Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Nathaniel Blakely

Contributed by Mary Susan Spence, MSN, & Joseph C. Hager, Ph.D., 3rd great-grandchildren of Nathaniel Blakely and Polly Law.

Nathaniel Blakely (1798-1883) derives his surname from his descent in the Blakeslee family of Connecticut. His 2nd-great grandparents were Samuel Blakeslee (1599-1672) and Hannah Potter (1633-1723), both early settlers in the New Haven Colony. Nathaniel's father was David Blakely (1749-1821), a soldier of the Revolution, who enlisted in 1775 and served at the siege of Boston and the reduction of St. John. During the war, David purchased land in Pawlet, Rutland County, Vermont, where his son Nathaniel was born May 6, 1798. Nathaniel's mother was Phebe Hall (1758-1831), a descendant of the immigrant ancestors John and Esther Hall of Middletown, Connecticut, who arrived about 1633, and other early colonial families such as Bishop, Hand, and Blatchley.

Nathaniel spent his early years in Pawlet, Vermont, along with his nine siblings, all but one younger. His early childhood home was a one-story frame house his father David built near the original log cabin erected at the time he moved there from Woodbury, Connecticut. This frame structure eventually became a cheese factory during the years 1870-1916, owned by the Blakely Cheese Company and managed by David's grandson, Frank Blakely. At 16 years of age, Nathaniel was baptized in the First Methodist Congregational Church of Pawlet. Four years later, the elders of this church excluded him for failing to attend services, after years of trying to dissuade him of his errors. The Pawlet Church Records (Book 2, spelling preserved) state:

In Church meeting March 10, 1818 1. Brother Nathaniel Blakely being present our labour with him was again comminsed but as there appeared to be no sines of repentance or reformation therefore . . . Voted to exclude him from our fellowship and communion. See the Exibision on file.
David Frary Ch.h. Clerk

Soon afterwards, Nathaniel petitioned the Congregational Church of Christ, Pawlet, for membership. Upon testimony by his wife regarding his good moral character, he was accepted in April, 1818, as noted in the Records of the Congregational Church of Pawlet (Vol. II), "that for which he was excluded is no bar to his being received here."

Nathaniel's wife was Polly Law, born March 25, 1801, in Wells, Rutland County, Vermont. Original records of her ancestry have not been located, but she is likely a descendant of a long line of entrepreneurial colonial pioneers, some of whom operated mills on the streams of Rutland County.

Nathaniel, at the age of 21 years, and his wife Polly moved from Pawlet Town to Gainesville, Genesee County, New York about 1819. His family is in the 1820 Federal Census in Gainesville, Genesee County, New York and again in 1830, 1840, and 1850. Nathaniel and Polly had eight children during their 35 year residence in Gainesville: Nathaniel Hall Blakely (b 1822, died in Wisconsin) m. Laura Hurd; Sally Blakely (1824-1864) m. Addison Moffatt; Rev. David Blakely (b 1825, died in Iowa) m. Julia A. Carroll; Phebe Blakely (1828-1860) m. Lester B. Woolever; Birum Blakely (1831-1886) m. Louisa Martin; Fannie W. Blakely (1834-1899) m. Francis Ely Gill; William Blakely (1836-1837); and Harlow W. Blakely (1844-1910) m. Alta Follett. In 1854, Nathaniel left Gainesville and moved his family to Madison, Lake County, Ohio. This period is described in The History of Lake Shore Ohio , (Vol. III, p 492-493; also see H. T. Upton's History of the Western Reserve , Vol. III; p 1869) as follows:

Nathaniel became a teacher early in life and at one time while residing in Gainesville, New York, was County Superintendent of the schools of Wyoming County. In 1827, he held a commission in the New York militia, signed by one of the state's most famous governors, DeWitt Clinton. In 1854, he came west and purchased a Grist mill on Grand River, south of Madison. In his move westward he was accompanied by his son Harlow, and he made his home in Madison, of which he was a respected citizen at the time of his death in 1883. He had been born 85 years previously in Pawlet, Vermont, and his wife, the former Polly Law, had been born at Wells in that state.

In 1855, Nathaniel purchased from Elihu Dodge a 28 acre parcel along the Grand River in Madison, where he probably farmed during his early years in Ohio. He is listed as both a farmer and miller in the Census of 1860. By 1855, Nathaniel had also formed a business partnership with his son-in-law, Lester Woolever, operating under the company name Blakely & Woolever, which owned farm land on the south bank of Grand River in Madison. In January, 1859, Nathaniel purchased from Aretas Trumbull a mill lot near his farm on the banks of the Grand River, which was part of the nineteenth century landmark in Madison known as Trumbull's Mills. Aretas had acquired controlling interest in this property after the death of his father, Col. Luther Trumbull, and then rebuilt it after a fatal fire destroyed many of the mill buildings about 1841. In November, 1860, Nathaniel Blakely sold an interest in the mill to Lester Woolever, who continued to operate it under the Blakely & Woolever name, as shown by Madison tax records, profiting by it at least until 1880, when Lester and his son, Ernest, were enumerated by the Census as millers, with Lester's holdings worth more than $10,000.

Nathaniel and Polly Blakely are enumerated, together with three of their children, Birum, Louisa, and Harlow, in Madison during the 1860 Census. Nathaniel is listed as 62 years of age, a farmer and miller with $7,000 property and $1,000 personal property, and Polly is 59 years of age. Lester Woolever and his children by his recently deceased wife, Phebe Blakely, live in the Blakely household. In 1865, Nathaniel Blakely leased his original 28 acre property to Montgomery & Cowdry, bought another, larger property, and then in 1869 sold the 28 acre property and his interest in the Blakely & Woolever business property to Lester Woolever. By the 1870 Census, Nathaniel had acquired additional land and returned to farming. The 1870 Census enumerates Nathaniel and Polly living in Madison, Ohio, together with son Birum's family. Nathaniel has property worth $5000, and he, Birum, and son Harlow, who lives next door, are all listed as farmers. In 1873, Nathaniel sold his property and purchased a new farm just outside the southwest boundary of Madison Village.

Polly Law Blakely died December 30, 1874, in Madison, Lake County, Ohio. Probate records list the cause of her death as general debility. After Polly died, Nathaniel continued to live with his son, Birum, and daughter-in-law, Louise (Martin) Blakely, in Madison, and appears in the 1880 United States Census. Nathaniel Blakely died June 12, 1883, in Madison, Lake County, Ohio, with a cause listed as paralysis (probably a stroke).

In regard to Nathaniel Blakely's death, the Painesville Telegraph, June 14, 1883, reports: "Mr. Nathaniel Blakely had a shock of paralysis Monday morning," and then on June 21, 1883:

Died in Madison, June 12, Mr. Nathaniel Blakely, aged 85. Born in Pawlet, Vermont, in 1798, moved to York State when twenty-one, and from there moved to Madison and purchased the Grist Mill at Grand River, of Arthur [sic] Trumbull, and run the mill a number of years. He was a faithful member of the Congregational Church and has gone to claim the crown that is promised to the faithful. Mr. Blakely was loved by most everybody as one of their family. He had five sons and three daughters. One son, Rev. David Blakely, residing in Iowa, Harlow residing near the old homestead, Nathaniel living in Wisconsin. His only daughter living is the wife of Mr. F. E. Gill, who resides on the farm formerly owned by deceased. All the sons and daughters and their wives and husbands are members of God's family.

Nathaniel and Polly Blakely, surrounded by several of their children's graves, are buried in Fairview Cemetery, Madison, Lake County, Ohio. The graves are marked with large granite monuments. Consistent with their distinguished ancestry, the descendants of Nathaniel and Polly contributed to Madison, Lake County, and other communities in many ways, as the following excerpts about a few of them indicate.

A note concerning their son, Rev. David Blakely, from The Iowa Recorder, Wednesday, October 2, 1929:

The Diamond Jubilee, 75th anniversary of the founding of the Presbyterian church was celebrated Sunday, September 29, by all day and evening services, and a picnic noonday luncheon in the church dining room. ... The first minister was Rev. David Blakely, who with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel McCrery and Mrs. Emily Strong, constituted the first membership enrollment September 16, 1854. The meetings were held in the Blakely home and the old log school house until the first church was built in 1867. . . .

In regard to another son, Harlow W. Blakely, The History of the Western Reserve , (H.T. Upton, Vol. III, page 1869) notes:

Harlow W. Blakely was a son of Nathaniel and Polly (Law) Blakely, the former born at Pawlet, Vermont, and the latter at Wells, Vermont. Harlow W. Blakely was born in Gainesville, Wyoming county, New York, June 28, 1844, and came to Ohio with his parents at the age of ten years. He received a common school education. At the age of eighteen years he enlisted in Company D, One Hundred and Fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and after being in the service of his country for one year and a half was shot by a musket-ball at Chickamauga, and received his discharge in consequence of the disability resulting therefrom. After his marriage he took up a homestead in Nebraska, but returned to carry on his farm in Madison Township, having purchased the same from his father, and where he resided until 1909. He served the public as township trustee and assessor and was known as a public spirited citizen; politically he was a Republican. He was a member of the board of trustees which purchased the Township Park on Lake Erie. He was an active church worker and a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Madison until his death, which occurred June 6, 1910, as an indirect result of the wound received in the war. Mr. Blakely married Alta C. Follett, April 5, 1870, who was a splendid woman, unusually energetic and capable, very much devoted to her family and interested in church work. Two children, Stella C., wife of Thomas H. Clark, of Ashtabula, Ohio, and Elbert F. were born of this marriage.

Harlow W. and Alta (Follett) Blakely's son Elbert Follett Blakely is also mentioned in The History of the Western Reserve (Vol. III; Upton, Harriet Taylor; page 1869):

Elbert F. Blakely passed his boyhood in his native town, and received a high school education. He taught school one year and then took a course in law at the University of Michigan, graduating in the class of 1896; since 1897 he has been in practice at Painesville. During the Spanish war Mr. Blakely served as corporal in Company M, Fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was stationed at Tampa and Fernandina, Florida. Later he was elected captain of Company M, Fifth Regiment Ohio National Guard, in which rank he served from 1900 until 1902, when he resigned on account of pressure of business. Mr. Blakely was elected prosecuting attorney in 1903 for three years, was re-elected for two years, and is now serving a third term. The present firm of Alvord & Blakely has been in existence since April, 1909, and has a very large clientele of the best class in Lake and surrounding counties. Mr. Blakely has had a successful career as a prosecuting attorney and has been a zealous public officer. He is a past noble grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is also affiliated with the Sons of Veterans and the Knighted Order of Tented Maccabees. He is greatly interested in athletics and especially the national pastime, and attends a baseball game whenever his duties leave him opportunity.

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Last updated 4 Feb 2004

Content © by Mary Susan Spence & Joseph C. Hager
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