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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


John Blank

A more harmonious or satisfactory association can hardly be conceived than that of John Blank and three of his sons, William, Louis and George, whose combined efforts have evolved one of the most remunerative as well as one of the most picturesque ranches in Sonoma county. John Blank, the owner of this fine property, comes of a long line of German ancestors, and he himself was born in the Fatherland, his birth occurring in Marburg, Hesse-Nassau, November 10, 1848. Reared in an agricultural community, he undertook farming on his own account when he reached years of maturity, and it was with a practical experience of some years on a farm of fifty acres in the Fatherland that he came to the United States in 1878. Before leaving his native land he had formed clear-cut ideas as to his place of location, and instead of lingering in the east, where landed from the ocean vessel, he came at once to California and direct to Sonoma county. It was his intention to engage in general farming as soon as he had become somewhat familiar with American methods of farming, and for this purpose he worked as a farm hand for a number of years. His first experience was in Penn Grove, where he was engaged in bailing hay, and subsequently he was employed on the McDowell ranch at Cotati. It was with this recently acquired knowledge at his command that he undertook ranching on his own account as a renter on the Leavern ranch at Penn Grove, the property comprising one hundred and ninety acres. Here he began wheat-raising with a will, and the result of his first year's efforts amounted to seven hundred sacks of grain. In addition to that property he also rented forty acres near Penn Grove, retaining this for two years, and after he had accumulated $800 he came to the Bloomfield section and purchased eighty acres of land upon which he made a specialty of raising potatoes and grain.

As his means would permit Mr. Blank provided himself with the farming machinery essential to a well-managed ranch, one of these acquisitions being a hay-press. As he was the only person in the locality owning one of these necessary farm implements he was in constant demand among ranchers in the vicinity to bale their hay, one season baling thirteen hundred tons, which he considered a large season's work in addition to the management of his own ranch. This record was more than doubled, however, when, in 1893, he baled over three thousand tons of hay. From Penn Grove he came to the Bloomfield section in 1884 and purchased the ranch of eighty acres previously mentioned, and upon which he now resides. In addition to this he has since purchased two hundred and twenty acres of adjoining land, and now owns altogether three hundred acres of fine land, in fact, hits exceptional location on a hill makes it one of the choicest ranches in the county. Here may be obtained an unbroken view of the entire valley, rich in verdure and dotted with the homes of contented ranchers. Of this home ranch twenty-four acres are in vineyard, which yields on an average of one ton to the acre, twelve acres are in orchard, the fruit from which he dries before shipping, also twenty-five acres of young orchard not in bearing, besides which he raises potatoes extensively, his yield for the year 1909 amounting to eight thousand sacks. In addition to the various crops mentioned he also raises large quantities of hay and grain, besides berries of all kinds, three acres being devoted to strawberries alone. In the care of this immense undertaking Mr. Blank has the efficient help and co-operation of three of his sons, William, Louis and George, all of whom are experienced ranchers.

In Germany Mr. Blank was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Kamm, and four children, all sons, were born of their marriage. The eldest, George M., married Miss Huber, and resides on the ranch. John married Miss Ann Becker. Louis married Miss Eve Becker. The youngest son, William, in addition to receiving a good grammar school education is a graduate of the Santa Rosa Business College, and is now associated with his father and two brothers in the maintenance of the ranches. Wherever Mr. Blank has chanced to make his home he has entered heartily into the activities of the locality, and during his residence in Penn Grove he gave efficient service as road overseer for a considerable period.

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