Biography of Charles G. Blakely
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Charles G. Blakely, whose attainments as a business man have made his name familiar not only in his home City of Topeka but in many parts of the state, has been a resident of Kansas since the fall of 1883, and his first experience here was as teacher in Brown County.
His is the interesting story of a boy born and reared in the mountainens district of Eastern Kentucky, where people lived on the plane of the simplest existence but not always of the highest ideals. There, in his early youth, came a stimulus to his ambition and hope which raised him out of his circumstances, and by self-help he struggled upward on the road of aspiration and finally made himself a place among the world’s influential workers.
In the early days of Kentucky about the time Daniel Boone made history from the “dark and bloody ground,” members of the Blakely and Brown families from North Carolina and Virginia respectively settled within the borders of that commonwealth, and aided in reclaiming it from the domain of the wilderness, fought wild beasts and wild Indians, and for several generations lived peacefully and contentedly in the mountainous districts of the state. Many years later John Chestnut Blakely, a native of the mountains of Laurel County and Sarah Brown of the Bluegrass region, met and married, and they were the parents of Charles G. Blakely.
The latter was born on a small mountain farm in Laurel County, Kentucky, September 4, 1853. Until his early manhood his knowledge extended only a short distance beyond the immediate neighborhood in which he was born. He worked spasmodically at the tasks to which most boys applied themselves but he grew up strong and vigorous in body, and for abont three months each year attended the backwoods district school. There he learned little more than the rudiments of the literary art.
When at the age of seventeen he found employment in East Tennessee at a salary of $10 per month, he thought he was on the way to comfortable prosperity. He was at that work for about a year, and fortunately through the kindness of his employer, was privileged to attend an acadeny about five months of the time. Here occurred the real awakening of his powers and his aspirations. With a widening mental and spiritual vision, he saw beyond the immediate horizon in which his attention had previously been concentrated, and he realized that there was a broader and better domain for those who could suceessfully struggle through the preliminary difficulties. From East Tennessee he returned to Laurel County, Kentucky, and a few months later determined to acquire an education. Once more he took his place as a student in the district school, which in the meantime had increased its term to five months annually, and he was also a student in a private school conducted at the county seat at London. By hard work he qualifled to pass the examination and secure a certiflcate as a teacher. He taught, and taught well, and from his earnings was able to enter the Agricultural and Mechanical College, subsequently the University of Kentucky, at Lexington, where he was graduated with the college degree in 1879. The story itself is briefly told. However, to the tall, gangling, and none too well clad boy, the narrative had its tragical phases, with mingled heartaches and hopes.
Having completed his college course, he became principal of the Laurel Seminary one year. His next position was as assistant engineer in the construction of the Knoxville branch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. In the meantime he had read and heard much of Kansas as a state of opportunities, and decided that he would make it his future home.
He was thirty years of age when he came to Kansas, and in Brown County he taught one year in the country school, two years at Morrill and one year at Hiawatha. He left teaching to become a solicitor for life insurance, and with somewhat of a genius for mathematics he was promoted to actuary of his company and it was in that capacity that he removed to Topeka in 1892. Since 1898 Mr. Blakely has had a successful real estate and fire insurance business and is regarded as one of the prosperous men of Topeka.
In religious belief he is a Protestant, and is an independent republican. He served as a member of the Topeka City Council for three years until 1910, when Topeka went under the commission form of government, and was a member of the Legislative session of 1913-14. Fraternally he is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and is also a member of the Royal Arch Chapter. Mr. Blakely has always endeavored to live according to the instructions of the Divine Teacher and to so regulate his life that when the final summons comes it may be truthfully said of him that the world is better for his having lived in it, and that itself is an ambition worthy of the best mettle in any man.
On October 30, 1894, Mr. Blakely married Miss Mattie Victor Kenney Dodge, of Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky, and a daughter of David M. and Rebecca (Kennsy) Dodge. She is of an old southern family on both sides. Her father was a successful planter and a lover and breeder of standard bred trotting horses. Among horses he raised and owned was Gail Hamilton, who took the three-year-old record of the Grand Circuit races of 1902. He is also owner of Lemonade, the most famous brood mare of Kentucky of her time. The three children of Mr. and Mrs. Blakely are Charles G., Victor Kenney and James Mills, the last being now deceased.