GEORGE BLISH, written by Nancy Prevost
George Blish, the son of Joseph and Mehitable (Freeman) Blish, was born 5 May 1816 at Pittston, Lincoln Co., Maine.
attended school there to the age of ten, at which time his
parents moved to the town of Bath.
Two years later they "broke up housekeeping," his
father going to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and his
mother returning with the children temporarily to Sandwich, Massachusetts.
Exactly what went wrong with his
parents' relationship is extremely hazy in available family accounts.
They apparently did not divorce; certainly neither remarried.
There are references to the two of them in some accounts that indicates that they were still a "couple" many years later, yet at the same time they seem to have led separate lives from that point on.
According to one source, about 1837 George
and his parents, along with his brother Joseph (his sister Henrietta having married and established her home elsewhere), moved to a place called Gasconade, at that time in St. Louis County, Missouri.
, meanwhile, had made the acquaintance of a young lady named Irene YOUNG.
was the daughter of a local millwright, Elam Young, and his
wife Irene (Eaton), born 10 Aug. 1818 at Williamsburg, in Clermont County, Ohio.
The two were married on 31 May 1838 at Gasconade.
They lived on a farm there near her
parents for several years, and started their own family.
In the early 1840's, George
worked at a Mr. Hawn's flour mill, and about 1843 went to Pin Oak to help run his father's mill.
That summer Irene's sister Martha and her
husband Harman HUSBAND came to visit for three weeks, and when they went on to see the Elam Young family, forty miles away, George
went with them to try to find another place to settle.
Soon after his
arrival at Gasconade, George
came down with cholera.
They arrived for a visit back at Pin Oak, and when George
finally returned, they all decided to move to Illinois, probably in hopes of a more healthful climate.
It was already September by then, and Mehitable chose to spend the winter in St. Louis with her
daughter Henrietta SISSON, and wait until spring to make the journey.
rented a farm nearby, where they resided for a year and three months.
In 1847 he
pre-empted 40 acres of prairie land and ten acres of timber about a mile apart in the vicinity of Indian Creek, a small town near Earlville.
rented in the area while building a home, and after about a year moved into his
When word came of the discovery of gold in California, George
had to go and try his
Accounts date his
first trip west as beginning in the spring of 1849, but it was probably spring 1850 instead.
The farm was rented out and Irene's brother Orson Young came out from Ohio to get her
and the kids.
was gone from home for two years.
That fall, money arrived from George
so they could go back home to Illinois.
arrived home in May.
put in corn and a garden, acquired 40 more acres of land to the north, and set out 100 apple trees.
In October of 1852, he
paid $150 to the county sheriff to redeem some land held jointly by himself, his
brother Joseph, and a third party, that was apparently sold either to or for the trustees of the school in the local township, possibly in lieu of unpaid taxes.
The following year he
sold off everything including a span of fillies, and headed with his
wife and children for Oregon.
Possibly because of the Young family's experiences on the Oregon Trail and their later tragic encounter with the Cayuse Indians at the Whitman Mission, George
family west by the water route.
In September 1853, they went by train first to Chicago and then on to New York, where they boarded for a week.
While they were there, their five-year-old son Preston, who was deaf, was hit by a delivery wagon that he
could not hear, being knocked down and then kicked in the abdomen by a horse.
was at first senseless, and quite sick, but recovered after a few days.
family at a hotel, George
went on to the Young farm, returning the next evening with Irene's brother Daniel driving an ox-team.
The set off the next morning for the Tualatin Plains, arriving just before dark.
There they stayed with the Young family over the winter.
In the spring of 1854 George
located a claim near the West Union church, and in March the family moved into a one-room house there.
That fall he
bought the Lennox place a mile away, settling it as a donation claim (Oregon City claim #3413) on 10 November 1854.
and Irene had four more children born in Oregon, and stayed put in Washington County for a little over 25 years.
After Irene's death on 5 April 1888, George
returned to Oregon for a time, living until 1891 among his
children who had remained in Washington County.
That year he
went to stay with the family of his
daughter Martha DAHLGREN at Tekoa, in Whitman County, Washington, and later lived with another daughter, Sarah QUIGLEY, near Diamond, also in Whitman County.
died at Diamond on 3 Dec. 1905, and was buried beside his
wife in the cemetery at St. John, Washington.
By faith, George Blish was a Baptist, having joined the church in Missouri in 1844.
In Oregon, he was a "helpful worker" in the old pioneer church at West Union, Washington County.
It is said that no matter how great his
pain in his
last years, he
always had a pleasant word and smile for all.