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Daniel drew blackburn

Daniel Drew Blackburn was born April 8, 1816 at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, two years after his father was wounded by the British in the War of 1812.   The Blackburn family moved to Springfield, Clark, Ohio in 1822 when Daniel was 6 years old.  Four years later Daniel’s father passed away leaving a family of six children for his mother to support.  Daniel lived at home until 21 years of age, during which time he acquired his education and learned the trade of carpentry.   Daniel then moved to Oquakee, Illinois where he first worked as a carpenter and then became part owner of a meat-packing business. 


“Glowing accounts of the activities in California were sufficient enough to interest all of the Blackburn family in going west.”  Daniel’s older brother, William, was living in Santa Cruz and urged his brothers to join him in the land of promise.  The discovery of gold in 1849 was an added incentive.


In 1849, brothers James, Jacob, and Daniel Blackburn, together with three others, joined a train of 120 people.  They crossed the Missouri River at Iowa Point on the 5th of May, 1849 and proceeded across the plains and mountains to California, arriving at the gold mines on Deer Creek on the 12th of August, 1849.  The mines were very rich and they took the gold out by handfuls.  They mined until November 1st, when, becoming tired, they sold their teams and effects.  With $3000 each, Daniel, James, and Jacob made their way to Santa Cruz where Daniel Blackburn engaged in farming.  


In 1857, Daniel, along with his brother James and a business partner,

Lazarus Godchaux, saw opportunity in the El Paso de Robles Rancho. 

The Rancho covered six leagues of land (25,993.18 acres) on the west

side of the Salinas River including what is now Templeton. They

purchased the Rancho that year from Petronilo Rios for $8,000. 

Daniel moved to the Rancho right away.


In 1858, Daniel Blackburn’s name was one of the one hundred

forty-eight persons who signed the Vigilantes Pledge for the

“repression and punishment of crime by all means whatsoever.”

Mr. Castro was legally the Sheriff of San Luis Obispo County

but Blackburn was appointed Sheriff of this committee which

had full authority.    Many desperadoes were arrested and the

infamous Jack Powers was discouraged from operating in this territory. 


In 1860, Daniel, James, and Godchaux divided the Rancho with Daniel taking the one league which included the future townsite and the hot springs.  James and Godchaux preferred the five leagues of open land for raising sheep and grain.  It was at this time, that Daniel sold a half interest of his one league of land to a Mr. McCreel who, in 1865, sold it to Drury Woodson James.  

On September 15, 1866, Daniel married Cecilia Dunn in a double wedding with his then partner, Drury James, who married Cecilia’s sister, Mary Louisa.  Daniel and Cecelia’s home was at the Hot Springs until 1872 at which time they moved to their farm home on the Rancho, six miles south of the city.  They enjoyed country life until 1888 when their new home on Spring Road was completed, now Melody Ranch Motel.  Twelve children were born to Daniel and Cecelia.  Mrs. Blackburn was active in social affairs and her generosity paralleled that of her husband.  Together they donated land for the park, schools, and churches.


After Daniel’s retirement, Daniel became an invalid for several years

and a stroke confined him to his beautiful home for a few months

before his death on June 2, 1901. “Few men have done more in a lifetime

than Daniel Blackburn to help build a thriving community.”







Courtesy of: A Historical Study of the Development of El Paso De Robles by Virginia Fahr Peterson

Plat of Rancho Paso de Robles PRAHS.tiff
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