Benjamin Joseph Blackstone is the Father & Grandfather to us all.
Benjamin Joseph Blackstone
Benjamin Joseph Blackstone1874 – 1945
Written by Glenda Bass Baker His grand-daughter November 7, 2006
We have not found many records concerning Benjamin Joseph Blackstone. Most of what we do have is from his life after he moved to Texas. He has left us many wonderful memories of his early life in Missouri and Oklahoma. These have been handed down by his children. We are very grateful for them.
Benjamin Joseph Blackstone, called Ben, was born November 1, 1874 in Fairview, Taney County, Missouri. This information is from his delayed birth certificate. He also recorded on the certificate that his father was Isaac Blackstone of Kentucky and his mother was Martha Payton of Indiana. 1 After many years of research these names have not been verified.
Ben and his three sisters are found on the 1880 Census of Intruders to the Delaware Nation in Oklahoma. The children are listed as white orphans living on three different claims. Ben, 5 and his younger sister, Kate, 3, are shown living on the J. Johnson Claim. His sister Annie, 10, is living on the W. H. McCullough Claim and his sister Maggie, 7, is found on the Frank Lamar Claim. 2 Benjamin was living with Martha Paden Johnson and her husband Isaac Johnson. The story is told that the baby sister Kate was taken in by neighbors. 3 She is also mentioned in Maggie Blackstone Stone’s obituary as Mrs. Jacobs, residence unknown. 4
In April 1882 Jesse James, the notorious bandit who robbed banks and trains in Missouri was shot and killed in St. Joseph, Missouri. 5 His body was put on display and folks came to see for themselves that he was dead. Benjamin told of being taken to St. Joseph to view the body. He was only seven when all of this took place. 3
On September 9, 1882 Martha Paden Johnson, Ben’s foster mother, married John Evans. 18 Benjamin did not get along with John Evans. He decided he would leave as soon as he was able to. When he was about thirteen he left home and began working for Chief Dennis Bushyhead. The story is told that young Ben would read the newspaper to Chief Bushyhead. 6 Chief Bushyhead was the leader of his people between the years 1879-1887. He was very well educated. His first wife was a sister of the mother of Will Rogers. 7 Ben also worked for Clement V. Rogers, the father of Will Rogers. He worked at the Roger’s ranch in Oolagah, Oklahoma. His main job seemed to be getting Will to school. Ben would ride to school with Will each day. When they arrived at the school, Ben would take Will’s horse with him when he left. If he did not, Will would leave. The story is told that Ben and one of the other cowboys would hold Will up so that he could shoot through the two O’s in the sign Oolagah at the rail road tracks. There was five years difference in their ages. Ben was about fourteen or fifteen. Will was probably nine or ten. 6
We do not have a record of what Ben was doing between the years 1890-1900. I am sure he was busy learning to make a living. He was a personable young man with black hair and blue eyes. He was 5’ 10” tall. Ben was missing his left arm from the elbow down. He said this happened when he was 15 or 16. He said he had been fooling around with some dynamite when it exploded. 8 His sister, Annie, gave a different version of Ben loosing his arm. She said he lost his arm in an accident that happened while they were making sorghum. 9 I really think this was two separate injuries to the same arm.
One other piece of Blackstone Family History is the story of the fighting cock. When Benjamin was a young man, he went to visit his older sister, Annie. She lived in Macomb, Illinois. Now, Annie was married to John Frowein. He had a fine flock of award winning Leghorn chickens. It was late when Ben arrived at the Frowein home. He had a fighting cock under his arm. The cock was wrapped up with only its head poking out. Ben did not know what to do with the cock. He just tossed it into the chicken coop. The next morning the Leghorn chickens were dead. The cock had taken care of all of them. John Frowein was angry. He made Benjamin leave. 9 No one ever mentioned what happened to the cock!
If anyone has read Maggie Blackstone Stone’s obituary, I am sure they noticed the sentence that states Benjamin Blackstone lived in Old Mexico. 4 This should actually have read Panama. He was back in the states when Maggie passed away, but, his sister Annie did not know he was back. Ben took a load of mules to Panama. He could not get home for a while because a revolution broke out. The revolution was called The Thousand Days War. The war was between two major political parties in Colombia at the time. The war started on October 27, 1899 and lasted until November 19, 1902. 10 If we follow this time line, Benjamin probably returned to the United States in 1903. Benjamin was 28 years old in 1903. He was probably busy getting his work crew together. Time was passing by. It would not be long until he met the woman he was destined to marry.
Benjamin had purchased equipment and put a work crew together. He was working in Texas as a contractor, building track bed for the Rail Road. One of the men he hired was Joe Arnold. Joe and his wife, Josie had a daughter named Laura Ethel. She became acquainted with Benjamin. Before long they decided to marry. Ben and Laura eloped. They took a train to Donie, Freestone Co., Texas. 8 They were married by Reverend Tom T. Chester, a Baptist Minister, on May 14, 1906. 11 They left Donie and went on to Houston, Texas to begin their honeymoon. 8
There were a total of thirteen children born to Ben and Laura. The children called their parents Papa and Mamma. They were taught to love God and their County and to respect their fellow men. These children were to live through some of the hardest times in our country’s history. They were well raised and were up to any challenge life would bring them. Ben and Laura Blackstone’s children were:
Jesse Dell, born March 18, 1907 in Victoria, Victoria CO, Texas Albert Douglas, born October 22, 1908 in Victoria, Victoria CO, Texas Joseph Franklin, born October 19, 1910 in El Campo, Wharton CO, Texas Victor Carol, born December 21, 1912 in Natalia, Medina CO, Texas Lee Roy, born 23 September 1914 in East Bernard, Wharton CO, Texas Maggie May, born October 11, 1916 in El Campo, Wharton CO, Texas David Howard, born August 31, 1919 in El Campo, Wharton CO, Texas Ernest Edward, born October 27, 1921 in El Campo, Wharton CO, Texas Alice Nellie, born November 4, 1923 in East Bernard, Wharton CO, Texas Josephine Elizabeth, born January 1, 1925 in East Bernard, Wharton CO, Texas Dorothy Louise, born January 16, 1928 in Florey, Andrews CO, Texas Robert E., born May 16, 1930 in Florey, Andrews CO, Texas Jimmie Garner, born December 6, 1933 in Seminole, Gaines CO, Texas 16
As their family grew, Benjamin continued to work building track bed for the rail road. The young couple and their two children are named on the 1910 Census of San Saba County, Texas. 12 While Ben was working on the track beds, he and Laura usually rented a house. Their meals were prepared by a cook and served in a dining tent. Since so many children were coming along it was decided it was time to settle down and stay in one place. The Blackstones leased a farm outside of East Bernard. They were farming for a living. The farm was called the Peach Ranch Farm. On September 12, 1918 Benjamin Joseph Blackstone signed his WWI Draft Registration Card. He stated he was a farmer at that time. The family’s address was Rt. #3, El Campo, Wharton County. 13 The Blackstone Family was named in the 1920 census in Wharton CO, Texas. The number in the family had grown and Benjamin was still farming. 14
Benjamin Blackstone was definitely a family man. There were many times on a Saturday night when the family would stay up late and sing while Laura played the organ. Ben was a tenor. He liked to sing. 8 He thought of Sunday as his day off from the field. He would dress up a bit. He would wear a white shirt. Occasionally he would set on the front porch and enjoy a cigar. 19 He did not care for drinking, but, he would have a drink with his children now and then, after they were grown. 8
About 1926 Ben was talking to a man who was building roads out in West Texas. They needed help out there. He still had his equipment so he decided to go with the older boys. They would not have to hire anyone and they could make good money. The family loaded up their belongings and moved to Andrews County, Texas. When they arrived they found out the job had been given to someone else. 8 The family stayed in Andrews County. Ben farmed and found work clearing right of way. This was during what is now called The Great Depression. Times were hard for everyone, especially folks who did not own their own land. The Blackstone Family was named on the 1930 Census on April 28th. 15 Three of the children were not on this census. They were Jesse, Bert, and Victor. Jesse had married Willard Billings. They were living in Houston with their daughter, Marie. Bert was still single, living in Glasscock CO, doing farm work. Victor was still living in Andrews CO. He was living in the Arnold Scharbower house hold. He was doing ranch work. 20
Living in the 1930s was hard. But folks went right on with their lives. Good times as well as bad times held the Blackstone family close together. The last time all of the members of the Blackstone family were together was Christmas of 1935. All of the children were at home. Maggie was still there. Jess and Willard came to spend Christmas. They brought Marie. Bert and Bea and Bert, Jr. were living in Andrews, and they came to visit on Christmas Day. The older boys were home from the rodeo. Everyone was there. 8
While they lived in Andrews County, Dorothy was born in 1928, Bob was born in 1930. Bert married Bea Gray in 1932. Their little girl, Lillie Bea, was born and died in 1932. Jim came along in 1933. Not long afterward, in 1935, Bert, Jr. was born. Maggie married and moved to Idaho. Joe was killed in a rodeo accident in Florida. Vic married Fay Hudson in Nebraska in 1937. 16
Maggie kept writing and telling the family that they could do well in Idaho. So finally when they had enough money together the family loaded up and moved to Boise, Idaho. Ben did a little farming and had a produce stand there. 8 Before long WWII began. Ben and Laura decided it was time to go home. They returned to Texas in 1942. They stayed with their daughter Jesse in Houston. Jesse was living on Inker St. Before long Ben and his son, Bob, began building a house for his family on the same street. Those were busy days. Ben had three sons and a daughter in the military. Everyone in the family was either working or going to school. Laura volunteered to work at the VA hospital. She would get up every day and go to the hospital. Everyone was contributing to the war effort in some way. 16
On November 1, 1945 Benjamin Blackstone passed away at the Herman Hospital in Houston, Texas. He died from heart failure. He died on his birthday at the age of seventy-one. Benjamin was buried at Woodlawn Garden of Memories Cemetery on November 5, 1945. 17 Laura Ethel, his wife, passed away on April 17, 1970. She is buried by his side. Lee Roy, “Doc”, their son who died on February 7, 1947, is buried nearby.
Obituary of Benjamin Joseph Blackstone.
THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE Saturday, November 3, 1945 Page 2
BLACKSTONE--Benjamin Joseph Blackstone, 71, of 5211 Inker, died at 10:45 p.m. Thursday in a local hospital. Survived by his wife, Mrs. Laura E. Blackstone of Houston; five daughters, Mrs. Jessie D. Billings, Mrs. Alice Bond, Mrs. Josie Dishong and Miss Dorothy Blackstone, all of Houston, and Mrs. Maggie Mae Thomas of Boise, Idaho; seven sons, Albert Douglas Blackstone of Los Angeles Cal., Victor C. Blackstone of Bradenton, Fla., Earnest Blackstone of the air corps; Lee R., David H., Robert E. and Jimmie G. Blackstone, all of Houston; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral services at 4 p.m. Monday at the Hyde Park Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Robert Murphy officiating. Burial in Woodlawn Garden of Memories. Pallbearers: Clarence J. Ashford, Clyde S. Ashford, Omer and Clifton Otis, Edward S. Key and Walter Sanders. Hyde Park Funeral Home.
Benjamin Joseph Blackstone liked to listen to the fights on the radio. He loved a good joke. He loved hearing them and telling them. He was also good with animals. Ben instinctively knew what would work to get the most out of a team of mules or horses. 19
Ben Blackstone was my Grandfather. He was a hard working decent man. I wish I could have known him. Glenda Bass Baker, November 7, 2006
1. Birth Certificate of Benjamin Joseph Blackstone, issued December 7, 1942 in Harris Co., Texas. 2. The 1880 Schedule 5, Census of Intruders to the Delaware Nation District, Cherokee Nation.
3. As told to Mrs. Alice Blackstone Hafner by Benjamin J. Blackstone.
4. Obituary of Maggie Blackstone Stone, Macomb Daily Journal, March 10, 1908, Page 8.
5. Vol J-K The World Book Encyclopedia Vol 11 Published 1978
6. As told by Benjamin Joseph Blackstone.
7. Access Genealogy: The Indian Territory, Its Chiefs, Legislators and Leading Men, Released 10 July 2003.
8. As told by Alice Blackstone Hafner.
9. As told by Elizabeth Reiselt on Video Clip #5 on the meettheblackstones.com web site. 1984
10. Before The Five Frontiers, Panama from 1821 – 1903, by Alex Perez-Venero Publisher: AMS Press, New York.
11. Marriage Records of Free Stone Co., Texas Volume 7 Page 140
12. 1910 Census of San Saba CO, Texas, Justice Prec. #1, Roll T624-1584, Page 4B, Date, April 19. House Hold # 48/48 - Blackstone, B. J. (Head) male, white, 37 yrs, born MO, Fath. Born England, Moth, born Ireland, Benjamin works as a foreman on the railroad. Ethel (wife) female, white, 19 yrs., born TX, Fath. Born TX, Moth. Born TX, Jessie (daughter) female, white, 3 yrs, born TX, Fath. Born MO, Moth. Born TX, Albert (son) male, white, 1 & 5/12 yrs, born TX, Fath. Born MO, Moth. Born TX.
13. World War I Draft Registration, Roll # 1983775, Order Number 476, Name Benjamin Joseph Blackstone, Permanent Home Address Rt. #3, El Campo, Wharton CO, Texas. Age 45, Date of Birth, November 1, 1874, White, Native Born, Present Occupation Farmer, Place of Employment Rt. #3 El Campo, Wharton CO, TX, Nearest Relative, Laura Blackstone – wife. Rt. #3, El Campo, TX. Date Sept. 12, 1918. Local Board Wharton CO.
14. 1920 Census of Wharton CO, TX Roll #T625-1856, Page 13A Date Feb. 26. EN. Dist. 168, Line 37, House Hold 252/253, Blackstone, Benjamin J. (Head), Rents, Male, White, Age 45, born MO, Fath. Born Ireland Moth. Born Indiana, Profession, Farmer on Gen. farm. Ethel L. (wife) Female, White, Age 28, born TX, Fath. Born TX, Moth, Born TX, Jessie (Daughter) Female, White, Age 12, Born TX, Fath. Born MO, Moth Born TX, Albert (Son) Male White Age 11, born TX, Fath. Born MO, Moth Born TX. The other children listed on the census are: Joseph, 9, Victor, 7, Roy, 5, Maggie, 3 & 3/12, Howard D., 5/12. They were all born in Texas Their Father was born in Missouri and their Mother was born in Texas. Laura’s brother is named as Arnold, William (Brother-in-law) male, white, age 25, born TX, Fath born TX, Moth Born, TX. He was working as a laborer on a Gen. Farm. Comment: Laura’s brother was named Willie Irie Arnold.
15. 1930 Census of Andrews CO, TX Precinct 3, Roll 2287, Page 1B En Dist. 3, April 18. Line 55, House Hold, 13/13, Blackstone, B. J. (Head) Rents his home, He does not have a radio set, He lives on a farm. Male, White, age 55, He was born in MO, His Fath. was born in Ireland, His Moth. was born in Indiana, He was a farmer on a gen. farm. Ethyl (Wife), female, White, age 39, She was born in TX, her Fath, was born in TX, her Moth. was born in TX. The children living at home were: Joe age 18, Lee Roy age 15, Maggie Mae age 13, David age 11, Ernest age 9, Alice age 6, Josie age 4, Dorothy age 2 & 4/12. All of the children were born in TX, their Father was born in MO and their Mother was born in TX 16. Glenda Bass Baker, Blackstone Family Records
17. Death Certificate of Benjamin Joseph Blackstone, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics Number 48830.
18. Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol 6, No 3 Page 307, # 113 September 1928, INTERMARRIED-WHITES IN THE CHEROKEE NATION BETWEEN THE YEARS 1865 AND 1887. By A. H. Murchison, Muskogee, Oklahoma.
19. As told by Robert E. Blackstone
20. 1930 Census Records of Blackstone Children, Jesse, Bert, & Vick. Jesse: 1930 Harris CO, Houston, TX, Census Roll T626-2344 Page 29A, April 10. Bert: 1930 Glasscock CO Census, Precinct 1, Roll T626-2335 Page 3A, April 8. Vick: 1930 Census of Andrews CO, TX, Precinct 3 Roll 2287, Page 1A En. Dist. 3, April 17.