Blair Family Letters

The Tales of a Blair Family    


A Letter from Ireland--1848
Written by Samuel Blair to his daughter, Nancy (Blair) Knox in America.

Ballyvallough, October 15, 1848
Dear children;
We are all well. Thank God for his kind mercies to us. Hoping this will find you all enjoying the same blessing. We rec'd your kind letter of August 13th, one month after its date. We rec'd no other since McErenson was with you, if you wrote, it did not come to hand.
You say you got your blankets burned. You may expect them replenished when Hugh Alexander arrives. Be thankful your children were not burned with the blankets and be kind to the black man who saved the children. Although his skin is black, he is one of God's creatures as well as you. Although he is now, in bondage, death will set him free.
We have not heard from John for nearly 3 years. Write to him when you receive this and let him know his mother is freting about word from him. We think he is dead or something is wrong with him. Tell him in a few years, he will have no father, nor mother to write to, for we are bending hard towards the grave. We are about 65 years old, both born in one year, the both tolerably healthy.
We want to know if you have saved some money and how much, how many cows you have, and what furniture you have in the house, and if you have plenty of work, and how much you earn weekly, the size of your house and how you generally eat and how much you drink of whisky.
We have not heard from Samuel for nearly two years. Crawford was with us on Mount Fair Day last, the first of this month. They are all well; Ann and the family are well. She has another son. Patrick's family is well, only the mistress is not well since Mount Hill Fair. The fair was on Monday. She and Ned went to Belfast for whiskey on Thursday night and did not get home till Saturday night. Esther over ate herself or got a surfeit. Or she ate something else that did not agree with her and has been in bed ever since. The feeding of Ned has brought her to beggary, he is quite difficult to feed.
My old woman wishes to know of your mother, Bell Lock and families are coming on; and if you know of James Burns and family. Give my best respects to James Martin. He and I were always on good terms.
The potato rot has visited us again. Bushels of potatoes are rotting out, but hay is abundant. Oat meal is 12 shillings for a hundred, potatoes and greens, jar stone butter 8-1/2 per pound. Money is scarce, and trade bad. Our Irish rebellion is at an end. Smith O'Brien, their leader, is looking bad and is to see William Blair of Ballyvallough. Martha Rankin is dead and David Lock is a widower. No more news, but may God Almighty protect you and your famiIy.

This is the sincere wish of your ever affectionate parents,
Esther and Samuel Blair
(Added on margin) Tell Joseph McKinley he has a son and to send him clothes, he has need of them

Letter written to HARRIET BLAIR WARD by her cousin, MARY JEANNETTE BLAIR PETERS in 1895.  There are many relatives mentioned in this letter and appropriate links will be added as work progresses on the site. Until then, here is a little help: Wanda, Mertie Blair Stone, Mattie Stone and Mary McKay are all sisters and daughters of William Stewart Blair and Jeanette Locke Blair.  Mrs. A. L. Clayburg is their granddaughter;  Alice is the author's sister, Alice Blair Gibson is the daughter of Matthew & Sarah Ann Blair;  Ed is the author's brother and Ida is his wife; Gertie is Gertrude Riley and is a cousin of Harriet Blair Ward on her mother's side.   The remainder that are not, themselves, explained in the letter are non-relatives.

616 Nebraska Street
Sioux City, Iowa
January 16, 1895

My Dear Cousin,

After looking for your letter a dozen or more times, I at last found it yesterday and I determine to answer it the first chance I had. I was indeed glad to hear of your happiness and of the particulars of your wedding.

I wrote to Wanda shortly after receiving your letter for the address of our cousin living in Lincoln. But maybe you have found her before this. The address is-- Mrs. A. L. Clayburg, 1342 Vine St. She is a daughter of Mertie Blair Stone. I wonder if you have visited at Omaha yet--if not do call on our cousins there when you do go. Cousin Mattie’s address is Mrs. E. L. Stone, 3210 Farnam St. They have a lovely home there and Mattie is one of the sweetest women I know. Her daughter Mattie is her in the city visiting now and spent a day with me last week. Cousin Mary McKay also lives at Omaha but I do not know her address.

Mamma went to Sterling, Illinois, in November to spend the Winter with Alice and I am quite lonely without her. I am afraid I cannot give you much information in regard to our grandparents on mamma’s side of the family. I know more of Papa’s. Grandpa and Gramma’s names were Samuel and Mercy Blair, I do not know her maiden name or the ages. They are buried at Adeline, Illinois and were born in Pennsylvania. Their parents were Samuel Blair who was born in Ireland and died in Pennsylvania, August 7, 1820. His wife died April 16th, 1823 age 73 years.

These dates I copied from the gravestones when I visited in Penn. There is a little cemetery about five miles from Meadville Penn. called Blair’s Mount [Mt. Blair]cemetery. Our Great grand parents were the first buried there and are buried at the very top of the mount. Papa’s father and stepmother were also buried there.

I think the Samuel Blair was a brother of Papa’s grandfather and this made my parents second cousins. Papa had them traced up in Scotland but I cannot remember now, just who were born in Scotland and who in Ireland. I wish I was able to give you more information.

Brother Ed was here last week. He lectures here at the Medical College every week and always comes up and eats dinner with us. Ida has been very sick with malarial fever but is improving. You ask my baby’s name. Well it is Blair McKinley Peters and we call him Blair. He is fifteen months old now, walks and talks quite a good deal for a little fellow. I don’t think we could keep house without him now.

We had a little visit with Fannie Slagel about six weeks ago. She was in the city shopping and took tea with us.

Hattie, has your husband a relative by the name of Owen Gates? Mrs. Aaron Middlekauff asked me about him. She says Retta’s husband --Mr. Gates has a cousin by the name of Ward at Lincoln and she wondered if it might not be your husband. I think Mr. Gates people are from Vermont.

I received a letter from Gertie last week, the first one in almost a year. She is visiting her mamma at Forreston. Is your mamma well, and where is she now? I should so much like to see you all.

Lovingly Yours,
Jeannette Blair Peters

Letter written to HARRIET BLAIR WARD by her cousin, MARY JEANNETTE BLAIR PETERS, 1918.  Mrs. Riley, Mattie and Mr.& Mrs. Clayburg were all mentioned in the above letter written in 1895.  The artists rendition of the Blair crest mentioned in the letter is pictured.

Los Angeles, California
April 9, 1918

Dear Harriet,

Your kind favor received several days ago and I am sorry to have kept you so long without a reply; but I wished to see your mamma before writing, to get some further information in regard to the coat of arms, as regard to size etc. before writing you. Had hope she would be in, but as she did not come Mrs. Riley and I went out to Krolovia[?] today. She had told me before that you had a coat of arms made and I was indeed pleased to know you had taken so much interest in the Blair family.

I shall be very glad to have a copy of the coat of arms and certainly appreciate your offer to have one copied for me for $8.00 and hope your artist can make it for me by the middle of May.

Blair CrestIn one of the letters from my cousin, Dr. Andrew Blair of Ballynure, Ireland he sent a diagram of one of the coat-of-arms he found on the tombstone there of some of our relatives which I’ll give here stag and motto --On another stone he finds the same St. Andrews cross, the stag and same mottos-- ie "Amos Probos" but in place of the eight diamonds it has a star and crescent. I am wondering which your is like.

Your mamma seems very happy at Krolovia[?] and I have so enjoyed seeing her and hope she will continue to come to the Lanm?? after--her cousin leaves here. She will feel a little lonesome I imagine now. Your Uncle George and Dora started for home yesterday and Mrs. Riley expects to leave on Friday the 12th. I shall miss her as she has roomed just across the hall from me. She has enjoyed California so much. I wish you could come out while your mamma is here, can’t you? Mr. and Mrs. Clayburg, formerly of Lincoln, Nebr. and cousin Mattie were here all last week but left Monday for San Diego. Let us know when your artist gets to work and I’ll mail you draft for the amount. So glad to hear from you at any time.

With Love, Jeannette


Letter written to Edward S. Blair by his father, Capt. Matthew Blair while he was serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Eddie was eight years old at the time.  Pictured is a sample of this handwritten letter.

Matthew Blair letter

Camp Fry March 15th, 1865
Eddie Blair
Dear Son
I desire to write you a few lines to inform you that I don't forget my sweet Eddie boy,   Alice informs me that you have forgot the promise you made me not to go downtown .   Now my dear boy, remember your Father, do not play with bad boys, do not go downtown unless Mother sends you, obey your Mother in all things, don't quarrel with Drummond and Willie and assist Drummond in doing the work. I need not say remember to pray for Father as I know my Eddie will not forget me.
Good bye my sweet boy,
Truly Your Father,
M. Blair