Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums
Belinda Elliot McLellan
Scope and Content
This item was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in 2018.
Belinda Elliot McLellan was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, on April 6, 1816. She was the fourth child of Judge Samuel Elliot and Linda Hayes, aunt of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Linda Hayes’ first husband was John Pease whom she married in 1803. They were the parents of one child, John Rutherford Pease born in 1804.
Belinda Elliot married in Brattleboro to Robert William Bolton McLellan August 27, 1839. They were the parents of three children: Janet (Jennie), Sophia, and Mary. In 1852, Robert McLellan lost his store and factory after signing a note for a friend. In poor health and suffering from depression, McLellan accepted a business proposition from Belinda’s half- brother, John R. Pease, a hardware merchant then living in Fremont, Ohio The family moved to Fremont and lived with Pease and the Vallette family for the next six months. For ten years, McLellan served as the secretary-treasurer of the Fremont and Indiana Railroad Company that began operation in 1861. Robert also became an insurance agent. Deeply religious, the family became members of Fremont’s Presbyterian Church where McLellan served as an elder. The McLellans moved to Vandalia, Illinois in 1869 perhaps to be near their elder daughter, Jennie, who had married James Fitch in 1862.
Belinda Elliot McLellan died in Redwood City, California, August 31, 1873. President Rutherford B. Hayes wrote the following tribute on a notice that he received of her funeral: Belinda Elliot McLellan was the daughter of my father’s sister. She was possessed of talents of a high order, an excellent education, and a temper and disposition almost perfect. A poet of some excellence and a superior prose writer. Her deafness and circumstances in life prevented her from being much known. In the small circle of her intimate friends she was dearly loved. She was religious – her piety a reality. Robert William Bolton McLellan also died in California, December 23, 1890. Both Belinda and Robert are buried in Redwood City’s Union Cemetery located in San Mateo County.
Scope and Content
Written intelligently and in a fine hand, the journal of Belinda Elliot McLellan begins in 1841 with obituaries of several generations of her family. Rather than a daily diary, the journal entries that start in 1852 represent an accounting of the lives of her immediate family and close relatives. There are given generally on birthdays, holidays, and sometimes on Sundays. The journal extends through 1871, when Belinda presents it to her daughter Mary.
Of primary importance to Belinda is the strength of her Christian beliefs and those of her daughters Jennie and Mary. She focuses on gratitude, patience, obedience and acceptance. Frequently, Belinda recounts the sermons of Reverend Bushnell of the Fremont Presbyterian Church. Citing the sermon’s Bible verses, she dwells on its meaning for her personally and how she can become a better mother and her daughters can become better Christians. In 1871, Belinda considers destroying her journal, but decides that it has some value for her daughter. Belinda expresses regret that she has not included more of the daily happenings of their lives.
Also, included in this journal are daughter Mary’s notations in pen and pencil made many years later as she reads her mother’s entries.
Journal, 1841 – 1871, approx. 120 pp.