Lake County Ohio GenWeb
This biography is taken from History of Geauga and Lake counties; Williams Brothers, 1878.
Transcribed and submitted by Becky Falin, 1996.
Benjamin Blish, Sr., one of the early pioneers of this section of Ohio, was born in Botton, Tolland county, Connecticut, February 22, 1753. In 1774 he was married to Phoebe Skinner, sister of Captain Abram Skinner (also one of the early settlers of the Reserve), and moved to Middlefield, Hampshire county, Massachusetts. In February, 1804, he started with his brother-in-law, Captain Skinner, for Ohio, traveling by sleigh to Buffalo, and thence on the ice of Lake Erie to Grand River. They spent the spring and summer of 1804 in Painesville and vicinity, and purchased lands and made some preparations for removing their families. Returning in the fall of that year, Mr. Blish spent the winter and spring at his home in Hampshire county, and on the 20th of June, 1805, he started with his family, consisting of his wife, six daughters, and two sons, Benjamin, Jr. and Zenas, then aged respectively twenty-one and twelve years, leaving one married daughter, Mrs. Orris Clapp, in the East, who subsequently moved to Ohio. After much delay, caused by terrible roads through New York State, they reached Buffalo on the 7th of July. After leaving Buffalo, there being no traveled road except along the beach of the lake, they made slow progress by day, sometimes on the sand and sometimes compelled to go into the water to avoid bluffs along the shore, frequently in great danger from winds and waves, camping at night in the woods. They reached Erie on the 16th of July. From Erie the sons, Benjamin and Zenas, proceeded with the teams, and the rest of the family embarked on a small flat-bottomed boat, working their way along the shore as the winds favored, and hauling their boat ashore in adverse weather. Leaving Erie July 17, after many narrow escapes they landed at Fairport, disembarking at Skinner's Landing July 30, 1805, - the boys having reached the house of General Edward Paine ten days before, and crossed the river to Captain Skinner's, awaiting the arrival of the boat. The family immediately found good quarters with Ebenezer Merry, Esq., then living in a comfortable log house on the farm now (1878) owned by Isaac Sawyer, Esq., and proceeded to put up a log house on the homestead farm now owned by Mrs. Horace Steele, eldest daughter of Judge Zenas Blish, and which was occupied by the family in December of that year, and began the work of clearing up the almost unbroken forest then existing west of the little settlement at Painesville. At that time there were but two or three frame houses in Painesville, and but one west of the town for four miles; the only road being an irregular track cut through the woods, running easterly and westerly considerable distance south of the present Mentor avenue.
Surrounded by his large family, and rejoicing in the fact that he had overcome the obstacles and privations incident to a new country, he spent a peaceful and cheerful old age, and died on the 11th of March, 1825, honored and universally beloved as a man of the highest integrity and purity of character. His widow survived him, and lived in the family of her youngest son, Hon. Zenas Blish, retaining to the latest hour of her life, and in a remarkable degree, a mind and heart clear and cheerful, intelligent and kind, and died October 5, 1844, aged ninety-one years, ten days.
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