When digging into the Odell/Doubleday line of my ancestry, I noticed a suggested ancestor whose name was Joseph Belt. Along with the suggestion came a picture, which is rare for someone who lived in the early 1700s. As I clicked on it, I found that it was a picture of a historical marker.
The marker says:
Colonel Joseph Belt 1680 Maryland 1761 Patentee of “Cheivy Chace” Trustee of First Free Schools in Maryland One of the Founders of Rock Creek Parish Member of the House of Burgesses Colonel of Prince George’s County Militia during French and Indian War
Erected by the Society of Colonial Wars in the District of Columbia November 12 A.D. 1911
According to official National Archive documents for the Society of Colonial Wars in the District of Columbia, this historical marker/memorial was in fact dedicated on November 12th, 1911. Following a number of hymns, the chaplain overseeing the service read aloud:
“On behalf of the Society of Colonial Wars in the District of Columbia, I do dedicate this boulder, erected by the said Society, to the memory of Joseph Belt.”
Having researched him a bit further, I discovered that he was the founder of the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, DC, which back in the early 18th century wouldn’t have been much, but it was still cool that he was the founder of what eventually became one of the most affluent areas of the District. I thought it was fascinating that he was a colonel in the Prince George’s County militia, which meant he could have been in command of several hundreds (perhaps 1,000 or more militiamen).
Considering the location of Prince George’s County Maryland, which splits the distance between Washington, DC and Annapolis, Maryland, it is possible that Belt and his men could have been under then Lieutenant Colonel and future first US President George Washington, although that is unlikely because Washington was in command of forces from Virginia. It is more likely that he was under General Braddock’s command and could have participated in the assault on Fort Duquesne.
As I became more engrossed in Belt’s history, I decided to give him a visit. On March 4th, I rode my bike from Arlington, Virginia up Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC, all the way to Chevy Chase Circle, which intersects Connecticut, Western, and Nebraska Avenues on the border with Maryland.
After incorrect coordinates for the marker led me astray for about 15 minutes, I found the market, located in the boulder, in front of the All Saints Church, on the southwest corner of the circle. It looked just as it did in the pictures I found. It was a gorgeous day with the sun shining on it, so I decided to take a picture with the monument to my 7th-great-grandfather.
I also discovered another dedication to Joseph Belt, a small road with his name on it, so after I snapped a few more pictures, I took a ride on his road and found some street signs with his name on them.
For more on my ancestry and family tree, check out these other posts: