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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM C. BLACKBURN, deceased, whose active and successful business career was one of marked enterprise, wherein his reliable methods contributed in a large measure to his prosperity, was a man of keen discrimination, sound judgment and executive ability. He was born July 7, 1842, in Lower Salford, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, a son of Alexander and Susan (Custer) Blackburn.

Alexander Blackburn (father) was a native of England, but at an early age came to the United States and settled in the state of Pennsylvania, in Montgomery county, where he followed farming as an occupation. He married Susan Custer, who was of German descent, and three children were the issue of this union: William C., mentioned at length hereinafter; David, who married and located in Skippack township, where he died, leaving a family of eight children, namely: Jennie, George, Dillman, Alexander, Eunice, John, Samuel and William; Catherine, who became the wife of John G. Tyson, and their surviving children are as follows: Abner, Frank, Harry, Perry, Robert, Catherine and Susan. After the death of Alexander Blackburn his widow became the wife of Dillman Godshall, and the issue of this marriage was one son, Dillman Godshall, Jr.

After the death of his father William C. Blackburn was placed in the family of Daniel Cassel, of Lower Salford township, where he was reared to habits of industry which served him well in his active and useful life, and where he remained until he attained the age of twenty-one years. He then learned the blacksmith trade, which he followed at Telford, and after his marriage he removed to Collegeville, where he was for some time employed as foreman of a gang of workmen on the Perkiomen Railroad. After a residence of a few years there he removed to Norristown, where he engaged in the employment of hostler at the Veranda House. Later he removed to Philadelphia, purchased the Sorrel Horse Hotel, of which he was the proprietor for a few years, and after disposing of that hostlery he returned to Norristown. He then purchased the hotel at Centre Square, which he conducted successfully for about four years, and in addition to this he also owned and conducted the hardware store at the same place. After disposing of the hotel he purchased the tract of land upon which now stands Coleman Seminary, at Centre Square, and for a number of years successfully conducted agricultural pursuits thereon.

Mr. Blackburn exchanged the farm for the Hartranft House on Main street, Norristown, near the station, which he conducted five years and then sold at an advantageous price. He then purchased the Farmers’ Hotel, an old stand at the corner of Barbadoes and Main streets, Norristown, and after disposing of this purchased the Montgomery House, now the Hotel Montgomery, but disposed of it before he had taken possession. Mr. Blackburn then lived retired for a short period of time, but being too active a man to be long in a condition of comparative idleness, he again resumed business, purchasing the North Wales Hotel, but after operating this for one year he sold it and purchased the Hotel Ambler. He expended a large amount of money in building additions and thoroughly remodeling the establishment, adding all necessary improvements, and thus making it modern and up-to-date in every respect. It is one of the best appointed and substantially equipped hotels in Montgomery county, and is made of stone, four stories in height, with basement and wide halls. Its forty rooms are well furnished, its porches are ample, its conveniences complete in all parts of the building, its cuisine is perfect, and in general it is one of the most attractive establishments for the entertainment of the traveling public throughout the state or country. Mr. Blackburn conducted the Hotel Ambler for seven years, and during this time became well known in the community, winning and retaining the confidence and respect of all with whom he had dealings, either as host or employer. He was a self-made man in every sense of the word, was an excellent financier, and in all his enterprises never met with losses. The hotels which he handled in the course of his career were disposed of at an advantage, and it was a matter of wonderment to all familiar with the circumstances how their value appreciated in his hands. He served as township committeeman, but never aspired to political office, preferring to devote his time and attention to his extensive business interests. His influence was always exerted in behalf of the progress and prosperity of the locality in which he lived. In politics Mr. Blackburn was an active and enthusiastic Republican, not only contributing his efforts but spending his means in behalf of the party principles.

Mr. Blackburn married Catherine Fried Hunsberger, who was born in Telford, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, September 11, 1838, a daughter of Henry and Lena (Fried) Hunsberger, the former named having been a prominent farmer of that vicinity, well known and highly respected, and a representative of an old family of German descent. The children of Henry and Lena Hunsberger are as follows: Sophia (Mrs. John Keller); Catherine F. (Mrs. William C. Blackburn); Susan, unmarried; Moses, deceased; Levi, deceased; Jacob, who died in early life; and Lydia (Mrs. Henry Grubb). One child was born to William C. and Catherine F. Blackburn, Irvin H., mentioned at length hereinafter. Mr. Blackburn lost his life September 2, 1900,in a railroad wreck at Hatfield, due to a collision between the passenger train in which he was seated and the milk train which was standing on the track that should have been clear at that time for the passing of the express train. He is survived by his widow, who resides at No. 826 West Marshall street, Norristown. She is a member of the German Baptist church, in which Mr. Blackburn also held membership.

Irvin H. Blackburn was born in Telford, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, June 6, 1863. He was reared mostly in the hotels which his father operated, assisting him as he was capable. He received a good public school education, after which he learned the bookbinding trade, and was thus employed two years in all. After his marriage he located at the Centre Square Hotel, then owned and operated by his father, and when the latter removed to Ambler he went also, and on the death of his father, September 2, 1900, took sole charge of the hotel and has since remained there, devoting all his attention to the business, which has greatly prospered under his management, and has well maintained its reputation as a first-class inn. Mr. Blackburn is an adherent of the principles of Republicanism, but has never sought or held political office. He has served in the capacity of Republican committeeman. He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Ancient Order of Knights of the Mystic Chain, the Improved Order of Red Men, the Foresters of America, and the Knights of the Royal Arch.

Irvin H. Blackburn married, November 8, 1883, Elizabeth White, and the issue of this union was as follows: Katie, born March 9, 1885; Susie M., born February 24, 1887; William, born March 12, 1888, died October 6, 1890; Irvin B., born September 22, 1892, died in infancy; and Elsie, born May 9, 1897. Mrs. Blackburn is a Baptist in religious faith.

Mrs. Irvin H. Blackburn is a daughter of Thomas T. and Isabella E. (DeHaven) White, and their children were: Henry, a butcher in Norristown; Elizabeth, aforementioned as the wife of Irvin H. Blackburn; Daniel H., a contractor and bricklayer of Norristown, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work; Emma, who died in early life; Horace, also a bricklayer, and assists his brother Daniel; Virginia, who died in early life; Laura M. (Mrs. E. Ramsey); and Mary E., who died in early life. The mother of these children is a Methodist in religious faith. Thomas T. White was a son of Jacob White, a native of Scotland, who emigrated to America and settled in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania. He was a well known citizen, and a member of the Baptist church. The children of Jacob White are as follows: Thomas T., father of Mrs. Blackburn; Jacob, Charles, Daniel, George, Samuel, Martin, Mary (Mrs. Rex M. Jones), and Emma (Mrs. Emanuel Sweed). Thomas T. White, father of Mrs. Blackburn, resided in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, and was a prominent contractor and builder of Plymouth township. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity at Norristown. He died February 23, 1870, at the age of forty-one years. His wife survives him and resides in Norristown. She is a daughter of David and Catharine (Hallman) DeHaven. The ancestors of the DeHavens were among the colonial pioneers of Montgomery county, and Isaac DeHaven and others of the family rendered great assistance to the cause of independence during the Revolutionary war. Isaac DeHaven, father of David DeHaven, was a member of the Episcopal church. David DeHaven, his only child, was a school teacher by profession, which line of work he followed for many years. His wife Catharine (Hallman) DeHaven, died about middle age, after which he went west and never returned. Both he and his wife were members of the Mennonite church. Their children were: Isabella E., mother of Mrs. Blackburn; and Isaac, an employee of a rolling mill. The Hallman family, to which his wife belonged, were old settlers in Montgomery county, of German descent. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Hallman were as follows: Susan (Mrs. Swanson), Catharine (Mrs. DeHaven), and Henry Hallman.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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