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.
want to live to be a hundred, do a little of everything, enjoy
yourself as you go along, refuse to allow life to become
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
and article from the Monroe County Appeal dated 1947.
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.
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.