John S. Blue Turns 100


John S. Blue of Florida Turns 100


John BLUE, probably the only living Monroe Countian who recalls the period during which Mark Twain was a young man, is shown at Florida in the above photo against a background of the statue of the famous Monroe County humorist. In the background is the Baker house in which General U. S. Grant made his headquarters during his first campaign of the Civil War, an instance which Mr. Blue vividly recalls. The photo was taken by Rev. Carl Hewlett of Paris last Saturday, two days before Mr. Blue reached his 100th birthday.

“If you want to live to be a hundred, do a little of everything, enjoy yourself as you go along, refuse to allow life to become monotonous.”

That’s the life prescription of John S. Blue of Florida, and he should have some pretty good ideas on the subject, because he was 100 years old on Monday. For a century he has followed his own advice. His diverse activities have included both chewing and smoking tobacco, and he admits that he wouldn’t be averse to a little nip now and them. 

Just to demonstrate that a man needn’t become old because a hundred years have passed, Saturday morning after breakfast at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W. S. Walton near Victor, Mr. Blue started hitch-hiking the five miles toward Florida, where he goes each Saturday for a shave. Usually someone takes him in a car, but that morning he refused to wait and took off afoot before the Waltons missed him from the house. A neighbor came along in a car before he had walked far and carried him on to his barber shop rendezvous.

Mr. Blue was born near Woodin’s Mill, which once stood east of Florida near Joanna. His father, a Union soldier, was killed in the early days of the Civil War and Mr. Blue, the eldest of the family, took over the bread winning job. He has spent his life as a farmer and carpenter, and with the exception of a short time at Chillicothe, all of it in the Florida vicinity. For 52 years he lived in Florida. For 17 years, since the death of his wife, he kept house for himself most of the time. Last year he was finally persuaded to give up his home and housekeeping activities and go live with his daughter, Mrs. Walton, near Victor.

He reads without glasses, hears as well as a teen-ager, is a spry walker, although admitting that he tires more readily than he once did. The only thing that bothers him is that his appetite isn’t as good as it once was, and he has to watch his diet.

He is one of the few men who remembers having seen Mark Twain where he visited relatives at Florida, his birthplace. He is also one of the few men living who recall when General Ulysses S. Grant, then a lieutenant* in the Illinois infantry, made his first Civil War campaign. Grant was sent to Florida with a detachment of troops, to capture Confederates camped there. Mr. Blue recalls that the Union men camped on the North Side of North Fork at Florida, then came on into the village, where Grant made his headquarters in the house now occupied by Mrs. Baker.

Among the most vivid of Mr. Blue’s recollections are those of the village of Florida, in the days when it was larger than Paris, had a newspaper, the Florida Democrat, boasted of two flour mills, a wagon factory, a furniture factory and numerous other industries. It was a booming town when he was a youngster, and the metropolis of the county, standing between its two rivers up which much small traffic came. Now the industries are gone, the town has shrunk to a population of 100, and the shoaling streams have eliminated all river traffic.

Mr. Blue has three children, Mrs. Walton, John David Blue and Oscar Blue. At the WALTON home Sunday, a family gathering and dinner were held in honor of the 100th birthday.

Source: Photo and article from the Monroe County Appeal dated 1947.

*Submitter’s correction: The article refers to Grant as a "Lieutenant" but this is incorrect.  He was a Colonel when he was in Florida in early July 1861.  Grant was not yet a General when he made his headquarters in the Dr. Goodier house, later to known as the Baker house.  Grant was appointed brigadier general on 31 Jul 1861 while he was in Ironton, Missouri.


Submitter’s note: The second sentence of the article referenced the Baker house, which belonged to my Great Grandmother Salina Meranda Baker at the time the picture was taken.  She lived there from 1912 until her death in 1947.  It was owned by three of her grandchildren until 2005.  Sadly, nothing remains of the house today but the chimney.  The house was owned by Dr. James Goodier when Grant made his headquarters there.