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Peter and Karen Souhrada, Pittsford, New York USA

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BLANEY Surname

By Karen Souhrada

Samuel Blaney was born before the time of the American Revolution, and according to Nelson's Biographical Dictionary and History of Fayette Co., PA; Vol. III, we know a bit about this gentleman.  Samuel was born in Boston, Massachusetts; of Scottish-Irish ancestry.  Samuel was raised in New York City, where he met and married his wife Margaret Foy.  For his occupation we show that he was a sea captain, and a Blaney descendant stated that in this capacity he added his services to the fledgling United States of America during their War of Independence.  A Blaney descendant attributed his sobriquet of “Captain Blaney” to these years at sea…even after he was land-bound! 


After the war, Samuel and Margaret moved to the Uniontown, Fayette County area of Pennsylvania, and there they raised their family of five children.  From “Nelson’s Biographical” we find that Samuel was a teacher of some note, in the subscription schools of the time.  A description of the founding and building of this school on the Rittenhouse farm is found in Ellis' History of Fayette County, on page 558:  “The old Franklin school-house was built in 1821 upon the site of the present house. It was constructed of hewn logs, eighteen by twenty-four feet in size, was covered with a shingle roof, and was furnished with slab benches. Those most active in building the house were Joseph Ghrist, David Hazen, Samuel Blaney…etc.” 


Subscription schools were usually one-room affairs, housing different ages and abilities of students.  The students were enrolled or subscribed to the school by their parents, for a nominal fee.  In the early days there were no public school systems as we know them now, but were rather private academies, based on tuition fees.  The popularity of these schools and the high attendance of both male and female students attest to our ancestors desires to provide an education for their children.  More information on the school and its history comes from Ellis’ bio-history:  “One of the earliest school-houses in Franklin Township was a log building that stood in 1800 upon the Uniontown and Pittsburgh road, about forty rods south of John Shotwell’s stone mansion.  It was the only school-house in Franklin west of Flatwoods and one of the very first in that section of the country.  It was built before the year 1800, but just when cannot be told.  … The first teacher was Samuel Blaney, a retired sea-captain, and a fine scholar for that day.  Blaney was perhaps the most famous school-teacher Franklin ever had.  He taught in and about Franklin for upwards of thirty years, and died at Flatwoods at a ripe old age."

To view our Blaney surname index, click here > Blaney surname index