John Wesley Belknap

1854 – February 28, 1947

John Wesley Belknap arrived in Lemoore on October 18, 1878 from Missouri. He was first employed on the ranch of James Moore. After a year he lost all his savings by loaning the money to friends who did not repay him. He worked for awhile on the Heinlen ranch and later in a local Lemoore warehouse.

In 1882 he began working for John Taylor as a bar tender and in 1887 formed a partnership with Joe Weil and started a saloon on the corner of Heinlen and E streets. Their business was destroyed by fire two weeks after it opened, and without insurance Belknap was penniless again. He and Weil managed to open another saloon in a small building that they operated for about 10 months selling to the Daily Brothers. Belknap purchase another saloon in 1889 on Front Street, now known as E street, from Andy Taylor.

1905 Bank Exchange Ad

Belknap purchased the old blacksmith shop on Heinlen and D streets in 1892 and formed a partnership with Frank Santa Maria. After remodeling they opened the Bank Exchange Saloon. After several years the partnership was dissolved in October 1896 with Belknap buying out his partner.