Montgomery Blair was born 19 May 1818 near Jonesboro, Washington County, Tennessee. His parents were John B (1792-1876) and Levica "Vicy" Shields Blair (1794-1886). Montgomery's father was born in Tennessee and lived his entire life in the Jonesboro/Milltown/Limestone area.
Family History indicates his paternal grandfather, Robert Blair (1764-1802) was born in County Down, Ireland; son of John Blair Sr and Martha Laird who were married 7 Jan 1754 in Belfast, Ireland. Blair researchers have not found the ship passenger list for their arrival in America. There are tax records indicating they were in York County, Pennsylvania near Gettysburg in 1770. Some Blair researchers believe all of their children were born in America, but at this time records have not been found to prove or disprove this.
John Blair Sr (1737-1799) the pioneer and his wife Martha Laird (1732-1803) left Pennsylvania and went to the Washington County, Tennessee area after the Revolutionary War. They are buried in unmarked graves in the Old Salem Cemetery on the grounds of Washington College.
Montgomery was married to Mary L Carson 21 May 1842 in Washington County Tennessee. Mary was born on 9 April 1817 in Washington County, probably near Carson Creek in the Providence area, the daughter of Lemuel Carson (1781-1849) and Sarah Ann Ross (1787-1867). Montgomery and Mary's parents are buried in the Providence Presbyterian Church Cemetery located on the Washington and Green County line near Limestone.
The first church was built of logs in 1783 and was heated by a hearth at the center of the building. The original building burned in 1823 and another log church was constructed the next year. This is the church Mr and Mrs Blair would remember but it was destroyed when it collapsed in 1886 due to a record-breaking snowfall. It was rebuilt again and is still in existence today. The earliest church records remaining for the Providence Presbyterian Church is a Book of Session Minutes that lists the members in 1836. Montgomery Blair and Polly Carson were on the list plus the following; Montgomery's parents, John Blair and Vicy Blair; Mary's parents, Lemuel Carson, an Elder in the Church and wife Sarah Carson; Mary's grandfather Edward Ross; William Leslie Humphreys and wife Hannah Rebecca Carson. Hannah was Mary's Aunt and mother of Lemuel Newton Humphreys.
Montgomery and Mary had four children when they appeared in the 1850 Census for Washington County; John W, Sarah Ann, Louiza and Lemuel. They were living near Mary's widowed mother, Sarah Carson. To back track a bit, two of Mary's brothers, Matthew Carson and Edward R Carson with his wife and five children came to Johnson County, Iowa in 1843. They were farming near Old Man's Creek in Union township. Montgomery was listed as a farmer (1850) and the promise of a better life in Iowa must have been the reason for their trek to Iowa. Another son, Matthew was born in 1851. They left their families and friends in late September or October of 1852 and came by covered wagon to Iowa. A letter written to Mary's brother in Tennessee about this journey written 25 October 1852 can be found at the end of this article and refers to them as "Gum and Polly.".
Family researchers believe they may have stayed in
Johnson County for a short time becoming reacquainted with family and friends.
The Blairs appear in the 1860 Fillmore County census living next door to
C W Statler, who became the husband of their daughter Angeline in 1873.
An excerpt from the Statler Bio from the History of Iowa County (1915) gives this information.
" …..in 1852 they came to Iowa county, Iowa, making the journey with covered wagons. It took six weeks to make the trip and upon arriving here they found a district the improvement of which seemed scarcely begun. The father entered land and built a log cabin which served as a residence for a considerable time...". This trip must have been particularly hard for Mary as their sixth child, Margaret, was born 16 November 1852. Edward was born in 1856 and Martha in 1861 completing the family of eight children.
The Blairs lived several places in Fillmore Township before moving to Hinkletown. In the 1860 Census, neighbors were C W Statler in Section 29. Real Estate valued at $1200. Personal Estate $300. Mary wrote the following letter to her mother in 1860 telling of the hard times. (Note by RH: I transcribed this letter from a copy of the original letter which was very hard to read because of the spelling.. There is another transcription at the end of this article)
Iowa Co Iowa March the 11 1860
Kind affection Mother Sisters and brothers I tak my pen won tim mor in han to let you no we are all well at this tim I holp when you receve these few lines tha may find you all ingoying the sam blesing. Rachel nel(?) an Dick Andrew suns and Andrew was all to see us an told me all about you all You dont no how mutch good it dun me to hear from you all and mother has good helth and is pert to her ag. I had poor helth las sumer my helth is tolerabel good now we haint had no leter from over too years. I supose you think the time long sinc I wrot to you I can tel you I feel prety bad when I think how careles I have been about writin I want you to escus me and I wil do beter for the tim to com. The frends is all wel as far as I no. The helth of the contry is good. prices of grain is low and everything else but pork and mony scarc and taxs hi. that makes for hard times. hard times it has been the las thre years we receved a leter from James mateson in Calaforna he is wel and wel satisfid he sas wages is thre and four dolers a day we have had a plesent winter and spring so far the plesant spring I have sean in ioway. I look for as cold wether yet as we had in Tennessee in the winter. if all the winters was lik this winter and spring they wold not be so . I hant heard but won presbetrin preach sinc I cam to ioway ther is methodis an dunkards an baptis and Camilits and a cind of peopel that cal them selvs advents. keap saturday for sundy mother you youst to tel me I coud do sutch and sutch when too Sundys cum to gether now thay have cum back and Mack has joind the Cambils I dont think but litel of them that denie the name and cal them selves Cristins. tha think if a person beleves that Crist is the sun of god an the Savor of man and is put under the water that all that is required of them. mother I got your liknes and you don’t know how mutch good it dus me when I look at it. Beky I got the mony you sent to git a dres I hant got it yet. the children send thar best respects to you all so no mor at presant but remain your frend
Mary B to Sarah C writ soon
By the 1870 census they had moved to Section 27 and some neighbors were Anthony Rock, Patrick Rock and Michael and Bridget McGaffney. The value of real estate was $1200 with personal estate at $455. The census for 1880 again lists Anthony Rock, Bridget McGaffney and John Quinn nearby. The 1886 Plat map for Fillmore Twp verifies these people in Sections 27 and 28. It is not clear why Mary Blair's name is on the Plat Map on an 80 acre tract of land.
Mary died 23 February 1886 in Hinkletown. She was buried in Clothier Cemetery, Fillmore twp. (Sec. 29). Montgomery and son Lemuel were living in the same household as Ernest Weimer and Martha in the 1900 Census. Cass Dixon and Margaret were also next door. Montgomery died 27 August 1903 in Hinkletown. An excerpt from his obit indicates he died from injuries from an accident a week before and was buried in Clothier Cemetery. His stone has not been found. The names of Montgomery and Mary's eight children are; John W, Sarah Ann, Angeline, Lemuel, Matthew, Margaret, Edward and Martha.
1. John W. Blair was born on 22 May 1842 near Jonesboro, Tennessee.
He was living with his parents in 1860 and 1870. I also found him
in the 1870 Johnson County Census working as a farm laborer in the household
of his cousin Sarah Carson and her husband Thomas Thomas. His future
bride was living nearby in the Newton Humphreys residence.
John was married to Rachel Tennessee Humphreys on 10 May 1871 in Johnson County. Tennessee Humphreys was born 27 September 1853 near Jonesboro. She was the daughter of Lemuel Newton Humphreys (1831-1907) and Sarah Ann Catherine Morelock (1834-1874). The Humphreys had come to Johnson County in 1869. John Blair and Tennessee were found in Johnson County, Union Twp at the time of the 1880 Census. He was listed as a laborer still living near the Thomas and Carson families. The Humphreys family moved to Fillmore Township, Iowa County in 1871.. John and Tennessee had moved to Hinkletown before his death on 10 November 1891. They were living on the Keokuk County side because his estate proceedings were found in Keokuk County. John's death was the result of a fall from a horse. His burial place is unknown. The following article was found in the Marengo Republican dated 18 November 1891.
"On Tuesday evening of last week Mr. John Blair residing near North English, went to Summitt's livery stable, and assisted in getting away with some whiskey in honor of the re-election of Gov. Boles. Between 10 and 11 o'clock he started to go home, being assisted to get on his horse by several of the boys. Shortly after several of the boys fearing that he might not be able to get home started after him and found him lying on the road one block east of the Watson House, having apparently fallen off his horse. They took him back to the livery barn and laid him on a cot. He was insensible, but as he did not appear to be in pain, nothing was done, and all retired. About six in the morning one of the boys attempted to wake him, to send him home, when it was found that he was dead. Coroner Coxe was notified and held an inquest. After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verdict "that the deceased came to his death by reason of partial dislocation of neck, caused by falling from his horse while in a state of intoxication, about 10:30 o'clock p.m., November 10, 1891, and that death ensued between 11 p.m. Nov. 10 and 6 a.m. Nov. 11, 1891."
Rachel continued to live in Hinkletown and is found living
between Matthew Gray and Mary O'Rourke in the 1900 Census. Her occupation
was Carpet Manufacturing. Researchers believe Rachel lived in Hinkletown
until her father's death in 1907. She bought a little house in North
English and lived there until she died 20 February 1938. She was
buried in the North English Cemetery. Her obituary states she had
lived in the Hinkletown community for many years. John and
Tennessee had the following children: Cordy, Mary, Maggie, Ethel, Blanche,
Charley, Frank, Allie and Harley.
i. Cordella "Cordie" Blair was born 21 Oct 1871 Johnson County and died 12 July 1950 in Keota, Iowa. She married Homer Dusenberry and they had two sons. Cloyce and Clair.
ii Mary Adeline Blair was born May 5, 1873 in Johnson County and died 16 April 1918 in Iowa County. She married George William Long 14 September 1890 and they had four children. Lottie, John, Mildred, and Rollie.
iii. Sarah Ethel Blair was born May 12, 1877 and died 18 December 1948 in Keota, Iowa. She married Isaac Maule 10 July 1895 in Hinkletown. They had three children; Floyd, Vera and Lottie.
iv. Maggie Blair was born in 1876 and died 28 September 1880.She is buried in a little country cemetery in Johnson County.
v. Blanche Blair born 10 April 1881 and died 16 Sept 1923. She married Thomas J O'Rourke 10 May 1900. Five children; Willie, Helen, Maurice, T Joseph and Lucille.
vi. Charles L Blair was born in 1884 and died in North English 8 December 1959. He married Florence Smith 27 Aug 1907.
vii. Franklin Blair was born on 9 September 1885 and died in North English 23 January 1928. He was married 25 December 1906 to Nellie Carter (1887-1964). They are buried in the North English Cemetery. They had eight children; Forrest, Mildred, Mable, Ralph, Dean, Dorothy, Lynn and Robert.
viii. Alice "Allie" Blair was born in May 1888 and died in 1964. She was married to Lewis Farley, Jess Groves and Fred Smith.
ix. Harley Blair was born 13 September 1890 and died 1 May 1919 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He married Grace Minor in December 1918. Harley is buried in the North English Cemetery.
2. Sarah Ann Blair was born 2 February 1845 near Jonesboro, Tennessee and died 10 June 1919 in North English, Iowa. She was married 9 April 1867 toWilliam Whitmore (1841-1912). They are buried in the North English Cemetery. They had six children; Dillie, John, Dude, Lucy, Thomas and Dove.
3. Angeline Blair was born 5 January 1847 near Jonesboro Tennessee. Her name is listed as Lovinia, Louiza and Angeline in various Census Records. It is Angeline on her tombstone. She died 5 Oct 1926 in North English. She was married in 1873 to C W Statler (1834-1907). They are buried in Clothier Cemetery. Their children; Mary, Lizzie, Maud and Harry.
4. Lemuel Carson Blair was born 5 January 1849 near Jonesboro. He never married and after the death of his father, he moved to Hinkletown where he died 7 February 1920. His obit states he was buried in Clothier Cemetery but a stone was not found.
5. Matthew Blair was born about 1851 near Jonesboro. His death date is unknown. There are conflicting birth dates on various census records. The 1900 census, "Sept 1847 age 53" information appears to be in error because Matthew is not on the 1850 census with his parents in Tennessee. In the 1860 census he is listed as age 9. Matthew married Alverda Davis and they had three children all born in Missouri: John born in Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Oscar and Mary Elizabeth. Matthew returned to Iowa and is found living in Iowa County, Green twp in the 1900 census with his second wife, Louisa Ferguson Humphreys. She was the widow of John William Humphreys, brother of Rachel Tennessee Humphreys Blair. Information on this 1900 census said 0 years of marriage and listed three step children; Clarence Humphreys, Vida Humphreys and Ora Humphreys.
6. Margaret Blair was born 16 November 1852 in Iowa County and died 23 August 1934 in Iowa County. On 1 Sept 1878, she married Daniel Casper "Cass" Dixon (1854-1933). They are buried in the North English Cemetery. They had seven children: Ernest (1879-1958). Jesse, Mayme, Jack, Effie, Frank (1893-1956) and Charles. Ernie and Frank are also buried in the North English Cemetery.
7. Edward Blair was born 2 April 1856 in Iowa County and died in Byers, Pratt County, Kansas 20 Sept 1933. Edward left Iowa in 1876 and secured a homestead in Pratt County, Kansas. He was a very young man living alone in a sod house when he was married to Hassie Naron (1859-1925). Their marriage was on 9 April 1879 in Byers.. They are buried in the Byers Cemetery. They had eight children; Adeline, Grace, Martha, Claude, Clyde, Robert, Rena and Milton.
8. Martha Blair was born 24 June 1861 in Iowa County. She married Ernest Weimer about 1890. Ernest was born 9 October 1871, the son of William Weimer and Rachel Breeden. Death dates for Martha and Ernest are unknown. They had four children; Charles, Maggie, Carson and Blanche.
History of Washington County Tennessee, Pub 1988; Washington County Marriage Records; Providence Presbyterian Church and Cemetery Records, Montgomery Blair History published by Margaret Vance Webb, 1984; Blair Family History by Lottie Bucher; Keokuk County Iowa Heir and Land Records, Vol 2, 1885-1893; History of Iowa County, Pub. 1881; History of Iowa County, Pub 1915, Vol II; Tombstone inscriptions from Clothier, Piersol and North English Cemeteries. Census Records for Washington County; Tennessee, 1850; Iowa Census for 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900 and 1910. Mary Blair Long Bible Record, Obituaries and Funeral Cards.
Compiled by: Ruth Wagamon Hamdorf, descendant of John W Blair
Iowa Co Iowa, March the 11 1860
Kind affectionate Mother, Sisters and Brothers; I take my pen one time more in hand to let you know we are all well at this time. I hope when you receive these few lines they may find you all enjoying the same blessing. Rachel, Nell? and Dick Andrews sons and Andrew was all to see us and told me all about you all. You don't know how much good it done me to hear from you all and mother has good health and is pert to her age. I had poor health last summer, my health is tolerable good now. We hain't had no letter from over two years. I suppose you think the time long since I wrote to you I can tell you I feel pretty bad when I think how careless I have been about writing. I want you to excuse me and I will do better for the time to come. The friends is all well as far as I know. The health of the country is good. Prices of grain is low and everything else but pork and money scarce and taxes high. That makes for hard times. Hard times it has been the last three years we received a letter from James Mateson in California he is well and well satisfied he says waages is three and four dollars a day we had had a pleasant winter and spring so far the pleasant spring I have seen in Ioway. I look for as cold weather yet as we had in Tennessee in the winter. If all the winters was like this winter and spring they would not be so. I han't heard but one Presbyterian preach since I came to Iowa there is Methodists and Dunkards and Baptists and Cambellites and a kind of people that call themselves Adventists. Keep Saturday for Sunday, mother you used to tell me I could do such and such when two Sundays come together. Now they have come back and Mack has joined the Cambellites. I don't think but little of them that deny the name and call themselves Christians. They think if a person believes that Christ is the son of god and the Savior of man and is put under the water that all that is required of them. Mother I got your likeness and you don't know how much good it does me when I look at it. Becky I got the money you sent to get a dress. I han't got it yet. the children send their best respects to you all. So no more at present but remain your firend.
Mary B to Sarah C write soon
Wagon Train Letter
Mr. J. R. Carson
Leesburg Washington Tenn
Sedricks Illinois Oct 25 1852
Well Cosin John how do you do you devil you I would like to see certifiely
well I gess I would like to see you all I could tel you all
one or two a preacher could not help but lie a little if they was placed
in my circumstances and consequently you could not expect me to go straight
at all times and if I should happen to go astray you must excuse me for
every thing goes rong saince I had the darned shakes even to the sun runs
(?) rong and my hands cramps so bad I cant write any at all and I havent
sence to tell a wild chicken from a tame turkey or a mule from a milk cow.
Yet I have never forgot my snuff box God bless it if it was not for it
I would not make the trips I have.
Well John I had better try to tell you something about our trip out hear if I can do it for swearing. We had good luck and yet bad luck all the same time, but on the whole we had as good luck as could be expected, on the fryday after we started it rained on us all day and after that we had good weather till we crossed Clinch Mountain and the beds got as wet as water could make them and in the morning drovd about eight miles and got a house and dried our beds and things. We then traveld to within 40 miles of Louisville Ky which was the Monday weak after we started and that night it rained on us all night againe and Tuesday night John and Gum boath tuck sick.
John was very bad all night and on Wednesday I took sick and then we was all three sick but we drove about thirty miles that day and John was very bad, Gum and muself not much better. We lay on Wednesday night some two miles from New Albany and there was Gum John and Cain all sick all night the next morning Gum and muself was better but John was worse and we lay there until 2 o’clock and we could not get anything for our horses but seaf(?) oats at 25cts per dosen by 2 o’clock I felt as well as common and thought it was nothing but the common headache Gum a little better but John worse but we drove over within two miles of Greenville and there noct up camp for the night and about dark Gum gave up the ghost and by darke I felt as well as ever I did and that night it was Gum John and Sam sick and about midnight Rachel came and wakened me to go and see John I got up and went and we boath thought he was dying but we found he was not and I went for a Doctor to Greeneville and found Dr. Girdner and Harvey Sink (Link?) partners. Dr. Girdner came with me and stayed till morning and told us it was the feaver John had and that we could not travel till he got better so that was on fryday morning so I started out on track of a house feeling tolerably well and I got a house in sight from an old gentleman by the name of Monroe as fine a man as ever lived so we got moved in to our house by 12 o’clock and by that time I began to feel the headache commence and the feaver so I thought Die I must so there we was Gum Sam John and Cain all sick at once and John not much hopse of his life you may give a gess about how we began to feel about that time any by Sunday they had the feaver stopt on John and by Monday there was Gum Sam John Lov Lem Matt and Cain all sick laying under the doctor. John had the feaver and the balance of us had the chills and feaver Gum had one chill and I had three light ones and one very hard one and by fryday we was all able to travel. Dr. Girdner or Link tended to us once or twice a day from Thursday til thursday again and charged us but five dollars. the women fed the horses on oats at 25cts per bushel and fodder at 12 1/2 cts per dozen. We met with good friends as any people could have met with any where. We was not charged for any thing but for the grain we fed and used and so after laying there 9 days we started on our journey again and landed at Georgetown on the 22nd of Oct and we all staid at George Ritcherds that night and Sam had a light attack of the chills again that night but the next morning he felt tolerably well and they started on their journey, all in good heart and in good health but Sam and he was not as well as he might be so I know nothing more about them since.
Polley had as good health as a woman could have anywhere and so has Rachel. they were all well pleased with the country so far Polley says she would not go back for anything. We had to give high prices for grain on the road had to give ? 50 to 75 cts for corne and the other things ?.
Well John I believe I have nothing more to write to you at this time. I was well pleased with the trip and the folks I came out with, never was better used by any set of people in my life than I was by Gum and wife and all the balance I shall always think well of Polley and Gum for the way they used me on the road they charged me nothing in a manner for coming out with them but my work which they could do without you know. Well John I will not say whether I like the country or not at this time for I dont know my selfe whether I do or not. Now dog bite you John, I want you to write to me and tell me all the news and a little more and I will do the same with you. Send your letters to Georgetown I will stop. J. C. Carson
(The J. R. Carson to whom this letter was sent was "Big John" Ross Carson, brother of Polley).