John Blake by Robert Eager NSSAR# 179422

John Blake was born in 1733 in Ulster County, New York. Today, that area is near the Village of Montgomery in Orange County. He was of English descent, the son of John Blake and Margaret Dean. In one early account it was claimed that the family could trace its lineage back to Robert de Blakeland, of Wiltshire, 1286. That may be true, however, records and source documents are not available to prove it.

He married Mary Norris around 1761. The daughter of Henry Norris, she was born in Northern Ireland, but was living in nearby Coldenham, New York at the time they were married.

The Blakes settled in an extended community known as Neelytown. Named for one of its early residents, John Neely, the community started being populated in the 1730’s. In 1761, John Blake purchased an astounding 477 acres of the Patrick McKnight Patent in the Neelytown area. Most of the nearby families were of Scotch-Irish descent. In 1765, John Blake was one of several neighbors, of varying religious creeds, who joined together to establish the Neelytown Church. It was founded as Associate Reformed Presbyterian, but, as the only church for miles, it served all the members of the community.

Nine children were born to John and Mary between 1762 and 1777. Seven of them reached adulthood. Most married sons and daughters of other early Neelytown settlers. One son, John Jr., rose to prominence, later becoming Sheriff of Orange County. He was elected to the United States Congress in 1806.

During the Revolutionary War, John Blake served in the Ulster County Militia as a Minute Man in Captain Jackson’s Company. Members of the militia were called up periodically to respond to alarms in nearby communities. They would serve for several days at a time to protect against raids by Tories or their Indian allies.

Before, during, and for many years after the war, John Blake was a farmer. According to the tax rolls of the time, he was one of the more prosperous members of his community.

His wife, Mary Norris Blake, died the seventeenth of February, 1815 at the age of 76. She was buried in the graveyard at the Goodwill Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, NY. The little Neelytown Church that she and John had helped found had closed some years before.

Realizing that his time was near, John Blake prepared his last will and testament the following year. He divided his land holdings between his oldest son, John Jr., and his youngest son, Edward. He also appointed them as his executors. He directed them to pay cash settlements to his other living sons, Charles and James. He made provisions as well for his daughter, Mary Milliken, and the children of his deceased son, Henry. Samuel had died as an infant. Another daughter, Margaret, was not mentioned.

Two years later, on January 28, 1818, John Blake died at the age of 85. He was buried next to his wife, Mary, at the Goodwill Presbyterian Church.

References and Notes

Eager, Samuel W., Outline History of Orange County New York (Newburgh, S. T. Callahan, 1846-7), pp 46, 254, 296-298.

Headley, Russel Ed., The History of Orange County New York (New York, The Berkley Press, 1908) p 304.

Reynolds, Cuyler Ed., Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley Vol 1, (Originally Published 1914), p 371.

Ruttenber, E.M. & Clark, L.H., History of Orange County New York (Philadelphia, Everts & Peck, 1881) p 379.

NARA M881. Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783., Roll: 0778, Page 2, John Blake.

NARA M246. Muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other miscellaneous personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units, 1775-83., Roll: 0078, Page 78, John Blake.

Tax Assessment Rolls of Real and Personal Estates, 1799-1804 New York (State), Comptroller’s Office, [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

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