Matthew Blair, I

Matthew Blair was born in Renfrewshire, Scotland, in 1822, the eldest son among six children. Matthew grew up in a respectable working-class family of weavers. In 1846 he married Isabella Murray, and they began a family of their own. By 1850, Matthew was bound for the United States with his brother James Blair, the two following in brother John’s footsteps. Settling in the Midwest as a day laborer, Matthew soon sent for his wife and children. By 1860, his younger bachelor brothers, John and James, had become successful entrepreneurs in El Dorado County, California. It was decided that Matthew and his now adolescent and adult children would join the rest of the family in the west. They traveled by way of the Isthmus of Panama and soon settled in the area known today as Pollock Pines. Matthew and his son, Matthew Jr., leased the Long Canyon mill from his brothers James and John, where they worked the land and provided a steady stream of fresh lumber for the J. & J. Blair Lumberyard in Placerville. Tragedy struck when in 1847 Matthew died in a freak accident at the sawmill. He was only 41 years old. Today, Matthew’s descendants still live on the very land he was working when he died. The Harris Family Farm is the Easternmost of the Apple Hill farms. Their pie shop still bakes Blair family recipes, and Matthew’s remarkable journey from Scotland to El Dorado County, followed by his tragic death, is shared with visitors to the farm to this day.