The name of Blackburn needs no introduction to the citizens of Petaluma, for since the early '50s it has been represented
here through the activities of three generations, each adding lustre to the name and accomplishments of his predecessor.
The establisher of the name in this country was Charles Blackburn, who in 1820 was born in Sheffield, England,
and there in youth he prepared himself for his future by learning the carpenter's trade. An apprenticeship of seven
years resulted in a complete understanding of his trade, besides which he became an expert builder and cabinetmaker.
With this equipment as his chief stock in trade he immigrated to the United States in 1843, going direct to Iowa,
where, in Oskaloosa, he found plenty of opportunity for the exercise of his knowledge of carpentry and building.
Altogether Mr. Blackburn remained in Iowa about nine years, or until 1852. In the meantime, on June 19, 1845, he
formed domestic ties by his marriage with Miss Jemima Jane Richardson, who was born in Springfield, and now, at
the age of eightyfour, is still in good health and in the enjoyment of, all of her faculties. As has been stated,
Mr. Blackburn remained in Iowa until 1852, that year marking his journey westward with his wife and three children,
Mary E., Martha and John S. Coming direct to Petaluma, Sonoma county, here as in
Iowa he found work awaiting him, and from the first he had all that he could do. He assisted in the erection of
the first church edifice in the town and also built many residences that have stood the test of the elements for
over half a century. He also helped in the erection of the first house in what is now Santa Rosa.
In 1856 Charles Blackburn established the undertaking business in Petaluma which has made his name so well known
in this part of Sonoma county. He began in business with a partner, but soon afterward purchased the latter's interest
and assumed control of the entire business. As the business enlarged he kept pace by the introduction of improvements,
one of which was the introduction of the hearse in 1857, this being the first funeral carriage ever seen or used
in this community. His reputation as an uptodate funeral director was not confined to the immediate locality in
which he lived, but spread to all parts of the county, and as a consequence he was soon in command of one of the
largest enterprises of the kind outside of the metropolis. The heavy pressure of business responsibilities began
to tell upon his health at last, and in 1890 he resigned the management of the business to younger hands. Six years
later, November 27, 1895, he passed away, at the age of seventysix years. Although business cares occupied much
of his time, he still had time to do his duty as a good citizen, and there wads no department of the city's welfare
with which his name was not associated. He was especially interested in Republican politics, but was never desirous
of office or honor of any kind from his political friends. Fraternally he belonged to Petaluma Lodge No. 30, I.
O. O. F.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, three children were born to Charles Blackburn and his wife in Iowa (Mary E., Martha
and John S.) and after coming to California, seven more children were added to their family group, viz.: Charles;
Allen H.; Mary J., who became the wife of Samuel Rodd; Hester C., the wife of J. Frank Ephick; Emma H.; Lilly,
the wife of A. Harry Parsons; and Frank L. After the death of the father the business was carried on by John S.
Blackburn, the eldest son, and since his death, in 1903, Frank L. Blackburn has continued the business.
History of Sonoma County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1911
Sonoma County, CA
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