George Blanchard Farm and Family
Posted on December 1, 2020
HISTORY MYSTERY: George Blanchard Farm and Family
The photo is of the George Blanchard Farmstead. The large white house is on the left is the original farm house; in the center back is the horse/cow barn; and to the right the tobacco barn with the tobacco shed in the front. There were other out buildings not included in the photo. George and the members of his family in the photo are from left right: standing are Harriet Blanchard (George’s daughter (who later married Horace Stevenson); Martha Blanchard (George’s wife);seated is May Blanchard Hamlin (George’s daughter) holding her daughter, Blanche Hamlin; standing is Lizzie Blanchard (George’s daughter who later married Benjamin Shaver); and George (holding an old reel lawn mower); and on the wagon is Henry Hamlin (Husband of May and George’s son-in-law).
Born in the 1870’s, George was the son of Alexander and Eliza Blanchard and grew up on Clay. His father was from Vermont, but early records show that he lived in Washington County at one time. His mother was an immigrant from England.
Naturally, the family had a large vegetable garden and daughters to tend it; and cows for milk and for making cheese, another women’s talent. Indications are that his major crop was tobacco as many local farmers in the 1890’s found it very profitable once the plants were prospering in Clay’s rich soil. There was a Cigar Factory right in the center of Clay’s “business district” the J. W. Coughtry and Son Cigar Manufacturers,so George had a close market for his tobacco. The vent on the roof of the large tobacco barn suggests that he also kept his tobacco at the right conditions for drying. The tobacco leaves were hung from long poles in the barn. This drying process was very long and must be kept at a certain temperature and humidity. So very often they would light fires to maintain these conditions and needed a way to vent to further maintain it. The smaller attached building suggests that there may have been a crew to wrap cigars as a cottage industry for local sales.
A curious question asked by the researcher was why George was holding his old reel lawn mower! Seldom, if ever, do you see anyone using one today, although they are still sold. By the 1890’s they were fairly common and relatively inexpensive. They were not motorized but simply pushed on two wheels over the lawn which caused the blade to spin around and cut the grass. Had he just bought it and wanted to show it off? Had he just finished mowing his lawn and wanted everyone to see how beautiful it was now. Or was he too tired to bother putting it away? Another mystery!
Today the Blanchard house is still standing at 8478 Henry Clay Boulevard. The front entrance and covered porch have been removed but one can still see the decorative corbels along the edge of the roof. The general shape of the house is the same. Part of the tobacco barn is still standing. The small building with the windows has been converted into a convenient living space. The Blanchard name is still well-known around the Clay area. In fact many years ago as a newly wed, I joined Home Bureau and one of the women members had married a Blanchard descendant.
Dorothy Heller, Historian
Zach Peelman, Researcher
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