The office of biography is not to give voice to a man's modest estimate of himself and his accomplishments but rather to leave upon the records the verdict regarding his character established by the opinion of his neighbors and fellow citizens. In touching upon the life history of James Blake, a retired farmer of Audubon, Iowa, wholesome enconiums and extravagant praise are avoided. Mr. Blake has led a true, useful and honorable life, a life characterized by perseverance, energy, broad charity and well-defined purpose. He is a well-known citizen of Audubon and has been prominent in the agricultural affairs of this county for nearly thirty-five years and, although he has acquired a competence for his declining years, he is a man of modest and unassuming manners.
James Blake was born on May 24, 1850, in England. He was born on a farm and is the son of James, Sr.. and Jane (Bridge) Blake, the former of whom was born in 1805, and who died in 1889, and the latter died in 1896. James Blake, Sr., was a farmer in England and never came to America. His sons, James, Jr., the subject of this sketch, and Richard, were the only members of the family who came to this country. Richard immigrated to America in 1869, and he now lives in Guthrie Center. James Blake, Jr., came to America in 1870 and for some time traveled over the United States, working at various occupations. He lived for a time in Ohio, for a time in Georgia, and came to Iowa in 1875, where he worked in a brick plant in Stuart. He also farmed while living in Stuart, and during the winter time engaged in mining coal. Mr. Blake came to Audubon county, in the spring of 1877, and located in Melville township. He worked by the month, receiving from twenty to twenty-five dollars each month for his services. This period of his life lasted two years, and subsequently he became foreman on a large ranch.
In 1880 James Blake was married and he then rented part of the large Musson or Brown ranch and here he was situated for two years. In 1882 he moved to the Stuart farm and lived there until 1884, at the end of which time he bought one hundred and sixty acres in Greeley township. This land was wholly unimproved at the time and Mr. Blake purchased it for twelve and one-half dollars an acre. In 1885 he moved to the farm and for the next two years was engaged in putting the land into a good state of cultivation, fencing and draining it and erecting the necessary buildings for successful farming. In 1887 Mr. Blake moved to Dakota and lived there for two years. He rented land for one year after his sojourn in Dakota, in Guthrie county, Iowa. The first year after Mr. Blake's marriage he assisted in the construction of the railroad to Guthrie Center and during the winter he worked on the railroad from Carroll to Manning. It was during the winter of 1881 and 1882 that he was situated on the Musson ranch. Returning from Guthrie county, Iowa, Mr. Blake moved to his own farm, and in the spring of 1909 moved to Audubon. Mr. Blake owns two hundred and forty acres in Greeley township, and has three hundred and twenty acres in South Dakota.
James Blake was married on January 1, 1880, to Rebecca Lois Kinkennon, a native of Madison county, Iowa. Four of the seven children born to Mr. and Mrs. Blake are still living, namely: Minnie married James Nelson, now living in Alberta, Canada; Phoebe Jane, who is the wife of Philip Burkhart, of Guthrie county; Thomas H., who lives in Dickinson county; and James, who is at home. Myrta and two infants are
In politics, Mr. Blake is an ardent Republican, but he has never held office nor has he ever cared to hold office. While he is not a member of any church, the family are liberal supporters and interested in the welfare and progress of all religious denominations.