BELLAIRE, A Small Town in Clay County
(This information comes from one of many folders about Clay County towns in the Library files.)
Bellaire was a small town in Clay Co., Washington Township, platted in Feb. 1852 by A. H. L. BAKER. It was located three miles south of Bowling Green at the bend of the Eel River, at the mouth of Six Mile Creek, near the bridge of the old Greencastle-Carlise Road.
Clay Co. was founded in 1825; the State Legislature noted the importance of the Eel River as being navigable in 1829, when it instructed the trustees of this county to clear the river of drifts. Many of our settlers had come up the river by canoe, and shipping had been done below New Brunswick, where there was a large drift.
In 1850, two events were occurring that caused the founding of Belliare. The most important of these was the completion of the side cut of the Wabash Erie Canal, which connected Bowling Green with Terre Haute by water…and the second event was the general agitation for relocation of the county seat from Bowling Green to another town. Many small towns were platted (Jonesville, Ashborro, Anguilla, New Amsterdam, and others) including Bellaire in the hopes of getting the county seat.
In May 1850, the first water from the Side Cut and reservoir came up to Bowling Green with slack water up to THOMAS Ferry. So delighted were the people of Clay County, a group started out in a boat for Terre Haute but were grounded. In the latter part of May a boat, “The Olens,” brought a large group of Terre Haute people to Bowling Green, firing their cannon at the Junction, the dam, Bellaire and at Bowling Green, where a large celebration was held.
The opening of the canal stimulated business enterprise and commercial activity. At Bowling Green, the head of slack-water navigation, the firm of FULLER, MELTON and KENNEDY, composed of Jesse FULLER, John M. MELTON, and Joseph KENNEDY, built a large warehouse on the east side of the Eel River, just below the present Bowling Green bridge and a canal boat, “Belle of Bowling Green,” which was run by John EGRET. The first of many shipments of grain to Lafayette and to Toledo was made in August 1850. Because of the Eel River’s current a towboat, “Bull of the Woods,” was built to pull boats to Bowling Green. In 1850 a company was formed by Oliver CROMWELL to build a steamboat, but this was never done. FULLER, MELTON, and KENNEDY went out of business and later their warehouse was converted to the STUCKY Brewery. John W. ECRET and John MELTON continued the shipping of grain on their boat, “The Ohio,” which they owned until 1861. This was the last boat to come into Bowling Green.
Thus, the bend of the river was a more logical place for a shipping point and Mr. A. H. L. BAKER with visions a commercial center and resort, platted Bellaire in February 1852. He named it after his birthplace, Bellaire, Hartford County, Maryland. To substantiate his dreams, he erected a large warehouse and a commodious hotel with many rooms and numerous outlooks; this, however, was never finished. The history books are sketchy, but it does state that Bellaire had good mercantile trade, stores and shops, a post office, plus a Methodist Church and a school. Mr. BAKER engaged in shipping and warehousing grain and owned the boat “Eight O’s”. Regular shipping was also carried on James MUSHETT, operating out of Bellaire the “Julia Dean” boat.
A highly influential man, Lewis ROW, who lived across the line in Owen County, succeeded Mr. BAKER in business. Mr. ROW shipped grain for quite a few years. Another firm GOSHORN and Co. located at Bellaire in 1857; a second warehouse was built and grain was shipped until 1865.
With the canal being abandoned, the unrest during the Civil War and the almost certainty of agitation for Brazil to become the county seat, Bellaire just became a crossroad. There are now no marks remaining on the site to indicate that Bellaire ever existed. Wm. Travis stated in his A History of Clay County Indiana, 1909: “At the angle, or bend, of the stream a half mile above the RHODES Bluff, at the mouth of Six Mile, a part of the ground on which stood the town of Bellaire is now swept by the flow of the stream. It may be truthfully said that grounds are now being cultivated or pastured along the course of Eel river which, at a former time, were so utilized on the opposite side.” (Page 80)
Of the three names we find in the history connected with Bellaire, Mr. BAKER was a schoolteacher in Bowling Green at some time. Mr. Lewis ROW, born in Pennsylvania, was a hardworking farmer, and after leaving his business in Bellaire was elected to the State Legislature in 1853. Mr. Nicolas GOSHORN later moved to Clay City.