The Rufus Belt Story

In Alix, Alberta on August 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM

From “The Rufus Belt Story” by Harley Belt

“My father, Isaac Rufus Belt, was born in 1855….[and] he came to Canada in 1901…. He worked around the country to earn enough to bring his family here. One person he worked for was J.B. Cundiff and was paid with a $50.00 American Bank Note. He homesteaded across the River on the river flat and put up a log cabin, and some other buildings.

In 1902, a young man who gave his name as Ellsworth, stopped and stayed a few days. Some neighbours met him there; then both men disappeared. The police were notified and they found that Ellsworth was really Cashel, whom the police were seeking for forgery. Cashel was found on May 14, 1903, and was sentenced to three years in jail.

Father’s body was found that summer, July 23, opposite the Haynes Creek, where it empties into the Red Deer River. He had been shot in the back. When Cashel had left, after putting Father in the river, he took his horse and saddle and money belt with a $50.00 American Bank Note in it. These were recovered long before Father’s body was found.

Cashel was put on trial October 19, 1903. Since the police had an air tight case, Cashel had lost much of his composure. His lawyer was Paddy Nolan, Alberta’s all time great criminal lawyer, but Cashel was sentenced to be hanged, December 15, 1903. His brother smuggled a gun to him and he broke jail. Then followed one of the most noted mounted police manhunts on record. He was, however, captured and the hanging sentence carried out February 2, 1904.

There were six of us in my family, three boys and three girls.”

You can read more about Cashel’s lawyer, Paddy Nolan, here

This article is from the book Pioneers and Progress, a history of the Alix-Clive area printed in 1974by DW Friesen and Sons Ltd., Calgary. Copies of it and of its follow-up Gleanings are available for sale at the Alix Public Library, Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, and Alix Home Hardware.

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