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Blake, John

Another prominent citizen of the olden times was John Blake (properly John Blake, Jr.), whose father, John Blake, purchased (May 1, 1761) 477 acres of the Patrick McKnight Patent. He was of English descent, the genealogy of the family being traced back to Robert de Blakeland, of Wiltshire, 1286. His mother, Mary Morris, of Coldenham, however, was from Ireland. Mr. Blake was not an educated man, but received only such elementary instruction as the common schools of the country offered after the war and before 1790. At the time of the division of Ulster County and the formation of Orange, Mr. Blake was deputy sheriff of Ulster and resided at Kingston. After this, and when his official period of service expired, he returned to Neelytown. In 1800 he was appointed sheriff of the new county of Orange, served its term, and executed the office to the general satisfaction of his fellow-citizens. In 1806 he was elected by the Republican party— the class of politicians to which he had ever been attached since entering into public life— to represent the county in the General Congress of the United States. Some years subsequently he was again elected to the same office, and on both those occasions his votes were cast agreeably to the wishes of his constituents. Mr. Blake was very modest and diffident, and therefore never trusted himself to speak in public while a member. Montgomery, his native town, had unlimited confidence in his judgment and discretion as a town officer, and so well were they satisfied with the care he took of their interest in the county board of supervisors that he held the office for fifteen years in succession, and until he requested to be excused as a personal favor. While a member of the board they were engaged in settling the ratio of valuation of the respective towns in the county, and those members who knew the quality of land on the public highway from Montgomery to Goshen and the valley of the Wallkill were of the opinion that Montgomery was being rated altogether too low. They inferred the whole town, then including Crawford and reaching west to the Shawangunk Kill, was of the same equally good grade of land, notwithstanding the assurances of Mr. Blake to the contrary. On the adjournment of the board, before completing their annual business, Mr. Blake invited one of the board to ride home with him who had been among the most clamorous in favor of the high standard of Montgomery farms. At this time the hills beyond the village of Montgomery were but slightly cleared up and badly cultivated, and a large district of the town for several miles in an unenviable agricultural condition. On leaving Goshen, Mr. Blake, without disclosing his object, saw proper to leave the ordinary good highway leading homeward, and conveyed his unsuspecting guest through and over the district of town above referred to. Before they arrived at the end of their ride the supervisor candidly remarked that he did not before believe there was so much rough and worthless land in the town, and that he was now satisfied Montgomery was rated full high at the value proposed by Mr. Blake. Under this valuation the town remained a number of years, no one attempting to change it, under the belief it was reasonably high.

In addition to the offices named, we further state that he was several times returned a member to serve in the Assembly of the State, for many years a judge of the Common Pleas of the county, and justice of the peace.

Mr. Blake married Elsie, daughter of William Eager, of Neely town. He died January, 1826, in his sixty-fourth year.


 

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