Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 450-451
Matthew BLAIR, who is engaged in the operation of his farm on section 34, Cherry Valley Township [Winnebago County, IL], was born in Scotland in 1828, and is a son of John and Jennie (BARR) BLAIR, both of whom were natives of Argyleshire, Scotland. They came to America in 1852. Two years previous, at the age of 22 years, our subject with seven young neighbors of Campbelltown, took passage on the sailing vessel "Sarah." They called the boat "The Lazy Sarah," as the voyage lasted for eight long weeks. From NY he and his comrades went by boat to Albany, and by canal to Buffalo. On one of these trips they saw for the first time a field of corn, then in silk, and one of the young men, plucking some of it, rubbed it in his hands as he would wheat or barley, to see what kind of seed it grew. At Buffalo Mr. BLAIR and the others of the party took a steamer to Sandusky [Erie County], OH, and from there went to Cincinnati by the Little Miami Railroad, then the only railroad in that city. Our subject there tried to find work, but failing, he walked to a country village named Reading and hired to Richard JACKSON, a Scotch farmer, for $10 per month. He worked for that gentleman for two years, and then spent about a year in the employ of Jerry DUNN, an extensive agriculturalist.
In Aug 1853 Mr. BLAIR was joined in wedlock with Miss Anna CLARK, for whom he had sent to his own native heath. She is a daughter of Samuel and Margaret (TEMPLETON) CLARK, farming people of Argyleshire. The young couple removed from OH to Boone County, KY, where Mr. BLAIR took charge of the farm of Isaac STROUB. Two years later, in 1859, he removed with his wife and two children to Middletown, OH, where he worked in a paper mill. He learned the business [p 451] and received $13 a week, but in 1880 gave up that position, and with his family came to IL, locating upon his present farm in Cherry Valley Township. It has now been his home for about 12 years. In connection with general farming he raises some fine Durham cattle, and keeps on hand eight cows for dairy purposes. The butter made finds a ready sale in the Rockford market on account of the excellent quality.
Mr. and Mrs. BLAIR have lost two daughters: Margaret, who was born 03 Sep 1854, and died at the age of seven weeks; and Margaret, the second of that name, who was born 14 Nov 1861, and died 11 Mar 1864. The living children of the family are: John C.; Flora J., wife of Thomas SKINNER, of Harlem Township; Jennie; Samuel, a machinist of OH; William A., a railroad agent of Irene; and Matthew, at home.
The parents of this family are members of the Presbyterian Church, and are highly respected people. In politics Mr. BLAIR is a Republican, having supported that party since he cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1861. He is a public spirited and progressive citizen, and one who takes an active interest in all that pertains to the welfare of the community.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.