Nebraska GenWeb Project
Resource Center




Palmer Blake


My Great-Great Grandfather Palmer Blake was listed in the "THE TECUMSEH CHIEFTAIN" newspaper upon his passing on Monday, January 29, 1912. ................


In the passing of Hon. Palmer Blake, one of the very early settlers of Johnson County departed from the scenes of mortal life and journeyed on to the immortal.  

After being in failing health for fully four years, and, following a final sickness of but a few days' duration, Mr. Blake died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Cook Lamb, a mile east of Tecumseh, at 3;30 o'clock, p.m., on Monday, January 29, 1912.  

Palmer Blake was born at Brookfield  V.T., June 1, 1835, making his age, at the time of death, seventy-six years, seven months and twenty-eight days . His parents, Joseph and Rebecca Blake were natives of Manchester N.H., and the records indicate that the paternal ancestors did good service in the Revolutionary War.  The family was constituded of  ten children, and the parents spent their last years in Vermont, their Father being a farmer.  They passed away in 1865 and 1860, respectively.  

Palmer Blake resided in the Green Mountain state until he reached the age of eighteen years, having aquired a good common school education and becoming aquainted with agricultural pursuits as carried on in New England.  Having a desire to see something  of the world, the year 1854 found him leaving the parental roof and journeying west to Rock Island, Ills., and for a year and one-half he was employed as a clerk in a commission house there.  

In 1856, pushing still farther westward, he crossed the Mississippi into Decatur County, Iowa, and here he met Miss Frances A. Smith, to whom he was married October 23, 1856.    

In the spring of 1857, Mr. and Mrs. Blake made their way to the territory of Nebraska, the trip being overland with a wagon and two yoke of oxen.  A hard ten-days' journey brought them to Helena precinct, Johnson County, where they took up a 100-acre homestead, where they lived and labored until the spring of 1869, when they located upon the farm in Spring Creek precinet, which place constituted the family home for a great many years.  

When Mr. and Mrs. Blake located in this county neighbors were few and far between, and there were periods of at least three months that Mrs. Blake would not see the face of a white woman.  Indians were numerous, and the country abounded in wild game.  After gaining a foothold upon his first land investment, and surrounding his family with with those convienences obtainable here in an early day, Mr. Blake made some further investments in Johnson County soil until he became the owner of a considerable acreage.  

Being a man of more than ordinary capabilities, Mr. Blake was, at an early date, called upon to assume some of the positions of trust in his neighborhood.  He served as justice of the peace for several terms, was postmaster at Old Station of Helena for four years, and for years served as a member of the school board in his home district.  

Mr. Blake was a life-long republican, having cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, and continuously supporting the principals of his favored party.  He served the Fourth district, (Johnson County) in the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth sessions of the Nebraska legislature as a member of the house of representatives.  He made an able officer, and something of his work will be remembered there from his activity in the heated "Hayward-Thompson" senatorial fight.  

Twelve children were born to Mr. and Mrs Blake, six of whom are living, and who are, in the order of their ages:  Mrs. E.J. Thompson of White Pine Mont.; Mrs. Alva Whitney of Denver, Mrs. Henry Livingstone of Cook, Mrs. Charles Zinmaster of Long Pine, and Joseph S. Blake and Mrs. Lamb of Tecumseh.  

Besides the faithful wife and children the deceased is survived by many more remote relatives and a very wide circle of friends.

Palmer Blake was a splendid man, posessed of the sturdy yet hospitable characteristics of the pioneer, true as steel, honorable and charitable, and will be sadly missed in the community.  The funeral was held at the Lamb home at 2:00 o'clock Thursday afternoon and was largely attended.  There was almost an endless profusion of hansome floral offerings.  The sermon by Rev. Richard Pearson of Auburn, formerly of Tecumseh, was an impressive and beautiful effort.  The Masonic order of Tecumseh, in which the deseased was a member, attended the rites in a body, and had charge of the burial services, the internment being in the Tecumseh cemetery.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Newspaper clip (name of publication not given, no date)


"Six Youngest of Twelve Children Born in Cabin----------Harry Dornbaugh Now Owns Place"....

"The late Hon. Palmer Blake was one of the best known resistants of Johnson County.  He was a native of the state of Vermont, and came west to Illinois in 1854.  Two years later Mr. Blake located in Decatur County, Iowa and was married to Frances A. Smith, that fall.  

In the spring of 1857 Mr. and  Mrs. Blake, with a covered wagon (prairie schooner) and two yoke of oxen, drove through the Johnson County.  They located on a quarter section farm in Helena Princinct, where Mr. Blake farmed and acted as postmaster at a hamlet for the next years.     

In the spring of 1869 Mr. Blake homesteaded the farm north of the city, where he built part of  the old log house still standing there, which is perhaps the oldest house standing in the county.   Later an addition was built to the cabin.  The old structure still stands, and is used for storage by the present owner of the farm, Harry Dornbaugh.  The building has been supplied with a number of new roofs during all these years, but the original log structure still remains.  The cabin was errected in a lovely native timber of oak, along a little stream (??????...words unreadible).."... a log cabin was to be constructed in those days settlers would gather for miles to help with the work.  

This was a good, comfortable house, made more attractive by putting in larger windows later.  Elias Young, living  north of the city, was the mechanic in charge of some of these improvements, including the enlarged windows.  He was one of the very early settlers here and can relate many interesting stories of pioneer life.   

The six youngest of Mr. and Mrs. Blakes twelve children were born in the old log house grew up to manhood and womanhood here.   Three of the children died of diptheria.  Joesph Blake, still a resident of this section, grew to man's estate on the old farm, and was married  in the log house and resisded therein for a time.  His son, John Palmer  Blake, was born in the old house.  

In the early years of residence here Mrs. Blake would see the face of a white woman just occasionally.  There were many Indians in this section.  Following a most successiful carreer, in which he was honored with polictical preferment by his fellow citizens, Palmer Blake departed this life January 29, 1912.   Mrs. Blake died in March of 1913. They lived in the log house up to about  twelve years before Blakes death, when they errected ("?").. other residence building, about a mile north of the old log cabin.  The place is six and one-quarter miles north of Tecumseh, on the fairgrounds road.   

The Blake farm was sold to George Townsend and later to Mr. Dorbaugh.   

Of the six living children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Blake two still reside in Johnson County.  They are Joseph Blake and Mrs. Laura Livingstone.  The other children are Mrs Nina Thomson of White Pine, Mont.,  Mrs Fannie Whitney of Denver, Colo.,  Mrs. Birdie Zinsmaster of San Fernando, Cal., and Mrs. Eva Lamb of Lincoln.


11-13 May 2004: Rec'd from Mrs. Dawn Christine Lee



BACK to the Pioneer Registry

© 2004 for NEGenWeb Project by Mrs. D.C Lee, T&C Miller