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Death of William H. Blaine

Submitted by: Judy Simpson

Clinton Public
DeWitt County, Illinois
Friday, September 4, 1885

Lincoln, Neb., Aug. 24, 1885

Died at his home in Geneva, Fillmore county, Nebraska, August 19th, 1885, Hon. William H. BLAINE, in the sixty-ninth year of his age.

Judge Blaine was a native of Ohio, born March 31st, 1829, in Madison county, emigrated to Illinois in 1851, lived in DeWitt township, in your county, until 1865.  He then moved to Iowa, remaining there until 1870.  Coming to Nebraska in that year, he settled in that portion of Nebraska which afterward became Fillmore county; at that time Mr. Blaine was a pioneer in that part of the state, in fact he was one of the very first settlers; the homestead he then selected continued to be his home to the time of his death.  Mr. Blaine assisted in the organization of Fillmore county, and at the first election he was unanimously chosen county Judge of the new county, to which office he was re-elected two succeeding terms, during which time he served with marked ability and satisfaction.  At the close of his term he returned to private life upon his farm, where he remained until 1884, at which time the people of his county, with great unanimity, elected him a member of the House of Representatives, he receiving the greatest number of votes cast for any candidate upon the ticket.  Mr. Blaine was the oldest member in either branch of the Legislature and very soon gained the sobriquet, “Father of the House.”  During the session he was at all times in his seat, taking an active part in all business which came before the House, and was by all esteemed as a conscientious, consistent public servant.  Many of the readers of your paper will remember Mr. Blaine, who for many years lived at DeWitt, and was intimately acquainted in that part of the county and closely identified with all its interests during these years.  The writer first knew Mr. Blaine in April 1858, at DeWitt, with whom intimate friendly relations were maintained until his death.  Mr. Blaine was a self-made man, strong in his intellectual powers, his voice and influence was ever for the right; he was not a “policy” man unless “policy” was right; he was a strong yet reasonable temperance advocate, and all measures and principles, whose tendencies were for the bettering of the race, found in him an active worker.  For fifty years he was a member, and for sixteen years a minister, in the M. E. Church and a member of the Nebraska conference.

Mr. Blaine left surviving him, his widow and four children: Mrs. Wm. E. KIRKER, formerly of Clinton, now of this city, and Mrs. W. W. ALDER, of Farmer City, both of whom are well known to many of your readers; John F., a respected, honored citizen of Fillmore county, Neb., and Mrs. Henry HARDY, of Madison county, Iowa.

Mr. Blaine was buried at Geneva, and his funeral was the largest ever witnessed in Fillmore county, his remains being followed to their resting place by a vast concourse of citizens, who knew him only to love and respect him, and by whom his many virtues and his memory will long be cherished and revered.  Truly may it be said, “A good man has passed away.”     J. J. K.

Note: His death date and his age at death (in his 69th year) does not fit with the birth date that was given.  In the 1860 DeWitt County census, he was 43 years old.  That would make his birth year around 1817, not 1829.