JOHN FRANKLIN BLAIR

The Tales of a Blair Family    

John F. BlairJohn 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 hands. 

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 F. Blair family

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 a large 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 understood it.

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 Blair descendants.

The Blair Home

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.

Following 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 being done.

June 27, 1891: John F.Blair and daughter Hattie visited Mt. Morris and Miss Nedden of Mt. Morris visited the J. F. Blair’s 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 cleanliness.

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 World’s 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 Adeline.

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.

 

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