History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

William Henry Belk & Belk Bros.

New York Racket (Stack & Beasley 1902)
New York Racket (ca.1888 HRCollection)
 W.H. Belk and Brother
 (Stack & Beasley 1902)

“Andrew Jackson was not the only man born in the Waxhaw settlement who achieved great success in life. 
In war and politics, Jackson was a decided success, but in the great world of business, Belk Brothers have been equally as successful.
“W.H. [William Henry] Belk was born June 2nd, 1862, and J.M. [John Montgomery] Belk was born on July 12th, 1864, just across the line in South Carolina. They came to Monroe when boys and W.H. Belk clerked several years for B.D. Heath & Company. In 1888 he purchased a small stock of goods and opened a racket store in the building now occupied by Belk Brothers in Monroe.
1940 Close-out  before mov
Heritage Room Collection - circa 1897*


“Mr. Belk had plenty of experience, but little money. He had friends and he made more. His business grew rapidly, and in 1889 he established a racket store in Chester, South Carolina in partnership with A.W. Kluttz.

“In 1890, Dr. J.M. Belk bought an interest in the store at Monroe and moved here the same year. Previous to this he had been practicing his profession at Morven, N.C. and was a successful physician. He, too, possessed very limited means, but both the Belk boys had what was rather to be chosen than great riches. They had good names and their credit was good.

“In 1891 they opened a store at Union, S.C. with R.P. Harry under the firm name of Harry & Belk. In 1895 they went into Charlotte with a department store, occupying a building with four large rooms. Their success was immediate in that thriving city and they continued to branch out.

“In 1899 they opened up a department store in the hustling city of Greensboro, as Harry-Belk Brothers. During the same year they established another store at Gastonia, as Kindly Belk Bros. Company, Mr. W.E. Kindly in charge. At all points their affairs prospered and during this year (1902) they started up another large store at Salisbury as Belk-Harry Company, and another store at Waxhaw, incorporated as R.J. Belk Company, Mr. R.J. Belk in charge.

“Belk Brothers are also partners in the large grocery business of J.R. Simpson & Company on LaFayette Street, Monroe. Besides the various stores named above, they are stockholders in the Monroe Hardware Company, The Monroe Telephone Company, The W.J. Rudge Company’s book store, the Monroe Roller Mill, The Piedmont Fire Insurance Company (W.H. Belk being a director), and Cole Cotton Planter Manufactory, the last three at Charlotte; The Union Cotton Mill and the Union Hosiery Mills, at Union, S.C.; The Cliffside Cotton Mill, and also stock in a large New York hat house. They buy hats, hosiery, clothing, etc., from the mills and houses that they are interested in and thereby get them cheaper, as the profits of the middle men are eliminated.
“They own their own store buildings in Monroe, the beautiful new brick building occupied by the book store and telephone exchange, and other valuable real estate in this city. Mr. W.H. Belk owns individually an elegant orange grove in Florida, and some fine farm lands near Waxhaw. Dr. J.M. Belk will soon have completed the most elegant and costly residence in Monroe.
“The success of these two brothers is without precedent. From a humble beginning their business has grown as if by magic. They are born merchants. Affable, obliging, unselfish, public spirited, fair and honest, they make and hold friends without an effort. They are consistent members of the church and enjoy the esteem and confidence of all who know them.”

*1897 photo above: From left to right (per Monroe Enquirer, Sept. 1, 1938):
Frank Thomas, Walter Crowell, Miss Alice Norwood, Mrs. Carrie Rudge Coble, Henry Brown, Dr. Redfern (hands on hips), Ed Austin, Will Rudge (sitting), Henry Walkup, Billy Benton.   
--Old man standing in the door "Old Man Charley McCauley"
--Other sources:  Boy with cap, Albert Levy; Man with hands on hips, Walter Wallace

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W.H. Belk (forbes.com)
W.H. Belk (ancestry.com)
William Henry Belk (1862-1952)
W.H. Belk’s father Able Nelson Washington Belk was drowned by Union troops when W.H. was only three years old. W.H. married Mary Lenora Irwin (1882-1968) in 1915. Children: W.H. Belk Jr. (1916-2001), Sarah Walkup Belk (1918-2007), Irwin Belk (1922-2007), Henderson W. Belk (1923-2011) and Thomas Milburn Belk (1925-1997).

John Montgomery Belk (1864-1928) married Harriet Jane Bennett Little (1871-1918) in 1890.
Children: Nealie (1890-1953) married Amos Franklin Stevens, Sadie W. (1893-1963) married Michael Hudson, Mabel Claire (1895-1950) married Mark Dew, Daisy Ruth, 1897-1953), Hallie Mae (1900-1963) married John Clarence Daughtridge, Henry (1902-1970) married David Franklin Cannon (grandson of founder of Cannon Mills), and Johnnie Elizabeth (1908-1963) married Fred Blackmon.

1 comment:

  1. I was helping someone searching Belk surname (for family research, not about Belk stores) and noticed great information here about the Belk brothers' children. I observed that Henderson W. Belk (1923-2011)'s obituary mentioned that his brother, Irwin "Ike" Belk, was still living. So Irwin above wouldn't have passed "1922-2007". I took the liberty to also see that their sister, Sarah Belk Gambrell, also was still living in her brother's 2011 obituary (so she also couldn't have passed in 2007, either).

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