Obituary of Jacob Beeson Blair

Parkersburg Daily State Journal
February 13, 1901

Famous Man in the Early Days of West Virginia,

Was Judge Beese Blair, Who Has Passed Away.

The news of the death of Judge "Beese" Blair, as he was familiarly called by the oldest citizens, was received here yesterday by Mrs. Holmes H. Moss, who is a daughter of the deceased. His death occurred at his home at Salt Lake City, Utah, and was rather sudden. He had been ill for several days with the grip, but was not thought to be in any danger. The disease, however, affected his heart, and he expired suddenly yesterday. His remains will be buried at Salt Lake City, as that was his own request. Besides Mrs. Moss, he has another daughter residing at Dayton, Ohio.

Jacob Beeson Blair.

Some of the men who did most to establish the new State of West Virginia, transferred their energies to other promising sections of the National Commonwealth. Among these was Hon. Jacob B. Blair, once a representative of Virginia and of West Virginia in State and National councils, and for three full terms an associate justice of the growing territory of Wyoming, and later surveyor general of Utah.

Jacob B. Blair was born at Parkersburg, Wood county, Virginia, April 11, 1821. He had the benefit of a common school education, studied law and was admitted to the bar of that county in 1844. At the time he was admitted to practice the list of lawyers in that vicinity included a good many prominent attorneys, and it required shrewdness and force, as well as industry and close application in a beginner to establish himself in the profession; but young Blair had the qualifications which insure success, and pushed himself steadily forward. He extended his acquaintance and reputation in neighboring counties, and at the beginning of the civil war was generally favorably known throughout his congressional district. He was a Union man, pronounced and positive, and threw his whole weight and influence into the movement to prevent the western section of Virginia from being carried into secession and rebellion. When Hon. John S. Carlisle resigned his seat in the Thirty-Seventh Congress from that district, Judge Blair was chosen to fill the vacancy, in 1861, and was subsequently re-elected to the Thirty-eighth Congress in 1863.

During his service in Congress, the bill to admit West Virginia into the Union was passed by Congress, and it is not giving undue credit to say that no one contributed more efficient aid to its passage than Judge Blair. When, after a hard-fought battle in the two houses of Congress, the victory was won by the friends of the new State, the fate of the ? in the hands of the President was thought to be threatened with an adverse decision, and again Judge Blair brought every power of his earnest and patriotic nature into active use to dispel from the executive mind the doubts as to the constitutionality of ? which some me[m]bers of the cabinet would have implanted there. Fortunately for West Virginia, Mr. Lincoln inclined to the views advocated by the friends of the bill, and, on the 1st day of January, 1863, he gave Judge Blair the notice of his approval of it, as a New Year's gift to the new commonwealth.

At the close of his congressional service, Judge Blair was elected a member of the Legislature of West Virginia from Wood county; and in 1868 was appointed minister resident to Costa Rica, remaining in the diplomatic service of the government until 1872. In that year he was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court of Wyoming territory, and, by successive appointments, he served continuously and acceptably in that position until the change of administration under Mr. Cleveland.

Judge Blair's residence was Salt Lake City, and although he retained a warm interest in the new commonwealth he helped create, he was an enthusiastic admirer of that vigorous and prosperous section of the West, with which he was identified.

Judge Blair was surveyor general of Utah at the time of his death.