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The story of Pierre Peter BLAIS-BLAIR
duplicate copy typed in 1937
Peter was born in the Province of Quebec, Canada, on the 29th day of June, 1865. He came to this country with his parents when he was only one year old. His father was Simon Blair and his mother Marie Nechol Blair. They were each 35 years of age. Mrs. Blair was born and brought up in Quebec and attended the Canadian schools. Our subject had six brothers and four sisters. Peter was the youngest.
They settled in Little Falls, Minn., where the parents homesteaded an 80 acre farm of wild land at first and a little later they homesteaded another 80 acres as about this time the homestead laws were changed to allow a settler a total of 160 acres. All the land was located in Section 26 of Pike Creek twp.
Our subject was reared on the homestead and he and his brothers helped to clear and grub the land which was very heavy with timber. They attended school at Dist. No. 5. They had to follow a trail by having the trees marked or blazed to and from school to keep from getting lost. There were also plenty of wild animals which were dangerous, although they did afford a goodly amount of their meat as game hunting was always good. Peter enjoyed hunting and remembers on one occasion when several wild deer were in their farm yard with the cattle. His father shot from the window. He wounded one and completed the capture with an ax and butcher knife.
They put up all their buildings from hewn logs taken off the homestead. They used oxen to do all their farm work having as many as three teams of oxen at one time. They would make trips to Sauk Rapids with wheat to have it ground into flour.
They made many such trips over rough country, having only trails to follow through forests and swamps, all of which taxed their strength and perseverance. In this way they managed with oxen for over twelve years and with such conditions to overcome they were helping to develop this community.
There were many Indians still living in all these parts and one could see many Indian homes along the Mississippi River as well as many traveling at all times and especially so when they would be going back and forth from the Milacs Reservation where the U.S. Government had their agents who would help them in their financial needs. Very often our subject would number Indians into the several hundreds on the streets of Little Falls.
Mrs. Blair came here with her parents when she was five years of age. They settled in St. Paul. Her father was John Wieczorek, and her mother, Christina Seledek. Her father was a miller by trade. Arriving in St. Paul in 1875 he tried to get work for over one year; but not being familiar with the English language, having come here from Poland, they decided to go farming, and taking up a homestead in Swan River twp. of wild land, they began farming. Mrs. Blair was reared on the farm attending school at what is now Dist. No. 20. She stayed at home until she grew to womanhood.
Peter Blair helped his parents most of his younger life on the homestead except for working in the lumber camps in winters and working at log driving each spring. He took in the extensive drives each spring on the Mississippi River where they would have as much as 400 million feet of logs going to Minneapolis in a single drive.
Being grown up about this time he recalls many changes taking place especially in and about 1887 when there was much of a building boom at Little Falls when the Buckman Hotel, the City Hall, the Hennepin Paper Company buildings, the Flour Mills, as well as the large Weyerheauser Saw Mill were being built at which time Little Falls was a very busy center.
Peter’s parents drove up to Morrison County with horses and a covered wagon from St. Paul over what was then known as the east side Government Trail because it was east of the Mississippi River. There was also a west side Government Trail and they did their crossing of the river at what is now the Lindbergh Park, the boyhood home of the World famous flier, Chas. A. Lindbergh.
There were ferry boats there which were in charge of a Wm. Green who had acquired same from Silas Hammond, who was a Civil War Veteran. These Government Trails led to the North, on through the different places, such as Fort Ripley, Milaca, Green Prairie, Detroit Lakes, and on to the Northwest, taking in the Indian reservations.
About this time on July 12th, 1887 our subject was united in marriage to Miss Emma Wieczorek at Ledoux which later on was the Village of Swan River and is now the Village of Sobieski. There were eight children born to them, two of which passed away in their infancy. The other six were:
Clara, Mrs. H.M. Holler, was born in 1888 reared on the farm. She attended school in Dist. 13. Is now living in St. Cloud, Minn.
William, the next, was born Jan. 23rd, 1890. Was reared and stayed at home helping on the farm. He attended school in Dist. 13. He has always stayed at home as he was the only son.
Jessie was born on Dec. 23rd, 1892. She stayed at home and attended Dist. No. 13 school. Married Chas. Strickler. Lives in Texas.
Louise was born on Nov. 24th, 1894. Stayed at home attending Dist. #13 school, now married to Geo. Pierzina. Living at home helping her parents.
Celia was born on June 9th, 1897 reared on the farm. She attended school in Dist #13, graduating, then going to Little Falls Highschool and included an Agricultural Course, Business Course and Home Economics. Accepted a position with the Donaldson Dry Good firm of Mpls. Is now married, living in St. Paul.
Caroline was born Feb. 5th, 1900. Attended school in Dist. #13. Later attended business college at Little Falls. Now, Mrs. Clare Champaigne, living in Hollywood, California.
Peter Blair being one of the oldest pioneer in this county, has a very wide acquaintance, remembering many of the older settlers and habitants, many of whom were ex-soldiers of the Civil War such as Silas Howard, Major Abner Kenny and his son Milo, James Green, A.K. Miller, F.X. Ledoux, Robert Louis, Henry Clyde, John Chamber, Rudolph Ferrin, Neil O’Donald, A.E. Osgood, Benjamin Taylor, Thomas L. Drumm, and John Workman. He remembers when John Wendt was the hotel keeper, both Wm. And Albert Rhoda, and when Albert was County Auditor of Todd County and his Uncle Nazirre Blair, when they would be around Little Falls. He remembers Joe Batters and John Kidder after whom streets in the city were named and when Louis Vasaly Sr. built the original Vasaly Block on the corner of what is now Broadway and First Street and when Thomas Hayes was County Sheriff for many years. He remembers when Milo Porter was running the upper Ferry and James Brown had the first Drayline in the city. He remembers Louis Blanchard after whom the lower dam on the Mississippi River was named and Moses Lafond, Nate Richardson, Dr. Simmonds, Wm. Nichols, James Hamilton, Peter Roy, Felix Bastien, Wm. Pedley, John Regan. Al Shadwick, and when Wm. Fuller was a carpenter and the Fullers originated the Transcript Publishing Co.
Now many of the old timers have passed on and many changes have taken place which our subject has witnessed and he can relate many interesting incidents.
Mr. & Mrs. Blair are ever busy and are still enjoying the old home place of some 275 acres which is now well improved, including a complete set of good buildings, a large brick house, two good large barns, one a basement barn partly built of stone, some 32 feet wide by 70 feet long and the other one is 22 feet by 52 feet as well as their hog house, chicken house, and granary, machine sheds, and two large silos. They do a good deal of their work with a Tractor, they have as well as having six head of horses and going in for dairying with over 30 head of milch cows, and raising many hogs for market all of which is under the able management of their son William, who follows in the industrious energetic line of our subject who with the help of the younger ones and a full line of farm machinery is always busy keeping everything in good order.
Our subject has borne his full share in the work of development and improvement of the community and may well be numbered among the honored pioneers and worthy Citizens of three score years in the County.
They are very well and favorably known and their friends are many. They are prominent members of the Roman Catholic Church generally attending the Sobieski Church and he is known everywhere as an upright honorable, public spirited citizen.
The obit on Marie Nicole, mother. She may not have been well, because she dies a year after they moved. I don't have her cause of death. She was 75 (almost - lacks about 11 days).
Little Falls Daily Transcript,
April 16, 1907, Peter Blair received word Monday morning from Sand Point, Idaho, announcing the death of his grandmother, Mrs. Simon Blair, Sr., who died there Friday morning. Mrs. Blair was well known here, having lived in this county nearly all her life, but left here a year ago for Sand Point.
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