Financial History Issue 125 (Spring 2018) - Page 32
Blair & Co., Inc.
By Susie J. Pak
John Insley Blair, a New Jersey native
of Scotch-Irish background, was said by
numerous contemporary sources to be a
relation of Rev. John Blair, an Irish immi-
grant who became president of the College
of New Jersey in 1766. Other sources state
definitively, however, that John Insley’s
paternal grandfather, John Blair Sr., was
born in Scotland, immigrated to New
Jersey and fought in the American Revo-
lution. What is known is that John Insley’s
father, James Blair, was a farmer born in
When he was 10 years old, John Insley
Blair reportedly told his mother, “Mother,
I have seven brothers and three sisters.
That’s enough in the family to be educated.
I am going to get rich.” He soon began
working at the general store of his cousin,
Judge Blair. He later opened a general
country store with a cousin, also named
John Blair, before going into business for
himself in 1821. With the assistance of his
brothers and brothers-in-law, Blair’s busi-
ness interests grew to five general stores
and four flour mills by the time he was 28.
Blair also expanded into the manufacture
of cotton, mining and railroads. In 1825,
he was appointed the postmaster of Gravel
Hill, New Jersey, which was renamed
Blairstown in 1839 to acknowledge his
standing and achievements. When he died
30 FINANCIAL HISTORY | Spring 2018 | www.MoAF.org
in 1899, his estate was reportedly worth
John Insley Blair’s wife, Ann Locke, was
the daughter of a Revolutionary War sol-
dier killed in the War of 1812. Their oldest
daughter, Emma Elizabeth Blair, married
Charles Scribner, the founder of the Scrib-
ner publishing house, in 1848. Their oldest
son, Marcus L. Blair, predeceased his par-
ents and did not marry. Aurelia Ann Blair,
the youngest daughter, was married to
Clarence Green Mitchell, a lawyer. Their
John Insley Blair (center) outside the Blair home
with his nephew John Davis Vail and his family.
Photograph circa 1892–1894.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?