Amanda Schooley Blair

Amanda Schooley was born in 1842, the middle of 8 children to Ezra and Nancy Schooley of upstate New York. Amanda was a cousin to the family of William H. Seward, U.S. Secretary of State in the administration of Abraham Lincoln, and was a frequent inhabitant of the Seward household as the companion to their young daughter, Fanny Seward. In 1850, Amanda’s father, Ezra, left NY in pursuit of gold in California. He died just 10-miles outside of Coloma that same year. Upon reaching adulthood, Amanda made her way to El Dorado County with her mother and several siblings. She was wed to James Blair of J & J Blair Lumber fame in 1862. The newlyweds first lived at Sportsman’s Hall until 1865, when they built a home on Cedar Ravine Rd. just across the street from James’ brother and business partner, John. Together James and Amanda raised 6 children in Placerville. Amanda was a skilled seamstress and many of her handiworks have been preserved to this day. She was proud of her familial connection to the Sewards and even lobbied one of her sons, Ernest, to name his first son Seward in honor of her cousins. Amanda’s grandson, James, III, would later become El Dorado County’s first Olympic gold medalist in 1932. Amanda raised her children to be strong and self-sufficient. All three of her sons, James, Ernest, and Roy, went on to become successful businessmen–much like their father–James I.