Blain Mystery


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Who was James Blain and what was his connection to Ephraim Blaine?

I have been stuck on Margaret Blain/Blaine & her father James for a long time. Margaret claimed in biographies to be a (direct) descendant of Ephraim Blaine, but this is impossible as far as I can reconstruct. There is also an incorrect genealogy listed in one of the biographies. I have been in touch with two other "distant cousins" who claim that James was the son of a Joseph Blaine (Joseph was supposedly born in Londonderry about 1742) & Mary Herron, and that this was copied out of an old Bible. There is a marriage record for James & Deborah, placing them in more or less the same location (Cumberland Co, PA) at the same time as Ephraim and quite a few other Blaines. Going on this, census records & scraps out of books, the following is my current theory which I am hoping that someone can prove or disprove :

Ephraim Blaine's parents are said to be James & Elizabeth, who came to Cumberland after the birth of Ephraim in 1741 and before 1745, from the area of Londonderry, Ireland. The only Blain/Blane/Blaine in the records from before 1760 I have found so far is named James, presumably the father of Ephraim. It is said that he (James Sr.) had 9 children living at the time of his death in 1792--(note: I have found lists of James' children, none including a Joseph-- but none had all 9 children, so Joseph is still a possibility. Finding his will would help.), all of whom lived in the area and received tracts of land. There are several Blains including a Joseph in Cumberland in the 1790 census.  Could Joseph have been the son of James, and therefore one of Ephraim's brothers? Ephraim was said to have been the oldest, so if Joseph was born in 1742, that would still fit, as would the place of birth in the Londonderry area.  However, then James would have born in the US, not Ireland (Ireland as place of birth is from an old--and not documented--DAR record). This would in any case give Joseph a good reason to name his son James.

Alternately, Joseph's father could have been a brother to James, father of Ephraim, making them 1st cousins instead of brothers, and Joseph could have immigrated to his uncle's place of residence at a later date, after James was born. I consider it unlikely, but not impossible, that James himself immigrated alone -- considering his age and the fact the most people seem convinced he served in the Rev. War. So we should be able to find a parent/parents in the Cumberland area.

In both situations, Margaret could have correctly claimed to be a "cousin" of James G. Blaine, as in the biography. The only thing that wouldn't have been correct was the lineal descendant of Ephraim part. However, if Ephraim was her grandfather Joseph's brother (and even if they were cousins), then she would not have been stretching the truth so much. She would have been 15 or so when Ephraim died and so quite probably knew him and told stories about him. At least one of the biographies was written about 20 years after her death (but while several of her children were still living) and so should have some relationship to the truth.

Updated: 2008-01-15