Benjamin F. Blaker.Kansas is yet so young in her statehood that the majority of her strongest business men and men of affairs are the contribution of other states, principally those of the East, and among those leading business men of Kansas is Mr. Blaker, president of the Blaker Lumber & Grain Company. He was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, Dec. 3, 1844, is descended from German and French Huguenot ancestors on the paternal side and is of English descent on the maternal side. The first Blaker in America emigrated from Germany in 1680 and settled in Germantown and about 1699 moved to Bucks county, Pennsylvania, near where Benjamin F. Blaker was born. In fact, the birthplace of Mr. Blaker was a part of his first American ancestor's holdings and has been in the possession of members of the Blaker family since 1699, a period of over 200 years. Joshua C. and Ann (Croasdale) Blaker, parents of Mr. Blaker, were natives of Pennsylvania. The father spent his entire life in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and was engaged in agricultural pursuits. He died in 1894, at the age of seventy-eight years and is survived by his wife, who resides in Newtown, near the old homestead, and has reached the advanced age of ninety-three years. They were the parents of nine children, of whom three daughters and two sons are living. In order of birth they are: Benjamin F.; Alfred (see sketch) Eva, the wife of Lucian Brown, a Methodist minister in Pennsylvania; Emma, the wife of George Poole; and Susanna, who resides with and cares for her aged mother in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Blaker was one of the thousands of young men who did patriotic service for the cause of the Union during the Civil war. Though but eighteen years of age, he enlisted in July, 1863, in Company L, Twentieth Pennsylvania cavalry, for six months' service, and was mustered out Jan. 7, 1864. He then became a student at Millersville College and while there enlisted again, this time in Company D, Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, with which he served until the close of the war. The Eighth had seen three years of hard service prior to his enlistment, and it was to fill up its depleted ranks that new recruits were taken at that time. Upon the opening of the Wilderness campaign in 1864 the Eighth participated in the various movements and battles of Sheridan's corps. It also participated in the cavalry operations during the siege of Petersburg and in the spring of 1865 moved with Sheridan to Five Forks, participating in the brilliant campaign which resulted in the surrender of Lee, after which the Eighth was ordered to Lynchburg and consolidated with the Sixteenth Pennsylvania cavalry July 24. It was finally mustered out with that organization Aug. 11, 1865, at Richmond, Va.
Mr. Blaker had received a public school education in his native county and remained in Pennsylvania until twenty-five years of age. In February, 1870, he came to Linn county, Kansas, and there engaged in the lumber business. In the following year his brother, Alfred, came west and joined him in Linn county. They bought out the other partners in the business and have since been its owners. In 1906 the firm was incorporated under the name of the Blaker Lumber & Grain Company. They have eight elevators and warehouses within a radius of fifty miles in Kansas and Missouri. They have lumber yards at each of the points where they have elevators and warehouses, and handle not only lumber but also all kinds of building materials, such as tile roofing, cement, etc. Benjamin F. Blaker is president of the Blaker Lumber & Grain Company; Alfred Blaker is vice-president; and W. C. Blaker is secretary and treasurer. The Blaker Milling Company operates a flour mill at Pleasanton, the mill having a capacity of 250 barrels of flour per day. Benjamin F. Blaker is president of the Blaker Milling Company; Alfred Blaker is vice-president, and T. J. Blakey is its secretary and treasurer. The companies give employment to approximately 100 men in their home and branch offices. The business occupies two blocks on the east side of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad tracks in Pleasanton and is the largest business concern of that town.
On Dec. 2, 1872, Mr. Blaker married Miss Adda Brabrant, a native of Milwaukee, Wis., but a resident of Kansas at the time of her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Blaker have two daughters: Emma, who married Ernest Prickett, of Kansas City, Mo., and Pauline, the wife of Victor Myer, of Pryor Creek, Okla.
Mr. Blaker has always given his political allegiance to the Republican party, as did his father. He served as a member of the state senate from 1904 to 1908; has been a member of the Pleasanton Board of Education eleven years; is an ex-mayor of the city, and has served as a member of its city council. He is a Scottish Rite Mason, a Knight of Pythias, and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. During the forty years that Mr. Blaker has been a resident of Pleasanton he has ever been recognized as one of its most energetic and industrious citizens, one ever ready at all times to lend a helping hand to any movement for the moral or material advantage of the community.Pages 928-930 from volume III, part 2 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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