John Franklin Blair was born November 6th, 1835 in Crawford County,
Pennsylvania. He was the youngest child of Samuel and Mercy
(Chidester) Blair. He made the five week overland wagon trip to Ogle County,
Illinois with his parents and siblings when just eighteen months old.
When they arrived the family constructed a crude one room log cabin which sheltered the entire
family until a larger frame house could be constructed. He was educated in a one
room log school house that his father and brothers helped to build. John
was one of the first pupils to attend this school.
John's older brothers and sisters all left the
homestead as they grew up, but John remained on the farm his entire life. He cared
for his parents until their death in 1861, at which time the farm
transferred into his
On September 16, 1862 he married Miss Amelia A.
Robins. Amelia was born in New York City on October 25, 1844 to John and Elizabeth
Robins. Her family had come to Mt. Morris, Illinois by way of Detroit, Michigan
when she was just a child. John and Amelia were parents to seven children: Clarence,
Arthur, Harry, Elmer, Lewis, Nellie and Harriet. In 1885,
Arthur, age 19, died of tuberculosis and five years later his mother
succumbed to the disease on August 22, 1890 at the age of 45. Amelia was a woman of
extraordinary character. In an article written in 1907 she was described
this way: "The finest of the wheat, a cheerful worker in all good works,
an untiring church worker, a leader in Sunday school, temperance and missionary work, a
loving mother, sincere, benevolent and sympathetic. The remembrance of her and her good
deeds places her on a plane way beyond ordinary people."
John Blair gave his whole life to farming, his
family and to his community. His farm consisted of 700 acres of rich farm land and
he worked it to great success. Over the course of his lifetime four homes
were built on the farm, the last being a very roomy, comfortable building with modern
conveniences and a rather artistic appearance. He built several buildings, known as
"Blair's Block," in the town of Adeline. These buildings included
warehouse above which was a large hall (Blair's Hall) that was used for community
activities and entertainment. A butcher shop and large ice house resided on
the same block. He enjoyed music and played for a number of years with the Adeline band,
which appeared in many cities in northern Illinois. He held the office of School
Director for twelve years and as Road Commissioner for twelve years.
John was described as a man of "jolly
countenance and a hearty handshake. A cheerful how-do-you-do is the manner in which
he greeted all comers whether friend or foe. Never a surly snarl or a cross word was
heard uttered from him." After the death of his wife, he cared for his invalid
mother-in-law for many years. He spared neither money nor time in her behalf.
He believed in the Christian religion, but never united in any particular
denomination. It was his purpose to live and practice the Golden Rule as the best he
John retired from farming in 1893 but continued
to live on the farm with his daughter Harriet and her husband, George Rummel. The
farm was worked by his son Lewis until his retirement and move to Mt. Morris and then by his grandson, Frank, who farmed it until his retirement in 1968.
The farm was sold soon after 1968 and only a small portion still remains in the hands of
John's health started to seriously decline two
years prior to his death. He was confined to his bed for the last nine months, but
his mind stayed keen and active. Two nurses remained at his bedside constantly
during the last eight months of his life. He had suffered from pancreatic cancer for
14 years and in addition, for the last two, he suffered from nephritis, a kidney disease,
which ultimately took his life on November 26, 1927 at the age of 92.
are some Newspaper Clippings taken from the Forreston Herald (1885-1901)
that might give a more personal glimpse into the lives of this Blair family.
See articles on Arthur L. Blair's page.
August 8, 1885:
Mr. Frank Blair, of Adeline, while working in the harvest field, last week, during those
excessively warm days, was overcome by the heat, and had he not succeeded in getting in
the shade when he did would have proved fatal. He was fainting away when his wife and boys
came to his assistance. After a while he was resuscitated, and has almost recovered.
January 1, 1886: John
F. Blair and George Kennedy were in Freeport last Tuesday where George had an operation
performed upon his limb. Dr. Caldwell, the surgeon lantzed the afflicted part about
four inches, and laid it open, wherein was found a decayed bone, which was scrapped and
cleaned, and the wound sewed up. Geo was under the influence of ether during the
three hours it took to perform the operation. Mr. Blair reports George is in good
condition after such treatment. This abscess has been troubling him for about two years,
and he finally concluded to have it operated upon, and by the advice of his mother and
friends, did so. We all wish him a permanent cure.
May 24, 1887: Mrs. John
F. Blair is very ill with consumption.
September 3, 1887:
Mr. J. F. Blair is having a good beef trade in Adeline. He slaughters one beef a day of
the best. Mr. Rotts, his butcher, cannot be beat on judgment of fat cattle.
January 14, 1888: (Adeline) J. F.
Blair has filled his ice house and W. H. McClure stopped by on his way to Fowler, Indiana.
February 18, 1888: J.F.Blair
purchased 160 acres adjoining him on the North from Wilham Foscha now by Jacob Neir.
June 21, 1890: Mrs. John F. Blair
is still confined to her bed most of the time. We celebrated to see her yesterday. It is
hoped that Mrs. Blair will recover and it would seem that with such care and attention as
is bestowed upon her that she will. Everything that skill and medicine can do for her is
June 27, 1891:
John F.Blair and daughter Hattie visited Mt. Morris and Miss Nedden of Mt. Morris visited
the J. F. Blairs Saturday
July 25, 1891: John F. Blair went
to Freeport, Saturday, with five teams to draw lumber for his new house.
August 24, 1893: John F. Blair, John
Link and sons, George and Charles, and Charles Myers and John, son of Henry Link, took the
3:50 train for Chicago, intending to spend a week at the fair. When they reached
Chicago they went to the Chas. Beebe's place and took the rooms vacated by Garkeys and
Ratmeyers. We think when we go to the World's Fair we will patronize Charles
Beebe. Fred Garkey is well pleased with the rooms, locality, accommodations and
September 16, 1893: John
Frank Blair will have a public sale at his residence near Adeline, next Thursday,
September 21. Mr. Blair thinks thirty-two years of farming life followed up as
closely as he has done is enough for one man, and has concluded to retire, and will sell
his large lot of livestock and farm machinery without reserve, and will have a number of
tables supplied with the best eatables for lunch. Mr. Blair is a very positive man,
and the public can depend upon anything he makes known on that day.
September 23, 1893: About
eleven o'clock today a number of people were standing in J. F. Blair's yard under his
large poplar trees. We heard a crack as of a pistol shot, and about four feet from
us Daniel Stover of Maryland Station, about sixty-seven years of age, fell to the ground
unconscious. He was carried into Mr. Blair's house and Dr. Mitchell of Adeline, was
soon at hand. At this writing he is unconscious. He was standing against the
fence, and a dead limb, eleven feet long and about four inches in circumference, fell a
distance of thirty-five feet. The limb near the butt end struck on the side of his
head above the ear, the limb falling over the fence on the opposite from him. [Daniel
Stover never fully recovered from this blow to the head and he took his own life four
years later in 1897]
October 28, 1893: J. F. Blair took his daughters
Nellie and Hattie to the Worlds Columbian Expo in Chicago.
November 3, 1894: We were much
pleased and surprised to see the artistic taste displayed by the hand of Andrew Lohr in
his life-like painting, at the home of his father in Adeline. We much admire the
beautiful and life-like likeness of J. Frank Blair in water colors and pastel, and the
exquisite painting of his own infant child, in India Ink, and others in sepia. [Would love
to know who is in possession of this painting now!..Anybody out there know?]
January 19, 1895: A dispatch from Butte,
Montana, recites the details of a tragic death of sixty people in a giant powder explosion
which occurred there Jan. 15th. Among those killed was Prof. E. W. Robins, brother
of W. H. Robins, [and the late Mrs. John F. Blair] American Express agent at that
place. The Prof. who was also known as "Two Bear" was a famous hunter and a
friend of Theodore Roosevelt, of New York. He had spent all his life in the
mountains, and was about ready to guide a party through a particular unknown portion of
the Yellowstone Park. He was professor of astronomy and mathematics, and is author
of an arithmetic.
April 10, 1897: John F. Blair has
partitioned off twenty-six feet of the west end of one of his sixty foot store rooms and
fitted up for a drug store. It will make a handsome room of 20X26 feet and will be
amply lighted. C. W. Webster druggist of Mt. Morris, is moving his stock of drugs,
medicines, showcases, etc., today, preparing to open up immediately. He has rented
Mrs. Mary Kembel's dwelling house and moved his household goods yesterday. The
gentleman comes well recommended.
December 8, 1898: John F. Blair is
the owner of nearly seven hundred acres of land in a body near Adeline on which he and his
children reside. They have telephone communications, commencing at Blair's block in
Adeline and running west to H. G. Blair's, thence southeast to J. F. and Lewis Blair's,
thence east to Elmer Blair's, thence east to the office of Blair & Downey at the
depot, thence to Adeline. Last week they had new instruments put in and
everything is in fine working order.
September 29, 1900: J. F. Blair has
built a handsome dressed lumber sidewalk on the west and south sides of his block in
April 27, 1901: J. F. Blair and
daughter Hattie from Adeline, visited here last Saturday. Miss Blair has been in Freeport
hospital for treatment for several weeks.