Charles P. Blakeley

Charles P. Blakeley of Bozeman, Register of the United States Land Office for that district, was born in Daviess County, Missouri, June 6, 1834. His earlier education was acquired in the common schools of the district, he remaining on the farm with his parents until he reached his eighteenth year.

In 1854 he went to Kansas and took up a farm in that troubled border region. One year later he drove an ox team to Fort Laramie and back for the Government, returning again to Kansas and in 1856 was married to Elizabeth Downen. They took up residence on a farm near Iowa Point, Kansas, remaining there until 1861, in which year they sold out and removed to Missouri. The war breaking out, Mr. Blakeley was among the first to offer his service to the Southern Cause, entering General Price's army. He continued in service until January 1862, returning then to his home in Missouri. Here he was taken prisoner and confined at St. Joseph, Missouri, for seventeen days when he and two others escaped by overpowering the guard and getting off in the darkness. He went directly to Iowa and remained there nearly a year, and on the 17th of April 1863 accompanied by his wife, he left Omaha for the West.

His destination was the far-off Salmon River country of Idaho. They stopped in Colorado that winter, and on the 16th of May 1864 started for Virginia City, Montana, the fame of the Alder Gulch placers having reached them. The summer of 1864 was spent by Mr. Blakeley in Alder Gulch where he mined some and conducted a small dairy. On the 4th of October 1864, they removed to the Gallatin Valley, locating a ranch on the west branch of that stream, at which place they resided until 1870.

Mr. Blakeley and John Nelson built the first bridge across the West Gallatin River at what is now Central Park. In 1870-71 he mined on Gold Creek, but with indifferent results and soon returned to the Gallatin Valley locating this time at Bozeman. In 1874 he moved to a farm further down the valley and engaged principally in stock raising. In 1878 he drove his stock to the Yellowstone country and again took up his residence at Bozeman where he has since continued to reside.

Mr. Blakeley has always taken a lively interest in politics. He voted at the first election ever held in Montana. The first primary in Gallatin County was held at his house. He has attended nearly every Democratic county convention since, and nearly all State and Territorial conventions.

In 1865 he was nominated for County Clerk and was elected by several hundred majorities, but the canvassing board threw out the votes of all the precincts save Bozeman and Gallatin City, thus preventing his seating. He was elected Representative to the Legislature in 1866 that body being known as the "Bogus Legislature." From 1879 to 1882 he acted as Under Sheriff performing also the duties of Assessor, becoming thus thoroughly acquainted with the businessmen of the county. In 1882 he was elected Sheriff of the county and defeated for the same office in 1884.

He was again elected a member of the legislature in 1888 and re-elected the succeeding year to the first State Legislature, being chosen Speaker of the Democratic House during the legislative block of ninety days, so memorable in Montana's legislative history. In May 1894 Mr. Blakeley was appointed by President Cleveland, Register of the Bozeman Land Office, which position he now holds. Through this long public career he served the people of his county faithfully and conscientiously and enjoys the esteem and confidence of the community in which he has been so important a factor.

His good wife crossed the plains with him in 1863 and is still at his side. They have no children. Mr. Blakeley is still an active figure in the political conventions of Gallatin County. His past experience has eminently fitted him for the position to which he was so justly appointed, and his many friends throughout that section will find him an efficient and able servant in this capacity. He is known all over the state and known for his earnestness in supporting any cause he espouses.

source: An Illustrated History of the State of Montana by Joaquim Miller, 1894

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