The Gene Pool: JTR's Colorful Family History


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According to Evelyn D. Gibson's "Blackburn & Allied Descendants" :

s a child, John Blackburn went with his parents to Westmoreland Co., by or before 1773 and was received at Westland Mtg. on the certificate of his parents. He was disowned by that meeting 8-11-1787, after he had married out of unity. In 1790, John and wife, Mary, were listed in the Westmoreland Co. census with one son under age 16.

John initiated a petition 3-10-1794, to settle the estate of his deceased father, Joseph Blackburn. When the estate could not be satisfactorily divided, John arranged to purchase the land and to pay the appraised value of 533 pounds and 4 shillings for the entire 350 acres and 51 perches in North Huntington Twp. Payment was to be made "in manner and portion as required by law to his mother (Deborah) and to the children of his father" in one year, together with interest from the date of sale. The deed for the purchase was signed 6-10-1794 by John Blackburn of North Huntington Twp., and by Thomas Blackburn of the same place, as surety.

A year later, in 1795, John died intestate leaving his young widow, Mary, and four small children. One account of John's death was that he was "accidentally killed in mistake for a deer" but no verification could be found.

Letters of administration in the estate of John Blackburn, deceased, were granted to his widow, Mary, and James McGrew. Because the estate still contained a portion belonging to Joseph Blackburn's heirs, the administrators petitioned the court on 12-15-1795 and received permission to sell 200 acres of the estate to insure the support of the minor children of John, dec'd.

The widow, Mary died in 1796 and letters of administration in her estate were granted 5-3-1796, to James McGrew. The following month the court appointed Simon McGrew and James McGrew as guardians of Joseph, Simon, Martha and Elizabeth, minor children of John Blackburn, deceased, "until they become 14 years of age."

On 6-13-1796, Thomas Blackburn purchased 200 acres of his deceased brother's estate for 350 pounds.

James McGrew withdrew from his guardianship 6-10-1800 and on 9-2-1801, Deborah Blackburn, mother of John, deceased, petitioned the court for another guardian to assist Simon McGrew in the guardianship of her minor grandchildren. The court appointed Elijah Newlin, of North Huntington Twp. as the other guardian.

By petition 6-21-1802, Joseph, son of John Blackburn late of North Huntington Twp., then above 14 years of age, chose Simon McGrew as his guardian until 21 years of age.

By similar petition Sept. 1805, Simon, son of John, chose Simon McGrew as his guardian until 21 years of age.

By petition Dec. 1809, Elizabeth, daughter of John, also chose Simon McGrew as her guardian until 21 years of age.

The names of the guardians together with the names of the children involved, suggests the likely probability that their mother wes Mary McGrew, and that she was probably a daughter of Simon and Martha (McKnight) McGrew, and the guardian chosen by all three children was their grandfather, Simon McGrew.

Simon McGrew died in 1812, and there was no mention of a daughter, Mary, in his will, but Mary died 11 years before Simon McGrew wrote his will, and he would have been aware that her children had been provided for by her deceased husband's estate.

Further evidence of the McGrew relationship is evidenced in the Orphans' Court records in 1832, naming James B. McGrew as guardian of two of the children of Simon Blackburn (#184), after the death of Simon's wife in 1831.

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