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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (B)
Blair, Chauncey Buckley


(1810-1891) Born Blandford, MA, and a member of one of the oldest families of that place. His great-grandfather settled there in 1753. They are traced in Scotland as far back as the 12th Century. Early in the 15th century, they migrated from Ayrshire, Scotland, to the north of Ireland, settling in Aghadowey, Co. Antrim, Ulster and came to America about 1718. Third child of Samuel and Hannah (Frary) Blair, born in Blandford MA. In 1814, the family moved to Cortland Co., NY where he remained until he was 11 years old. He then returned to his native town to live with an uncle, a farmer, and was employed on the firm until he had attained his majority. He went back to Cortland Co. and remained there until 1835 when he determined to try his fortunes in the west. Guided only by imperfect maps then furnished by the public land offices, he rode over the vast territory of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois gaining intimate knowledge of the property which he offered for sale until 1837. By the withdrawal of such lands by presidential proclamation, he was obliged to abandon this profitable field. He associated himself with his brother, Lyman in the grain business in Michigan City and they covered a large territory, as Michigan City was then the only shipping point to eastern markets. The firm name was C.G. & L. Blair, and at one time they owned the largest warehouse in Indiana. They also built the first bridge pier on the east side of Lake Michigan and were among the pioneer shippers of grain to the East. He secured a charter to build a plant road for 30 miles to make transportation inland from the lake easier. Notes were issued on the stock of the corp and a banking business was started. He was made President and so first entered the business to which he devoted the remainder of his life. He was one of the incorporators of the Northern Indiana Ry. He secured a controlling interest in the Bank of the State of Indiana, becoming its President. In 1861, he came to Chicago and acquired a n interested in a private bank which he held until 1865. He then organized the Merchant's National Bank of Chicago. He was President of this bank at 36 S. Clark Street for nearly 30 years, and is accorded unanimous credit for having twice saved the financial situation in Chicago, restored public confidence and averted general disaster to its banks and a far-spreading and incalculable financial calamity. At the time of the great fire of 1871, he insisted upon an immediate and full payment to all the depositors of his bank. His action resulted in establishing the credit of Chicago which had been greatly impaired. Because the city was unable to collect the taxes of 1871, 72, 73 and 74, he was one of the few to come to the rescue of the city. During the panic of 1873, when most banks suspended payments, he made a firm stand to pay all demands. The other banks agreed and Chicago passed through the panic without serious harm to Chicago's credit. He married in 1844 Caroline Olivia De Groff, daughter of Amos and Harriet (Sleight) De Groff. Children: George G., William S. (deceased in 1912), Chauncey J., Henry A., Watson A. (prominent Chicago financiers with the Corn Exchange Bank, and Harriet (widow or John J. Borland, Chicago.)He lived at 1611 Michigan avenue.

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