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July 2, 2015

The Beginning of Blairstown, Missouri in Henry County and It's Namesake

THE BEGINNING OF BLAIRSTOWN
This information was found in a book in the possession of Dorothy M. (Davis) Ward.
The section of land that is the City of Blairstown lay on what was first homesteaded on February 22, 1857 by James W. Fox and his wife Sarah. A grant was given to Mr. and Mrs. Fox by President James Buchannan.
Mr. and Mrs. Fox sold this section of land April 14, 1857 to Dr. Richard Z. R. Wall from Salem, North Carolina. Dr. Wall paid $375.00 for this land. At the same time, he bought many more acres in the northern part of Henry County and southern Johnson County for as little as fifty cents an acre to $2.50. Dr. Wall was one of the first people in this area to own slaves.
John A. Rush came from Ohio to Missouri in 1866. He settled in Henry County in 1868, where, in the winter of 1869, he built a log cabin. The dirt-floor cabin was located on Main Street.
Mr. Rush farmed and raised stock. He was considered to be the owner of one of the most valuable farms in Henry County. In 1873, he built a frame home on what is now the Ab Dickenson land.
John Rush married Mary, daughter of R.Z.R. Wall, in 1874. Dr. Wall gave Mary, and each of his children, a section of land. Mary's land gift was where Blairstown now lies.
Thus, the town began to grow.
BITS AND PIECES ABOUT BLAIRSTOWN'S ROOTS
The men in the town built a baseball diamond on the south end of town for the youth. On Sundays, after church, the men and boys would gather and play ball in the afternoons.
A week each year, during the summer, traveling people would go from town to town. They would set up a huge tent in the schoolyard for their program. In the evenings, they would put on plays for the area people to come and watch.
Blairstown had its first black family living there as non-slaves. They lived where Ab Dickenson lives. The lady's name was known to most of the area as Aunt Emily.
On the Fourth of July, the townspeople would prepare for the event months ahead and hold a festival that would sometimes last for two or three days. Even during the 1980s and 1990s, citizens of the town would arrange for parades, food and fun.
In 1922 or 1923, Virgil Lowry opened a "picture show." His electricity to generate the power for the show was across the street from the back of Shepperd's Garage. His charge for the show was 25 cents.
shepperd
David E. Shepperd, born in Ohio, came to Blairstown and was a successful businessman. He had a car dealership in Blairstown in the early 30s. His mechanic, Virgil Lowry, also shown in the picture, later opened his own mechanic shop in the town.
In November, 1928, Blairstown and surrounding areas had terrible rains that prompted flooding in the bottom areas. Doss Henderson, then Depot Agent, put across the wire that the water in the depot was knee deep and that he as leaving the depot. The water was said to have gone to the bottom of the railroad cars.
The population of Blairstown in 1930 was 237 people. The town had leveled off in expansion. This was due to the extremely hard times in the area.
In 1935, N Highway was completed from Norris to Blairstown and from 2 Highway to Blairstown. The work took two years to complete.
Ray Whalen opened a bowling alley in 1940. The alley was located on a vacant lot next to the post office.
Ray Wehmeyer ran a locker plant on Main Street.
Elmer Orr was the Blairstown barber.
Frank Middleton and his wife ran the restaurant and pool hall.
Lucille and John Wall owned the grocery store/gun store.
Blairstown even had a laundromat in the early 60s!
Virgil Lowry was the town's mechanic.
Jennings Atkins kept the farmers in gas with his Mobil business.
Kenneth Rucker has a thriving business as owner of the Western Auto Store.
Mrs. McFarland kept the phones going from the Central Office located on Main Street.
ROAD GRAVELING (May 20, 1940) - Last week the gravel trucks started hauling gravel for the cooperative road project, from Blairstown cemetery to the stucco farm home west of town. The gravel is being spread reasonably heavy and is routed through Blairstown as follows: From the cemetery to Wall street and down it to the Fellhauer sisters property then west one block, missing the two business blocks that are maintained by the State, starting with the gravel again on the west road leading from Blairstown and go to the stucco house. This project is being made possible by donations from Blairstown business firms, the Bogard Township Board and the NYA. This piece of road graveling is very commendable.
MERCANTILE RECEIVING REPAIRS (June 1940) - The John R. Wall business building occupied by the Blairstown Mercantile has been undergoing repairs and improvements this week. The interior walls and ceiling have been repapered with neat light paper and the outside front is getting a fresh coat of paint. Dee Creps is doing the paper and paint job.
WORK IN THE AREA (Aug. 1940) - Work on the new bridge over Norris creek is progressing nicely. Traffic is being routed over temporary roadway and bridges south of the structure. A full force was called back to work on the Blairstown school auditorium, Monday. Extra help will probably be called as the work progresses.
"N" HIGHWAY COMPLETED (1935) - In the year 1935, "N" Hwy. from Norris to Blairstown was completed, as was from Hwy. 2 to Blairstown. The county workmen worked on these roads for two years.
GLIDER PLANE GETS AWAY AND LANDS IN O.W. WALL'S PASTURE (Dec 1942) - Blairstown citizens experienced quite a thrill when a glider plane landed near the county line in the O.W. Wall pasture Tuesday noon. The glider became detached from a transport plane beyond the James Martin farm west of town and was piloted to the above named pasture landing in soft earth, much too soft for the transport to make a landing, so the glider was left in care of two armed guards. We understand it was going to Knob Noster. Dr. R. J. Powell was in Blairstown Tuesday, arriving in the midst of more excitement than Blairstown had experienced in many years, for about noon a bomber was going over, towing a glider when the nylon cord which held the glider to the bomber broke and the glider pilot was forced to make an emergency landing. He brought down the glider, a bomber pilot beside him, in O.L. Wall's pasture, making a perfect landing. The field was too small for the bomber to land, so it was forced to go on but schoolchildren and townspeople had a gala day investigating the grounded glider and making queries.
FIRES REPORTED TO THE BLAIRSTOWN NEWSPAPERS THROUGH THE YEARS
GLENN WEHMEYERS LOOSE HOME TO FIRE (Jan 1939) - The farm house south of Quick City and occupied by Glenn Wehmeyer and family, was destroyed by fire at noon last Friday. We understand the Wehmeyers saved only a few of their belongings.
FIRE TAKES HOME (Apr. 3, 1940) - As we go to press we learn that the H.C. Whitaker home in the north part of town had burned at 2:00 o'clock Wednesday afternoon. The fire was discovered by Mrs. Mabel Lowry. It is thought to have started from defective wiring. Most of the furniture and clothing were saved. We understand the loss is partly covered by insurance.
ROOF FIRE (Apr. 12, 1940) - The roof of the farm home of Mrs. Guymon, north of town, was badly damaged by fire last Friday afternoon. Royston Waugh and his crew of workmen are laying a new roof.
LIGHTNING STRIKES (1941) - The old frame house on the farm just east of town belonging to Mr. and Mrs. H.H. Ross was struck by lightning about 11 o'clock Monday night and burned to the ground. We understand Elmer Butcher lost three cows by lightning Monday night.
FIRE TAKES FARM HOME AND CONTENTS (March 3, 1943) - The two-story frame farm home of William Boston 1 1/2 miles east of Blairstown was totally destroyed by fire last Wednesday. The fire, which started in the second story, has gained such headway before being discovered and with a strong wind against the flames, made impossible to control it. It is thought defective wiring may have been the cause of the fire. Very little of the contents was saved. Mrs. Raymond Baker, Mr. Boston's daughter, lost practically all her clothing and jewelry. Mr. Boston is undecided as to whether he will rebuild or move one of his town houses out. He thinks he will repair and paper a summer kitchen for temporary quarters. Mr. Boston carried insurance.
FIRE AT MOUSE HOME (Mar 17, 1943) - A roof fire at the Clifford Mouse home, southwest of Blairstown, Wednesday noon, was discovered and brought under control before much damage was done. A number from Blairstown went out to help. It is thought to have caught from a spark from the flue.
FIRE AT HENDERSON FARM (Mar. 11, 1945) - A small roof fire at the E. Henderson farm home north of town did quite a little damage to the roof, last Sunday morning before the flames could be brought under control. The fire is thought to have started from the flue.
LIGHTNING STRIKES BARN (June 27, 1945) - The big barn on the old McCalmon place southwest of here was struck by lightning during the electrical storm here about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, and burned to the ground. Ray McCalmon and family who live there were able to save a wagon. A new corn planter burned with the barn. If other contents were lost with the barn, we failed to learn of such as we go to press Wednesday evening.
FIRE TAKES COUNTRY HOME (1975) - A tragedy happened to the lovely residence in Blairstown. Delmar and Dorothy Hayden's home burnt. The Blairstown Fire Department responded, but there was nothing they could do to save the home, and the house was a total loss. Delmar and Dorothy have lived in the Blairstown community all their lives. Everyone's blessings go out to this special couple.
BLAIRSTOWN FIRE CAUSES ESTIMATED $78,000 DAMAGE (June 23, 1982) - Fire caused about $78,000 damage to a Blairstown tavern and adjoining buildings Tuesday afternoon. An investigator for the Missouri State fire marshal's office said the blaze started in living quarters at the rear of the buildings. There were no injuries. Men and equipment from seven area fire departments were dispatched to the blaze. Aid from the Clinton Fire Department was requested by the Blairstown and Johnson County Fire protection district around 2 o'clock. Chief Bob Harrell said he and two firemen set up a 1,700 gallon tanker and arrived at the scene at 2:30. Other fire departments assisting were Blairstown, Chilhowee, Johnson County Fire Protection District Pumper 1, Urich, Creighton, Harrisonville and Pleasant Hill. The fire was contained in two 1 1/2 story buildings that housed the Harrison Tavern. The buildings were brick with wood interiors and both were destroyed. The Blairstown Post Office, which adjoins the tavern, sustained smoke and minor water damage. Nearly everything had been moved out of the post office in anticipation of the fire spreading. The Wall General Store which contained a considerable number of firearms and ammunition was in no danger at any time. The store is located across from the tavern. A total of 50 firefighters from various departments were on the scene. The fire was brought under control about 3 p.m.

ANOTHER EXTENSIVE FIRE HITS BLAIRSTOWN BUSINESS 
(June 1, 1985) - The Blairstown grocery store burned Saturday night. Mayor Leroy Fisher says lightning struck the rear of the store. Store owner Wilbur Westendorff's son-in-law, Keith Feagan, was standing in front of the building at the time but was unharmed. Firemen came from a wide area to help put out the fire. Women provided coffee and water throughout the night. Debbie Anstine of Blairstown served breakfast of biscuits and gravy to the tired volunteers. Westendorff has operated the store since October 1978 and said this morning he hadn't made plans on re-opening. Older people in the community especially depend on the store. Both Westendorff and John Wall say they deeply appreciated the help of all the fireman, the volunteers, the ladies and the farmers who brought their own tanker trucks.
GROCERY - Throughout the years of Blairstown history, there has always been a grocery store in town, until recent years. Many years ago, George Wisely had a store; the Blairstown Mercantile sold groceries; Wall's General Store sold groceries as well as hunting supplies; then there was Puckett's Grocery; John Houk ran the store, as did Dee Stoneking; Mike Westendorff then started a store, and he later sold it to his father Wilbur, who ran it for a few years. Then, late one Saturday night in June of 1985, lightning struck once again; started a fire at Wilbur's store and it burnt to the ground.
COMMUNITY BUILDING (2008)
John Wall, seeing the need for a community building, donated money for the construction of this building located in the Park. There is a nice kitchen with stove, refrigerators, cabinets, bathrooms, and a large meeting area with tables and chairs.
blaircom
FireatWalls
Wall's General Store. In 1985, this fire destroyed buildings on the west side of Main Street in Blairstown.
PresbChurch
Presbyterian Church of Blairstown in the early 1980s before John Wall built a wheelchair ramp over a portion of the steps.  Through the years this church not only served to nourish the soul, but it was a gathering place for ladies to meet for quilting; for families to come for basket dinners; and for school activities such as graduations and plays.
HobbyClub
The Hobby Club was active in the Blairstown community for many years.  This 1950 photo pictures from back row left to right:  Caroline Rector, Mrs. McEowen, Maude Davis, Bessie Newman, Violet Pryor, Mabyl Lowry, Maude Atkins, Marie Rush, Annabelle Walters and her son, and two little girls who are unknown.  Front row left to right:  Maggie Hampton, Mary Beaty, Bessie Young, Helen Whitaker, Ruby Whitaker with her Brownie camera, and Daisy Gallihugh.
Frisco Railroad Station, Blairstown, Missouri
Johnson Coun
Blairstown, Missouri's Namesake
John Insley Blair (August 22, 1802 – December 2, 1899) was an American entrepreneur, railroad magnate, philanthropist and one of the 19th century's wealthiest men.
John Insley Blair.jpgBlair's parents John Blair and Rachel Insley immigrated from Scotland; he was the fourth child of ten children.He was born at Foul Rift in White Township, New Jersey,just south of Belvidere, and at the age of two the Blair family moved to a farm near Hope Township, New Jersey. Even as a youth, Blair displayed a keen interest in the acquisition of wealth. At the age of ten, he is reported to have told his mother, "I have seven brothers and three sisters. That's enough in the family to be educated. I am going to get rich."  The young Blair began earning money by trapping wild rabbits and muskrats and selling their skins at a price of sixteen for a dollar.The next year, Blair began working at a general store owned by his cousin John, and at the age of seventeen he founded a store of his own with his cousin as an equal partner,located in the community of Butt's Bridge, New Jersey. On August 25, 1825, the name of the community was changed to Gravel Hill and Blair was appointed postmaster, a position he retained until July, 1851. He married Nancy Ann Locke on September 20, 1826, and the couple had four children: Emma Elizabeth, Marcus Laurence, DeWitt Clinton, and Aurelia Ann. ]Blair bought out his cousin's share of their store and expanded operations. By 1830, he owned five stores, each one run by one of his brothers.
On January 24, 1839, Gravel Hill was officially renamed Blairstown, New Jersey (2000 Population of 5,747) in Blair's honor.He established Blair, Nebraska by purchasing a 1,075-acre (4.35 km2) tract of land in Nebraska on May 10, 1869 after the Sioux City and Pacific Rail Road chose to cross the Missouri river at that location.
Blair managed his multi-million dollar businesses from rural Blairstown, New Jersey or from his private rail car upon which it was common for him to log 40,000 miles (64,000 km) annually. As president of 16 railroad companies, he amassed a fortune estimated at $70 million.Blair was the largest owner of rail mileage in the world. His religion as a Presbyterian and penchant for philanthropy led him to found more than 100 churches in close proximity to his railroads.In 1873, he was also an investor in the Green Bay and Minnesota Railroad, and the namesake of Blair, Wisconsin.
He died in Blairstown, New Jersey.
Holdings and joint holdings
· Lackawanna Coal and Iron Company (1846)
· Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (1852)
· Union Pacific Railroad (1860)
· president, director, or joint in 20+ others.
Notable philanthropy
· Blair Academy Founded (1848).
· Lafayette College Easton, Pennsylvania
· Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)
· Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey
· Endowed a geology professorship, first held by Arnold Henry Guyot. The endowed chair is the second oldest at the school; as of the start of the 2000-01 school year there were 172 such endowed chairs.
· Served as trustee from 1866 until his death. In remarks at his installation as trustee, Blair noted that he had received little formal education and had spent most of his life as a businessman learning addition, but that now "I have come to Princeton to learn subtraction."
· Provided funds to build Blair Hall, which was constructed in 1897 by Cope & Stewardson
Children
· Emma Elizabeth Blair who married Charles Scribner I
John Insley Blair (August 22, 1802 – December 2, 1899)[2] was an American entrepreneur, railroad magnate, philanthropist and one of the 19th century's wealthiest men.
Biography
Blair's parents John Blair and Rachel Insley immigrated from Scotland; he was the fourth child of ten children.He was born at Foul Rift in White Township, New Jersey,just south of Belvidere, and at the age of two the Blair family moved to a farm near Hope Township, New Jersey. Even as a youth, Blair displayed a keen interest in the acquisition of wealth. At the age of ten, he is reported to have told his mother, "I have seven brothers and three sisters. That's enough in the family to be educated. I am going to get rich."  The young Blair began earning money by trapping wild rabbits and muskrats and selling their skins at a price of sixteen for a dollar.The next year, Blair began working at a general store owned by his cousin John, and at the age of seventeen he founded a store of his own with his cousin as an equal partner,located in the community of Butt's Bridge, New Jersey. On August 25, 1825, the name of the community was changed to Gravel Hill and Blair was appointed postmaster, a position he retained until July, 1851. He married Nancy Ann Locke on September 20, 1826, and the couple had four children: Emma Elizabeth, Marcus Laurence, DeWitt Clinton, and Aurelia Ann. Blair bought out his cousin's share of their store and expanded operations. By 1830, he owned five stores, each one run by one of his brothers.
On January 24, 1839, Gravel Hill was officially renamed Blairstown, New Jersey (2000 Population of 5,747) in Blair's honor.He established Blair, Nebraska by purchasing a 1,075-acre (4.35 km2) tract of land in Nebraska on May 10, 1869 after the Sioux City and Pacific Rail Road chose to cross the Missouri river at that location.
Blair managed his multi-million dollar businesses from rural Blairstown, New Jersey or from his private rail car upon which it was common for him to log 40,000 miles (64,000 km) annually. As president of 16 railroad companies, he amassed a fortune estimated at $70 million.Blair was the largest owner of rail mileage in the world. His religion as a Presbyterian and penchant for philanthropy led him to found more than 100 churches in close proximity to his railroads.In 1873, he was also an investor in the Green Bay and Minnesota Railroad, and the namesake of Blair, Wisconsin.
He died in Blairstown, New Jersey.
Holdings and joint holdings
· Lackawanna Coal and Iron Company (1846)
· Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (1852)
· Union Pacific Railroad (1860)
· president, director, or joint in 20+ others.
Notable philanthropy
· Blair Academy Founded (1848).
· Lafayette College Easton, Pennsylvania
· Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)
· Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey
· Endowed a geology professorship, first held by Arnold Henry Guyot. The endowed chair is the second oldest at the school; as of the start of the 2000-01 school year there were 172 such endowed chairs.
· Served as trustee from 1866 until his death. In remarks at his installation as trustee, Blair noted that he had received little formal education and had spent most of his life as a businessman learning addition, but that now "I have come to Princeton to learn subtraction."
· Provided funds to build Blair Hall, which was constructed in 1897 by Cope & Stewardson
Children
· Emma Elizabeth Blair who married Charles Scribner I
Marcus Laurence Blair
Aurelia Ann Blair Mitchell
DeWitt Clinton Blair continued businesses and expanded his father's philanthropy and had as his son, C. Ledyard Blair.

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