Frank H. Blair papers
Scope and Contents
The papers of Frank H. Blair, Second Accession, span the years from the early nineteenth century to 1984. The collection encompasses four generations, and four different wars, and include family papers as well as business documents. The collection is housed in 71 boxes, 33 oversized, and contents of one map case drawer. It is organized under thirteen headings. Family and Personal – Chronological, consitsts of letters, papers, and documents from various family members. Included is a ship’s log book from the 1840s, Civil War letters, and school records. This section covers a large time frame and consists of materials from both the Blair and Powell sides of the family. Genealogical Research covers the many years of ongoing exploration by both Frank and William Blair into the family’s history. The documents are comprised of individual state inquires, military records, family letters, charts, and notes. The segment Frank H. Blair—Personal and Business, spans a wide range of documents. There is a large section of Mr. Blairs writings that were used in Masonic speeches, as well as a few personal recollections. One box is devoted to newspapers clipping of people or events he chronicled, another to personal items such as bank books, insurance policies, and personal documents. There are also boxes with the records from early businesses, legal documents, farm records, and correspondence. Harrison D. Blair—Personal and Business are papers that include military records, tax and farm, and oil lease documents,as well as some personal papers which contain correspondence, information on his marriage and separation from Princess Gabrielle of Liechtenstein, and documents regarding his death.
- 1908 - 1956
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An amalgamation of several generations make up the contents of the Frank Blair Papers, Second Accession, thus making it necessary to give short biographies of several members of the Blair family. The Blair progeny were descendents from Scotland, and later Ireland, coming to America in the early part of the sixteenth century. Several generations later Henry Harrison Blair and his wife Margaretta Dey Blair moved from Wyocena, Wisconsin in covered wagons and settled in Elk Point, Dakota Territory. That trip was made in 1869 and within only a few months H. H. Blair became the county treasurer and then probate judge. The Blairs activism within the community help found a thriving town and later statehood for South Dakota. Indeed, Henry Harrison Blair was even on the committee that designed the South Dakota state seal.
Frank Howard Blair followed his father’s footsteps by his own involvement within the community of Sterling, Colorado. Frank Blair graduated first from the Elk Point High School and then the State University in Vermillion, South Dakota. Upon graduation Mr. Blair was offered the position of assistant principal of the high school in Sterling. He continued on to become principal, but later resigned to enter a ranching partnership, and later hardware business, with his father-in-law, William Powell. Mr. Blair involved himself fully into the community as a member of several organizations. He was the City Treasurer for one term, a City Council member, on the School Board for numerous years, and sat on the Selective Service Board of Logan County during both W.W.I and W.W.II. Mr. Blair was appointed to the State Highway Board by several governors, was a member of the local Irrigation District and Ditch Company boards, and was a member of the Sterling Masonic Lodge, Elks Lodge, and Rotary Club for several decades. A comprehensive biography of Mr. Blair can be read in the guide for the Frank H. Blair Papers, First Accession.
Frank and Victoria Blair’s first son, William Powell Blair, was born in Sterling on May 10, 1896. After graduation from the Logan County High School, William Blair attended the University of Colorado for two years. While in Boulder, William became a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, was the captain of the cross country team, and earned a “C” in track. In July of 1916 William Blair enlisted as a cadet at the United States Military Academy and graduated November 1, 1918, were he was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant of field artillery. Over the next several years William’s assignments with field artillery and infantry troops lead him from Kentucky to France and Germany and back to the States. He then furthered his training by attending several military courses including Field Artillery Basic, Technical, and Advanced Schools, a two year course in Command and General Staff school, and Air Corps Tactical school. William Blair served on General Staff tours with the War Department, Headquarters Army Service Forces, and Headquarters Army Ground Forces. William P. Blair retired in 1946 from the military with the rank of Colonel, regular army of the United States. During Colonel Blair’s tenure he met and married Martha Barton. To them two children were born, Mary Louise in 1923 , and William P. Blair, Jr. in 1926.
Upon Colonel Blair’s retirement from the military he returned to Sterling where he and his father partnered in their ranching business. After his father’s death in 1955 Colonel Blair continued the now formed Proctor-Iliff Company in which he oversaw the management and development of the Blair ranchlands. He was proactive in local irrigation matters as an advocate of water issues as well as director for the local irrigation company. Along with the ranching business in Logan County, Colonel Blair spent much of his time at his mountain property in Jefferson County. It was here that he loved to spend his days, and eventually moved to one of his two cabins (Blair Atholl and Blairgowrie) with his second wife Isabel. At “Victoria” Colonel Blair tirelessly worked on improving the livability of property. He eventually brought in electricity; built new bridges and improved the roads; upgraded the water system by building a new dam and re-drilling the well; and even built a spacious bedroom on to Blair Atholl for he and Isabel. When pine beetles infested the forest of Victoria, Colonel Blair scrupulously marked, treated, and removed all of the diseased trees.
One of Colonel Blair’s lifelong passions was researching his family lineage. His father, Frank Blair, instilled the love of genealogy to William at an early age. While in the service back East, Colonel Blair scoured old church records, contacted Blair namesakes, and steadily compiled research onto of what his father had already gathered. Colonel Blair chronicled the Blair lineage throughout his entire life, always searching for the question to unanswered clues. His meticulous research leaves an important narrative for all future Blair generations. Along with his genealogy research, Colonel Blair kept actively engaged with fellow 1918 USMA graduates with regular correspondence, assisting in the monthly newsletters, and when he could, would travel back East for a reunion. Many of the young men he attended military school with became lifelong friends.
Colonel Blair spent a year in a Morrison, Colorado nursing home before he died of pneumonia in May of 1986. He will be remembered as a man with integrity, fairness, and hard work.
Harrison Dey Blair, second son of Frank H. and Victoria Blair, was born on November 18, 1901 in Sterling, Colorado. Harrison graduated from the Logan County Industrial Arts High School in Sterling, and also graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He enlisted in the Air Force in March 1942. Harrison Blair’s first military assignment was to the Control Office at AAF Headquarters, Washington, D.C., and in December, 1942, he transferred to Headquarters, Air Technical Service Command, at Patterson Field in Ohio. In July, 1943, he was then came to Olmsted Field, Pennsylvania, to assist in organizing the Publications Distribution Branch. In 1951 Colonel Blair was called back to active duty and stationed at the Air Force Base in Wiesbaden, Germany where he served with the USAFE, Personnel Service Division under General Vandenberg, chief of the Air Force of the U.S.A. in Europe.
Professionally, Colonel Harrison D. Blair was the assistant vice-president of the Chemical Bank and Trust Company, of New York City. He was at one time president of the Young Men’s Board of Trade, Inc., a managing director and assistant treasurer of the New York Board of Trade, assistant treasurer of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, and the first vice-president of the Manhattan chapter Reserve Officers Association.
Before Colonel Blair’s return to military service he met Princess Gabrielle of Liechtenstein at a social function in New York City. While in Germany the two renewed their acquaintance and fell in love. In October of 1951 the couple wed at Schloss Fohren Bei Trier in the Moselle Valley, Germany, her family’s wine estate. The couple returned to New York City at the end of Colonel Blair’s military assignment, where they settled down on Park Avenue. However, their marriage ended two years later in an annulment. Colonel Blair retained ranch land in the Sterling area and visited annually. In February of 1981, Colonel Harrison D. Blair passed away in New York City of an apparent heart attack.
106.5 linear feet (96 boxes)
Language of Materials
The Frank H. Blair Papers principally focus on businesses in Sterling, and farming and ranching in Logan County. Mr. Blair’s consistent saving of his farming and ranching records provides a picture, over four decades, of crops his farms produced and his activities in cattle and sheep feeding. The Frank H. Blair Papers are divided and organized into the following sections: Family and Personal – Chronologically; Hardware and Implement Businesses in Sterling; Henderson & Co. and Frank H. Blair – Properties in Sterling; Farming Leases, Cropping Data, and Cattle and Sheep Feeding (1913 – 1956); Correspondences (1937–1955); Financial Records; Photographs; State Highway Advisory Board District #7 Papers; Published Materials; and an Oversized Section.
Series 1: Family and Personal - Chronological, 1840-1940 Series 2: Genealogical Research, 1929-1987 Series 3: Frank H. Blair - Personal and Business, 1907-1955 Series 4: Harrison D. Blair - Personal and Business, 1938-1980 Series 5: William P. Blair - Personal and Business, 1902-1985 Series 6: Frank H. and William P. Blair - Ranch and Farms, 1927-1967 Series 7: William P. Blair - Land and Water, 1913-1976 Series 8: The Proctor-Iliff Company, 1949-1984 Series 9: William P. Blair - Personal Finances, 1927-1983 Series 10: William P. Blair - Personal, 1947-1972 Series 11: Books, 1809-1962 Series 12: Photographs, 1889-1954 Series 13: Oversized, 1827-1974 Subseries a: Documents, 1827-1940 Subseries b: Newspapers, 1859-1974 Subgroup a: Colorado, 1859-1963 Subgroup b: Iowa, 1974 Subgroup c: Kansas, 1934 Subgroup d: Michigan, 1845-1849 Subgroup e: Mississippi, 1863 Subgroup f: Missouri, 1944-1971 Subgroup g: Nebraska, n.d. Subgroup h: North Carolina, 1944 Subgroup i: South Dakota, 1870-1946 Subgroup j: Wisconsin, 1940-1944 Subgroup k: Wyoming, 1943 Subseries c: Photographs, 1915 Subseries d: Books and Ledgers, 1870-1983 Subseries e: Maps, 1868-1965
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Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository
1720 Pleasant Street
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States