BELCHER REGIONAL AIRPORT

Belcher, Kentucky 41513


    Two hundred years ago, members of the prominent Belcher family settled Belcher, Kentucky. Now, modern Belcher--an established, currently-existing community in the Appalachian Mountains--is to have Belcher Regional Airport set atop Belcher Plantation. And, a historic note about this airport: It will be located on the same land where Josephine Bingham Belcher (1901-1988) played as a girl. Little would she have dreamed that in the modern town of Belcher, Belcher Regional Airport would be located here--at the headwaters of the Ferrell Creek watershed, where she had lived as a child, during the early days of the twentieth century.

    The Belcher family had lived in Belcher, Kentucky long before Josephine was born in 1901. One of the first settlers in this area was Revolutionary War veteran George Belcher, who came over two hundred years ago and populated the Belcher area with his descendants. (Many of his descendants still live in Belcher, Kentucky today.) According to Robert M. Rennick, Place Names of Pike County, Kentucky, Belcher, Kentucky was established by "the prominent Belcher family for whom it was named."

    A major landowner who owned land along the Ferrell Creek watershed in the 1850's, 60's, and 70's was George's grandson, James Davidson Belcher. James' son, George W. Belcher, owned land whose watercourse was Ferrell Creek from the 1870's through the early 1900's. The early 1900's was when Josephine Bingham was growing up. She had reason to know this area's history, for her Bingham family was a Belcher-related family living within Belcher, Kentucky over one hundred years ago. Josephine remembered about her family living at the headwaters of the Ferrell Creek watershed when she was a girl and receiving her mail with the address of Belcher, Kentucky. Even in the early 1900's, Belcher, Kentucky was her address, and her family lived on the Ferrell Creek watershed but within Belcher, Kentucky.

    In 1907-1908, according to United States Postal Service records, there was already a "village Belcher" in existence at the time George W. and his son, Elbert Spurlock Belcher, applied for the establishment of the Belcher post office. George W. Belcher's store served as both post office and train station. Also, the postal record of 1917 indicated that the post office was located in "Belcher Township" and "the railroad station name is Belcher, Ky.".

    In contrast, in 1880, according to U. S. postal records, Ferrell Creek was not a village, for in answer to the question, "If it be a village...", the answer was: "no Village but creek." The person submitting the information for the 1880 post office located on this watershed within Belcher, Kentucky was the brother of John Martin Belcher's wife, and her brother was also the first postmaster. One of John's sons, George Solomon Belcher (known as "Squire George"), was Magistrate of the Belcher District.

    Relatives of two Belcher brothers had the first post office to serve Belcher, Kentucky: According to U. S. postal service records, this 1880 post office only had two postmasters: John Martin Belcher's wife's brother, beginning on March 12, 1880, and George W. Belcher (son of James Davidson Belcher, John Martin Belcher's brother), beginning on August 11, 1880, and then the post office was discontinued on February 24, 1881. In fact, apparently the 1880 post office was the same thing (an earlier version) of the Belcher post office kept in George W.'s store. George W. later re-established his Belcher post office in 1907-1908 with the help of his son Elbert Spurlock Belcher.

    (In between George W. Belcher's first 1880 and second 1908 post offices was one listed as Fewell (spelled with a "w" in U. S. postal service records) that lasted only from August to December 1882 [about four months].)

    Several Belcher, Kentucky postmasters (including another of George W.'s sons, Fred Belcher) lived on the Ferrell Creek watershed, but within the town of Belcher. (Fred married Carrie Bingham, sister of Josephine Bingham.) Since George W.'s store was the post office for Belcher even in 1880, and George's son Elbert was postmaster of the 1908 post office, Belcher, Kentucky's post office apparently moved wherever George's store did, even when the store was on the Ferrell Creek watershed.

    Linking the past to the present is Belcher Foundation  (www.belcherfoundation.org), whose Founder and President is Dr. F. R. Belcher. Incidentally, his wife, Lucille Epling Belcher, is descended from a sister of John Martin Belcher's wife, through Lucille's mother, Hazel Ramey Epling, who is also a descendant of William Ramey, founder of Elkhorn City. "The Belchers and Rameys have many interconnections," Dr. Belcher says. Josephine Bingham Belcher was a Belcher-Ramey descendant through Bartlett Belcher and Rachel Ramey Belcher, grandparents of Josephine's mother, Nancy Belcher Bingham.

    Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the town of Belcher is anchored at its east limit by Belcher Regional Airport (which will sit atop Belcher Plantation at the Belcher postal service route's east limit on U. S. Highway 460 just beyond East Ridge High School); the town of Belcher is anchored at its west limit by the historic Belcher post office (ZIP Code 41513). Also located within the town of Belcher are other businesses and services along U. S. 460 between the Belcher airport and the Belcher post office. And, businesses and services along Ky. 80 from Draffin to the south limit of Belcher going toward Elkhorn City are within the town of Belcher.

    It will mean so much to the Belcher region to have Belcher Regional Airport, which sits between the Breaks Interstate Park and Fishtrap Lake, Dr. F. R. Belcher notes. "The support I have received in the establishment of this airport has been tremendous. I want to thank Governor Paul Patton for the cooperation of the Kentucky Department of Transportation. I also want to thank the FAA for its cooperation. Belcher Regional Airport is located in U. S. Congressman Hal Rogers' Congressional District."

    "It will take a lot of time, effort, and cooperation to complete this airport," Dr. Belcher says. "It's really amazing to think that a century ago, a little girl was born who would play on this land that now is going to be an airport. October 3, 2001 would have been her one hundredth birthday."

    From a pioneer community to a modern town--Belcher, Kentucky, established near the end of the 18th century, enters the century of the 21st.
 



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