Paul Alexander Blackwell

by Edmund Starling, 1886

PAUL ALEXANDER BLACKWELL

The genealogy of the gentleman whose name heads this article, and of whose life and kindred the following is but a brief and imperfect sketch, taken ab initio, presents a lineage distinguished for high character, honorable bearing and aristocratic surroundings. Our subject's paternal grandfather was one of three brothers who sailed from England many years ago for America. Arriving in this country, they separated, one of them settling on Blackwell's Island, from whom the Island derived its name, another settled in North Carolina and became the acknowledged head of the world-renowned Durham tobacco manufacturers, the third, Robert Blackwell settled in Virginia. From the latter, the subject of this sketch descended. Robert Blackwell, the paternal grandfather, served as a Magistrate under King George III, and died in the year 1788. The maternal grandfather was James Jeffries, who lived in Virginia and departed this life in that State in the year 1831; subsequent to the Declaration of Independence, he served as a magistrate. The maternal grandmother, Nancy Hogan, was born in Virginia and lived there during her natural life. She died during the year 1848 at the good and rather remarkable old age of eighty years.

Chapman Blackwell, the father of our subject, was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, in the year 1785; he was married to Miss Prudence Russell Jeffries, who was born in Lunenburg County in 1796. Seven children resulted from this union, Mary, James, Nancy, Jane, Paul A., Branch and Francis. Chapman Blackwell was from boyhood a farmer devotedly attached to that life. hearing of the fertile soils of the far West child of old Virginia, its almost limitless productiveness, he determined to immigrate, and, to effect that purpose, disposed of such of his property as he deemed best and set out with his family, overland for Kentucky, in the year 1832. The comparative wilds of the route to be traveled, the ruggedness of the roads, the privations that immigrants fell heir to, were obstacles to be sure; but, with a firm and fixed purpose, a sound and unflinching spirit moving him, he plodded along over mountains and through valleys, recognizing the tediousness of the journey and its lonely surroundings, never once hesitating or brooding over a determination to better his condition in life. Thus he continued on slowly, but surely, through Virginia, then Kentucky, until he reached Henderson County, where he settled on a track of land near Zion.

Here, in the woods, he built him a rude log cabin in which to shelter his family, and here he toiled, clearing the forest and tilling the soil up to the day of his death, that sad event occurring in the year 1851. His devoted wife survived him, and in this there appears a coincidence preternatural in its occurrence. In the year 1873, twenty-two years afterwards, in the same month and on the same day of the month, the good wife and mother followed her husband in death.

Paul A. Blackwell, the subject of this sketch, was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, April 22d, 1826, therefore he was only six years of age when he accompanied his father from his place of nativity over the mountains into Kentucky. Arriving at school age, he was sent to the neighboring country school, and it was there that he gained his first knowledge of the limitless worth of the alphabet and the multiplication table. When he had become more advanced in spelling, reading and arithmetic, he was placed under the tutorage of Hon. Philip B. Matthews, now of this city, and who at that time was regarded not only the most capable, but the most reliable instructor of the youth of his neighborhood.

Mr. Blackwell matriculated at this school in 1841, and his subsequent life furnishes a pleasing testimony of how well he learned and how closely he applied himself. This was the last school he ever attended. At the age of twenty-two years he returned to Virginia and while there, on the fourteenth day of June, 1848, in Lunenburg County, married Miss Martha S. Crymes, a native of the same county. He, with his wife, returned to Kentucky a short time afterwards, and settled down to farming in the neighborhood of his father. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell have been born six children: William, Mary, Emma, Ada, Alva and another that died in infancy. Of this number only three are living, William, Emma and Alva. Mr. Blackwell followed farming up to 1855, when he moved into the town and formed a co-partnership with James E. Ricketts, under the firm name of Ricketts & Blackwell, and embarked in the private banking business in a small frame building that stood then near where George Lyne & Son's drug store now stands. At that time the Farmers' Bank was doing business in the building now occupied by the First National, and were building for a banking house the house now owned by the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Elm and Second Cross streets. Upon the completion of this house, the books, furniture and funds of the bank were removed to the new building, and Ricketts & Blackwell, by purchase of Dr. Owen Glass, became the purchasers of the house vacated by the Farmers' Bank. In this house the firm conducted a lucrative business up to 1862, when the subject of this sketch read in the war clouds wreck and ruin to all business located on the south side of the Ohio, and immediately sold his interest in the bank to Ricketts, who continued the business a few years, and died. Mr. Blackwell then purchased a farm, and operated it for six or seven years, though he never surrendered his citizenship in the town. In 1869, when his eldest son, William, had arrived at an age to justify him, he opened in Henderson a produce house, and was three years engaged in this business, and at the end of that time he sold his interest to Thomas S. Knight. Since that time he and his son have been largely engaged in the hardware and agricultural business, carrying at all seasons a very extensive and varied stock, and enjoying, as they deserve to enjoy, a very large and prosperous patronage. Mr. Blackwell has traveled in all of the principal States of the Union, not alone for pleasure, but with an eye to business, and in this his experience has amply rewarded him. In politics, he is a Democrat of the purest ray serene--a Jacksonian; in religous faith, a Christadelphian, or better known as a Thomasite. He is perhaps better known as an influential, enthusiastic member abroad, than any other one of the county whose name appears upon the church roll. Mr. Blackwell was never an office-seeker, yet he has been called upon to serve his constituents in more official positions than one. He served his district as Magistrate during the year 1860, and his town as Police Judge during the years 1861 and '62. He has held a commission as Notary Public for a number of years, and in every position has given unqualified satisfaction. he has often been called upon to take charge of estates and trust funds, and wherever he chose to be obliging, he has discharged his duties with marked ability--notably the estate of James E. Ricketts, which occupied a great range and required executive and business ability of undoubted skill. Judge Blackwell has never enjoyed perfect health, far from it, his life has been shadowed by a harrassing disease that has kept him continuously in remembrance of it. Yet, notwithstanding this fact, he has applied himself with such intelligence and such energy as his diseased frame would admit of, that he has acquired a handsome competency, enough to enable him to take front rank among the commercial men of his city. He enjoys a handsome, quiet home and takes the world as a philosopher should.


The History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Starling 1887 page 664-67;

Return to the Henderson County KyGenWeb Home Page