 26, 1861, and died August 2, 1883; Hattie, born February 8, 1864, and died July 31, 1885; Charles Cyrus, born May 16, 1866; Nellie E., born June 23, 1872, and died July 23, 1892. The mother of this family died October 22, 1884. Kendall Peabody Clark was one of the first settlers in Dodge county, Wisconsin. He, with his brother, Dearborn, and a Mr. Hayes, built the first log house, dug the first well, and broke the first land in Portland township. The following is from his obituary: "Mr. Clark was a practical surveyor, and for the past twenty years has been successively elected county surveyor of Dodge county. In the exercise of the duties of his position he proved himself reliable and accurate. In public as well as in private affairs the deceased has always borne an honorable part. He has ever enjoyed the implicit confidence of his fellow citizens, and his conduct upon all occasions was never such as to arouse suspicion or create distrust. He represented Dodge county in the Legislature, our village on the county board of supervisors, and has served on the village board and on the school board. In these several positions, strict regard for the interests confided to his care characterized his actions. His sudden loss is regretted by his large circle of friends, who speak of him in terms of praise--the highest tribute at their command. The Masonic fraternity, of which he has long been a member, had charge of the interment of his body. His remains were then accompanied by a large procession to the family cemetery near the village of Portland. His death occurred on the 19th of March, 1890.


Betsey L. Clark, the mother of the subject of this sketch, came to the town of Auburn, Fayette county, Iowa, in March, 1873, to visit with her uncle, Ruel Parker. While with him she taught school in the village of Auburn, and it was during this time that she became acquainted with Edward E. Belknap. This acquaintance ripened into love and finally culminated in their marriage.


Edward Belknap was united in marriage to Betsey L. Clark, December 12, 1875. They first set up housekeeping in a log house on the south bank of the Turkey river, in Auburn township, Fayette county, Iowa. Edward has always been a hardworking man, being a farmer, thresher, wood-dealer, store-keeper, stock-dealer, always ready to buy when he could see a chance to make a dollar. He has ever been a man of his word, generous to his competitor, but never seeking quarter for himself. Betsey, his wife, is one of those quiet, unassuming gentlewomen. She has ever been a Christian lady and loving mother. To these, the father and mother of the subject, were born five sons, namely: Clark Hiram, born September 17, 1876, married Genevieve Strayer, September 4, 1898; she was born August 1, 1875. They have two sons, Jamison, aged eleven, and Hugh, aged nine. Clark is now practicing law in the town of McIntosh, South Dakota. The next child, the subject of this sketch, was born August 8, 1878. These two children were born in the log house mentioned above. In the winter of 1878-79 the family moved into a stone house which had been built on a small knoll back of the log house. Arthur Aldrich was born March 16, 1883, and married Sadie Finch, August 31, 1907. She was born January 29, 1883. Arthur is now superintendent of schools at Strawberry Point, Iowa. Allen Edward, who was born September 15, 1884, is now in Canada. Ruel Kendall, born June 23, 1889, is now attending school at Upper Iowa University. The parents of this family are now residing in Fayette, Iowa, where they moved for the purpose of educating their children.


R. H. Belknap, of this review, was educated in the Fayette public schools and in upper Iowa University; he also holds a diploma from the American School of Correspondence in the course of municipal engineering. Upon reaching maturity he married Edith Laura McGoon, May 26, 1902. She is a lady of culture and education and is the daughter of R. F. McGoon and wife.


Joseph McGoon was born in New Hampshire, from which state he removed in an early day to New York state. Richard McGoon, his son, was born January 17, 1826, in Cayuga county, New York. On November 4, 1847, at Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin, he led to the marriage altar Maria Wood. To these twelve children were born, of whom R. F. McGoon, the father-in-law of the subject, was the third. He was born January 13, 1852. The other children who are now living are: Andrew, now living in Kilbourn City, Wisconsin; Sadie is a resident of St. Paul; Martha and Ella live in Monticello, Wisconsin; Addie lives in Belleville, Wisconsin; Albert is a resident of Hawkeye, Iowa; Arthur lives in West Union, Iowa, and Ernest in Utah. Maroa, Emma and Etta are deceased. Richard P. McGoon's grandfather participated in the battle of Bunker Hill, and he himself was a member of Company I, Forty-third Wisconsin Volunteers, in the Civil war. He died at Monticello, Wisconsin, in the winter of 1903.


Josiah Pierce was a native of New England. He was born May 21, 1786, and died December 25, 1845. Albert Henry Pierce, son of Josiah Pierce, was born April 28, 1820. He married Elizabeth Becker, who was born August 10, 1834, in the town of Clayton, New York, The marriage was solemnized November 28, 1852, at Washington, Wisconsin. Four children were born to them, of whom three are now living: Irwin and Florence, at Monticello, Wisconsin, and Burton, at Broadhead, Wisconsin. Ruth, who afterward became Mrs. R. F. McGoon, was born September 12, 1853, and died at Hawkeye, Iowa, December 19, 1901. Albert Pierce was a prominent citizen of his community, being twice elected to the Legislature of Wisconsin.


R. F. McGoon was married to Ruth Pierce, February 12, 1873, and, with his wife, drove from Monticello, Wisconsin, to Alpha, Iowa, in the spring of 1873.



~transcribed by Mary Fobian


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