John R. Blackburn, of Fredonia, judge of the probate court of Wilson county, is a Kansas pioneer and is well known throughout the southeastern part of the state through twenty-five years of useful activity in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church. He was born in what is now Noble county, Ohio, Nov. 16, 1844, to Zachariah and Margaret (Jordan) Blackburn. The father, a native of Pennsylvania, accompanied his parents to Ohio when four years old, in 1818, and there the family settled on the Flat Head reservation. In 1841 Zachariah Blackburn wedded Margaret Jordan, who traveled life's journey with him almost sixty-three years. In 1854 they removed from Ohio to Iowa, where they resided until their respective deaths, the father passing away in 1904, at the ripe old age of ninety years. He was first a Whig, but aligned himself with the Republican party upon its organization, and both parents were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal church. The paternal grandfather was a native of Pennsylvania and was of Scotch-Irish descent, while the maternal grandfather of Judge Blackburn was a Virginian by birth. Both were farmers and very early settlers in Ohio, where they died.
Judge Blackburn acquired his education in the common schools of Iowa and until 1878 was engaged in farming in that state. He then removed to Kansas, and after a few years on the farm entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he continued twenty-five years. He is a Republican in political affairs and in 1908 was elected probate judge of Wilson county, to which office he was reëlected in 1910. In each instance he received the largest majority of any Republican candidate for office in his county, which is an evidence of the high esteem in which he is held there. He owns a comfortable residence property in Fredonia and also owns a good farm in Wilson county.
In 1866 was solemnized the marriage of Judge Blackburn and Miss Lavina I., daughter of Robert Heath, who was a native of North Carolina, but for many years a resident of Iowa, where he died. Of the children born to Judge and Mrs. Blackburn nine are living: Fannie is the wife of W. B. Barton, of Garden City; William R. resides in Bazaar, Chase county, Kansas; Clifford J. is a resident of Kansas City, Mo.; Robert Z., of Cottonwood Falls, is now treasurer of Chase county; Chester A. is a dentist practicing at Altoona, Kan.; Mary is the wife of Earl Carver, of Altoona, Kan.; Grace married Webb Thompson, and resides at Benedict, Kan.; Herschel is located at Ottawa, Kan.; and Elmore lives in Fredonia. As a minister Judge Blackburn made his every effort count for good and as a judge his sincerity of purpose and probity of character are unquestioned, which gives to him the full confidence and esteem of all who appear at his court. He and his wife command the universal love and esteem of their community.Pages 573-574 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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