John A. Blakely

John A. Blakely

John was Margaret Endicott's orphaned nephew. When she remarried to Edward Emery they put him out to foster when Edwards' three children moved in. From the age of 5 he was "on his own".

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TAKEN FROM THE PLATTEVILLE JOURNAL - written by Arthur Moody - told by John

JOHN ADAIR BLAKELY

I was born in the town of Harrison, Wisconsin, on December 23, 1847, and was left an orphan before I was two and a half years of age, my father dying before I was two on Feb 14, 1849, and my mother fifteen months later oil May 15, 1850. After the death of' my father, my grandparents came to live with me and tenderly cared for me after the death of my mother until September 1851, when my grandmother passed to her reward leaving me on my grandfather's hands - a child less than four years of age. My grandparents were John A and Nancy Endicott. After my grandmother died we moved down near Rockville to live with my aunt, Margaret Sprague, a widow who had lost her husband and one child in 1850, in the cholera scourge of that year. Here, we lived until the fall of' 1852, when my aunt married a preacher named Edward Emery, a widower with three children. When Mr. Emery brought in his children and a year later they had one of their own there seemed to be no place for John and I had to start boarding with strangers. I was then attending school at an old log school house in what was the called Pin Hook in the town of Potosi, and when I had to move it left me a mile to go to school through the thick woods and alone at six years of age. I lived with a family named Smith and I shall never forget the first evening there. On the way I ran a dry crabapple thorn in my big toe, for I was barefoot, and went limping in on the heel of' one foot, Mrs. Smith held me while her brother who was there removed the dry thorn, which was easily done. I lived there about six months and was then moved down on the bluffs of the Platte River to be company for their boy, who was older than I, to attend Pin Hook school. It was over two miles to go through timber all the way. We got along first rate for awhile when my partner broke his arm and I, not yet seven had to travel the two miles alone.
At times I have seen a big black snake or rattle snake stretched across the path but I always considered he had the right of way and walked around him. When not in school I would take a big Newfoundland dog and wander along the banks of the Big Platte River which ran along the foot of the hill on which their house stood and being venturesome lad I would get pretty close to the bank at time. One day the dog pushed me into the river and I would have drowned only that I caught onto him and he pulled me. oThe water was about seven feet deep. They were a nice couple, G. ~'L and Ann Paugh.
While staying there I have often seen as high as eight deer feeding on the Platte bottom at one time. During the fall of 1853 my grandfather and I went to Posey County, Indiana, to spend the winter and visit old scenes he had left in. 1844 when he and his family came to Wisconsin. He had two sons and one brother living there and I stayed most of the winter with my two uncles while he visited relatives around Poseyville and across the river in Kentucky where he was raised and still had relatives living.
We came back to Wisconsin in the spring of' 1854 and I was again started to school. This time at Buena Vista near British Hollow, I boarded with a widow lady named Bryant and her two sons. I lived with them until the fall of 1856 when my grandfather, having worked out quite a bunch of lead, took a family and we moved back on the farm where I was born. That was a hard winter; the snow was four feet deep on the level and was covered with a heavy crust so a man could travel without breaking through, that winter: got rid of the deer in our country as deer would break through the artist at every jump and would soon tire out. A dog or the wolves could catch a deer anywhere and there were plenty of wolves at that time - you could hear them howling every night in the spring of 1856.
 
 
That spring the family who stayed with us and kept house left us and my grandfather and I batched and farmed the place - that is a boy of eleven years tended eight acres of corn while my grandfather mined most of the time. My cousin came and kept house for us that fall and winter but left us in the spring of 1859 and my grandparent put me to board with a neighbor family and I tended eight acres of corn and potatoes and raised enough to pay my board and clothe me and to go to school that winter.. Having sold our horse in the spring of 1860 grandfather hired me out to O. W. Crull for my board and clothes and three months schooling which I got at the old Poller School House where about sixty scholars were seated in a very small school house 20 X 28. Very much crowded.

I stayed with the Crull family until March of 1861, and then went down to Rochedale to stay with my aunt, Mrs. Emery until the spring of 1882 when I was hired out to the meanest man I have ever worked for, John Nixon by name. I worked for him for five dollars per month but only stayed there six months, when I flew the COOP not being able to stand his abuse any: longer. I worked for John Wright through corn husking and stayed the winter with him and went to school three months at the brick school on Boice Prairie In March 1863 I hired out to Noble Gregory of Gregory Hollow near Fennimore for ten months at seven dollars per month (I was then 15). The Gregorys were good people and I got through there the twentieth of December 1863 when I was 16 years old. I then enlisted in the 35th Wisconsin Regiment but was rejected and sent home to have the measles which I was taking when I left camp. I walked from Boscobel to Rockville while I was coming down with them. It was an awful trip for me and left me with heart trouble having caught cold with them. I was not much good that summer.

In August 1864 I enlisted again and was assigned to Company b 43rd Wisconsin Regiment (Volunteer Infantry) in which I served ten months until the end of the Civil War. We were mustered in September and were doing duty at Johnsonville, Tennessee on the Tennessee River about 100 miles from Nashville. By the middle of October we were guarding supplies for Sherman's army before he struck out for sea after the fall of Atlanta. We were shelled two and a half days by General Forrest's army the last of October when he was on his way to join Hood's army before the Nashville battle. We were forced to march to Johnsonville to take part in that battle but when within twenty-five miles of Nashville found we were within five miles of Hoods lines and that he was between us and our' goal. There being only about 600 of us we had to change our course and go to Clarksville on the Cumberland River which we crossed between sundown and dark as we were being pursued by some of the rebel cavalry. We stayed at Clarksville about a month then we went up the Cumberland River the last day of December 1864, a nice warm day with all the boys on the boat in their shirt sleeves. We arrived at Nashville about dark and before we had made camp the mercury had fallen forty degrees and it was snowing. It snowed about three inches that night while we were sleeping in our dog tents on the ground, but the snow soon went off. Those "Northers" as the southerners call them are hard to stand when you have only a cloth tent between you and the elements.
By January 5 we were sent about a hundred miles south of Nashville on the Nashville and Chattanooga R. R. to a station where we relieved an Illinois regiment that went on South to join Sherman's Army on its march to the sea-a trip I would like to have taken. We were stationed there guarding the railroad and chasing bush whackers (gorillas) across the Cumberland Mountains, down the Point Rock Valley where we made several hard marches.   
    
On the day after we arrived at Decker's station and before the regiment we were relieving had gotten away Marmadukes band of Gorillas Cavalry passed in sight of cur camp but no doubt thought there was too many of us to risk a fight, We got orders to follow them which we did until they crossed the Duck River, then seeing nothing of them we returned to camp having marched over 200 miles on a fools errand as they were on horse back and we on foot. All we got out of it was some tired, sore feet and five days of tramping. We made several trips across the mountains and took a number of bushwhacker's prisoners besides those we disposed of right where we found them. I was with our Captain when we spent days on a road surveying trip down the Point Rock Valley and up Hurricane Creek to Fayetteville and then around to Tiollohome and back to Deckard to camp.

We were stationed there until June 20th, 1865, when we were ordered back to Nashville, where we mustered out on June 24, 1865 then back to Camp Washburn at Milwaukee, where we received our discharge July 7, 1865, then home for those who had one.

I got home on Thursday and started to work the next Tuesday for the man I left when I enlisted. I got $20.00 per month and right in the hay field at that as we boys got no bonus and was glad to get to work. Those we worked for were also glad to get us for there were no-one left at home those times except those too old to serve or those too young. You worked for 114 hours a day. A suit of clothes cost you from $140 to $50 so you could work all summer and would hardly have enough in the fall to clothe you for the winter.

There was plenty of hard work to be done then - mostly chopping Cord wood and making posts for which there was a ready sale for $2.50 to $3 per hundred. You could get board for $3 to $3.50 per week and go to one or two dances a week for your recreation, it was a place to spend our hard earned dollars but we sure had lots of fun.

In April 26, 1868 I married Emma A. Moore and moved to the old farm where I had the first real home I had ever known. It was a humble one, scantily furnished as there were no showers given in those days for newlyweds, but we were happy and lived there for thirty years. Our six children being born there and our first child Little Millie was dying there in 1869 at the age of five months. It left our home dreary for awhile.

Those were tough times for my wife and me as everything I had to sell was low in price and if you had to borrow any money, you had to pay ten per cent interest. You sold hogs for 3 or 4 cents per pound dressed~ and your oats and corn on the market for 15 to 20 cents per bushel. Eggs were 8 cents per dozen and butter was 8 cents per pound-not much money in cows and chickens those days.

In 1898 I was advised by our family doctor to quit farming and sold the farm to my son-in-law and moved to Rockville where I mined off and on for three years.

In 1903 we moved to Platteville where we made our home and where I worked at anything I could get to do. Sold nursery stock for several years.

In 1918 we paid a visit to our daughters who were then living in Salt Lake City, Utah, staying the summer with them and enjoying the trip and visit a lot. We returned home in October that year and in December we lost our only boy, one of the first victims of the dreadful flu epidemic. This was a hard blow on us at our ages as we had lost our eldest five years before. Her illness had been a lingering one and we knew it was to end fatally. She left a son age six and our boy left two sans and a sick wife who died seven years later of tuberculosis.
 
 
In 1922 we visited our daughter Lillian in Salt Lake City and then went on to Portland, Oregon, where we spent the summer with our daughter there. We stayed in Oregon ten months and enjoyed the trip there and about Oregon a great deal.

64th Wedding Anniversary
Platteville Journal, (early) May 1932

There are not many people in the entire country, not to mention this locality, who live to celebrate their 64th Wedding Anniversary. It is for Mr. and Mrs. John A. Blakely of Platteville to be parties to such a distinctive anniversary. It was 64 years ago that they plighted their troth, and all those 64 years they have lived in this locality among their family and friends and are today the fine specimens of sturdy stock and good living.

They have seen changes of the past three score years together and have been blessed with splendid health, a devoted family, and enough of the world's goods to carry them through life most comfortably.

Mr. Blakely is 84 years of age and his wife is not far behind him in years. She is the last survivor of a family of ten children. Mr. Blakely is the only surviving member of the G.A.R. Post who has been able to attend its meetings with regularity the past few years. He and Mr. Youmans are the last, spry ones now living.

Mr. Blakely has held offices of trust in his former town - Chairman of the Town of Harrison - and was a director in the school district for 20 years. He has been honored with the highest offices in the Post in Platteville

Mr. and Mrs. Blakely were the parents of six children, three of whom are living. Mrs. Ernest Jentz, their daughter in Platteville prepared a wonderful anniversary dinner for them on Sunday and Glendora of Bloomington, Illinois was here for the occasion. Lillian of Milwaukee was unable to attend.

Friends extend hearty congratulations to this worthy couple on such an auspicious event. Letters cards, flowers, cakes, and other mementos signified the esteem in which Mr. and Mrs. Blakely are held. The Journal is joined by countless friends in wishing more years of joy to this distinguished pair. - Platteville Journal.

John A. Blakely

There are not many people in the entire country, not to mention this locality, who live to celebrate their 64th Wedding Anniversary. It is for Mr. and Mrs. John A. Blakely of Platteville to be parties to such a distinctive anniversary. It was 64 years ago that they plighted their troth, and all those 64 years they have lived in this locality among their family and friends and are today the fine specimens of sturdy stock and good living.

They have seen changes of the past three score years together and have been blessed with splendid health, a devoted family, and enough of the world's goods to carry them through life most comfortably.

Mr. Blakely is 84 years of age and his wife is not far behind him in years. She is the last survivor of a family of ten children. Mr. Blakely is the only surviving member of the G.A.R. Post who has been able to attend its meetings with regularity the past few years. He and Mr. Youmans are the last, spry ones now living.

Mr. Blakely has held offices of trust in his former town - Chairman of the Town of Harrison - and was a director in the school district for 20 years. He has been honored with the highest offices in the Post in Platteville

Mr. and Mrs. Blakely were the parents of six children, three of whom are living. Mrs. Ernest Jentz, their daughter in Platteville prepared a wonderful anniversary dinner for them on Sunday and Glendora of Bloomington, Illinois was here for the occasion. Lillian of Milwaukee was unable to attend.

Friends extend hearty congratulations to this worthy couple on such an auspicious event. Letters cards, flowers, cakes, and other mementos signified the esteem in which Mr. and Mrs. Blakely are held. The Journal is joined by countless friends in wishing more years of joy to this distinguished pair. - Platteville Journal.

 From the pen of Mr. Blakely himself

Friend Henry,

It has been a long time since I have anything of you, but hear of your being in this neck of the woods quite often. It pains me today to read in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald the passing of my old comrade and friend J. F. Heberlein, whom I had not seen since last fall. He was a frequent and well liked comrade of our G.A.R., when he used to visit our post when at his daughter's here, in years gone by, and the relatives have the sympathy of the few remaining G.A.R. comrades of this place. We have six of the old boys left here but four of them are confined their beds and homes by one thing or another, only two that get around much, Christian Schroeder the oldest member, 92 in June, and myself, in my 85th year and the youngest of a Post that once boasted 265 members. Such is life and shows that time is passing and we have passed our usefulness and must give way for the younger generation.

But Henry, me and my good wife passed another milestone in our travels through life when 64 years ago on April 26th, 1868 we tied a knot with our tongues that we have never been able to untie with our teeth, although there have been many changes to us in that length of time, and we have seen many changes. Our daughter, Mrs. Ernest Jentz, gave us a splendid repast last Sunday for our anniversary, which was enjoyed by all. Our daughter Glendora, head of the City Nurses at Bloomington, Illinois, was here for the occasion but our daughter Lillian of Milwaukee was not able to be with us. We spent the day quietly at home, I not being well. We received some nice presents and a good many surprises, as we received 13 letters and cards from second cousins I never knew existed and they were well scattered in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Louisiana. This was all brought about by a Miss McLaughlin of Henderson, Kentucky, who sent us a large Anniversary cake, which was awful nice and came in good shape. I never knew there was such a person living until October last year. She is my second cousin and is collecting data on the Endicott family and has traced them back to Governor John Endicott, first Governor of Salem, Massachusetts, to me at Platteville. It happened through my writing the War department Washington for some dates on my Great-grandfather, Moses Endicott, who served in the Revolutionary war. A woman from Massachusetts who gathers those dates, was hunting up some data at the War Department and ran across my name and what I was looking for, and set down and wrote me where I could find all I wanted to know.

The Endicotts (Note for clarity: MOSES- Jeff) came to Kentucky from North Carolina in 1786 with Daniel Boone as leader of the colony that settled in and around Harding County, and where my grandfather, John A. Endicott was born in 1789, and where he enlisted in Colonel Richard Johnson's regiment of mounted infantry and went up to Canada where fought in the Battle of the Thames, with the British and their allied Indians. Colonel Johnson was the man who killed the noted Indian Chief, "Tecumseh".

My grandfather said it happened this way: Colonel Johnson had his horse shot under him and falling caught his leg under it. Tecumseh, seeing his plight and thinking to get an easy scalp, rushed out to get it, but he did not know the boys from Old Kentucky. The Colonel drew his dragoon pistol out of his saddle holster and shot him dead. My Grandfather and his brother Joseph Endicott, were both in the War of 1812, and my Great-great grandfather, Moses Endicott, and his father in the revolutionary war, so you see, I come from a family of warriors. So watch your step and don't dodge me all the time, but call in and see if I look natural.

John A. Blakely
Platteville, Wisconsin, May 1, 1932