California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
SAMUEL EARLE BLAKESLEE. — The name Blakeslee has received national recognition in musical affairs, but its solid foundation of fame rests in Southern California, where Samuel Earle Blakeslee and his father, Samuel H. Blakeslee, have been teachers and musical directors for nearly twenty years.
Samuel H. Blakeslee, who devoted his active life to the profession of teacher of voice and chorus director, graduated from Oberlin College Conservatory, and from 1884 to 1898 was Dean of the Ohio Wesleyan Conservatory at Delaware, Ohio. From 1898 to 1904 he was Dean of the University of Denver Conservatory, and in these two positions became widely known and gave an important contribution to the success of the two conservatories. On leaving Denver he removed to Los Angeles. His wife, Ida Bevington Blakeslee, who died in 1912, was pianist and organist and a successful teacher. She was a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory and the Oberlin Conservatory, taught in the latter, and was head of the piano department at Ohio Wesleyan and Denver Conservatories, and also in Pomona College of California.
Samuel Earle Blakeslee was born at Oberlin, Ohio, November 2, 1883, and in his musical studies he had the care and supervision of his gifted father and mother in the various departments of voice, piano and organ. He acquired his literary education in the University of Denver, in the University of Texas, and graduated A. B. from Pomona College of California in 1908. He also studied music in Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Denver, and was a pupil in composition of Henry Houseley, the composer, and studied voice with F. A. Bacon, William Shakespeare and Oscar Saenger of New York.
Mr. Blakeslee was for a time an instructor in the University of Denver Conservatory, and from 1906 to 1911 was an instructor in the Pomona College Conservatory. In 1913 he entered the field of public school music as supervisor at Longmont, Colorado, where he remained until 1916. During 1914-16 he was also director of the Colorado Chautauqua Music.
The portion of his career which Reserves special recognition in this history has been his service as director of the music department of the Chaffey Union High School and Junior College at Ontario since 1916. Under his administration the Chaffey Music Department has attained a first rank among similar institutions throughout the state. In his work here Mr. Blakeslee has been greatly aided by the broad minded policy of the Chaffey school trustees and by Principal M. E. Hill. This aid has been particularly useful in the matter of equipment. This equipment includes a splendid new twenty thousand dollar pipe organ, in the securing of which the energetic policies of Mr. Blakeslee were in no small degree responsible.
During the World war Mr. Blakeslee did a great deal of volunteer work as a community song leader and member of concert parties in various camps, including Camp Kearney. He was a Four-Minute Speaker during the Liberty Loan drives, and active as a committeeman and lay worker in the Red Cross and other campaigns. He is a progressive republican in politics, a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the University of Denver, and is a member of the El Camino Real Club and Red Hill Country Club at Ontario, and a member of the Gamut Club of Los Angeles.
As a choral director Mr. Blakeslee has given to the public some of the largest works, such as the Messiah, Samson and Delilah, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, Death of Minnehaha. He is also interested in original research work in American music, and has spent considerable time studying the music of the Navajo Indians on their New Mexico Reservation. Besides his other duties he has served as director of the Chaff ey Community Chorus and of the Pomona Community Chorus.
At Claremont, California, October 14, 1909, Mr. Blakeslee married Miss Florence Hill, daughter of Rev. Charles W. Hill, now of LaMesa, California. Her father, a distinguished minister, gifted writer and speaker, is a graduate of Bowdoin College of Maine, Yale Divinity School, spent three years as a missionary to Hawaii, and has been active in church and educational affairs in California. Mrs. Blakeslee is a graduate of Pomona College with the class of 1909, is a soprano soloist, and has been associated with Mr. Blakeslee in teaching and the promotion of the musical interests of Ontario. They have one son, Earle Bevington Blakeslee, born June 23, 1913.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011