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The History of Bellmont Precinct

Bellmont Precinct was formerly called Bonpas Precinct and changed to Bellmont in September 1881. The former name likely went back as far as the organization of Edwards County. The village of Bellmont was not founded until about 1872. The first settlers are recorded as coming in 1816.

A Moutrey brought his family and settled on the SE 1/4 of section 24 R 14 W, T1 S in 1816. The geographical location s are more difficult to describe by section in this precinct because both the north-south line dividing R 13 W from R 14 W and the east-west line dividing T1 S from T2 S run through Bellmont precinct. Mr. Moutrey's property would be north of Bellmont and on the west side of the Old Bellmont Curve (formerly called Dead Man's Curve, because of its sharp turn).

Staley D. McClure and Eli Reed also arrived in 1816. McClure came from Kentucky where he was living during the war of 1812. He settled in Section 28 of T1S, R 13 W, 2 miles northwest of Bellmont, near Maud. McClure served as Justice of the Peace and had a large family. They all moved away.

Jacob Arnold came to Kentucky before 1812 and came to this county in 1816 with his brother John Arnold. Jacob married Rebecca Thompson in 1818. Jacob and wife settled in section 5 T2S, 1 mile southwest of Bellmont. He was a hunter of deer and bear. John Arnold also came from Kentucky with his wife and children; Isaac, James and Lucinda. John was also a hunter and he would move his home as hunting necessitated. He eventually moved to Missouri and died there. (I was not able to find any records tying these early settlers to the Arnold family now in Wabash County.)

In 1818 William Wilson and his family settled near the Bonpas Creek in the SE 1/4 of Section 3, T1S, R14W. He was a farmer and tanner. The place he settled was called Wilson's Prairie and is now called Crackle's Prairie. The land had been owned previously by Englishmen J. and J. Dunlap. George Wheeler arrived with Wilson and also settled in Section 3 and was also a tanner.

Andrew F. Dyar came from Wood County, VA in 1820 with five children; Susanna F, Sally R., John D., Elizabeth and Andrew. He settled on the W 1/2 of the SE 1/4 of Section 3 on the Bonpas near Wilson.

Also in 1818 William Tanquary arrived from Virginia with his wife Mary (Gibbons) and children Delilah, Reuben, Fielding, Mary Ann, Lydia, William, Alfred and Amelia. His children Rebecca and James were born after arriving. The family had lived in Ohio before coming to Illinois. William Tanquary settled on the N 1/2 of Section 30, T1 S.. He was a good farmer. The youngest son, James, lived on the old homestead for many years. James was an associate judge of the county for 1 full term and finished out the term of another judge. With the Tanquary family came Johnathan Gilkinson, the husband of Delilah Tanquary. Gilkinson was a farmer and carpenter and had a large family. He was one of the first carpenters in the area.

William Deputy arrived in 1818 and was a prosperous farmer. His property was in the SE 1/4 of Section 21 T1S, R13 W--about 2 miles northeast of Bellmont and on the south side of what is now called Poplar Road (N 1400 Blvd.) Deputy was a Justice of the Peace and had a large family.

The Rigg family, 2 sets of brothers and cousin came to the county from Virginia. Some of them went to Kentucky first then moved to the precinct in the fall of 1817. Brothers Robert and Samuel Rigg came by way of Kentucky. Samuel married Rachel Beauchamp, sister of the Rev. William Beauchamp (one of the founders of Mt. Carmel). Robert and Samuel settled east of Bellmont in the NW 1/4 of Section 32, T1S, R13 W.

Brothers George and James Rigg also were in Kentucky before coming to this area in 1819. George was the father of four sons; Robert, Jefferson, Alfred, Harvey and a daughter. James settled 3 miles NE of Bellmont. He was the father of Daniel, Harvey and Stephen. Cousin Charles came from Virginia in the spring of 1818 with his four sons: Townly II, John, Arthur and Charles Jr. Although some of these Rigg families are listed in the D.C. Williams book "Wabash County Lineages" it was not possible for me to make any connections to the modern Rigg families in the short time I had to study the family It was very confusing.

Some early land entries in the precinct were listed in the "Combined History of Lawrence, Edwards and Wabash Counties" as follows:

On March 5, 1816 James Stilwell purchased the SE 1/4 of Section 4, R13W. This is on the Bonpas Creek and in Edwards County now.

October 25, 1816 James Miller purchased the NE 1/4 of Section 30. This property is at the St. Sebastian Church crossing.

On August 1, 1817 George Flowers purchased the SE 1/4 of Section 4, R13 W and then on December 8, 1818 Flowers also purchased the SE 1/4 of Section 3, R14W. These properties were on either side of the Bonpas Creek where the railroad crosses from Wabash to Edwards County at Browns. Flowers was the founder of Albion.

by Claudia Dant, Wabash County Museum

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