The Blair brothers

Although more people today remember the four Blair sisters (Ada, Emma, Martha and Eva), in many ways the three Blair brothers are even more remarkable. While most of the Blairs were involved in education early in their lives, the three brothers went on to important positions in public office and contributed mightily to the lives of their fellow citizens.

William Allen Blair

William Allen Blair (1859-1948) was educated at Guilford, then went to Haverford College where he was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa. He then went to Harvard where he earned a second BA, and did graduate work at Johns Hopkins and Duke. He also studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1894. While his other siblings remained Quakers, he became a Moravian and was active in that church for the rest of his life.

He was a principal at high schools in High Point and Winston-Salem, and then changed from teaching to banking, and became president of the People’s National Bank of Winston-Salem. He also became half-owner of the High Point Enterprise, part-owner of the Pepsi-Cola Company of Winston-Salem and owner of two mines.

In 1891 he was he was appointed by Governor Thomas Holt to the North Carolina Board of Charities and Public Welfare. He became chairman in 1904 and held that position until his death in 1948. During that period, the board encouraged and organized the creation of county welfare boards throughout the state, encouraged the hiring of trained social workers.

John Jay Blair

John Jay Blair (1860-1937) was educated at Guilford and Haverford, where me made friends, including his classmate, Rufus M. Jones, one of the most famous Quaker theologians of the 20th century.
John Jay Blair taught in High Pont and Winston-Salem, then served as Superintendent of Schools in Winston-Salem and Wilmington. Later on, he served as professor at the state Normal School, and was appointed by the governor to help design public schools in North Carolina.

Here at Springfield, John Jay Blair is remembered as the moving force behind the construction of our “new” meetinghouse in 1927, and as the founder and organizer of the Museum of Old Domestic Life.

David Hunt Blair

David Hunt Blair (1868-1944), the youngest son, was the twin brother of Martha Blair. Like his brothers, he studied at Guilford and Haverford, then studied law at the University of North Carolina.

A judge said, “without display, browbeating of witnesses or abuse of defendant or opposing attorney, he presented, in plain, but sometimes eloquent language, his carefully prepared cases, and so impressed judge and jury with his fairness, honesty and square shooting that he gained their confidence and won his suit.”

In 1921, he was appointed Commissioner of the United States Internal Revenue Service, where he served for 8 years. He was responsible for enforcing Prohibition, clarified and simplified the federal income tax, and instituted many other reforms. He ran for Congress in 1910 and turned down an offer to run for the Senate in 1930.

When the new meetinghouse was built in 1927, he and his wife Adele donated the money for the pews in memory of his parents, Solomon and Abigail Hunt Blair. He remained deeply interested in the Blair family farm in High Point, and stayed abreast of all of the improvements and latest practices in agriculture.

This entry was posted in Springfield History. Bookmark the permalink.