J. H. Blue. Many years have passed since Mr. and Mrs. Blue took up their residence in Champaign County and began their careers as progressive farmers, and at the present time they live in the comforts of a good town home at Rantoul. In the meantime their children have grown up, most of them have married and have homes of their own, and Mr. and Mrs. Blue are able to take the greatest satisfaction out of the large family circle that surround them.
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Both of them are natives of Germany. J. H. Blue was born in the little Town of Leer on the River Ems near Hanover, Germany, one of the seven children of Henry A. and Alma J. (Buscher) Blue. His father was a sailor and lost his life at sea. At the age of thirteen J. H. Blue asked permission of his school teacher to leave school and begin an apprenticeship as a sailor. The family lived on the sea coast and the activities of the sea naturally appealed to all the boys of that district. Some time later he and a young Scotchman came to America for the purpose of entering the United States Navy. The North was then engaged in the struggle with the South over slavery. They landed at Boston from the sailing vessel Kensington, and the first news they heard was that peace had been declared, General Lee having surrendered his sword to General Grant. The boys then shipped as ordinary seamen on a full rigged schooner from Boston to Philadelphia, carrying a load of coal. On returning to Boston the captain was so pleased with their services that he offered to ship them as able seamen. The Scotch boy left for other work, but Mr. Blue remained and sailed with his captain for eight months up and down the coast from Philadelphia to Baltimore. His last voyage was made from Baltimore to Rio de Janeiro, South America. He carried on his out voyage a load of flour, which was exchanged for coffee on the Brazil plantations.
In the meantime his brother Anton Blue had come to America and located at Thomasboro in Champaign County. He wrote to J. H. Blue describing the fine country of eastern Illinois and requesting the pleasure of a visit. J. H. Blue then came to Champaign County, but his preferences were for the eastern states.
In the meantime, in 1876, Mr. Blue had married in Germany Miss Lena O. Saathoff, who was born in Germany in 1850, a daughter of Oltman and Luecka B. (Ammerman) Saathoff. In that year Mr. and Mrs. Blue came to America and went direct to Champaign County. For twenty years Mr. Blue and his wife lived as renters but prospered greatly owing to the possession of habits of thrift and industry characteristic of their countrymen. Later they bought eighty acres of land four miles south of Rantoul, paying $70 an acre. Mr. Blue had only $200 to make his first payment, but in a few years had his home paid for and finally, in order to provide greater scope for the efforts of his growing sons, traded the eighty acres for 173 acres.
Mrs. Blue is the mother of eleven children, named Oltman, Henry, Louis, Alma, Jane, John, Ben, Herman, Anthony, Fritz and Dee. They were all educated in the district schools of Champaign County. Oltman married Angel Thompson, and they live on a farm in Champaign County. Their four children are John, Anna, Lena and Bertha. Henry married Katie Hineberger, and their family consists of Alma, Mabel, Lee and Clarence. Louis married Bertha Cook, and her two children are Elden and Glenn. Alma is the wife of William Meuser and is the mother of three children, Minnie, Herman and Gertrude. Jane married Gustave Meuser, and their children are Augusta, Albert, Rosa and John. John Blue married Alma Hanson. Ben Blue married Lucy Brucker and has two children, Chester and Opal. Herman married Rosa McClelland and has one child, William. Anthony took for his wife Ola McClelland, and their two children are Ruby and Kenneth. Fritz Blue married Anna Nelson. Dee, the youngest of the family, is the wife of Herman Nylen, a barber at Rantoul, and they have one son, Johnnie Morton Nylen.
Mr. and Mrs. Blue are active members of the German Evangelical Church at Flatville and their children were baptized in the same church. Politically they are active supporters of the Republican principles and vote the Republican ticket. Mr. and Mrs. Blue have known the usual trials and hardships of people who must struggle to gain a living and establish a home, but their energy has brought them ample success. In 1913 they wisely started to retire from the farm and bought a beautiful and attractive little home in the northwest quarter of Rantoul. They have lived to see many changes occur in Champaign County and have themselves contributed something to the wonderful transformation that has occurred on these Illinois prairies in the past forty years. Both of them are fine types of the American citizens, appreciative of the greatness of this country and extremely loyal to the flag. In 1900 Mrs. Blue and her son Louis went back to Germany to visit the old home, and later Mr. and Mrs. Blue enjoyed a similar trip. They crossed the ocean both times on the liner Barbarossa. Inevitably they compared the scenes of their youth and their native country with America and they came home with loyalty to their adopted land increased and strengthened.