BLAIR, Samuel Alva
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 466-467
Although past the allotted age of man, three score years and ten, Samuel A. BLAIR is one of the prominent men of the county, and has ever taken a deep interest in its progress and development. He was born in Lebanon, Madison County, NY, 02 Oct 1817, of the marriage of Brown and Mary (COLLINS) BLAIR, the former a native of Worcester County, MA, born in 1779, and the latter of Hamilton, Madison County, NY. The father died in Roscoe [Winnebago County, IL] when 76 years of age, and the mother died in Westfield, Chautauqua County, NY, when but 44 years of age, leaving three sons and two daughters: Samuel Alva, our subject; Albert, born in 1818, died in NY of quick consumption; Mary S., born in 1821, became Mrs. GARDNER and died in the prime of life; Darwin, born in 1823, is a large farmer of CA; and Ann became Mrs. CHENEY, of Roscoe, and died of consumption.
In the spring of 1839, when in his 22nd year, our subject, in company with Dr. B. BRADLEY, of Beloit [Rock County, WI], came overland with teams to IL. Reaching the Maumee River, they found the ice going out, and after waiting there about three days for the ferry boat, that was ice bound, young BLAIR decided to cross the river anyway. Disregarding the advice oand counsel of older heads, he plunged into the turbulent waters and, contrary to all predictions, reached the opposite shore in safety. Such was the indomitable will and courage of this young pioneer. Including delays, etc., they were 38 days in making the trip. They stopped four days in MI, and here Mr. BLAIR saw the first individual shaking with ague, and, though he laughed then, he found it no laughing matter in subsequent years. Mr. BLAIR first worked on a farm for Franklin ABLE (who was the founder of Roscoe) for one year at $16 oper month, and then, learning of his brother's illness, he and Mrs. R. J. CROSS and Mrs. Isaac COLE (sisters) went to Chicago. While there our subject met an old friend, Hiram McHENRY, captain of a brig on the Lake, and he took passage for Barcelona [Chautauqua County], NY, arriving only in time to see his brother die. Soon after he returned to Roscoe, but about a year later he went back to NY State and purchased a large drove of sheep, 1,400 head. After shearing them, he started back in June and although he met with cold weather and storms and delays, he arrived in Roscoe in fairly good condition in August.
In 1844 our subject married, in Westfield [Chautauqua County], NY, Miss Mary MINIGER, who was a native of that place, and the daughter of Lowe and Martha (MARTIN) MINIGER. Mr. MINIGER became a wealthy farmer and died with 82 years of age. His wife died at the age of 76, leaving six children. Our subject purchased his first farm of 102 acres near his present home in 1839, and later he purchased 80 acres, a part of his present farm. He sold the 102 acres and thought seriously of going to MO, but the Dred Scott Decision caused him to abandon this project, and he purchased his present property. He now owns 213 acres in this farm and 80 acres one mile north. All his improvements are first class, and he is a representative farmer of the county. He keeps a fine flock of sheep and is engaged in general farming, although at present he is making a specialty of dairying, keeping about 25 cows. He sells all his milk to the creamery.
Mr. and Mrs. BLAIR have buried two children, one an infant and the other, Augusta, a daughter who died at the age of 26 years. They have six children now living, two sons and four daughters: Albert, a hardware salesman in Lincoln [Lancaster County], NE; Julius, a farmer in Fremont County, IA; Frances, now Mrs. John Q. BRIGGS, of Houston [Houston County], MN; Ada, now Mrs. George A. WARNER, of Page County, IA; Laura, Mrs. J. B. HARDY, resides on the home place and her husband carries on the farm, Mr. BLAIR making his home with them; and Nellie, wife of T. R. FIELD, a merchant of Houston, MN. Mr. BLAIR's first presidential vote was cast for William Henry Harrison, and he has held a number of township offices, such as Road Commissioner, School Director, etc. He is a Congregationalist in his religious views, and one of the founders of that church in Roscoe. Mrs. BLAIR is a member of the Presbyterian Church. They have 11 grandchildren in IA and MN.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.