"Joseph and Margaret Bare came
from Baresville, Ohio in a covered wagon when James Sanford was a young lad. This
fact obviously dates the trip as occuring in the early 1850's. They first came to an
area known as Lone Oak, Ill which is between Parkersburg and West Salem, Ill but much
nearer to West Salem. Lone Oak was a staging area for covered wagons as they
converged on southern Illinois from the east. After a few weeks, Joseph and Margaret
moved on to a place called Fordas Bottom. This was nothing more than a crossroad
church located approx. 3 miles north and 1 mile west of what is now known as
Bellmont. After a few months at Fordas Bottom, they moved in to Bellmont which was
just being settled as a town. It was called Bellmont after a man named Mont Bell.
This settlement became a rather thriving small farm town in the ensuing years with
general stores, livery stable, blacksmith, undertaker, newspaper, bakery and so on.
It prospered fairly well until WWI and thereafter slowly declined to nothing more than a
small quiet country town with a population of 400 in the thirties and 300 in the
was a general tradesman and before he could get settled down in Bellmont, the civil war
had started. He joined in 1861 or 1862 to represent his family. Little is
known about the family through the civil war years or any other part of the 60's, but
early in the 1870's James Sanford [Bare]
married Arletta Rebecca Middleton. The
mother of Arletta was named Rigg and a grandfather Rigg served in the Revolutionary War.
Arletta had at least two sisters. One named Maria married Will Crow and
another, name unknown at this time, who was the mother of Blanche Rigg Tanquary.
Blanche has one daughter, Mary Elizabeth, now living in Mt. Carmel, Ill who has a family
tree of the Middletons and Riggs with the service number of the Rigg who served in the
revolutionary war. From his marriage to Arletta, James Sanford [Bare]
acquired 40 acres on the SW edge of Bellmont. They started an apple and cherry
orchard as well as a mill to produce cider and sauce. Apparently farmers could bring
their fruit to the mill and get juices, butter, sauce, etc. At first a horse did the
grinding and squeezing by pulling the mill around in circles. This business provided
a reasonable living and the horse later replaced with a steam driven engine for the
grinding process, around 1890. Shortly after the turn of the century, Arletta died
(1907) and James Sanford lost all interest in the mill. As a result the business
ceased and the fruit trees slowly cut down to make room for farming.
Bare was a carpenter by trade, building homes, barns, etc. as well as
remodeling. This work was mostly for nearby farmers. He bought his first car,
a 1919 model T Ford in 1926. This and his successive cars permitted him to be mobile
enough to find work in the more outlying districts. During the depression he took
work when and wherever he could find it. In the early 1930's, he had to resort to a
fair amount of harvest and field work, working 12 hours a day for $1. During the
depression days, farmers did not fare too well so he had to resort to the WPA
intermittently. This program provided stability through the remainder of the 30's
until he could once again return to full time carpentry.
Joseph and Margaret
Bare are buried in the Bellmont Cemetery in the northern half and near the center
of the NE quadrant. James Sanford and Arletta [Bare]
with relatives are buried in the same northern half but more to the eastern side.
Gravestones for all are well preserved and easy to read.
In approx. 1890, John
James, his wife and two or three children came in a covered wagon from the
country somewhere near Poplar Bluff, MO to settle on a farm in Richland County, south of
Noble, IL. John James' grandfather and Jesse James' father were brothers [yes,
THE Jesse James of western legend]. In the late 1890's, John's
wife spilled a skillet of hot grease in her face, went blind, and died soon after.
John remarried four more times. He was a somewhat short, thin, wirey type man about
5'6" or so. He had narrow eyes and talked little, but you could tell he was
thinkg all the time even though his thoughts probably were not too often
complimentary. Edna [Middleton Bare] describes him
as a 'mean and honery old man who didn't like children'. John owned a few acres of
second grade farm land with a small county house on top of a little hill. One room
of the house was later convered into a country store. The farm was located five or
six miles south of Noble, IL.
told stories of remembering John and his brothers going to town for supplies and she could
see them in their wagon for two days as they went winding around the mountains. She
also told about hyenas crying outside her window and scaring her very much. She was
also chased by a bobcat while riding a house bareback. Nellie [James] played songs
like 'Red Wing', 'It ain't gonna rain no more', etc on the harmonica.She was convinced
that Jesse James was a good man regardless of his dishonorable deeds and questionable
Nellie Magnolia James
married Albert Middleton of Noble. Very little is known about
Albert's background or history. He was about 5'8" tall, always seemed to wear
wellington boots because of the mud on the farm. He was mildly religious and sang in
the church choir. He would never curse nor even shout at the children. Edna
]Middleton] remembers as one of her most endearing moments of childhood, the
times he would hold her in his lap and sing 'In the sweet bye and bye'. Although he
was very mild mannered, he never seemed to be happy. Life had been very difficult
for him. He died waiting for the discovery of oil on his property, whihc never did
come. Not even after his death. (Within half-mile).
Albert and Nellie [James]
Middleton lived in Decker Township on 23 acres of poor farm land, 3 miles south of Noble
and 1/2 mile west. They had 2 horses named Lucifer and Maud. TRhere were no
wells on the property, so they had to carry waer 1/2 mile from a creek for washing and 1/2
mile from a neighboring well for drinking. Winter time meals were largely cornbread,
biscuits, sour crabapple sauce and clabber milk. Edna [Middleton] reports that in
the summertime, they really looked forward to fresh vegetables as well as her favorite
blackberry and gooseberry dumplings. They were indeed poor and progressed little
throughout the years. Edna [Middleton] went to 6th grade and was happy to quit
because she was too embarrassed when they ate lunch. This was so because her and her
sister Mae had to eat their cold biscuits and crabapple sauce while the other children ate
sandwiches. Edna remembers one cold winter night when she was called to a supper of
the same biscuits and sauces she sat down and cried, asking for something better and was
told there was nothing else. For outer clothing and under garments, they used sugar
and flour sacks as material but used feed sacks for pillow cases and sheets because they
were too rought for wearing. Gloves were made by using old worn out clothing cutting
to size around the hand placed on the cloth.
and Edna [Middleton] were married in the Olney, IL courthouse on Dec 29,
1915. They then took a train to Browns, IL where a horse and buggy met them for the
trip 4 miles east to Bellmont. Arthur's sister Minnie [Bare] had a large dinner with
a cake ready for them. This was a big delight for Edna who had never enjoyed such a
meal. They also had a wedding shower where she received a rolling pin, 1 towel and 2
bowls. One of the things Edna remembers most about getting married was how much she
injoyed not carrying water for the cooking and washing. She said that because she
was the oldest, she always had to do the fetching. Arthur and Edna [Bare] lived with
James Sanford [Bare], the father of Arthur, until James Sanford died in 1922. Things
went pretty well until the depression days of the thirties which were very difficult as it
was for most others. They had one acre on the edge of town and raised chickens for
eggs as well as meat during the summer. The roosters were for eating and the pullets
were kept for eggs. Two or three pigs were raised each year for winter meat and they
always had a jersey cow for milk. There were two large gardens for vegetables.
Edna always had her flowers around the house and a row or two down through the
garden. They lived there until 1976 when they moved to the new Senior Citizens bldg
in Mt. Carmel, IL.
John James was
buried in Decker Township Cemetery located 3 miles south of Noble and then approx. 2 mile
east. The crossroads 3 miles south of Noble was called Town Hall and should be used
as reference when going two miles east to locate the cemetery. Albert
Middleton was buried in Green Hill Cemetery 3 miles south of Noble."