NEHEMIAH BLANCHARD (1774-1848)
Nehemiah Blanchard was born on October 18, 1774, in Wilton, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. He was the seventh of nine children of David and Margaret Dolliver Blanchard.
(The October 18th birth date is from an official copy of Nehemiah’s birth certificate. His date of birth on his monument in Annis Cemetery in Albion reads October 16, 1774, and Orleans County Vital Statistics 1847-1850 also has his birth date as October 16th.)
Nothing is known of Nehemiah’s childhood or teenage years.
In March 1797 Nehemiah sold some property in Bradford, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. He would have only been 22 years old at the time. It seems a little unusual that he would have been a property owner at that young age. He evidently was living in Bradford (also known as New Bradford) when he got married in 1797.
On April 10, 1797, Nehemiah married Sally Dinsmore in Washington, Sullivan County, New Hampshire. (Sally Dinsmore has also been seen as Sarah Densmore. On their marriage certificate she is Sally Dinsmore. And she’s listed as “Sally” on the birth certificate of her son Cummings. But another of her sons was named Densmore, and her name as it appears on her gravestone is Sarah Densmore.)
When they married Nehemiah was still 22 years old and Sally was 18. Sally was born in Littleton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. They lived in Washington from 1797 to around 1810.
By trade Nehemiah was a shoemaker. Over the course of the next 28 years of their marriage, Nehemiah and Sarah had thirteen children. Their children were:
Cummings, born on September 18, 1797
Chandler, born on 19 September, 1800
Harbard, born on December 10, 1802
Willard, born on October 18, 1804
Julia Ann, born on December 6, 1806
Livonia, born on December 21, 1808
Lewis, born on November 22, 1810
Almond, born on January 25, 1813
William, born on September 23, 1814
Densmore, born on August 10, 1817 (died at thirteen months of age)
Orrin, born on June 13, 1819
Ira, born on September 18, 1821
Albert, born on January 8, 1825 (died at eight months of age)
Nehemiah and Sally’s first four children were born in Washington. It is not currently known where the next two children, Julia Ann and Livonia, were born, but the next one, Lewis, was born in Riga, Genesee County, New York, in November 1810. (Genesee County encompassed a large section of western New York at that time.) Nehemiah evidently caught the homesteading bug and had moved his family out to western New York State by 1810. He would have been around 36 years old at the time. The rest of their children were born in New York State.
In the 1790s the Holland Land Company, a group of Dutch bankers, purchased millions of acres of land in central and western New York State, and they sold parcels to homestead-seeking settlers, most of whom came from New England. These settlers traveled either by boat along the south shore of Lake Ontario or on foot, with their teams of horses or oxen. They would cross the Genesee River at Rochester and then take the so-called Ridge Road west.
There are three big east-west ridges that cross through what is now Orleans County, and the middle ridge, which ranges in width from 100 to 300 feet on the top, had always been the great trail through the region. The Seneca Indians, who populated this area before the white settlers came, knew of this trail and used it to get to their hunting grounds. In the early 1790s it was the principal route into Canada, and it became a major supply route to soldiers at Niagara during the War of 1812. When the Holland Land Company built the first road from Batavia to Buffalo, they simply improved the ancient Ridge Road.
Speaking of the War of 1812, that conflict put a damper on the progress of the westward settlement for a while, but after the war ended in 1815, emigration to western New York counties picked up again.
In the 1810 U.S. census, which was taken in August of that year, “Neamiah Blanchard” appears in Riga, Genesee County, New York. That jives with the location of son Lewis’s birth in November of that year.
On April 16, 1816, Nehemiah bought 100 acres of land in the so-called Holland Purchase. His property was described as the north part of Lot 10 in Township 15, Range 1. This area was still in what was then Genesee County. Lands in the Town of Albion were largely apportioned to settlers or purchasers by so-called “articles,” which were negotiable. They were not recorded. Township lines ran east to west and were numbered from the south. Range lines ran north to south and were numbered from the east.
Map of Township 15 Range 1. Lot 10 is second lot from the right, second from the bottom
The 1820 U.S. census shows “Nehimiah Blancher” living in the Town of Barre, Genesee County, New York. Barre is just south of Albion.
In May 1828 Nehemiah “articled” (sold by contract) 75 acres of the 100-acre parcel he had purchased in 1816 to a man named Jacob Annis and he articled the other 25 acres to his son, Willard, on the same date.
In the 1830 U.S. census Nehemiah is listed – with the correct spelling of his name this time – in the Town of Murray, Orleans County, New York. Orleans County was carved out of Genesee County in November 1824. Murray is east of Albion.
In November 1833 the 25 acres of his father’s parcel that Willard got in 1828 was articled to a man named Samuel Bloss in November 1833. In March 1834 Nehemiah bought 25 acres of land in Barre from presumably the same Samuel Bloss and his wife Eliza. He paid $130.67 “in kind” for the land. Maybe Blanchard and Bloss just sort of swapped land.
Nehemiah shows up in the 1840 U.S. census for Barre again, so he and his family obviously moved there after Nehemiah’s 1834 purchase of land there. The census showed that there was one male between the ages of 20 and 30 living with Nehemiah and his wife. This could have been any one of their four living sons born between 1810 and 1830: Lewis, Almond, William or Orrin.
Nehemiah died on September 16, 1848, in Murray at age 73. He is buried at the Annis Cemetery in Albion, New York. His gravesite is marked with a tall four-sided monument.
(Annis Cemetery records show Nehemiah’s death date as September 10, 1848. Ditto for Orleans County Vital Statistics 1847-1850: September 10th.)
Nehemiah’s wife Sally died seven months later on April 16, 1849, in Albion. She was 70. She is also buried in Annis Cemetery. Her name is rendered as Sarah Densmore on the monument.
(A different – but erroneous – lineage for Nehemiah appears in a book called “Portrait and Biographical Record of Muskegon and Ottawa Counties, Michigan,” which was published in 1893. It’s actually a blurb about Orrin D. Blanchard, son of Chandler and Lucy Blanchard. Chandler was Nehemiah’s second son, so Orrin would have been Nehemiah’s grandson. Here’s the quote from the book: “His [Orrin’s] paternal grandfather, Nehemiah Blanchard, was the son of Jeremiah, who belonged to a famous Huguenot family, of French origin. Grandfather Blanchard was born in New Hampshire, and was a soldier in the War of 1812. By trade a shoemaker, and by occupation a farmer, he was thus engaged in Monroe County, N.Y., and later in Genesee County, the same State. His death occurred in Murray, Orleans County, N.Y., September 13, 1848, at the age of seventy-four.” Well, some of that information is correct and some isn’t. To set the record straight, on Nehemiah’s official birth certificate from the state of New Hampshire his father’s name is listed as “David Blanchard” and his mother’s maiden name simply as “Margaret.”)