Mary Belton had heard her older sister, Gloria, talking about some connection with founders of a small-town homestead back in family history, but she paid little attention to the story as she grew up.
In 2012 Mary and her husband were looking for a new home. The realtor suggested that they see a property in Fallbrook. Mary happened to call her sister Gloria, who then was living in Texas, as they were driving, and when she mentioned that she was on her way to Fallbrook, her sister became excited. “That is what I tried to tell you, she said. “It was our ancestors who founded Fallbrook!
Mary and her husband did move to Fallbrook, and she immediately began researching her family history. She learned that Vital C. Reche, born in Montreal, Canada, homesteaded land in live Oak Canyon and became the “founder” or first non-native settler in the area in 1869. His brother, Antoine (Anthony) C. Reche, selected an adjoining claim. Vital named his ranch, “Fall Brook.” Anthony and his wife Menora had a son, on June 24, 1873, the first non-native child born in the area. He was named, Anthony C. Reche, Jr. and he was Mary Belton’s grandfather.
Mary never met her grandfather Anthony, but her older sister, Gloria, did know him and spent a great deal of time with him until his death in 1945. Unfortunately, Gloria also passed away in 2015.
Mary Belton is an active member of the board of directors of the Fallbrook Historical Society. She represents Fallbrook on the CINCH committee, which is an group of historical societies and organizations in North County. She staffs a booth promoting Fallbrook Historical Society at local events and works with schools to share history with our children. She recently lead a group of students, with the help of professional artist Daniel Martinez, in painting murals on the grounds of the Pittenger House. She was responsible for placing a display of citrus labels at the Juice Vault to bring a piece of our history to the community, and she is recording the memories of the surviving members of our founding families.
Mary Belton goes above and beyond, helping the community in countless ways, and she continues to research and record the Reche family tree and memories. She has found that her great-grandfather, Vital Reche was friends with Frederick Douglas, and that Vital’s daughter, Helene was friends with Susan B. Anthony. Mary has followed the Reche lineage all the way back to Louis XV, King of France! “It is not the royal connection that means the most to me,” she said. It is my sense of connection to Fallbrook through my family that is important. I only wish that my sister was here to share it with me.”