Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 515
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
John Blackhall, who follows farming in Sterling township, Rice county, was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on the 13th of October, 1836, and in his life exemplifies some of the strongest and best characteristics of the Scottish nation, being persistent, trustworthy and reliant. He remained in the land of his birth until nineteen years of age, when, in 1855, he took passage on a sailing vessel which weighed anchor in Liverpool, and after eight weeks and three days reached the harbor of New York. His father died when his son was only four years of age, and at an early period in his career Mr Blackhall began earning his own livelihood. He was the first of his family to seek a home in the new world. Three years afterward his elder brothers came to America, locating in California, where he prospered in his undertakings. He then sent money for the mother and the other children to come. Mrs Blackhall reared all of her ten children by two marriages and is now the widow Meever. Be her second union she had five children. She makes her home in the state of Washington with her youngest daughter and has reached the very advanced age of ninety-four years. She was left without means on the death of her first husband, but she managed to keep her family together and provide them with fair educational privileges and thus fit them for life’s practical duties. Eight of her children are still living.
John Blackhall was only thirteen years of age when he began work in a fabric factory, but within two years he ran away and secured a situation at herding cattle. In the summer he was thus employed and in the winter he acted as a shepherd, receiving five dollars for six months’ labor, and he was an able man in all kinds of farm work. Thinking that it would be long before he could make a start in life in his native country in that way he resolved to seek a home in the new world. For six years he resided in Canada and there won a first premium as a ploughman. In Hamilton, Canada, he was united in marriage, in 1860, to Miss Margaret Thompson, a native of Scotland, born near Balmoral Castle, in 1830.
While residing in Canada and after his marriage Mr Blackhall engaged in the cultivation of rented land. He then removed to Marquette county, Michigan, where he and his wife conducted a boarding house for a time and he also worked out by the day. In 1876 he arrived in Sterling township, Rice county, Kansas. Soon afterward he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land adjoining his present farm, for which he paid one thousand dollars, giving two farm comprises three hundred and twenty acres of valuable land, and his two sons own a half section each in Kansas and Oklahoma. Mr and Mrs Blackhall have lost one son, Andrew, who died at the age of eighteen months. Their living children are: Henry is an enterprising, reliable farmer of thirty-seven years and now owns three hundred and twenty acres of rich land near the old homestead. His place is improved with good buildings and he has four thousand bushels of wheat in his granaries. His principal crops are wheat, corn and oats, and he works six horses in the care of his farm. The second member of the family is Mary, a young lady at home. The younger son, William J, has one hundred and sixty acres of land adjoining the old home place and a quarter section in the Strip in Oklahoma. He wedded Elizabeth Ransom, who resided in this neighborhood, and they now have a daughter and two sons, who are the pride of the parents and grandparents.
Mr Blackhall of this review has been a Republican since attaining the right of franchise in America. He was reared a Presbyterian, but has been a liberal contributor to the support of the Methodist Episcopal church and toward the building of its new house of worship. He came to America a young man without capital and had no influential friends to aid him, but he relied upon earnest labor to give him a start and through persistent effort he has gained a very handsome competence, being now numbered among the substantial citizens of his adopted country.