Jared Blake, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Jared Blake

JARED BLAKE. It is much to have been a member of the advance guard of civilization in any county or state, and this distinction belongs essentially to Jared Blake as one of the pioneer citizens or Porter county, where he has maintained his home since 1836 and where he has done well in his part in the furtherance of civic and industrial progress during the years that have marked the development of this favored and opulent section of the old Hoosier commonwealth. Secure in the high regard of the community in which he has lived and labored to goodly ends, Mr. Blake is now living virtually retired from active work, the while he continues to reside on his fine homestead farm, which is eligibly situated in Washington township. As a man of sterling character and as one who has accomplished much during the long years of a signally useful and earnest career of activity, he is well entitled to special recognition in this history of Porter county, where he now stands as a pioneer of pioneers. It has been his to witness the development and upbuilding of his home county and, also to keep in touch with the march of progress in this entire section of our vast national domain. He remembers Chicago when it was little more than a village, unkempt and straggling and with slight evidence of being the nucleus of the great metropolis which it now is. His reminiscences in regard to the pioneer days are graphic and interesting and show well his remarkable memory as well as his acute observative powers during the earlier years of his life.

Jared Blake finds much of satisfaction in claiming the old Hoosier state as the place of his nativity and in bearing a name which has been most worthily linked with the development of this great commonwealth of the Union. He was born in La Porte county, Indiana, on the 16th of December, 1835, and was the sixth in order of birth of the four sons and three daughters born to Jacob and Eleanor (Walton) Blake. Of the children only two are now living, the subject of this review being the younger. The other is Vinton, who is now living retired at Elk Falls, Kansas, and who was formerly a representative agriculturist and banker of that section of the Sunflower state.

Jacob Blake, the founder of the Indiana branch of the family, was born in Greenbrier county, West Virginia, which state was at that time still a part of Virginia, and there he was reared to maturity, with educational advantages such as were afforded in the common schools of the period. There he was married to Miss Eleanor Walton, who likewise was born and reared in what is now West Virginia, and in 1822 they removed to Jackson county, Ohio, to become pioneer settlers of that section of the Buckeye commonwealth, where most of their children were born. About 1829 the family came to Indiana and settled on a tract of wild land in New Durham township, LaPorte county, where the father began improving the property and where he remained until 1836, when he came to Porter county and purchased forty acres of land in Portage township. On this homestead, which he improved with characteristic thrift and good judgment, he passed the residue of his life, a man of strong character and one who ever commanded the implicit confidence of those with whom he came in contact in the various relations of life. He was an old-line Whig in his political proclivities and his wife held membership in the Methodist Episcopal church. Jacob Blake was about fifty two years of age at the time of his death and his loved and devoted wife was summoned to eternal rest when about sixty-nine years of age, the names of both meriting place on the rolls of the sterling pioneers of Porter county.

Jared Blake, to whom this sketch is dedicated, was but six months old at the time of the family removal to Porter county, in 1836, and here he has maintained his home during the long intervening period of more than three-fourths of a century, the while he has well upheld the prestige of a name that has been signally honored in connection with the development and upbuilding of the county. The historical data which he can offer concerning Porter county are specially valuable, since they represent knowledge gained through personal experience and association. Like many others of the youth who were reared under the conditions and influences of the pioneer days in northern Indiana, the early educational advantages of Mr. Blake were necessarily limited. The first school which he attended was of most primitive order, the "temple of learning" being a log cabin, with slab seats and puncheon floor, and with a yawning fireplace as the medium for furnishing heat in the little room during the winter terms, -- the only part of the year when the average farmer boy was enabled to attend school, as his services were in requisition in the work of the farm during the summer seasons. Mr. Blake recalls that his first text-books were Davies arithmetic and the Elementary spelling book. Penmanship was learned by utilization of the old-time quill pens, and the schoolmaster "boarded round" among the patrons who supported the school on the subscription plan. The next school-house in which Mr. Blake pursued his studies was one which he himself aided in building, the same having been situated on the line between Porter and Lake counties, about four miles distant from the present thriving village of Hobart. Here he completed his education so far as direct academic lines are concerned, but his alert and receptive mentality enabled him to profit most fully in later years by the lessons gained under the direction of that wisest of all head-masters, experience. His entire active career has been one of close association with the great basic industries of agriculture and stock-growing, and through the medium of the same he has gained substantial prosperity and definite independence. Industry and progressiveness have dominated his course as one of the world's workers, and he has been essentially the architect of his own fortunes. He was nine years of age at the time of his father's death and soon afterward he and his brother Vinton assumed practical charge of the home farm of eighty acres, lying in Portage township, in the vicinity of the present wonderful "steel city" of Gary, -- a city whose precipitate upbuilding has proved one of the wonders of the present century. Mr. Blake has kept in touch with the march of improvement and progress, and is able to define in sharp contrast the difference between the farming facilities of the pioneer epoch and those of the present day. He has swung right lustily the old-time cradle and scythe and has lived to avail himself of the modern mowing machines and self-binding reapers, as well as the manifold other mechanical devices which facilitate the work of modern agriculture. The changes that have been compassed in his lifetime seem marvelous in a retrospective view and it is a matter of much satisfaction to him that he has witnessed the transition, the while he has done his part in fostering industrial and social advancement. The forests have given place to finely improved farms and thrift and prosperity are in evidence on every side. The primitive flail of his youthful days has been replaced in turn by the old cylinder threshing box, operated by horse power, and by the modern steam threshing outfits. To enter into details concerning the changes that have been brought during his long years of residence in Porter county would be to tell the history of generic development and progress, and in this article it is possible only to mention briefly the few points which indicate somewhat of the change in methods and facilities.

In the year 1869 Mr. Blake secured a tract of eighty acres of land in Washington township, the same being covered with heavy timber and thick underbrush, and here he set himself valiantly to the task of reclaiming a productive farm from the wilderness. What he has accomplished needs no further voucher than that given in the appearance of this land today, as the same is an integral part of his present fine homestead. The original family dwelling was a board house of primitive order, and today we find his homestead to be a spacious and attractive modern house, the while the little farm of eighty acres has been increased to a valuable and splendidly improved landed estate of three hundred and five acres. To have accomplished such a work is a creditable record for any man, and Mr. Blake has reason to be proud of his achievement in the long years that have been marked by ceaseless toil and endeavor on his part.

In a reminiscent way Mr. Blake recalls that in his boyhood many Indians still hunted and fished in this section of the state, and he has seen as many as thirty or forty deer in a single herd, and that within a short distance from his home. He had his quota of experience in hunting the wild game, all kinds of which were plentiful, and the howling of wolves could have been heard where now the hum of the trolley car is in evidence. Michigan City was the nearest market place for the farmers of this locality and many of them hauled their produce to Chicago. For the good of all each has wrought in the passing years, for progress is not restrained and selfish, but makes for the general good. Mr. Blake has had due appreciation of the increasing benefices granted to those who have labored for this advancement and finds pleasure in having been able to contribute his quota.

A man of broad and well fortified opinions concerning matters of public import, Mr. Blake is found aligned as a stalwart in the camp of the Republican party, and his first presidential vote was cast in support of Abraham Lincoln. He has voted for every Republican presidential nominee since that time but in later years he has held himself independent of partisan dictates in connection with local affairs of public order, with the result that he has given his support to men and measures meeting the approval of his judgment, though still loyal to the cause of the Republican party in state and national issues. He has been significantly earnest in the support of popular educational work and for many years he served as school director of his district. He has also given ready co-operation in the furtherance of other measures and enterprises projected for the general good of the community, has been generous and charitable, in it quiet and practical way, and has shown a high sense of stewardship in the years of incrensing personal prosperity. He aided in the erection of the Pleasant View Methodist Episcopal church, in Washington township, and has contributed liberally to its support.

To the lasting honor of Mr. Blake will be his loyal and patriotic service as a soldier of the Union in the Civil war. Upon his first application for enlistment he was rejected, and he finally went to Springfield, Illinois, where, on the 8th of September, 1864, at Camp Butler, he enlisted as a private in Company H, One Hundred and Forty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Companies H and D of this regiment were sent to Quincy, Illinois, where they remained until the assassination of President Lincoln, and when the remains of the martyred president were brought to his old home in Springfield, there to lie in state in the Illinois capitol, Mr. Blake was selected as a member of the military guard for the body of the loved executive. It is a matter of enduring satisfaction to him that he was thus permitted to accord a last service of respect and honor and he continued as a member of his regiment until the close of the war, his honorable discharge having been received on the 8th of July, 1865.

On the 15th of January, 1868, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Blake to Miss Amelia Beach, a member of one of the representative pioneer families of Porter county. Of this happy union were born eight children, all of whom are living except one daughter, Nellie, who died at the age of eight months. Frank W., eldest of the children, is employed in the Battle Creek Sanitarium; at Battle Creek, Michigan. He was given the advantages of the schools of his native county, including the normal department of what is now Valparaiso University, and here he was for some time a successful teacher in the public schools. He wedded Miss Alice Dyke, and they have two children. Alice, eldest of the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Blake, is the wife of Schuyler Briarly, of Valparaiso, and they have three children. Otto V. who was educated in the common schools and the Valparaiso normal school, is now a successful horticulturist at Canon City, Colorado. Harry S., who is one of the progressive and representative young agriculturists of Washington township, married Miss Ethel Collins and they have three children. Laura is the wife of George Lee, a prosperous farmer of Porter county, and they have two children. Vinton J., who remains with his parents and has active supervision of the old homestead farm, is well upholding the prestige of the family name and is one of the alert and enterprising agriculturists and stock-growers of his native county. Hazel, the youngest of the children, is the wife of William E. Rectenwall, who is bookkeeper in a leading wholesale establishment in the city of Chicago.

For nearly half a century Mr. and Mrs. Blake have walked side by side down the pathway of life and they may well feel that their lines have been cast in pleasant places and that fortune has been benignant in goodly gifts. They are surrounded by those whose friendship has endured the test of years and they have the unqualified esteem of the people of Porter county, within whose gracious borders they have lived and labored to worthy ends. Mrs. Blake was born in Porter county, Indiana, on the 29th of May, 1847, and is a daughter of Sheldon and Experience (Sheldon) Beach, both of whom continued to reside in the county until their death. Mrs. Blake is a zealous member of the Christian church in the city of Valparaiso, is loved for her gentle and kindly personality and delights to extend the hospitality of her attractive home to the wide circle of friends whom she and her husband have gathered about them in the community which has so long represented their home and been the center of their interests.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 580-584

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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