BLACKMAN, F. L.
Past and Present of the City of Rockford & Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church. Chicago: Clarke, 1905, pp 745-746
F. L. BLACKMAN, a retired shoe merchant, whose successful life finds visible evidence in his palatial home at No. 215 North First Street in Rockford [Winnebago County, IL], was born in Genesee County, NY, in Oct 1835. His parents, Levi and Amy (DEAN) BLACKMAN, were early settlers of NY, the father becoming one of the pioneer merchants of central NY. He was the founder of a town on Tonawanda Creek, which he named North Pembroke, and he was instrumental in securing the post office there and served as the first postmaster. He was likewise the first merchant of the town, and was for many years the leading spirit in all of its progressive movements and enterprises. Eventually however he came with his family to the West, locating in Rockford about 1837. Here he established a shoe store on the ground where the City Hotel was later built, and for some time was one of the prminent merchants and representative business men here. Both he and hs wife spent their reamining days in Rockfprd. They had tow sons: F. L. BLACKMAN, of this review, and George W. BLACKMAN, who, after spending some years in Rockford, went to the West and located near Alexandria, SD, on a farm of 400 acres. He was a successful agriculturalist and stock raiser, his well directed labors bringing him a gratifying measure of prosperity. Upon that farm he reared his family and spent his remaining days, passing away there in Jan 1905, survived by his widow and three sons. Mrs. BLACKMAN still resides in Alexandria. One of her sons, Frank BLACKMAN, is an attorney and real estate dealer residing in Sioux Falls, SD, and is also serving as city auditor there. The second son, George T., is a partner of his brother Frank, and makes his home in Sioux Falls; while Dean, the youngest of the family, is living upon the old home farm near Alexandria.
F. L. BLACKMAN supplemented his early educational privileges by study in the Carryville Collegiate Seminary of NY, and later engaged in merchandising in Alabama, NY, for two years. On the expiration of that period he sold out and removed to Rockford, in 1860, and soon afterward purchased the grocery business of Charles UBELLER, located where the YMCA now stands. Having conducted the store for two years, he again sold out and turned his attention to his shoe trade, being for a number of years one of the successful shoe merchants of this city. Eventually he removed to Chicago, where he conducted a wholesale boot and shoe business for several years, returning then to Rockford, where he again established a retail store, conducting the same with constantly growing success until 1898, when he retired. As a merchant he had the entire confidence and good will of his business associates and contemporaries, being known as a most reliable representative of commerical interests here, never making engagements that he did not fill nor incurring obligations that he did not meet.
In 1863 Mr. BLACKMAN returned to Genesee County, NY, where on 05 Jan 1863 he was united in marriage to Miss Alice HALSEY, who was born near Rochester, NY, on 31 Mar 1840, her parents [p 746] being Edward and Nancy (GAUCH) HALSEY. Her father was a very prosperous farmer of Genesee County, and both he and his wife died in the east. In their family were a daughter and son, Mrs. BLACKMAN and Henry Halsey. The latter, a resident of Oakfield, NY, owns a large flouring mill, and is also engaged in the coal business and follows farming on an extensive scale. He has two sons: Frederick, who is engaged in business with his father; and Bruce, a member of the medical fraternity of NY City, who was graduated from the Buffalo Medical College and also of the Louisville (KY) Medical College. Mr. and Mrs. BLACKMAN became the parents of one son, Eddie, who was born in 1869 and died in 1871.
Mr. BLACKMAN and his wife own and occupy a beautiful residence at No. 215 North First Street, which he built a few years ago, and which is one of the most palatial homes of the east side. He also has considerable real estate in SD, having from time to time made purchases of land, the safest of all investments. His poltical allegiance has been given to the republican party since he cast his ballot for its first presidential nominee, John C. FREMONT, in 1850. He has voted for every candidate at the head of the ticket since that time, but has stoutly refused to accept office himself, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs. He is a member of the Masonic lodge and is a liberal supporter of the Congregational church, to which he and his wife belong. He has resided in Rockford much of the time for a third of a century and stands today among its foremost men because of his former activity in business affairs, his championship of progressive measures for the public good and his allegiance to all that is honorable and straightforward in man's relations with his fellowmen.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.