JAMES T. BLAIR, so well known among railroad circles, coal operators
and the public generally in western Pennsylvania, as well as other
parts of the country, is a native of Franklin county, Pennsylvania,
born April 2, 1837, and now resides at Greenville. He was educated at
the common schools and at Duff's Business College of Pittsburg,
Pennsylvania. He is the son of James and Sarah (Shoaff) Blair.
His father was born in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, in 1801 and
died in 1882. His mother born in Franklin county in 1801, died in 1869.
To this union was born four children-three sons and one daughter,
James T., of this sketch, being the fourth child, and the only
surviving one. The father was a merchant tailor and a most worthy and
intelligent gentleman. He favored the Democratic party.
Blair first engaged in the mercantile business in Pittsburg and
Newville. In 1859 he engaged with the Allegheny Valley Railroad Company
and later with the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne & Chicago R. R. as
assistant cashier. He was advanced to chief clerk, then agent's
assistant and finally promoted to claim agent. In 1886 he moved from
Pittsburg to Oil City and was the superintendent, secretary and
treasurer of the Oil City & Pitthold Branch Railroad for about five
years. when, in 1873, he went to Greenville, Pennsylvania, as
superintendent of the Shenango & Allegheny R. R., which was built
from Shenango to Harrisville, thirty-one miles at that time. In 1876,
Mr. Blair became general manager, later president of the road, and
built the road from Harrisville to Hilliard. In 1882 he was elected
president of the \Vest Penn & Shenango Connecting Railroad Company
and built the line from Branchton and Butler, known as the West Penn
& Shenango Connecting Railroad, tinder the control of the
Pittsburg, Shenango & Lake Erie Company, of which company Mr. Blair
was general manager. He was also manager of the construction company
and built the line from Greenville to Erie and the branch to Conneaut
Harbor, Ohio. He constructed the first iron docks at Conneaut Harbor,
Ohio. He resigned his office with the company in September, 1897,
having received a magnificent gold watch as a token of esteem from the
He then went to Boulder, Colorado, and was made
general manager of the Colorado & Northwestern Railroad company and
built twenty-six miles of road from Boulder to Ward, Colorado, but on
account of the high altitude, gave up his position and returned to
Greenville, Pennsylvania, in 1900, spending one year in opening up some
coal properties near Clarksburg, West Virginia. In the autumn of 1901
he sold out his interests and took charge of the Little Kanawha
Railroad, he holding the office of president. This line was owned b a
syndicate, they having the Parkersburg Bridge and Terminal Railroad,
Burrisville & Eastern, Buchanan & Northern, Green County
Railroad, Marietta. Columbus & Cleveland road, and has also charge
of the coal properties amounting to almost ninety thousand acres. Mr.
Blair is the president of all these companies and ably conducts the
duties of his office.
Being a man of affairs, he takes a lively
interest in fraternal society matters. and belongs to Masonic Lodge No.
253, at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania: Duquesne Royal Arch Chapter, No. 193.
F. & A. Masons; Duquesne Club, of Pittsburg; was president and
trustee of the Cottage Hospital at Mercer, Pennsylvania, for eight or
ten years: trustee of Grove City College and held other positions of
honor and trust. He belongs to the First Presbyterian church at
Greenville. In his political views he is a stanch Republican.
Blair was married to Josephine Glass, September 7, 1865. She was born
in New York City, January 1, 1843, a daughter of William and Margaret
(Bonnar) Glass. Mr. and Mrs. Glass were the parents of three children,
all deceased save the wife of Mr. Blair. Mr. Glass was a native of
Ireland. and came to this country when a young man and sent for his
parents, brothers and sisters. At first he was a manufacturer, in New
York City, but went to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in 1855. There he
followed merchandising, coming to Greenville in 1873, where he spent
the balance of his life. He died in 1881, aged seventy-five years. He
was a devoted member of the Covenanter church and in politics was a
Democrat. Mr. and Mrs. Blair are the parents of the following children:
Meta W.; Jane, wife of C. H. Muntz; William S., married Blanch Story;
Kate S., wife of O. E. Perch; Clara A., wife of E. E. McCracken; and
James T., Jr.
Source: Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, 1909, pages 545-547