URIAH AND JAMES BLAIR,
among the very first settlers in Benton Township, are natives of Indiana. Uriah was born March 22, 1825, and James
was born December 26, 1826. Their parents, John M. and Mary E. (Billings) Blair, had a family of six children, the
first two of whom were twins, one daughter and one son, Uriah. James was the next child born.
In 1827 they moved to
Pike County, Illinois, and were among the first settlers of that State. In 1836 they visited Iowa, locating on Skunk
River, where Mrs. Blair died. After this event they returned to Pike County, Illinois, where they lived till 1839,
and then came to Holt County, Missouri, and located in section 20, township 61, range 38. This farm is now owned by
Uriah and James Blair, the former having 170 acres and James 193 acres. At the time they settled in Benton Township
there were no people living within its present boundaries but Indians.
They attended school in the first schoolhouse built in the township, which was a log cabin without even a fire-place,
though on one side a log was left out for a window.
The building was erected in 1840, in section 17, township 61, range 38, by the Blair family, the Baldwin
family (the second settlers in the township), James Kimsey, John Hughes and one other person. The first session was
taught by a man by the name of Lattimore, from the East, he being known as the Yankee teacher.
In the spring of 1849
Uriah and James Blair, in company with a large expedition, started from Holt County for California. Their father also
accompanied them. The party left about May 10, and the senior Blair died while on the road, on Carson River, at the
foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and was there buried. While in California the brothers were engaged in gold mining,
on the tributaries of the American River.
James returned to Holt County in February, 1850, and his brother in the summer of the same year. Uriah was a soldier in
the Mexican War. He was sworn into the service of the United States at Leavenworth, July 4, 1847, as a member of what was
known as the Oregon Battalion, attached to Col. Powell's regiment. The expedition ascended the Missouri River and returned
to what is now Nebraska City, where they remained during the winter of 1847-8, and the next spring set out across the plains
for Fort Kearney. News reached them of the close of the war and they were ordered back to Leavenworth to be discharged. He
was a Democrat before the late war, but has since been a Republican.
He is a member of Mound City Lodge, No. 294, A. F.
and A. M. December 16, 1858, he was married to Miss Eveline Mackey, by which marriage there were born seven children: Alice
M., C. Calvin, Mary E., Eva Z., Frank N., Cora I. (now deceased), and George D. Mrs. Blair, the fourth child in a family of
eleven children, was born in Pike County, Missouri, January 30, 1840. She was reared, educated and married in her native
county. Her grandfather was a native of Scotland, and her father, Cyrus Mackey, of North Carolina, who came to Missouri
in an early day and was married, in Pike County, to Miss Charlotta Jones, a native of Tennessee. She now lives in Pike
County, Missouri. Mr. James Blair was married April 8, 1852, to Miss Emeline Jasper. Twelve children were the fruit of
this union, ten of whom are now living : Dr. F., William D., Truston, Lena B., Anna E., Minnie M., Robert and Mattie
(twins), James and Walter. Mrs. Blair's father, Merrill Jasper, was a native of Kentucky, and he was there married to
Miss Elizabeth Shepherd, a native of Kentucky.
They moved to Missouri in an early day, and lived in Pike County till
about 1844, when they came to Holt County. Mr. Jasper died in August, 1845, and Mrs. Jasper in March, 1873.- They had
a family of six children, Mrs. Blair being the second child.
Source:"History of Holt and Atchison Counties, 1882"
Transcribed by Karyn