JONAS GEORGE BLANK
A biography by
Warren Moffatt Blank
Jonas George Blank was born in Niagara County, "York State" (as he called it) in 1835. He was one of a family of ten, five girls and five boys. In those days to have less than six or eight children constituted a sort of cloud on your title to good citizenship.The great open spaces were yet unpeopled. His family was of Pennsylvania Dutch extraction. Jonas and Saloma Blank, his parents had emigrated from Pennsylvania to New York a few years before
the birth of the subject of this sketch. By hard labor they had cleared forest for a forty acre farm in the woods near Lockport on the Erie Canal. The canal had been opened only a few years previously and attractedsettlers all along its route.
The older Jonas Blank, lured by the west, made a trip to Illinois, saw the prairies, and York State didn't look good to him anymore. He sold out, loaded his little family with a few goods and chattels onto a canal boat bound for Buffalo, where transfer was made to a sailing vessel bound round--the--lakes to Chicago. Some trip! Worse than a round-the-world voyage would be now. Little Jonas was nine years old, and his recollections of that memoable voyage were very vague. The last lap of the journey was made by horses and a democrat wagon out to Wayne Township, DuPage county. The railroad was then in the future.This was in 1844 and John Tyler was President of the United States.
When Jonas Senior first came to Illinois he bought two hundred and forty acres of land for fifteen hundred dollars, and afterwards, when his family came, he took enough land from the Government to make a section. James K. Polk was President at this time. The deeds to the full section signed by Prisident Polk are still intact and are in the possession of the family. The old homestead was built where Ed Kampmeyer now lives, and the old house itself stood there until a few years ago.
This Jonas senior was an enterprising man. No sooner was he established in his new home than he built a sawmill on the west brand of the DuPage River on the present Schultz farm. You may see the remains of the old mill dam there to this day. Then, contracting pneumonia from working in the water, as did two of his sons, and typhoid fever, he and one of the boys died, leaving Saloma with her three hundred and twenty acres, her unfinished sawmill and her small childrento carry on with her pioneer life as best she might.
Young Jonas at eleven years was a sheep herder for Luther Bartlett. With a pony and a shepherd dog he cared for some nine hundred head of sheepon the unfenced prairies of the town of Wayne. As a young man he was fond of hunting and a roving life. He made a trip to Kansas at the time of the Border Ruffian War and stayed with the Indians in their wigwams. This roving tendency did not carry over into his later years, as he lived his whole life in one spot--his sixty--three acre farm in Wayne Township, where he settled down after his marriage to Mary T. Moffatt in 1859. Mary's parents, Dolly ann and Warren Moffatt did everything in their power to thwart the marriage because of 'Jonas's propensity for wandering by sending Mary to New York to school, hoping that she would forget her roving lover, but it was all in vain because she married him soon after she got back. However, after the deed was done and their new son-in-law settled down, Mr. and Mrs. Moffatt became very fond of him, and they trusted and depended on him as long as they lived.
To this union were born four daughters: Mame, Emma, Bertha and Anna, and two sons, Thomas and Warren. Emma died at sixteen, and Thomas in early childhood. Mame Blank Carr, wife of George S. Carr of Aurora, Illionis, passed away a few years ago. Bertha Hiser lives at San Diego, California, Anna Schultz on the old homestead, and Warren M., at Whitehall Michigan.
Jonas Blank, who was universally known as "Jone" or "Joner" to his friends and neighbors, during his years on the farm was identified with nearly all movements looking
toward community uplife. He belonged to the congregational Church at Wayne Center, assisted in moving the church building to Bartlett and was a deacon and mainstay of the church until his death. He was one of the organizers of the Hanover and Wayne Mutual Insurance Company and acted as agent for many years. He usually held some township or school office, being assessor, collector, etc., at varioustimes.
A lifelong Republican, during his later years he turned to the prohibition party and worked with an almost religious Zeal for the cause of national prohabition. He died without seeing it acomplished. One can but wonder what he would think about the darned thing now.
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