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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Frank L. Blackburn

Among the native-born citizens of Sonoma county conspicuous for their ability, integrity and worth is Frank L. Blackburn, the present coroner and public administrator of the county, and the proprietor of a large undertaking business in Petaluma. In pursuing his successful career Mr. Blackburn has not departed from any of the ways or traditions of the typical western man, as he has known no other home than the golden west. In this respect his experience differs from that of his father, the late Charles Blackburn, who in 1843 left his home in England and came to the United States, first settling in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Nine years later, in 1852, he came to California, and between that year and the date of his death, November 27, 1896, was enacted a career that was as useful as it was long. Possessing the ability and personal requisites of the ideal funeral director and recognizing in Petaluma the need of his services, he established the principal enterprise of this kind in the town, and from the first the business had a steady growth, patronage not being confined to the town and immediate surroundings, but coming from all parts of the county. For further facts relative to his long and interesting career the reader is referred to his sketch on another page of this work.

The youngest of the children born to his parents, Charles and Jemima Jane (Richardson) Blackburn, Frank L. Blackburn was born in Petaluma in July, 1869. He attended the public schools of his home town, and after acquiring a good practical knowledge of the essentials of education he prepared for business life by learning the undertaking business, thus following in the footsteps of his father and elder brother in the choice of a life calling. To perfect himself in his chosen vocation he went to San Francisco and studied with the William H. Porter Com-pany and also with Halstead & Co. With the practical knowledge and experience which he thus gained he returned to Petaluma and applied his knowledge in his father's undertaking business, continuing thus associated for three years. The breaking out of the Spanish-American war at this time was destined to make a change in his career, enlarging his experience professionally, as well as affording an opportunity for sight-seeing and travel. Enlisting his services in the army transport service, he was given the position of embalmer in the government service between San Francisco and the far east, and during the incumbency of this position made three trips to the Philippines, Japan and China.

After the death of the father in 1896 the undertaking business which he had established was continued by his eldest son, John S., and it was with the latter that Frank L. Blackburn became associated after the close of his government service and his return to Petaluma. The association proved profitable and amicable and was severed only by the death of the elder brother in 1903. Since that time the business has been maintained by Frank L. Blackburn alone, his long and varied experience in the business amply qualifying him to continue the name and good work of his predecessors. In 1902 Mr. Blackburn was elected on the Republican ticket to the office of coroner and public administrator of Sonoma county, and so satisfactory were his services during his first term, that in 1906 and 1910 he was re-elected his own successor and is still the encumbent of this important office.

In 1904 Mr. Blackburn was united in marriage with Miss Caroline I. Williams, a native of Petaluma and the daughter of Surgeon-General C. H. Williams of the United States Army, who stood high in army circles. Fraternally Mr. Blackburn is as well-known Odd Fellow, belonging to the order in all of its varied branches, besides which he belongs to the Elks, Red Men, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and by right of his birth in the state, belongs to the Native Sons of the golden West. Mr. Blackburn is held in the highest esteem by those associated with him in whatever capacity, his business sagacity, high personal honor and tact and good fellowship endearing him to a host of friends.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011