Among the honored invited guests of the Mecklenburg Centennial, on the 20th of May, 1775, was James Belk, of Union county (formerly a part of Mecklenburg), now upwards of one hundred and ten years old! As recorded in a family Bible, printed in Edinburg in 1720, he was born on the 4th of February, 1765. He still resides on the same tract of land upon which he was born and raised, his father being one of the original settlers of the country. He is a man of fine intelligence; acted for many years as one of the magistrates of Mecklenburg county, and is still well preserved in mind and body. He recollects the death of his father, who was mortally wounded in the Revolutionary war, near the North Carolina line, and knows that his mother, fearing the mournful result, visited the place of conflict, and found him, severely wounded, in the woods near the road-side. She assisted him to their home, but soon afterward had him transferred to the residence of his grandfather for better attention, where he died.
He remembers distinctly the great meeting in Charlotte (then upwards of ten years old) on the 20th of May, 1775, when a Declaration of Independence was read by Colonel Polk, and heard his father speak of it, in presence of the family, after his return from Charlotte. His mother seemed to be greatly disturbed, supposing it would bring on war. Although then but a youth of tender years, the “scene” and the “declaration” made an indelible impression upon his memory. He says his recollection of events of that period, and a few years subsequently, is more vivid and distinct than those which transpired thirty years ago.
He has been twice married, having ten children by the first, and twelve by the last wife. He was accompanied to the centennial meeting by one of his younger sons, a lad “forty-one years” of age. His oldest child, a daughter, is still living, aged “eighty-eight years!” He named one of his sons Julius Alexander, an intimate friend and junior schoolmate. As he and Alexander grew up, they frequently heard the two meetings of the 20th and 31st of May, 1775, spoken of as being separate and distinct.
Having already attained a longevity seldom allotted to frail humanity, may continued health, prosperity, and, above all, the consolations of the Gospel, attend him in his remaining days upon earth!
P.S.–Thus the author wrote soon after the centennial celebration in Charlotte, on the 20th of May, 1875, but before these sketches go to the press, he is informed of the death of this veteran and worthy citizen; passing away calmly and peacefully, at his home in Union county, N.C. on the 9th of May, 1876, at the extreme old age of “one hundred and eleven years three months and five days!”