JAMES DRUMMOND BLAIR

The Tales of a Blair Family    

James Drummond BlairJames Drummond Blair was born in the Parish of Raloo, County Antrim, northern Ireland September 27, 1829.  He was the son of Patrick and Janet (Drummond) Blair.  He was named in honor of his mother's brother, James Drummond.  As a young boy James came to America in 1835 with his father and step-mother, Mary Sloan Bell..  He grew to manhood on  the family farm in Woodcock township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.

When James came of age he moved to Illinois and when gold was discovered in California in 1849 he made plans to head West in search of his fortune.  He made the long and difficult overland trip in 1851, staking his claim on Whiskey Creek in northern California. Gold had been discovered there in 1850.  Whiskey Creek was so called because a barrel of whiskey dropped off a mule-back, burst and wasted its heartening contents in the flowing stream.  A town named Whiskeytown, took root nearby.  A post office was established in 1856, but later postal authorities rejected the convivial title and substituted the name of "Blair", named after James Drummond Blair's wife, Eunice (Crocker) Blair, who was the postmistress at the time.  The Blair name did not stick and after being called "Stella" and Schilling" it eventually regained its original title of "Whiskeytown".  Today the town's remains rest near the waters of Shasta Lake which was formed when the Shasta Dam was built 1938-1950.  The area around the lake is now known as the Whiskeytown Shasta Trinity National Recreation Area.

James was not a man to wait for his fortune to wash down a creek.   He had many entrepreneurial pursuits in his lifetime.  He worked as a cooper (barrel maker), butcher, miner and proprietor of the Whiskeytown Hotel and the Blair's Saloon. A 1881 newspaper ad for the Blair's Saloon shows that he offered the choicest wines, liquors, brandies and cigars. James also held public office as a County Supervisor for Shasta County and was a master of Western Star Lodge No. 2, F &A. M. of Shasta.

Whiskeytown Hotel

Finding a wife in a mining town where up to 1856 no woman had graced its streets, was not an easy task. James was nearly forty years old before he settled down and started his family.  On May 12, 1869 he was joined in marriage to Eunice Francis Crocker.  Eunice was the 16 year old daughter of James' friend, Everett Frances Crocker.  The new family took up residence in Whiskeytown and nine children were born to the couple, six sons and three daughters.  Of the sons, James Drummond Blair Jr. died in childhood and of the five remaining sons, four died as young adults and the fifth never married. The only descendants today are those of the three daughters; Mattie, Eunice and Adeline.

James died in Whiskeytown on September 2, 1892 after an extended illness.  Eunice died at her daughters home in Alameda, California on May 21, 1930.   James, Eunice, their six sons and one daughter-in-law are all buried in the Shasta Masonic and IOOF cemetery in Shasta, California.

 

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