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29 August 2015

Ellen Washington Bellamy: Strong and Faithful

Middle Georgia has an awesome genealogy and history record source in the Washington Memorial Library, located in Macon. It's situated on Washington Avenue, at the site of the old James H. R. Washington home place. The benefactor behind the library was James' daughter Ellen. And the genealogical and historical room, specifically, was founded by the Mary Hammond Washington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mary Hammond Washington being Ellen's mother.

Ellen Clayton Washington was born 12 April 1842 in Macon.  Her father was at one time mayor of each Milledgeville and Macon, in addition to being a banker and a planter, so as you might imagine Ellen was a well-off and well-educated young lady.

If you'll permit me to jump ahead to the end of Ellen's life for a bit:  she rests in the Washington family lot, Central Avenue Division of Rose Hill Cemetery.  Here is an image of a portion of her ledger marker grave stone --

Enhanced image.  Original by James Allen.

After seeing that, I'm sure you'll understand my surprise in discovering Ellen was actually married for a time. As I began researching her life, I quickly started seeing the name "Ellen Washington Bellamy" come up. It didn't take too long to convince me these two individuals (at first blush) were one and the same.

Finding the first name of Ellen Washington's husband was a bit more difficult, until I located an 8 May 1923 Macon Telegraph news article entitled "Watches Macon Grow From Village To City Of Over 60,000." In the article Mrs. Bellamy was quoted as saying, "Soon after I returned to Macon [about 1861] I married Major Burton Bellamy, a Florida planter and a member of the General Assembly of Florida. In one year I returned to my family, widowed, and I have resided here continually since." -- Well that explains a lot.  [Note:  image at top of post accompanied this article.]

Getting back to the library, it was actually donated to the city of Macon in the name of Ellen's brother, Hugh Vernon Washington. "New Public Library is Given to Macon" in the 30 December 1916 Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) states:
Fifty thousand dollars in cash and deeds for the site of a new public library were today turned over to a board of trustees by Mrs. Ellen Washington Bellamy of this city, the only consideration being that the library be erected as a memorial to her brother, the late Hugh Vernon Washington, said to be a descendant of the famous family of which George Washington was a member.

Negotiations were nearly closed with the Carnegie corporation of New York by which the city was to receive $50,000 for a Carnegie library. Mrs. Bellamy had given the site and asked that a nameplate bearing her brother's name be placed inside the building. This is said to have been objected to by the Carnegie corporation, so Mrs. Bellamy, who is an invalid, decided not only to give the site but money with which to build a "Washington library" and "cut loose" from the Carnegie fund...
It was Mrs. Bellamy's wish to have her funeral conducted within the walls of the library she helped bring to Macon. She passed away the morning of 12 January 1925. Her body lie in state at a local funeral chapel from 5 pm the evening of her death until 10:00 the next morning. It was then moved to Washington Memorial Library.  An article on the front page of the 14 January 1925 Macon Telegraph tells it this way:
Funeral services for Mrs. Bellamy, whose death occurred early Monday morning at the Macon Hospital, after a prolonged illness, were conducted at noon yesterday from the Washington Memorial Library, which she built and donated to the City of Macon as a memorial to her brother, Hugh Vernon Washington.

The funeral service, which was simple in every respect, was attended by hundreds of persons from every walk of life. The last rites were conducted by the Rev. Charles H. Lee, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Interment was in Rose Hill Cemetery.

The body lay in state at Burghard's Chapel from 5 o'clock Monday afternoon until 10 o'clock yesterday morning, where it was viewed by hundreds of persons.

The body was removed in simple procession from Washington Memorial Library to Rose Hill Cemetery...
The bottom of Ellen Clayton Washington Bellamy's ledger marker reads, "Forti Et Fideli. In the end, thou shalt be all in all & I in thee forever." Forti Et Fideli translates to Strong and Faithful.

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