Another relative I've been researching is my father's paternal great-grandmother, Elizabeth Blindberry (born in 1813 in New York State, died 1873 in Livonia, Michigan). Alas, I have no photograph of her or her husband.
|Tombstone of Elizabeth and husband George Nelson Bentley|
Assuming that this is the proper connection, my guess is that Elizabeth was John's sister. In those days, the census typically named only the head of the family, particularly ignoring the names of women of all ages. John apparently did have a younger sister who would have been born around the right time. In an attempt to find out about Elizabeth, I dug up what I could about her brother, my great-great granduncle.
Here's an excerpt of a biography published in the succinctly titled History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan - A Chronological Cyclopedia Past and Present by Silas Farmer (1890).
At the age of nineteen, in the year 1825, he emigrated to Michigan. ...Mr. Blindbury purchased eighty acres of land in the town of Southfield, Oakland County; he erected a log house on his purchase, and then sent for his father's family. After seeing them settled, he began chopping [lumber], in the forests of Michigan, at four dollars and a half per acre. Unlike most young men of this day, he considered his time as his father's until he came of age.
I gather that his father -- I wish the article gave his name to nail it for me -- came along with the children. Joseph Blindbury had remarried by this time and there were several more children from this union. He was to die in Southfield in 1851.
Blindbury's homestead is described in the autobiography of one William S. Balls thusly:
"This was the autumn of 1857 in which we bought a farm in Greenfield on Grand River Avenue not quite six miles from the Detroit City Hall. This property included a two story brick house and one small barn. The front portion (about two acres) was planted to a large variety of fruit including a fine orchard, two grape arbors, pears, cherries, crabapples, a large quantity of currants, etc., all these in bearing. It was a place that Mr. Blindbury, the hotel man, had built and prepared for his own residence as he wished to retire. The rest of the land was mostly uncultivated, about 20 acres of it woods.
Nine months before that time, he gave his father a note to cover the value of his labor during the remaining months. After this, he went to what was then known as the Black River country [in St. Clair County], and entered into the lumbering business, in the employment of A. M. Wadhams. Here he remained about four years, at the end of which time he returned to Southfield, purchased one hundred acres of wild land, erected a log house, and began to clear the land for cultivation.
He married, December 2, 1831, Maria Rogers, daughter of Moses and Mary "Polly" Rogers, residents of Southfield, and granddaughter of John Rogers, who served throughout the Revolutionary War.
In 1844 [Blindbury] was elected Representative of Wayne County in the State Legislature. In 1850 sold the hotel, and erected a dwelling-house near by. About this time he was appointed Marshal of Wayne County. In 1852 he removed to Detroit, and erected what was known for many years as the Blindbury Hotel, on the corner of Washington and Michigan avenues, [later] known as the Antisdel House.
|Location of the property|
Here are stills from a 1923 Detroit newsreel (check it out!) showing the Antisdel House.
Landmarks of Wayne county and Detroit, by Robert Budd Ross and George Byron Catlin, offers this about the hotel property:
"In 1836, Nathaniel Champ built a house on the northeast corner of Washington and Michigan avenues [in Detroit], and he lived there until 1851. On this property he build the first temperance hotel in Detroit, and was its landlord for several years. Several managers of the hotel succeeded [him] and in 1843, his son, William Champ, became landlord and managed until 1851. The property was then sold to John Blindbury. In 1852, Mr. Blindbury built a hotel on the same site and named it the Blindbury Hotel. J.F. and W.W. Antisdel were afterwards landlords, and in 1870 W.W. Antisdel was in charge. W.A. Scripps afterward became a partner. The house was demolished in 1890."
Mr. Blindbury was brought up a Methodist, but never united with any church. He held very liberal views on religious subjects. His life was exceedingly upright. In politics, he was always allied with the Democratic party. Mr. Blindbury died on the 1st of March, 1867, leaving a comfortable estate to his widow, whom he made his sole executrix. His life was eventful, and was marked by hard work, energy, and perseverance. His labors were finally crowned with success; and he stands before us in his works, as a representative pioneer of Michigan.
The Antisdel was lauded as "The most home-like hotel in Detroit; well kept, strictly temperance, and worthy of the large patronage it receives."
Eventually it made way for the famous Book-Cadillac Hotel at the heart of Detroit. There are some great old photos of it here.
All this is well and good, but I still don't know anything about Blindbury's sister Elizabeth, my great-great grandmother, other than she married George Bentley, of nearby Livonia, probably in 1836 at the age of 23. They proceeded to have children: Mary (b. 1837), , Margaret (1843), Susanna (1846), Charlotte (1848), , Charles (1853), and William (1865) when Elizabeth was 52! She only lasted eight years after that.
...Be sure to check out Sepia Saturday at Blogspot!