“Old and New Westmoreland” Vol. 4
Author: Boucher, John Newton, 1854-1933
JOHN JACOB BLANK – JOHN JACOB BLANK, the successful farmer and dairyman of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pa., who is now living in a well-earned retirement, having been a native of Montgomery County in that State. GEORGE ADAM BLANK, then a young married man, came to Westmoreland County, where he and his wife joined his aunt, who was the wife of one JACOB BERGER, a pioneer in this part of the State. He made his home with this aunt, who had no children of her own, and inherited a fine property from her. He married CATHERINE SHELLY, and their son, JONAS BLANK, was the father of JOHN JACOB BLANK. The children of GEORGE and CATHERINE (SHELLY) BLANK were as follows: JONAS, already mentioned; EPHRAIM, who died leaving one daughter, now MRS. HENRY ZIMMERMAN; WILLIAM, who met his death in an accident by a falling tree; MICHAEL, who died in 1913, at the age of eighty years; DANIEL, who taught in the schools of Westmoreland County, and whose death occurred in 1862; JOHN, who inherited the old BERGER home; SOPHIA, married LUKE BIERER; POLLY, married AMOS BIERER; and a daughter who became the wife of JOSEPH SHIREY.
JONAS BLANK married CHARLOTTE ELIZABETH BIERER, December 2, 1841, and the two made their home on the present ninety-six acre Bain farm. In 1856 MR. BLANK built the present large brick house there. He finally moved into Greensburg and there died February 24, 1896. His wife survived him several years, having been much younger than he, their ages at marriage being respectively twenty-four and sixteen years. Her death occurred November 17, 1909. MR. BLANK was a very successful farmer, and added much land to his original holding. The farm owned at the present time by JOHN J. BLANK is a historic one, and was originally settled by a Mr. Harmon and his wife, who were killed at their cabin door by Indians. JONAS BLANK was quite active in the Lutheran church, was a Democrat in politics, and prominent in local affairs. He served as road supervisor, a position which later his son also held. He and his wife were the parents of the following children: JOHN J., mentioned below; EPHRAIM, died in childhood; CATHERINE, became the wife of DR. CALEB BLYHOLDER, of Pittsburgh; GEORGE ADAM, married KATE ROLEY, daughter of JOSEPH and SARAH ROLEY, and resides in Greensburg, the parents of : MARGARETTA; wife of HILLARY C. PARK; RALPH MINIAM; SARAH MAE, died in infancy; IRENE ROSE, a teacher in the Latrobe High School and much interested in Sunday school work; KATHARINE, wife of PAUL ROSS MOORE; FRANK A., who makes his home in Detroit, Michigan where he follows the trade of carpenter; ELIZABETH, who died at the age of fourteen; KETURAH, who died at the age of twelve; and MAGGIE, who also died at this age.
Born March 3, 1843, on his father's farm, the old homestead, JOHN J. BLANK resided with his parents until he had attained his majority, gaining in the meantime his education at the local public schools and being trained in the work of the farm. At the age of twenty-one, however, he left the paternal roof and made his way to the oil region in Venango County, Pa., where for two years he worked as a driller, pumper and teamster. He was married about this time, and after this event retired to his present farm, which was still in the possession of his father for whom he operated it for about thirteen years. He then spent the same number of years on the old homestead, and under the same arrangement with his father, this association being finally terminated by the death of the elder man. He inherited a farm of sixty-seven acres, which formed a part of his present holdings and which he put in a very high state of cultivation. Here he began his dairying operations, which rapidly grew until they became his principal activity. For many years he continued to specialize in this line and met with a very high degree of success therein. For several years his income from the milk delivered by him amounted to four thousand dollars annually. He is the owner of the second steam thresher ever used in this part of the country, and for twenty years operated throughout the township in the capacity of thresher. MR. BLANK has never had any ambition to hold public office or make (pg. 975) himself conspicuous in public affairs, and for a long time consistently refused the suggestions made by his friends that he take any public burdens and responsibilities upon his shoulders. At length, however, at the earnest solicitations of his father, he agreed to succeed him in the position of road supervisor, which the elder man had held for many years. In this responsible post MR. BLANK made a most admirable record, both under the old law and after the new law governing roads had been adopted. Since the adoption of the new law he was reelected in the fall of 1913 (November election) for a term of six years. In this period he accomplished a remarkable amount of work, which was the more creditable in view of the fact that he met with considerable and persistent effort in opposition on the part of several personal enemies. The township has three supervisors and sixteen road masters, with four hundred miles of road to keep in order. For this purpose there is a tax of about eighty-six thousand dollars, which is under direct control of the supervisors already mentioned. MR. BLANK gives his personal attention to over one-half of this large sum, a duty which draws heavily upon his time and energy. He is, however, possessed of great vigor and strong will power and is to be found season after season, bestowing upon his duties most scrupulous attention. He has taken but few vacations, but occasionally goes on a fishing excursion, this being the sport that he enjoys most, and has since a child. Probably no man in this country has a wider circle of warm friends than JOHN J. BLANK.
JOHN J. BLANK married, December 19, 1869, LAVINA KEPPLE, a daughter of MICHAEL KEPPLE, and a native of Hempfield Township, at Stony Springs, where she was born December 9, 1841. To MR. and MRS. BLANK the following children have been born: MATILDA, now MRS. JACOB KLEIN, of Youngwood, Pa.; IRWIN B., who is now engaged in business as a mason and contractor at Greensburg; VALETTA M., who for several years was a leading teacher in the schools of Westmoreland County, but whose death occurred February 17, 1901; AMY, who had been very prominent in Sunday school work, and especially active in the cause of Christianity, being an ardent worker in her church, the First Lutheran; CORA L., who died January 11, 1909; JACOB K., who on August 29, 1914, was murdered by a robber, who has since paid the penalty with his life; GEORGE ALLEN, who is an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Youngwood, and JONAS F., who is employed by the Bell Telephone Company in Chicago. MR. BLANK has been most instrumental in the sustaining of his church, the First Lutheran, in which body he has continuously served in some official capacity. (ends on pg. 976)
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