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History of the Blankenships in Battle Creek Michigan
[Randi Maston Richardson, in Blankenship News and Notes, July 2001]
James Montague Blankenship, the son of Thomas and Nancy Jane "Jenny" (Shoemaker) Blankenship, was born in Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Virginia, on June 18 1872. He married Minnie Alice Huber, daughter of Sylvanus Everett and Louisa (Neier) Huber, on February 9, 1896, in Jasper County, Indiana.
They spent a majority of their lives in Jasper and Newton counties. Together they raised eleven children.
James worked primarily as a tenant farmer working someone else's land for a share of the profits. After becoming a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA), he also sold bibles and religious books dor to door and held various offices within the church. James and Minnie Blankenship were devoted members of the Church first organized in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The Depression years were devastating for the Blankenships. In an effort to help the boys establish their careers, James co-signed several loans. Twice the boys defaulted, and James lost everything except the household goods.
After the second loss, Ruth the youngest child, borrowed a car and moved James and Minnie to Battle Creek. Five of her brothers were already living there.
Battle Creek was attractive to the Blankenships for several reasons. Ellen G White, the founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, made her home there for many years and established several important institutions such as schools, churches, and the sanitarium.
Ivan was the first to locate in Battle Creek. He graduated from nursing school at Lafayette, Indiana, in the early 1930s and soon afterward went to work at the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Everett came next. He worked only briefly at the San before taking a position as a maintenance man at a hospital in nearby Paw Paw.
Ted followed Everett. He worked at a hamburger stand. Maybe even owned it. He married Alene and started a family.
Ray followed Ivan, Everett, and Ted. He, too, worked only briiefly at the San. As the story goes, while on the job he wrote his name in some wet cement and soon after was looking for other employment. Eventually, he owned several service stations in Battle Creek.
Jess was the last of the brothers to locate in Battle Creek. He worked for Ray at the service stations.
So when James and Minnie finally arrived in Battle Creek with Ruth about 1940, they must have felt like they were home again. Not only were six of their eleven children in Battle Creek, but several of the boys had married and grandchildren were calling Battle Creek home as well.
Initially, James and Minnie lived with Ruth in a small home near Ivan. It was their first home to have electricity. Later the three moved to a two-story home at 41 Kelly Street. Ruth worked two jobs to support the family.
Ruth married several years later and moved to Indianapolis. At that time, Ray and Elaine moved into the home on Kelly Street to help care for Minnie who was by then in failing health. About 1947 they moved to Ruth's home.
Through the years the Blankenships left many descendants in Battle Creek, including a few grandchildren who were born in neighboring states. And finally James and Minnie returned as well.
Minnie died in 1948 and was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, the same cemetery where Ellen G White was buried. James was laid to rest beside her in 1957.
Stories My Mother Told Me
[the stories noted below were told to Randi Maston Richardon by Ruth Blankenship Maston in August, 2000]
James and Minnie:
One day when my dad was gone, the preacher came by our house on his way back to Chicago. My mother fixed dinner for him, and he sat in my father's chair. When my mom sid the blessing, she reached out to ut her hand on my father's knww as she usually did. But it was the preacher' knee. And she was very embarrassed!
When Everett was a student at Indiana Academy in Cicero, he had a fight with the devil. It happened like this:
Something woke him up in the night. He went out a door that was supposed to be locked. He went under an oak tree. The devil was there, and Everett began to argue with him. He fought to keep alive all night.
The next morning he went back inside and was asked where he had been. He said he fought with the devil. No one believed him so he said, "Come on out and look under the tree." They followed him outside and he showed them. Then everyone believed. (I heard this story many times growing up. I have to wonder if it was an older brother's tale to intrigue an younger sister. You decide...... from Randi Maston Richardson)
Before Everett was married, he was engaged to a girl. She gave him a pocket watch.
Sometime after the engagement, Everett hurt his hand. I don't know how. He went to the hospital, but his little finger never healed right. Soon afterward, his fiance broke up with him.
On the day that Everett and his girl were supposed to be married, she married someone else. Everett gave the watch to my dad. He didn't want any reminders of the girl. (Note: This watch has since been passed down to me by my mother)
Clarence was in World War 1, but he didn't go overseas. When it was time for him to come home, he was given a horse. The horse was named Sam.
The horse was very stubborn. Sometimes when Clarence wanted to go, the horse wouldn't budge. One day when the horse wouldn't go Clarence bit him on the ear. Afterwards, he didn't have any problems with that horse.
Orv worked for the WPA in Terre Haute where he lived. One day he fell on a branch and punctured his bladder.
Orv went to the Catholic hospital. The nuns there called Mom in Battle Creek and told her Orv was dying. She and Daddy went down to see Orv.
Meantime, Orv remembered when he and Mom were sick with pneumonia some years before they were given hot and cold fomentations. So he took the pitcher of ice water beside his bed and put that on his stomach. After a while, he felt much better. The nuns said that was the only thing that saved him.
Mom and Dad were there about a month. While they were there our landlord sold the house where we had been living, and we had to move. I move everything myself. We lived at the new place about one before we moved to 41 Kelly Street.