To all enlightened Ancient Free and Accepted Masons throughout the Globe, Greeting! Know ye, That the Bearer hereof Brother Bennett Blake has been regularly initiated as an Entered Appren tice, passed as a Fellow Craft, and raised to the sublime Degree of a Master Mason, having paid all dues, and being in good and regular standing. We the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brothers of Milam Lodge No 2. at his own re quest, do grant this Dimit, recommending him to the fraternal regard of all regular Lodges and Brethren. In testimony whereof we have caused this Certificate to be signed by our Secretary, and attested by the Seal of our Lodge. Given at Nacogdoches Texas this second day of July AD 1864. Wm Voigt Secretary Milam Lodge No 2
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Bennett Blake was born on November 11, 1809 in Sutton, Vermont. He was the son of Samuel Dow Blake and Abigail Lee Blake. He arrived in Nacogdoches in 1835, ultimately acquired a large farm and began a life as merchant and farmer. On November 24, 1853, he married Ellazina Harris, daughter of Elbridge G. and Mary Hamilton Harris, with whom he had three children. Blake entered upon a distinguished career in public service shortly after his arrival in Texas. He was first elected justice of the peace in 1838 and reelected until, by 1850, he had served some ten years in that office. Thereafter, he became chief justice of Nacogdoches County, an office he held for twelve years. Blake fought in the Texas Revolution. He also served under Gen. Thomas J. Rusk in an expedition against the Cherokee Indians in 1839 and engaged in a second Cherokee expedition in 1841. He was elected to the state legislature in 1862, and he became one of the Texas delegates to the Congress of the Confederate States of America, where he served during 1863-64. After the Reconstruction period, voters chose him to represent them at the Constitutional Convention of 1875, where at age sixty-six he was the second oldest delegate. Judge Blake was a Democrat and Mason. He died in Nacogdoches County on March 1, 1896, and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery (Ericson, Joe, "Blake, Bennet" New Handbook of Texas, 1996).
Scope and Content Note
The collection consists of letters, financial papers, legal documents, and land deeds, mostly of Bennett Blake, his immediate family, and related families. A significant portion of the papers relate to William Bonaparte McKnight, who married Mary Addie Lovina Blake. McKnight's papers include oil leases and negotiations for timber rights. Several original land grants are included in the collection, two signed by Republic of Texas president Anson Jones.
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