This portion of the Web site was started last spring when I was asked by a cousin to provide him with an overview of the lives of the Charles and Mary Jane Mead Bliley. They are my great grandparents, who lived in Harborcreek Township, Pennsylvania for almost 60 years.
Initially, I was going to prepare a package of scanned photographs and some copies of old documents. After I got started and saw so many wonderful things I wanted to present, most of which I have received in the last two years. Unfortunately, I had far too many to put into a small and manageable package, so choosing the ones to use was a difficult task. I had to take a group of loosely related items and find a theme that would make the presentation seem like a logical progression or some other obvious rationale. I also decided to produce it with the quality and style as I have for my other printed and Web projects.
After pushing images and data around, I decided that providing a true biographical sketch or story was currently beyond my capabilities and available time. So the idea of a scrapbook came to mind that reflected the lives of these two wonderful people and those close to them. This was in keeping with the many photo albums produced by Sam and Inez Wagner that have blessed us all for over 100 years.
Just a week before I was wrapping up the project in late July of 2005, I received photographs of the painting of the Bliley farm on Station Road. The long sought-for but unpredictable arrival of the photos was a joyful convergence of efforts the efforts of my brother and me, and provided the perfect illustration for the cover. It is believed that Charles and Mary Jane's granddaughter, Inez Wagner, who lived with them for many years during her youth, created this painting show above. (Painting: Online,
It is a really a collaborative effort of many people, for which credit is detailed in the Acknowledgment section. A high-quality PDF version is available for download. This file provides many images in high-resolution and can be printed out to create a personal copy for your archives.
I hope you find it a pleasant and informative journey into the lives of some wonderful people.
Charles A. Bliley
August 23, 2005
Charles was an immigrant who came with his parents, Andreas and Catherine Eich Bleile, and four siblings to America in the Fall of 1834 from the village of Krozingen in Germany. They came by a sailing ship, the Charlemagne, along with Charles' parents and Uncle Sebastian's family, to New York City. From there, the family traveled by boat up the Hudson River to Albany, then by canal boat to Buffalo, and on by steamer to Erie, Pennsylvania. Charles' father had suffered a stroke a few months before the family's departure from Germany. He died a short time after the family arrived at their new, and very rustic log cabin homestead in Harborcreek Township a few miles east of Erie. With the help of friends and family members, they survived the Winter and began developing the farm the next Spring.
Charles was 12 at the time of the family's arrival in America. He is known to have served in the merchant marines on the Great Lakes and acquired sufficient skill to pilot a steamship. Perhaps, because he was the oldest and the merchant marines provided a good wage to young people, he spent many years in this service and appears to have done well by it.
According to the memoirs of his wife, Mary Jane Mead Bliley, "All of Charles' money from the time he was fourteen years of age until he was twenty-one was given to his mother. After that he saved enough to build his first house at the time of our marriage (1847) when he also owned oxen, a horse and buggy and some farm implements."
Mary Jane was born in Brokenstraw, Pennsylvania, a small village a few miles west of Warren. Her father died when she was young and her mother remarried and moved north to Erie County where she would meet and marry Charles in 1847.
She was a small and slightly built lady, but capable of giving birth to 15 children between 1848 and 1871. All of her children, except Frank and Ross, were born on their first farm on Kuhl Road a few miles south of the Colt Station Road farm. Unfortunately, five of the children died within two years of birth, and another, Ellen Lousina, died at the age of 26.
Mary Jane was a typical farmer's wife with responsibilities beyond the children, cooking, cleaning, and making clothes. She was responsible for the production of eggs, butter, poultry and vegetables. This economic activity continued well into their retirement years.
"THE BLILEY FARM" 18651892
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