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Biography of Lucius S. Blake

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Upon the pioneer history of Racine is written the name of Lucius S. Blake, a name that is closely associated with its annals and one that was ever synonymous with progress and improvement. He was descended from New England ancestry, the line being traced back through successive generations to Bradbury Blake, a native of New Hampshire, who married Sarah Hilton and removed to Vermont where their son, Captain Levi Blake, was born and reared. He removed to Erie County, New York, then the far west, and in that locality wedded Mary Sanford, a native of the Empire state. At the time of the War of 1812 Captain Blake joined the army and after defending American interests in that conflict removed to Vermont but soon afterward returned to Erie County. New York. Later he resided in Pennsylvania until 1834, when with his family he started westward by wagon. A part of the family was left in Michigan, while he and his three sons, Lucius S., Charles H., and E. S., drove to Chicago, but, not pleased with that flat, wet country, they continued to Racine County, where they arrived February 15, 1835. They secured claims on Root River, after which Captain Blake returned to Chicago to work at his trade and in the spring the family home was there established, but subsequently a removal was made to Racine County. By government entry the family secured over six hundred acres of land. Captain Blake became a prominent and influential citizen of Racine County and held the office of County treasurer. He gave his early political allegiance to the Democratic Party but afterward became a stalwart republican. For twenty years he remained in Racine County and later cast in his lot with the pioneer settlers at Sparta, Wisconsin, where he passed away in 1861, at the age of seventy-four years, while his wife died in 1885, at the age of eighty-nine. They were members of the Baptist church.

Lucius S. Blake, who was the third in a family of ten children, was reared upon the frontier in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, so that his educational opportunities were limited, but in the school of experience he learned many valuable life lessons and he received practical training in his father’s shop and on the farm. At the age of twenty-two he left home and after working for a short time in Kenosha came to Racine in 1839, establishing a small carpenter shop on the river bank. Fanning mills were then in much demand and farmers came to him for such, so that he became the first fanning mill manufacturer of Racine. Originally the work was done by hand but this proved too slow and machinery and horse power were therefore introduced, the latter afterward being substituted by steam power. At times the output was three thousand mills annually and employment was given to many workmen. He was one of the first who were prominent in promoting the industrial development of Racine, for not only did he engage in the manufacture of fanning mills but he also became one of the organizers and the president of the Racine Woolen Mills, devoted to the manufacture of shawls which were said to he among the finest in the world. He was also one of the incorporators and the president of the Chicago Rubber Clothing Company of Racine, an incorporator and director of the Huffman-Puffer Trunk Manufacturing Company of Racine, an incorporator and director of the E. H. Pease Manufacturing Company, engaged in making farm implements, president of the Turner Stove Manufacturing Company, an incorporator and director of the Racine Steam Knitting Company, a director in the Nail and Tack Manufacturing Company and a director in the Manufacturers’ National Bank.

Lucius S. Blake was married at Racine, December 26, 1843, to Caroline, daughter of William and Sarah (Ireland) Elliot. She was born in Essex County, England, March 24, 1823, and in 1840 came to the United States with her parents, who settled in Raymond Township, this County. Mr. Blake was a democrat in politics and cast his first presidential vote for General Jackson but afterward became an advocate of free soil principles and eventually a republican. During the war he was a provost marshal at Camp Utley and made the first draft in the state. For eight years he was alderman of Racine for the Second ward, in 1871 represented his County in the state legislature, was a delegate to the republican national convention which nominated General Grant in 1872, and was made a presidential elector in 1881. He and his wife were long active workers in the Baptist church and the name of Lucius S. Blake is inseparably connected with the material, political and religious development of Racine.

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