William Wallace Blair was an early settler of Decatur county and became well known here, especially in the Reorganized
Church of Latter Day Saints, as he was a minister of that denomination and editor of the church paper published
at Lamoni. He was the fifth son of James and Fannie (Hamilton) Blair and was born in the town of Holley, Orleans
county, New York, on the 11th of October, 1828. His parents were of Scotch-Irish descent and both of his grandparents
served in the Revolutionary war, while his father fought in the War of 1812. The latter removed with his wife to
Orleans county, New York, from Blandford, near Worcester, Massachusetts, and in 1838 the family home was established
in Illinois, in the vicinity of what is now the city of Amboy. At that time there were few settlers in that part
of the Prairie state and Chicago, one hundred miles distant, was for a number of years their nearest grain and
stock market. As it was first of all necessary to break the virgin sod, to erect log cabins in which to live and
to care for the crops, upon which depended the food for the family during the winter, it was several years before
schools and churches were erected and the conditions of life were in all respects those of a pioneer region in
the middle west.
William W. Blair grew to manhood in Illinois and as his strength increased assisted more and more in the improvement
of the farm. In 1854 he left home and engaged in commercial pursuits at East Paw Paw, Lee county, Illinois. After
passing through the financial crisis incident to the unexpectedly early close of the Crimean war he settled on
a farm which he owned near Amboy but in April, 1859, he entered the active ministry of the Reorganized Church of
Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints and for twenty six years labored in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, California,
Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Montana and Colorado. He met with success in his work and did much to further the growth of
his church. In April 1885, he left the ministry and located at Lamoni, Iowa, where he was for many years identified
with the editorial office of the Herald publishing house, the official church publishing house. He exerted a great
influence through his connection with that concern, which publishes not only the Herald but also religious books,
and gained a reputation as a clear and forceful writer. He believed that the power of the press was greater than
that of the pulpit and it was for this reason that he abandoned the ministry and entered the publishing field.
He was devotedly attached to his church and was at all times ready to defend it against unjust aspersions, the
one object of his life being to promote its advancement. However, his complete loyalty to his church and the vigor
with which he stood for his convictions did not mean that he felt any bitterness toward those who thought differently
than he. On the contrary those who were associated with him found him a broad minded and liberal man of progressive
ideas who was at all times kindly, courteous and considerate of others.
On Christmas Day, 1849, Mr Blair was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth J. Doty and they became the parents of
seven children, five sons and two daughters. Fannie C. died at Amboy in 1860 but the other children survive, namely:
Charles E., who is manager of the Supply Store at Lamoni; Minnie B., the widow of D. F. Nicholson, who was one
of the most active and most successful business men of Lamoni; George W., who is mayor of Lamoni and is also engaged
in the real estate business here; William A., who is the manager of a department store at Galien, Michigan; David
H., who is connected with a large wholesale millinery house of Kansas City; and Fred B., who is manager of the
electric light plant at Lamoni. The wife and mother died in June, 1912, and those who had been closely associated
with her felt that her church and her community had lost one whom they could ill spare. She was a devout Christian
and her unselfish love for others prompted her to assist those who needed aid and many remember her kindness with
gratitude. She was an active worker in the church and was president of the Mite Society, an efficient organization
of women whose purpose is to care for the poor and to supply funds for the prosecution of the work of the various
departments of the church.
Mr. Blair gave his support at the polls to the democratic party but never aspired to public office. He was a man
of much ability and energy and his influence was widely felt in his church and his demise, which occurred in 1886,
was sincerely mourned.
History of Decatur County, Iowa
And its People
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Decatur County, IA
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