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William Dunbar "Will" Belden
Birth: Dec. 13, 1850
South Hadley Falls
Hampshire County
Massachusetts, USA
Death: Jul. 7, 1939
Rochester
Olmsted County
Minnesota, USA

WILLIAM DUNBAR BELDEN was born at South Hadley Falls, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts, 13 December 1850; died suddenly of a infarction cyocardium at Rochester, Olmsted Co., Minnesota 7 July 1939 while visiting his daughter, Anstis [South Hadley Falls VR, Births; Olmsted Co. VR, Deaths, filed 12 July 1939; His Obituary, The Caledonia Journal, Front page, left column, 13 July 1939].

William married at Waseca, Waseca Co., Minnesota, 5 September 1883, Sarah Jane (WELCH) JENNISON [Waseca Co. VR, Marriages, Bk. B, p. 157, filed 19 Sept. 1883].

William removed, as a small boy, with his parents to Caledonia, Houston Co., Minnesota, in April 1854. He grew up on the family farm at Caledonia and was later to remember the Civil War as a period of hard work, owing to the absence of farm field hands during the war [Evelyn Brocher, pers. comm., 1993]. There he attended both public and private schools. He attended the University of Minnesota, 1871-72, and returned to Caledonia in 1872, where he founded the Caledonia Academy, a private high school, which he ran until 1880. In 1871, William was one of four people who attended the State S S Convention at St Paul [Caledonia Journal, 4 July 1871]. In 1873 William was a member of the Literary Society held at the Caledonia Academy. He was appointed as school supervisor in 1876 [History of Houston Co. 1919]. He was a Bon Ami Club officer in 1878. In the summer of 1880 he spent 6 months in the mining district in Colorado on account of poor health (he may have there visited his Dunbar cousins who resided in Park Co., Colorado). He returned to Caledonia in the fall of 1880 and bought a drug store from C. B. COE on 1 October 1880 [Hist. of Houston Co., p. 363, 1882].

William and Sarah resided at Caledonia, Minnesota, between 1883 and 1885, when they removed to Waseca to be closer to Sarah's parents. They returned to Caledonia by 17 April 1889 due to the lack of business at store at Waseca [W. D. Belden's Memorial to Sara Jane Welch; Caledonia Journal]. He re-established his drug business at his old stand on Main Street, "having at much expense fitted up the store in the most modern style and having a complete new outfit of the latest and most approved apparatus for chemical and prescription work, I feel that with my increased experience I am far better prepared to serve them then formerly and shall be very happy to have them call and see me" [Advertisement, Caledonia Journal, 17 April 1889]. From 1890 to 1897 William D. owned and published the Argus Newspaper at Caledonia [1895 Minnesota State Census, Houston Co., Caledonia, p. 4, microfilm]. From 1885 to 1894 William acted as an elder of Caledonia's Presbyterian Church [Caledonia Pride, p. 46, 1996]. Sarah attended a Monday evening meeting of the Eastern Star at Minneapolis [Caledonia Journal, 16 May 1900].

During 1903, Sarah's parents removed in with her family at Caledonia, Houston Co., Minnesota. Her father died there in 1906; her mother died there 16 May 1915.

On 27 August 1903 William signed papers for the incorporation of the Belden-Fullerton-Rhines Medical Co., and acted as its president and treasurer; he owned the business in 1911 [Art. of Incorp., H. C., Bk. 1, p. 197-9; Caledonia Journal, Dec. 1911, spec. edition]. In 1910 he agitated for a new city hall for Caledonia, Minnesota. He was the vice-president of the Houston Chapter of the Red Cross during World War I. Throughout his life William was active in the Democratic Party. In the 1920 census William and Sarah were enumerated at Caledonia, where William still worked as a druggist [1920 U.S. Census, Minnesota, Houston Co., Caledonia, ED 64, S. 14B, entry 364/374, microfilm].

William was short of stature but was energetic and civic-minded. He took an interest in all things scientific, and as a budding geologist I was told that he enjoyed hunting for fossils in the rock exposures near Caledonia. His diary reveal a man dedicated to his family and very much in love with his wife and children. Being apart from his family was an agony for him. His granddaughter told that his visits to Viroqua, Wisconsin, would bring consternation to his daughter, Arvilla, because he insisted on walking from the bus station with his luggage, rather than accept a ride from his daughter.

During the 1920's and 1930's Sarah Jane and William often spent portions of the winters at Long Beach, California, visiting their sons.

William's 1936 diary reveals that he remained interested and mentally alert, expressing interest in the 1936 Presidential election campaign, and describing his visits to Pasadena, California, Rochester, Minnesota, and Viroqua, Wisconsin, to visit his children, grandchildren, and sister.

The final decree of his will, dated 22 April 1940, mentions William W. BELDEN, Anstis D. PATCHIN, and Arvilla B. NUZUM [Houston Co. Prob. Rec., Bk. 146, p. 79-80]. William and Sara Jane are buried side-by-side at Evergreen Cemetery, Caledonia, Houston Co., Minnesota.

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His Obituary, The Caledonia Journal, Thursday, 13 July 1939, page 1.

Pioneer Businessman Summoned by Death

William Dunbar Belden, 89, pioneer educator and businessman, died suddenly at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Anstis Patchin, in Rochester, Minn., at 5 o'clock Friday afternoon, July 7th. Funeral services were held at the Potter Funeral Home in Caledonia on Sunday afternoon. Burial was made in the Evergreen Cemetery. The Rev. H. W. Hynes officiated at the services.

Mr. Belden was born at South Hadley Falls, Mass., on December 13, 1850, son of James J. and Anstis F. (Dunbar) Belden. He was a child in his fourth year when he accompanied his parents to Caledonia. He acquired his early education in public and private schools and later attended the Caledonia Collegiate Institute. In 1871 he entered the University of Minnesota, where he pursued more advanced studies. After completing his university education, Mr. Belden returned to Caledonia to found the Caledonia Academy, one of the first educational institutions of its kind in the state. This institution he conducted for eight years, or until 1880, when, on account of ill health, he went to Colorado, and spent six months in the mining districts. Then returning to Caledonia, he purchased the drug business of Mr. Coe, whose store was located in the building now occupied by the McCarthy Produce Co. In 1885 he sold his store and move to Waseca, Minn., where he engaged in the drug business until the spring of 1889. Then once more returning to Caledonia, he started a drug store.

In the following year, 1889, he bought the Caledonia Argus and was its publisher until 1897. In 1903 Mr. Belden organized the Belden-Fullerton-Rhines Medicine Company, he himself being the president and general manager. This company conducted business until 1918, when Mr. Belden purchased the outstanding stock and became the sole proprietor.

As early as 1876 Mr. Belden was appointed county superintendent of schools, but never served, as before he took office the legislature had mad the position an elective one. He did, however, serve as a valued member of the Caledonia Board of Education. From 1893 to 1897 he was deputy collector of revenue for the First Congressional District. He was the first president of the Caledonia Commercial Club. He also served as a member of the Village Council. After retiring from active business in 1928, he spent his summers in Minnesota and his winters in California from where he returned but a few weeks prior to his death.

On Sept. 5, 1883, Mr. Belden was united in marriage at Waseca, Minn., to Sarah W. Jennison. Mrs. Belden passed away several years ago. Surviving are the children, Mrs. Anstis Patchin, of Rochester, Minn., William W. Belden, of Long Beach, Calif., Mrs. Leland Nuzum, of Viroqua, Wis. He is also survived by four grandchildren and a sister, Miss Evaline Belden, of Rochester, Minn. A son, James E. Belden, preceded his father in death.

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Letter from William Dunbar Belden to his daughter, Arvilla Belden Nuzum, Tuesday, 13 Feb. 1934, Westwood Hills, Calif.

My Dear Arvilla and Family:

Sunday at 2:10 p.m. your dearly beloved Mother passed away. She went quietly and peacefully to the last long sleep. She did not ever realize her sad condition nor was she apparently conscious of pain or suffering. Her brief periods when she partially regained consciousness she seemed to be in a sort of happy dream and once when I asked if she was better she replied "I am better. I feel as happy." She seldom said more than yes or no to questions.

She has gone from us, but she will ever live in our heart of hearts and be a constant inspiration to us all in the years to come. She did not want to live and be helpless, a burden to herself or to her loves ones.

It is a great consolation for us all to know that none of the things she so much dreaded and feared has been her fate. She is now free from all her worries. To live is more serious than to die.

Sunday morning we saw that the end was near she phoned to Marvel her condition and she came over at once and remained with us until Mother passed away. After the undertaker had taken charge and removed the body we left the apt. to the care of the landlord. We have it cleaned and put to order and went with Marvel to her home where we are now staying.

Jim wired us he would be here tomorrow at 8:15 a.m. So we decided to have the funeral services Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Yesterday Marvel took Will and me and her mother over to Long Beach where we made all arrangements for the funeral and the cremation of the remains.

Marvel is doing every thing possible for our comfort and entertainment.

My plans for the future are not very settled yet. I plan to return sometime after the middle of May and take Mother's ashes to Caledonia for burial. I shall spend the summer back there. Farther than that I have no definite plans.

I greatly appreciate your kind loving offer to come and make my home with you. Anstis also has offered me a place with her and Marvel says they would like me to make a house with them.

I may decide to spend my summers with you and Anstis and my winters with Jim and Bill out here where there is no winter.

The future will decide these questions.

Your wire to me was received yesterday and your request in regard to flowers will be attended.

Many thanks for your loving message.

With much love to you all

Dad and Bill



 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  James Johnson Belden (1822 - 1913)
  Anstis Fidelia Dunbar Belden (1827 - 1902)
 
 Spouse:
  Sarah Jane Welch Belden (1860 - 1934)*
 
 Children:
  William Welch Belden (1884 - 1942)*
  Anstis Downing Belden Patchin (1886 - 1949)*
  James Ernest Belden (1891 - 1938)*
  Arvilla Belden Nuzum (1896 - 1968)*
 
 Siblings:
  William Dunbar Belden (1850 - 1939)
  Evaleen Sarah Belden (1858 - 1940)*
  James Ernest Belden (1860 - 1872)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Evergreen Cemetery
Caledonia
Houston County
Minnesota, USA
 
Created by: Tom Brocher
Record added: Dec 25, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 82358165
William Dunbar Will Belden
Added by: Tom Brocher
 
William Dunbar Will Belden
Added by: Tom Brocher
 
William Dunbar Will Belden
Added by: Tom Brocher
 
 
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