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100 Years Ago

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John Blake

The first plat of Sidney was filed on February 24, 1820, and with the county recorder on April 18, 1820. David Henry, Director of Sidney, hired Benjamin Cox, a surveyor, to lay out the town in 113 lots. One of the first lots was purchased at an auction by John Blake. John, a wealthy man originally from Yorkshire, England, wanted to start a new life in Sidney. In March, 1820, he moved his family from Piqua and lived in a structure built by Richard Cannon on what had been Charles Starrett’s property. At the auction, Blake bought Lot No. 49, north of the Shelby County Courthouse on Poplar Street, for $125.

With the help of two carpenters, (Thomas English and Elisha Montaney), Blake built his house, the first ‘official’ building in Sidney. It was completed in the summer of 1820. This lot is now home to Furniture Express (formerly Uhlman’s Department Store). When finished, Blake’s home was said to be "the finest house within half a day’s travel." He also kept a store and tavern in another building they constructed on the property.

In 1826, John was robbed and murdered in Kentucky, on his way back home after transporting and selling his horses in South Carolina. Because of this loss, his family was forced to sell their property to John Carey who purchased the lot and building in 1831. Carey made several improvements to the structure, hanging out a shingle which informed the "weary traveler that the place was a hotel." The National Hotel rented rooms at $1.25 per week.

'Immigration' segment written in November, 1997 by David Lodge


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