Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jesse Parker Bellamy

Jesse Parker Bellamy was one of Elisha and Nancy’s most prominent children. He was born about 1787 in Tennessee.[1] As a young man, Jesse was working as a farmer when war broke out. The states were at war with Britain again in a conflict that would eventually become known as the War of 1812. Jesse enlisted in a Tennessee regiment at Nashville in December of 1812 and fought in battles off and on for the remainder of the war.
As part of his service, Jesse fought in the battles of Tallushatchee, Talladega, and Pensacola. In each of these battles, Jesse’s unit was part of a larger army under the direction of General Andrew Jackson, the war hero who would later become president of the United States. For all of his fighting in these major battles, the pension application Jesse submitted fifty-five years later did not note that he sustained any significant wounds.[2]
 After his military service, Jesse married Jane Walker on 1 August 1816 in Indiana.[3] Several of his siblings had moved to Indiana by this time so it is likely he lived near them. Jane lived to be about 74. She passed away on 11 January 1864 in Knoxville, Marion, Iowa.[4] Four and a half years later, Jesse married Elizabeth Hicks Keenan on 1 July 1869 in Knoxville.[5] They remained in Knoxville until their deaths: Jesse’s on 21 August 1886 and Elizabeth’s on 26 March 1888.[6]

[1] LDS, “New FamilySearch,” Jesse Parker Bellamy birth, marriage, and death information.
[2] Elizabeth Bellemy, widow of Jesse Bellamy, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, M313 (
[3] Elizabeth Bellemy, widow of Jesse Bellamy, NARA M313, image 84.
[4] Elizabeth Bellemy, widow of Jesse Bellamy, NARA M313, image 84.
[5] Elizabeth Bellamy (wid. Jesse Bellamy) Widows Certificate (W. C.) no. 34624, image 34, NARA M313, published at (
[6] FamilySearch, “Iowa, Deaths and Burials, 1850-1990,” database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ( accessed 30 March 2013), death date of Elizabeth Bellamy, wife of Jesse Bellamy: 26 March 1888; citing FHL US/CAN microfilm #986183.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And We're Back!

After a two week intermission, we're back to Elisha's life. Just in time for it to end.

Elisha continued to buy and sell land throughout the years he was in Robertson County.[1] Elisha stayed in Robertson County at least until late 1830 when he appeared in the census in Robertson County, Tennessee.[2] Sometime before his death, it appears he moved to Montgomery County to live with his son Jeremiah. Elisha died on 10 April 1839 at the age of 79 in Woodlawn, Montgomery County, Tennessee. He was buried on 12 April 1839 in their Family Farm Cemetery, Montgomery County, Tennessee.[3]

As far as I have been able to determine, Elisha Bellamy and Nancy Parker had the following children:

                      i.   Samuel Bellamy
                     ii.   Jesse Parker Bellamy
                    iii.   Jeremiah Parker Bellamy
                    iv.   David King Bellamy
                     v.   Jan Jean Bellamy
                    vi.   Elizabeth Bellamy
                   vii.   Cinderella Bellamy
                  viii.   Cynthia Bellamy
                    ix.   Narcissa Bellamy
                     x.   Hallie Bellamy
                    xi.   Elizabeth Garner

[1] Robertson County, Tennessee, vol. A, vol. B: 19, 107, 174, vol. O: 267-268, vol. R: 136, 137-138, land deeds.
[2] 1830, Robertson County, population schedule, 430, line 20, Elisha Bellamy; digital images, ( : accessed 22 October 2011); NARA Series M19 Roll 179.
[3] LDS, “New FamilySearch,” Elisha Bellamy death information.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Saved from the Gallows"

After nine long years of arrest, dismissal, trials and prison, Peter Bellamy was acquitted. The news was reported in the New York Times on 6 February 1886. Dr. Bellamy's initial arrest took place 1877.

It is difficult to imagine all the emotions that would have accompanied these nine years. I'm sure there was a nasty concoction of fear, relief, anger, indignation, sadness, guilt, regret, and gratitude. Peter's children were only ten- and twelve-years-old when all of this started in 1877. By the time he was fully acquitted of all charges his daughter was nineteen, his son was twenty-one. Peter had missed his children's late childhood and early teenage years.

The trials also ruined the Bellamy family financially. Legal fees, lawyers, bonds, and inability to work all took their toll. The family went from financial prosperity to financial hardship. All for helping a family member hide his crimes.

But, Peter did escape the gallowssomething his brother-in-law William Morrow wasn't lucky enough to claim.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bellamy Cave Murders

We're going to take a quick break from Elisha's story and jump to some more sensational news. Excited? A few weeks ago I was editing a Wikipedia article for a homework assignment. Somehow, while I was editing, I discovered that there is a cave in Tennessee called Bellamy cave. More distracted research showed that the cave is located in Montgomery County, Tennessee--the same county where Elisha Bellamy had his family farm! Curious, I probed deeper.

Using a Google search, I found a newspaper article mentioning Bellamy Cave. I clicked on the link and an article popped up talking about the "Bellamy Cave Murders." Apparently, one William Morrow had been using the cave to hide bodies. Then . . .

Dr. Peter F. Bellamy!! Why would Elisha's grandson be listed as an accomplice to the murders? My ancestor was in prison? Excitedly--and a little stunned--I ran to tell my roommates. Their jaws dropped in an eerie unison. My ancestor was a murderer.

 It's funny, the information we get excited about as family historians. But it was a story full of a lot of details! However, let's take a step back and look at the source: the National Police Gazette. A quick Google search of this publication reveals that the National Police Gazette was a popular weekly newspaper published mainly for entertainment. It's not that all of the information was wrong, but it may have been sensationalized to make a better story.

The article never said that Dr. Bellamy killed anyone, just that he helped his brother-in-law cover up the murders his brother-in-law had committed. Still, it makes a person think. This seems to have been a case where racial tension caused people to make choices that are so obviously wrong today. I wonder what social pressures and personal viewpoints led to such drastic decisions. What stigmas have I picked up from society that could make awful decisions seem right? I love how family history makes me think. . . .

Don't miss the podcast on this discovery! A link is located at the bottom of the right-hand menu.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Death, Marriage, and Mystery

Marriage Certificate for Elisha and Hannah
In 1799, Nancy died. She was only thirty-six.[1] It is likely she died due to complications from giving birth to her tenth child, a daughter named Hallie, who was born the same year. Elisha was left with ten children, the oldest of which was only fifteen. Not surprisingly, Elisha soon remarried. On 28 October 1800 in Davidson County, Elisha Bellamy and Hannah Standsberry were joined in marriage.[2]    
Davidson County, Tennessee Marriage Register showing marriage of Elisha Bellamy and Hannah Standsberry

Hannah must not have lived long after their marriage though because six years later Elisha is listed on a marriage certificate again, this time to a Sarah McNight. They were married on 3 October 1806.[3] 
Elisha Bellamy and Sarah McNight Wedding Record

Then again, in the marriage registers Sarah McWright  is listed as marrying an Isaac Bellamy on 3 October 1806. Is this just some strange coincidence? A mistake? Did Hannah really have a long and happy life as Elisha's wife? 

It's hard to tell since I haven't been able to locate a death record for Hannah. But it does seem pretty coincidental. Any suggestions?

Isaac Bellamy and Sarah McWright Marriage Record

[1] LDS, “New FamilySearch,” Nancy Parker death date.
[2] Davidson County, Tennessee, Marriage Records, Book 1: p. 17, Belemney-Standsberry, 1800; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
[3] Davidson County, Tennessee, Marriage Bonds and Licenses, Ballamy-McNight, 1806; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Three in Tennessee

In 1784, Nancy and Elisha were still living in Cumberland County where Nancy gave birth to their first child: a boy named Samuel after his paternal grandfather.[1] Sometime after the taxes were recorded in 1785, Elisha moved his family along the Wilderness Road—like many others of his time—to the edge of the wilderness: Tennessee. He purchased land in Robertson County in 1797 where they stayed nearly until Elisha’s death.[2]

  Above is the 1784 personal property tax list for Cumberland County, Virginia. Below is the tax list for 1785. After that date, Elisha didn't show up again in Cumberland County taxes. But he did show up in Tennessee land records. My Bellamys must have jumped on the migration bandwagon and moved to Tennessee.

[1] Elisha Bellamy, image 42, line 2, vol. 1784, Personal Property Tax Lists, 1782-1844; Commissioner of the Revenue; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Joe David Bellamy, The Bellamys of Early Virginia, 111
[2] Robertson County, Tennessee Deed Book, vol. B: 19, Samuel Hollis to Elisha Bellamey, 14 July 1797; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Friday, February 3, 2012

And Then There Were Two

In about 1781, Elisha married Nancy Parker. Nancy was born in the early 1760s.[1] There are two different sets of parents listed on new FamilySearch for Nancy, but I have found no information to distinguish which set of parents listed is actually hers. Nancy would have grown up in the same atmosphere as Elisha with the severely separated wealth classes in a county just changing from frontier life to more settled homesteads.
Although I am not sure what class Nancy would have fit in, I picture her among the more humble class. Life was certainly quite colorful for that group of people. Though it may be hard to picture now, days in a mid-eighteenth century farming community started with the rising of the sun and ended with its setting (unless someone planned a social gathering). “There has come down to us stories of these early parties with their stringed instruments and their merry dancing. . .” where there would be drinking for the men, sewing and gossiping for the women, dancing for the young people, and playing games for the children.[2]

[1] LDS, “New FamilySearch,” Nancy Parker birth and parental information.
[2] Garland Evans Hopkins, The Story of Cumberland County Virginia, 20.