Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

October 26, 2006

The Rock Island comes to Numa

There had already been a town named Bellair as far back as 1854 less than a half mile to the north of the future town of Numa. Both the town of Bellair and the township of Bellair had been named for the Ohio River town of Bellaire in Belmont County, Ohio, five miles below Wheeling, West Virginia. The name derives from the French phrase “bel air” meaning good air.

Bellair was founded by Alexander Jones on Oct. 7, 1854, Early establishments were the J. L. Matkin general store in 1855. blacksmith shops, millinery shop, druggist and a post office in 1859.

Some village landmarks were the white frame Methodist Church, (later a residence), the dilapidated Fisher Store, the house where the Joiner family lived, and the white frame Christian Church at the end of the lane, where E.E. Harvey preached on Sundays. Another old landmark was the hotel called the Holshouser house, formerly the Johnson Inn.

The famous, old school house was built in 1857 north of Main St. It was a tall two-story frame building around which centered the intellectual life of the community. The Brayton House was the village inn on the east end of Main St. The Braytons had a son, Andrew, who was killed in the Civil War at the Battle of Marks Mills.

Bellair was a bustling town for seventeen years. Then, in 1871, the Chicago and Southwestern Railroad (later called the Rock Island) found its way to the Bellair area . G.R. Huston and E.E. Harvey then established the town of Numa, which eventually absorbed Bellair as well as Hibbsville, two miles to the south. Commercial buildings and churches were moved to Numa.

The new town of Numa was surveyed by J. F. Stratton in 1871. Early Numa had a square with many businesses around it. The name of Numa was suggested by Captain E.E. Harvey, a local Christian minister. It is a shortening of Idumaea, a Biblical name.

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