Contra Costa County











            JOHN T. BELSHAW. Notwithstanding the fact that he has reached an age that justifies the cessation of labor and the retirement from active business cares, John T. Belshaw retains important interests and in the many questions demanding his attention displays a versatility of mind and quickness of judgment not always found among men far younger than he. Seldom it is the good fortune of any one to meet a man who, at the age of three score and ten years, continues to a greater degree than does Mr. Belshaw the activities of younger years, the alertness of mind and the vigor of body; and these qualities enable him to oversee with accustomed promptness and system the affairs of the large mercantile house of Belshaw & Co., of Antioch, one of the leading establishments of its kind in Contra Costa county.

            Mr. Belshaw was born in Herkimer county, N. Y., June 4, 1834, being a son of William and Hulda (Durfee) Belshaw. As a boy he attended local schools, availing himself of the meager advantages offered for an education in that day. When he started out for himself at twenty years of age he traveled through the northwest, seeking employment and a location. During this period he familiarized himself with the carpenter’s trade and assisted in building mills. At the time of the agitation relating to the admission of Kansas as a free or slave state he joined the abolitionists in that undeveloped country, where he entered land in 1857. After having witnessed the John Brown campaign and assisted in making Kansas a free state, he returned east and for some years was interested in the manufacture of scythe stones in Vermont. Meanwhile his brother, Mortimer W. Belshaw, had become interested in extensive mining enterprises in California, and induced him to come west by offers of employment. After his arrival in 1869 he acted as manager, ore weigher, assayer and paymaster for his brother until 188o, when he turned his attention to an enterprise of a different nature.

            Under the firm name of Landow, Belshaw & Co. during the years 1880-83, Mr. Belshaw was interested in a merchandising business at Judsonville, Contra Costa county. On leaving that place he formed a co-partnership at Antioch with Mortimer and Jay P. Belshaw, and established a general store wherein may be found a full assortment of merchandise of every kind excepting hardware. Under the wise and conservative judgment of the proprietor a large trade has been established with the people of the town and surrounding country. Integrity in business transactions and the utmost probity in dealings with all have given to the firm a high standing, while the sound financial basis upon which the enterprise is established makes it an important factor in local commercial affairs. During the years of his residence in Antioch Mr. Belshaw has been a constant contributor to movements for the public good. His service as member of the school hoard covered a period of many years, and was productive of good to the educational interests of the place, while in the capacity of city trustee he fostered projects of undoubted merit and aided personally in the carrying through of progressive plans. While he has been influential in civic, educational and business affairs, he has not been neglectful of religious obligations, but has been a contributor to the support of the Congregational Church, an active worker in assisting its various benevolences and a member of its board of trustees for many years. The attractive residence which he owns and which is one of the most valuable properties in Antioch is presided over by his wife, formerly Margaret Rapp, a native of Rome, N. Y. Their family consists of three children, namely: William W. and John T. Jr., who are employed in the store, and Imogene Violet, a student in the high school.





Transcribed by Marie Hassard 31 July 2014.

­­­­Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 255-256. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2014  Marie Hassard.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library