CLARENCE S. BLAKE. No matter how hard have been the conditions with which the early settlers of Kansas have had to contend, at least they have been privileged to lead lives out of the ordinary, everyday rut, and few of them today express regret as to the obstacles they unexpectedly were called upon to face. On the other hand, many frank and thoughtful individuals have been led to rejoice in the strong character that has been developed in themselves and others and to cherish the kindred tie of troubles overcome. There are many such, for Kansas is full of big-hearted people who are either early settlers in some section themselves or are direct descendants and proud of it.
The year of 1886 was a prolific one in the settlement of Kansas, and among those who came to Grant County in that year was Clarence S. Blake, now a ranchman at Moscow. He is a New England man by birth and ancestry, born at Brownfield in Oxford County, Maine, August 14, 1855. His parents were John and Amanda Jane (Kent) Blake. Mrs. Blake was born in New Hampshire and her father was Jonathan Kent, a man well known in his day. John Blake was born at Oxford, Maine, and his vocation was farming. He was intensely loyal to the Union cause during the Civil war, enlisting three times and died while in the service, in 1864, at the age of forty years. At the time of his death he was serving under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. To John Blake and his wife three sons were born: Clarence S., Charles R., who died in Massachusetts, and John F., who is a rancher in Grant County, Kansas. The mother of these sons died at her home, Mountain View, Maine, in April, 1918.
Clarence S. Blake was given public school advantages in Oxford County, and after completing the high school course took further instruction preparatory to entering college. Circumstances changed his plans, however, and he then learned telegraphy, which art, in part, accounted for his coming first to Kansas in 1880. His first telegraphic work was in New Hampshire, on the Boston and Maine Railroad, later being transferred to the Fitchburg line, with office in Boston, and from that city came west to the Santa Fe and worked as a telegraph operator at Peabody, and next at Newton, Kansas. It was then that he had some experience as a cow boy, engaging with Gregory, Eldred and Company, in a a cow camp on the Salt Fork in Indian Territory, at Buffalo Springs, and for the same company was on Sleeping Bear Creek. After about one year of that active and more or less adventurous life Mr. Blake came back into Kansas and filed on a tract of land in Barber County. He proved up his claim on Medicine River, near Medicine Lodge, and while doing so was in the stock business and raised the cattle and horses with which he later stocked his claim in Grant County.
It was in the fall of 1886 that Mr. Blake went into Grant and filed his homestead in the southeast part of the county, beginning to live on the same in September, 1887. It occupied the southeast quarter section 18, township 30, range 36. When he located on the place he was accompanied by his wife and child, and brought with him four head of horses and nineteen head of cattle.
Mr. Blake started his improvements by constructing a sod house of two rooms, with a tar-paper roof covered with earth and a sod stable for his horses covered with wire and hay. As he had had farm experience in Barber County, he believed he could also successfully raise crops in Grant County, but in this he was disappointed to some extent, and even on one occasion in 1892, when he had 1,500 bushels of wheat to dispose of, he received but 37 and 38 cents a bushel, after hauling the same a distance of fifty-five miles to Garden City. Those were not prosperous times for grain farmers in Grant County, and after a loss of about $1,000 Mr. Blake began to voice his dissatisfaction with the locality. Fortunately a cheerful and far-seeing wife who had become attached to the homestead had influence with him, and he then turned his attention from trying to grow wheat to other crops, having a fine lot of farm machinery that could be just as well used for the planting and harvesting of other grains. In the matter of cattle he always met with satisfactory results. Gradually after becoming reconciled to the country Mr. Blake began to acquire more land, beginning to buy in 1896 and he kept on until he had some 2,200 acres, but parted with some of it subsequently to the Santa Fe Railroad. His present ranch contains 1,800 acres.
In 1900 Mr. Blake went into the mercantile business, establishing a store at old Ulysses, and when that old site was abandoned he moved to the new town, where he continued merchandising until 1914, when he followed the new Santa Fe line and established a store at Moscow, but disposed of this in April, 1918.
Mr. Blake was married in Barber County, Kansas, in August, 1885, to Miss Cora Wiley, who was born near Canton, Ohio, in September, 1865. Her parents, Joseph and Rebecca Wiley, came from Ohio to Ellsworth County and then to Barber County, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Blake have had the following children: Laura, who died in early womanhood; Earl, who was a ranchman in Grant County, Kansas, until June 10, 1918, when he joined others of the National army at Camp Funston; Grace, who is a graduate of the Kansas State Agricultural College and is a teacher at Ulysses, Kansas, and the owner of the homestead that she proved up; Charles R., who is a graduate of the above college, is now in the service of his country and is an officer in the National army; Nora, who is the wife of William Christian, of Trinchara, Colorado; Carl, who was engaged in ranching in this county and also carrying on his studies in the Kansas University, was called into military service in 1918; Clara, who was graduated from the high school in Grant County, then took a course in the Kansas State Normal School and is now a student in the University of Arkansas; Roy, who is a member of the United States Marine service as a recruiting officer; Theo May, who died in childhood; and Galena, Mearl and Geneva Wilma, who reside with their parents at Moscow.
During his residence in Grant County Mr. Blake was quite prominently identified with matters of public interest. He has always since voting age been identified with the republican party, and as he has invariably occupied a place of importance in the communities where he has claimed citizenship, public offices of responsibility have again and again been tendered him. Many times he has served as township clerk and treasurer, and once was elected judge of the Probate Court, but he declined to qualify. Before leaving Grant County he was his party's candidate for the State Legislature, and could not have failed of election had not a three-cornered contention arisen that broke all party slates.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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