Mr. Blakslee is of Scotch antecedents, his parents being Zopher and Abigail Taylor Blakslee, who resided in Susquehanna County, Pa., though the former was a native of Vermont.  Among their ten children was James I., born Feb. 10, 1815 in Susquehanna County, where his youth until eighteen was spent upon the farm of his father, amid the varied employments of a farmer’s son, alternating with periods at the neighboring country school.  In 1833 he removed with his brother-in-law, Asa Packer, to Mauch Chunk, and devoted the first two years to the occupation of a boatman on the Lehigh Canal.  The four years following were spent as clerk in a country store, after which, in 1839, he engaged in the mining and shipping of coal in Schuylkill County.  Returning again to Mauch Chunk in 1844, from that date until the beginning of the construction of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, in 1851, Mr. Blakslee was engaged in the preparation and shipping of coal from the Nesquehoning mines, worked by Messrs. Mapes, Packer and Harlan, under contract with the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company.  He also superintended the building of what is known as “Stone Row,” in Mauch Chunk, and “Packer’s Corner,” a building occupied by Judge Packer previous to the erection of the mansion where he subsequently resided, and where his death occurred.


Mr. Blakslee assisted in the construction of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and was conductor of the first coal-train that ran over the road, subsequently acting as conductor for eight years of a passenger train on the same road.  In the spring of 1863 he was made superintendent of the Mahanoy Division of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which position he still holds.  In 1871 he was elected and still officiates as president of the Montrose Railroad, extending from Tunkhannock, Wyoming Co., to Montrose, Susquehanna Co., the construction of which he personally superintended.  He was in 1878 elected a director of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and has been for years a member of the executive committee of its board of directors.  Mr. Blakslee during much of his life has been identified with important business enterprises, which have not, however, so absorbed his attention as to make him indifferent to the prosperity of his home.  He has manifested reasonable public spirit in his sympathy with the interests of Mauch Chunk, and, as a trustee of Lehigh University, exerts his influence in favor of education.  He is also a trustee of the estate of the late Asa Packer, having been appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of H. E. Packer.  He is in politics a Democrat, and though indifferent to official honors, was in 1851 elected treasurer of Carbon County.  He is in his religious faith an Episcopalian, and has been since 1846 a vestryman at St. Mark’s Protestant Episcopal Church, and also a member of the standing committee of the diocese.  Mr. Blakslee was married in April, 1838, to Caroline, daughter of Charles Ashley, of Grant County, Wis., and formerly of Susquehanna County, Pa.








The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,


Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford

Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884

Page 708


Transcribed from the original in March, 2003


Jack Sterling


Web page by

Jack Sterling

March 2003