Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
The name Belcher indicates Norman origin for the family, and the Belcher surname is common in English history at least as far back as the reign of Henry VIII. Durikng that reign Edmund Belcher resided in Guildsborough, Northmaptonshire, and it is recorded among the list of grants at the time that Edmund's son, Alexander Belcher, was placed in lawful possession of the hamlet of Northoft, which included besides the lands a village of ninteen houses. An exodus of adventurous spirits of that name appear to have been directed to the New World in the seventeenth century, as we find four immigrants, named respectively Jeremy or Jeremiah, Edward, Andrew and Gregory Belcher, in the British province of Massachusetts Bay.
Jeremiah Belcher, born 1612, settled in Ipswich, was made a freeman in 1638.
Edward Belcher, in Boston, where he was made a freeman in 1631.
Andrew Belcher was the ancestor of Governor Belcher, and settled in Sudbury, 1639, Cambridge, 1646.
Gregory, in whom we are interested as the ancestor of the successive generations included in this sketch, who was a settler of Braintree, removed to Boston in 1634. It does not appear that these several immigrants were directly related, and each was the progenitor of a distinctive family in America.
(I) Gregory Belcher was an original member of the first church founded in Braintree, Mass. He took the oath administered to those desiring to become freemen in 1640, and in 1645 it is recorded that he was a committman "to Lay out the High waye through Dorchester Woods from Branntre Bounds to Roxbury bounds." He resided in Boston Town after 1634 and evidently was a man of importance and influence in the early days of the Metropolis of New England. He died in Boston, Nov. 25, 1674, Farmer says June 21, 1659, and his widow Katherine Belcher, died either in 1679 or 1680. They had eight children, amont whom were:
Josiah, born 1631.
Samuel, born Aug. 24, 1637.
Joseph, born Dec. 25, 1641.
(II) Josiah, son of Gregory and Elizabeth Belcher, was born in Boston in 1631. He was one of twenty-eight "Brethren who came off for the First Church in Boston, New England, and laid the Foundation of the Third church, partly on May 12, 1669, partly on May 16, 1669," according to the register of the Third Church familiarly known as the Old South Church, Boston.
He was married, March 3, 1655, to Ranis, daughter of Elder Edward Raynsford, who came in the fleet with Winthrop; was a brother of Lord Chief Justice Raynsford, the immediate successor of Sir Mathew Hale; one of the substituted men of the town of Boston and often mentioned in its history, being deacon in the First Church and with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Ranis, wife of Josiah Belcher, became members of the Third Church in 1674. Raynsford Island, Boston Harbor, which he owned, still preserves the name.
Josiah and Ranis (Raynsford) Belcher had twelve children;
Josiah, died in Boston, April 3, 1683, and his widow, Oct. 2, 1691.
(III) Edward, eighth child of Josiah and Ranis (Raynsford) Belcher, was born in Boston, Jan. 19, 1669, and late in life removed to the town of Stoughton, where he purchased an estate and spent the last years of his life. He died March 16, 1745, and his widow died March 5, 1752.
He married Mary Clifford, and they had six children. The youngest of these was named Clifford, his mother's maiden surname.
(IV) Clifford, youngest son of Edward and Mary (Clifford) Belcher, was married June 24, 1740, to Mehitable, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Clap) Bird, and granddaughter of John and Elizabeth (Williams) Bird, of Dorchester. He inherited his father's estate in Stoughton, and greatly added to it, residing there up to the time of his death, which occurred April 26, 1773. His widow, who was born in Dorchester Dec. 8, 1706, died in Stoughton, Feb. 20, 1779.
(V) Supply, sixth child of Clifford and Mehitable (Bird) Belcher, was born in that part of Stoughton now known as Sharon, Mass., March 29, 1751-52. He received a good English education but did not take up the classics, as he intended to engage in merchandizing. He became a merchant in Boston, and on the outbreak of the American revolution returned to Stoughton, where he purchased a large farm and also was the proprietor of Belcher's Tavern on the Taunton Road, now the village of South Canton, Mass. Suffering considerable losses, by reason of the long period of war, in which he served uncer a commission of captain received from General Washington, he migrated in 1785 to the District of Maine and located with his family on the Kennebec river at Hallowell, now Augusta. He lived in Hallowell, 1785-91, and while there was captain of the North Company of Milita. In 1791 he removed his family to Sandy River township and became a leader among the new settlers, and as agent of the proposed township he went before the general court in Boston and secured an act of incorporation and was elected the first town clerk and justice of the peace. He was the first representative for the town in the general court of Massachusetts, serving in 1798 and again in 1801 and in 1809, being the latter year a colleague of Nathan Cutter, the town having increased so in population as to be entitled to two representatives. He was a selectman of the town 1796 and 1797, and was for many years a prominent teacher of the public school.
He was skilled in the art of surgery and in administering simple medical remedies, although not a professional or licensed phyrician, he was called in cases where no regular physician could be obtained in the new settlement, and continued such service until a surgeon and physician settled in the place.
He was also an accomplished musician, member of the Stoughton Musical Society, and was a performer on the violin and composer of a collection of sacred music published as "Harmoney of Maine" (1794), and he became known in musical circles as the "Handel of Maine." He was the first choir leader in the church in Hallowell.
He married, May 2, 1775, Margaret, daughter of William and Margaret (Johnson) More. Mrs. Belcher was also a musician. Mr. Belcher died in Farmington, Maine, June 9, 1836, and his widow May 14, 1839, in the eighty-third year of her age.
1. & 2. Abigail Doty and Margaret Doty (twins), born in Stoughton, Mass., May 27, 1776, and both married and had children.
3. Clifford (q.v.), born in Stoughton, Jan. 17, 1778.
4. Samuel, born July 18, 1780.
5. Benjamin More, born Aug. 4, 1782.
6. Mehitable, born Oct. 17, 1784, died Sept. 20, 1785.
7. Methitable, born in Augusta, Maine, June 1, 1787, married Joseph Titcomb.
8. Hiram, born Feb. 23, 1790.
9. Martha Stoyell, born in Farmington, Maine, Feb. 20, 1795, married Thomas Hunter.
10. Betsey, born April 6, 1797, died Sept. 27, 1804.
(VI) Clifford (2), eldest son of Supply and Margaret (More) Belcher, was born in Stoughton, Mass. Jan. 17, 1778. He came with his father to the Sandy River Valley, when only thirteen years of age; the journey was made through the wilderness in midwinter, and occupied five days owing to deep snows and bad roads. He assisted his father in cultivating a farm, now the center of the town of Farmington, up to his twenty-first birthday, when he found employment in trade and occasional work on a farm. He acquired a large proprety and possessed superior business tact.
He married Jan. 27, 1811, Deborah Allen, daughter of Rev. Timothy and Sarah Williams Fuller, and granddaghter of Rev. Abraham Williams, of Sandwich, Mass. They had six children, and her husband died March 15, 1832, when her youngest child was nine years old. She died in Belfast, Maine, March 1, 1865.
1. Caroline Williams, born Oct. 18, 1812, married Nehemiah Abbott, a representative in the thirty-fifth U. S. congress.
2. Samuel (q.v.), born Dec. 8, 1814.
3. Deborah Ann, born Dec. 10, 1816, married Capt. Charles Gill.
4. Clifford, born March 23, 1819, Harvard, A.B., 1837.
5. Abraham Williams Fuller, born Aug. 26, 1821.
6. Timothy Fuller, born Aug. 3, 1823.
(VII) Samuel, eldest son of Clifford (2) and Deborah Allen (Fuller) Belcher, was born in Farmington, Maine, Dec. 8, 1814. He was educated at Farmington Academy and in law in the offices of his uncle, Hiram Belcher, and was admitted to the Kennebec bar on Dec. 8, 1835, the date on which he reached his majority. He practiced law in Orono, Maine, for two years, but returned to his native town in 1837, and there opened a law office. He served as town clerk, 1838-40; was postmaster of Farmington, 1840-49; representative from Farmington in the legislature of Maine, 1840-49-50; clerk of the house of representatives of the state, 1845-48, and speaker of the house, 1849-50; judge of probate of the county of Franklin, 1852-62 and 1879-84; county attorney, 1862-79. He was president of the board of directors of the Sandy River Bank from the time of its organization in 1853 and a trustee of Farmington Academy 1845 up to the time of its becoming the Farmington Normal school. He had a large law practice and had a commanding influence in the affairs of the town, always directed for its good.
He married, May 9, 1837, Martha Caroline Hepzibah, eldest daughter of Asa and Caroline (Williams) Abbott, who was born Sept. 18, 1819.
1. Samuel Clifford (q.v.), born March 20, 1839.
2. Anna Gill, born June 21, 1841, died Aug. 23, 1842.
3. Abbott, born March 17, 1843.
4. William Fuller, born March 13, 1845.
5. Fuller, born Sept. 13, 1852, died June 24, 1861.
6. Hamilton Abbott, born Aug. 18, 1854.
7. Mary Caroline, born July 25, 1856, married James Hayes Waugh.
8 & 9. Twins, born May, 1862, both dying in infancy.
(VIII) Samuel Clifford, eldest son and first child of Samuel and Martha C. H. (Abbott) Belcher, was born in Farmington, Maine, March 20, 1839, the seventh in line of descent from Gregory Belcher, the immigrant. He was prepared for college in his native town, matriculated at Bowdoin College in 1853 at the age of fourteen, and was graduated A. B., 1857. He was preceptor of Foxcroft Academy, 1857-60; law student in the office of Hon. Nehemiah Abbott, Belfast, maine, 1860-61, and on reaching his majority was admitted to the Franklin county bar.
He helped raise the Sixteenth Maine Volunteers, and on June 4, 1862, was made captain of Company G of that regiment, which was shortly after his promotion sent to the front. He was a participant in the battle of Fredericksburg, where he was slightly wounded, and this service was followed by his leding his company in the battles of the Chancellorsville campaign, and at the terrible battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 2 and 3, 1863. His regiment covered the retreat of the First Corps in the first day of the battle, and it is well established that the Sixteenth Maine held a position which two regiments had previously been obliged to fall back from on account of the terrible onslaught of the Confederates; and this was done at the cost to the regiment of every man of the gallant Sixteenth Maine save forty, who heroically held their ground until surrounded and thus captured. It was during the performance of this duty that the colors of the regiment were saved from capture by being cut in pieces and distributed to the remnant not killed or captured, and the famous order that accomplished this historical act was given by Captain Belcher while in command of the left wing of the regiment, and he was himself with the remnant taken prisoner of war. While being marched to Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia, Capt. Belcher succeeded in making his escape and gained the Federal lines.
On reaching Washington, with no regiment to report to, he was assigned to the staff of General Heintzelman as aide-de-camp, that officer being in command of the Department of Washington, D. C. He joined his reiment Nov., 1863, and was in the campaign of the Wilderness, and was present at the battles of Mine Run, the Wilderness and Spottsylvania, and in the latter engagement he was severly wounded by a bullet which pierced his skull and endangered his brain. He was not relieved of the pressure of the bullet for seventeen days, and not able to rejoin the army in the field until after the surrender. While in the field Governor Coney, on June 1, 1864, in recognition of his services, promoted him to the rank of major, and on being honorably discharged in 1865 he returned to Farmington and resumed the practice of law.
He was made an overseer of Bowdoin College, a member of the Maine Historical Society, and of the American Bar Association. General Belcher is past master of the Maine Lodge, A. F. and A. M.; past high priest, Franklin Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; past master of Jephthah Council, and member Pilgrim Commandery, Knights Templar. His service in the army secured for him companionship in the Maine Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U. S.
He was appointed by Governor Garcilon inspector-general on his staff with the rank of brigadier-general. He was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for representative in congress for the second district in 1876 and again in 1878.
Generl Belcher was married, Jan. 19, 1869, to Ella Olive, daughter of Spalding and Sarah (Rich) Smith, of Wilton, and their daughter, Frances Spalding, was born in Farmington, Nov. 27, 1869.