The Tales of a Blair Family    

Silas Jackson BlairSilas Jackson Blair was born in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, October 18, 1832.  He was the sixth of the seven surviving children of Samuel and Mercy Blair.  He was named in honor of his maternal grandfather Silas Chidester, but was commonly known as "Jack."  He came to Ogle County, Illinois with his parents when he was five years old and grew to manhood there.  As he grew the land about him went from a virgin prairie to a settled community providing hundreds of settlers with a prosperous livelihood.  It was a novel experience to grow from innocence as the land around you did the same; to watch the primitive log cabins being replaced by large frame dwellings; to see the lumbersome ox drawn wagons joined by the speeding trains; to witness schools, churches and businesses replace the  lonesome grass prairie.

Silas helped to build the first school in Adeline, Illinois.  He worked the farm with his parents in Adeline and helped his brother, William build a prosperous hotel business in the town of Mt. Morris, Illinois.  Later, Silas and his brother, William, became partners in a grocery business in Mt. Morris.  Below right is an advertisement touting there venture that appeared in the Mt Morris newspaper in 1857.

sb004.gif (35399 bytes)He met Charlotte Cecilia Richardson, a talented young beauty who was born in Canada and came to Illinois with her family, settling in the Forreston area.  They married on October 3, 1854 and four years later their first child Ida Laura was born on June 25, 1858.   Two years later there was another charming addition, Harriet Cecilia on October 26, 1860.  His charmed life took a turn in the year that followed--1861.  On April 12th the nation changed forever when the first shots of the Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.  In June, his beloved mother, Mercy, passed away and just as he was about to board a train to go off to war, his father, Samuel, died.  What was he feeling as he boarded that train on September 9th, 1861?  Grief over the loss of his parents; guilt that his volunteering for war may have hastened his father's death; worry over what would become of his wife and two beautiful daughters in his absence?  What compels a man to set all these personal emotions aside and risk his life for his country? Perhaps it was a passionate sense of patriotism, a sense of duty to give back to a country that had given him and his family so much?  We will never know for sure, but surely honor must be paid him for such a courageous and selfless decision.

Jack never came home, he was killed at Pittsburgh Landing during the Battle of Shiloh on April 7th, 1862.  For many years the  people of Forreston and Adeline would honor their Civil War dead on "Decoration Day," the forerunner of today’s Memorial Day.  The townspeople would gather together and form a procession that marched to the cemetery, the band playing some of their fine pieces and the ladies carrying armloads of flowers to be strewn upon the graves of their fallen heroes.  Besides Silas, Andrew J. Hammond, David Bell and others were honored in this manner.

Sgt. Blair's grave



"Peace to the ashes of those
that fell in their countries cause."







Silas Jackson Blair was a sergeant in the 34th Illinois Infantry, Company H.  This company was made up of friends, neighbors and relatives of Jack’s.  To learn more about the history of this unit from September, 1861 thru the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 please follow this link.  Included is a picture of Silas Jackson Blair in uniform.

The History of the 34th Illinois Infantry- September 1861 thru April 1862