Friday, March 8, 2013

Herbert Orlando Blair: Basic Family Information


      1889 - 1963                                                                                1889 - 1963
Herbert Orlando Blair                                                                     Bertie Bell Swan

Herbert Orlando Blair

Herbert Orlando Blair, better known as "H.O.", was the third child of Robert Thomas Blair and Sallie (Whatley) Blair.  He was born north of Rogers, Texas, in Bell county, at 10 am on October 7, 1889.  Herbert Orlando was named for Orlando, a son from his grandfather's second marriage.  Herbert's family settled in the Little River bottom (just east of present day Sparks) in a community known as old Volo.  The Robet Thomas Blair family lived just west of the Hilry Swan family; several of the Blairs and Swans married.

On December 12, 1909, Herbert married Bertie Bell (Swan) ("Bert"), the daughter of Hill and Texanna (Caldwell) Swan; they were married at Sparks, Texas.

Herbert Orlando Blair & Bertie Bell Swan on their wedding day.
December 12, 1909

Bertie was born on November 23, 1889 at her home at Volo.  Both she and her husband were Baptist by faith, but she by far the most active and faithful.  H.O. and Bert had two boys who lived only a few hours; they are buried in an unmarked grave in front of the Hill Swan plot at the old Volo cemetery.  Later, they had three more children: Aubrey Lee, Robert Glenn, and Bertie Pearl.  Their first son, Aubrey, was born on August 8, 1917, at 9 pm in a rented house in Nolanville, Texas.

About 1918, they moved to the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain about 10-12 miles north of Killeen, Texas.
Herbert Orlando & Bertie Bell (Swan) Blair with their son, Aubrey.
At home at Sugar Loaf Mountain in Coryell county, Texas.

Glenn Blair, their second son, was born at the Sugarloaf Mountain home (near Brookhaven) at 12:00 am on May 15, 1923.  They lived close to the Sugarloaf cemetery and about one-half mile from the Robert Thomas Blair family, who had moved there about 1914.  (The H.O. Blair home was just down the road and across from Sugarloaf cemetery.  The road made a "T"; one road went to Gatesville and the other road led to Brookhaven).

While living at Sugarloaf, H.O. would occasionally hunt robins or rattlesnakes with some other men.  He also enjoyed deer hunting very much.  His family attended Brookhaven Baptist Church while they lived there.  Their third child, Bertie Pearl Blair, was born at Sugarloaf on December 22, 1925.  (Note: Was it 1947 when Fort Hood purchased the land for the army base?  If so, the Blairs may have lost their land at Sugarloaf.  Their land is now part of the Sugarloaf Motor Range at Fort Hood Army Base).

In 1927, the H.O. Blair family moved to Killeen, Texas and lived in the Molly Fergus home on Rancier Avenue; this house had a large Delco light plant.  H.O. worked for either one of the Bays or Normans; they ran a hardware business and also bought chickens and turkeys.  1927 was the year of the big drought and crop failure.  H.O.'s farm produced less than a bale of cotton that year, so they had to go to McKinney that fall to pick cotton.

On Valentine's Day in 1928, the Herbert Orlando Blair family moved to Holland, Texas where H.O. entered into a partnership with his brother-in-law, Robert Guess Sutton, who had gone into the automotive garage business.  H.O. moved his family into a large, frame house that was owned by Mrs. Sam Mewhinney; they later purchased this house from her in the late 1920's.  According to Glenn Blair, most of the time they rented out an apartment on the west side.

Herbert Orlando Blair ("H.O.")
Possibly standing in front of his first home in Holland before it burned.

1929 was the year of the Stock Market crash; times were hard.  It was also the year of the biggest snowstorm in Bell county history.  The snow was about 12-18" deep on flat ground.  H.O. Blair was a mason; he was a member of the Holland Masonic Lodge and wore a masonic ring all of his life.

H.O. & Bertie (Swan) Blair home
Holland, Texas
(Home burned down in 1933)
H.O. & Bertie Blair home
Holland, Tx (close up)
(people not related to our family)


Herbert Orlando Blair & Bertie (Swan) Blair home in Holland, Texas (north side of town)
This house burned down in 1933, destroying many family records, pictures, ....
The lot was about two acres in total.  The top of this diagram faces south.
Source of Information: Aubrey Lee Blair, 1979.

In 1933 (possibly 1932), their home burned to the ground; all personal belongings were destroyed except for what the family had on.  At the time, Bertie was in the hospital and the children were at R.G. and Ruby Sutton's home.  (Some people believe that H.O. had the constable, The Wilkerson, burn the house down so that the family could survive the Depression.  According to some people, he was known to do things like that for a fee).  H.O. had a new home built on the same lot; he paid the carpenter $ 100.00 for the labor to build it.  Herbert's brother, Earl, was living in Houston, Texas, so he came up and painted and papered the house.  People came from miles around to see how Bert washed clothes.  She had a gas line running under her wash pot by which she could heat her water (Probably the carpenter who built the house made it).  Boyce and Iva Lee (Parrott) Umberhagen and their children, Billy and Joanie Umberhagen, lived next door to H.O. and Bertie in Holland, Texas.  Their home was on the west side of H.O. and Bert's home.  Jeannine (Digby) Blair said that Boyce and Iva Lee had a daughter named Mary Jane (or Mary Alice).

Second H.O. & Bertie (Swan) Blair home at Holland, Texas (Bell county).
(Left to right): H.O.; Sallie (Whatley) Blair; Bertie Pearl; Glenn; Bertie Bell; _______ (in back).

(View is south to north; home was built on same lot as the first home which burned down).

Second home of H.O. Blair & Bertie (Swan) Blair in Holland, Texas
(This home was built on the same lot as the first home which burned).
(The top of this diagram faces north)
Source of diagram: Robert Glenn Blair, September 23, 1979.

1933 was also the year that H.O. and Bertie Bell separated, although they did not get a divorce until 1946.  H.O. moved to Athens in east Texas.  (It is said that H.O. had a woman in every port).  H.O. went into business in Athens with Pap Thompson (Thomison).

H.O. Blair & Pap Thomison (or Thompson)
1936 San Francisco World's Fair
H.O. Blair & Pap Thomison (or Thompson)
Athens, Texas

In 1935, H.O. came to his son, Glenn Blair's, graduation from high school.  From 1936 to May, 1950, he was in the trucking business working out of the Rio Grande Valley; he would come by his family's home about once every six months and spend the night.  H.O. would send his wife $ 20.00 a month to raise three children.  Some people say that Bertie showed very little emotion.

In the fall of 1945, Herbert got in bad health; he asked his son, Glenn, to quit his work at Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft in Fort Worth (now called General Dynamics) and help him run his trucking business.  Aubrey, Glenn's brother, was already assisting H.O. in the business.  H.O. and Glenn moved to Temple and lived in an apartment for a couple of months.  Glenn would buy H.O. "Levi Garrett's snuff" at Tants grocery store on South Main because H.O. was too embarressed to buy it himself.  H.O. would mix half snuff with half chewing tobacco on a snuff stick.

In 1946, Herbert married Loraine Anise (Digby) Jones.  (She had married Ralph Jones first and they had lived in Belton).  They were married by the justice of the peace in San Antonio, Texas.  Loraine was born on February 19,1898.  Herbert had known her for a long time before moving to Temple, and in fact, knowing her was the reason he moved to Temple.  Loraine used to live with Ted and Payne Mills when she was young.  She lived in Belton and ran an ice cream parlor across from Cochran,Blair, and Potts department store.  H.O.'s business headquarters had been in Tyler, Texas, but evidently a dispute with a friend caused his headquarters to be moved.

In Belton, H.O. and Loraine got an apartment in a large, white frame, two-story house with columns that Emmitt (Emmette?) Digby owned at the intersection of Tenth and Penelope streets (Fain Waggoner's home).  Emmitt and Mart Digby were in the car business together on the southeast corner of Second and Penelope streets.  Emmitt had the idea to put a watermelon stand at the car lot; the Blairs hauled the watermelons for the Digbys.  On February 11, 1947, H.O.'s son, Glenn, eloped with Jeannine Digby in Holland, Texas.  After getting married, they drove to Bartlett, Texas where Glenn stopped and called his dad, who had been expecting this to happen.  Glenn told him not to tell Jeannine's parents where they were until things cooled off.  After three days, Jeannine's mom called H.O. and told them to come back.

In 1948, Emmitt and Mack Digby owned Hill Top Courts (eleven small cabins, a restaurant, and a gas station on the southwest side of Belton).  While H.O. was still in the trucking business, he bought Emmitt out.  He and Loraine moved into a stucko house on the southeast corner of Hill Top after doing some repair work.  In 1949, Glenn Blair bought out Mack Digby's interest in Hill Top Courts.

Glenn and H.O.'s trucking business prospered; they worked for A & P food stores.  They bought fruit and vegetables and sold them to individual stores.  There were two bad freezes in the Rio Grande Valley;
A & P wanted them to begin hauling out of Florida.  They did not want to go that far, so, in 1950, they quit the trucking business.  They gradually sold the trucks to the drivers.  The number of trucks varied, but at one time, they had up to five trucks.  They would hire local truckers during the busy season around Christmas; twelve trucks is the most they ever handled.

Billy Ed Wilson told the following stories about H.O.:
"H.O. Blair and friends were deer hunting at Round Mountain in the Texas hill country; they hunted there often.  I found them at night and I shined a flashlight in their eyes while I was talking with them (pretending to be a game warden).  I saw a freshly killed doe hanging in a tree on the way towards their tent.  There were several cars around the tent, but only H.O. and a few others in the tent.  I woke them up and began quizzing them about what they were doing there and inquiring as to where the rest of the men were (implying, probably rightly so, that they were all illegally hunting at night).  H.O. said that the other men were in town and that they were good boys and wouldn't do anything bad.  I said, 'Well, I just think we'll hang around until they get back and see what's going on here'.  Finally, I could take it no longer without laughing and so I lowered my flashlight so that they could see me.  H.O. said, 'Billy Ed, you son of a bitch!'  Then H.O. made some comment about not being worried or scared and the guy next to him said, 'Now H.O., you know the whole bed was shaking!'"
"H.O. Blair and others were out hunting in the pasture out at Round Mountain again.  This time, I was with them.  I heard a shot and everybody thought H.O. had killed a deer.  I thought I'd go help the old man with the deer he'd shot.  When I walked to the pasture where H.O. was supposed to be hunting, no H.O. was to be found.  After a while, I saw H.O. coming up a hill into the pasture pulling his pants up.  I asked H.O. what in the world was happening.  He said, 'I was squatting in the woods going to the bathroom when all of a sudden a large doe came right up by me.  I grabbed my gun and killed it, but the recoil from the gun knocked me backwards right onto my poop!'  I encouraged him to go down to the creek and clean himself up, but H.O. refused saying, 'It's cold down there!  I'll clean up back at the camp.'  I grabbed the truck keys and said I'd drive, but when H.O. started to get in the truck, I said, 'Nope, you've got to ride in the back!' because of the smell.  H.O. did."

About 1953-1956, H.O. and Loraine lived at the corner of Fourteenth and Blair streets.  Next, they moved to 1406 North East street in Belton, where on February 23, 1963, Herbert Orlando Blair died.  He is buried in the North Belton cemetery in Belton.  (Note: There is not a death certificate listed for H.O. Blair in Bell county, Texas; however, there is a will).

Herbert's first wife, Bertie Bell, enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles and quilting.

Quilt that Bertie Bell (Swan) Blair made.

She never held a job outside the home, but was an excellent parent for her three children.  Jeannine Blair remembered that Bertie would "always soak her cucumbers in alum water when making pickles because it would make them crispier".  Jeannine said that she would never do that when making her pickles.  Bertie Bell would occasionally get severe headaches; when it was too cold, she would bundle up and get right up against the gas heater.  In later years, Bert stayed with her grandson, Steve Blair, in a house next to Glenn Blair at Hill Top Courts.  She lived here for two or three years before becoming senile.  She would sometimes lock the house, jump out the window, and then run down the street shouting that she was being held prisoner.  Glenn placed her at the Golden Age Nursing Home in Killeen, Texas, which at the time was owned by Bobbie Benton.  Bertie Bell Blair died there on Sunday, October 13, 1963.  Services were held at 2:00 pm at the First Christian Church in Belton with Rev. Walter M. Feay officiating.  Arrangements were with Heartfield Funeral Home.  (She was a member of First Baptist Church in Holland, Texas, but while she lived in Belton, she attended services at the First Christian Church where the Glenn Blair family were members).  She is buried in a single plot close to her husband's in the North Belton cemetery (Location of her grave: west of the road mentioned in H.O. Blair grave location running east and west from H.O.'s plot.  Her single plot is on north side of road - second grave from road. Glenn Blair supplied this information).  Loraine (Digby) Blair, H.O.'s second wife, still lived in Belton.  In her later years, Loraine was almost blind.  She was very jealous of all the attention that H.O. gave Glenn.  H.O. and Loraine Blair lived in a house on 14th street in Belton in the last years of their life.

Bobby Blair, Herbert Orlando Blair, and Billy Blair (right)
Home of H.O. & Loraine (Digby) Blair
14th street, Belton, Texas

When H.O. had his loss of memory in his latter years, he remembered Glenn, but thought that Loraine was hired help that Glenn got to clean the house.



In his will, H.O. left the following to his wife, Loraine: (1) their home and belongings, (2) duplex apartments in Killeen, Texas at 1510 and 1512 Mulford street, (3) the family car, and (4) any cash in the bank following funeral expenses.  All other property was divided equally between Aubrey and Glenn.  Bertie Pearl received nothing from the estate except whatever the boys wanted to give her.  Loraine was appointed the Independent Executrix of the will.  Loraine kept some jewelry against H.O.'s wishes (diamond ring).  Loraine taught Jeannine (Digby) Blair how to sew; they got along well together.  People used to call Loraine "Mrs. B.".  H.O. and Loraine are buried together in the North Belton cemetery in Belton,Texas.  (Location of their graves: sign post on road near, north of pole, small flag pole at intersection.  The sign says "No gravel, etc. beyond this point".  Plot is in second row of plots east of sign, and is second plot south of road running east and west.  Info. supplied by Glenn Blair prior to GPS coordinates).


I.  Aubrey Lee Blair ("Aubrey"):

Aubrey Lee Blair ("Aubrey") & Lucille (Caudle) Blair ("Lucy"). Taken in late 1970's.

Aubrey was born on August 8, 1917 at 9:00 pm in Nolanville, Texas.  He married (1) Lucille Caudle ("Lucy") on January 23, 1943 (44?) at the Tabernacle Baptist Church parsonage in Houston, Texas.  Rev. Louis B. Quarles married them.  Lucy was born on November 14, 1918 in Iola, Texas (Grimes county).  Her parents were Daniel Henderson Caudle ("Dan"), who was born in Arcadia, Louisiana (He didn't believe in taking pictures, so there are no pictures of him) and Minnie Adell Lane ("Minnie"), who was born close to Madisonville, Texas.  Minnie lived in Lufkin, Texas when a child.  (Note: Lucy had a copy of the "Lane" family history).  Lucy lived in Iola until she was eighteen years old; after graduating from high school in 1936, she went to Houston, Texas and went to work as a waitress (1937); she met Aubrey here.  Lucy was Baptist by faith.  She died of cancer on September 18, 1981 in Temple, Texas.  She was buried at 10:00 am at the Forest Park Lawndale cemetery in Houston, Texas.  During his lifetime, Aubrey resided in the following places in Texas: Sugarloaf Mountain near Killeen (Coryell county), Holland, Houston, and Belton.  In 1940, he went to Texas Tech University and majored in petroleum engineering.  He spent the first two years going to Temple Junior College when it was in the basement of Temple High School in Temple, Texas.  Aubrey served his country in World War II; he was a M.P. (Military Police) in Houston, Texas.

Aubrey Lee Blair's framed picture for his service.
(The frame is a simple, black frame).

Later, Aubrey worked as a postal carrier at the Westfield Station of the U.S. Post Office in Houston, Texas.  He retired on Friday, October 24, 1975, after 36 years of dedicated service.  Aubrey's second marriage was to (2) Mary Kathleen (Meredith) Thompson ("Mary").  She was born on November 11, 1907 in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.  She attended Highland Baptist Church in Louisville.  She worked in the auditing office of Sears, Roebuck, and Company.  Her parents were William Meredith (born in Grayson county, Kentucky) and Lula Ann Basham (born in Kentucky).  Aubrey and Mary resided in Belton Texas in the latter part of their lives and attended First Baptist Church in that city.  Aubrey died on Tuesday, May 14, 1991 at 12:35.  His funeral was at 10:00 am on Thursday at First Baptist Church in Belton, Texas.  The burial was at Forest Park cemetery in Houston, Texas (Harris county).

Aubrey Blair Obituary

Aubrey Lee Blair Obituary

Mary's first marriage was to (1) Samuel Joseph Thompson ("Sam"): Sam was born on January 30, 1898 in Louisville, Kentucky (He lived in Marion county, Kentucky).  He and Mary were married on March 26, 1926 in Louisville, Kentucky.  Sam was the guard for the largest cemetery in Louisville.  He attended Baxter Avenue Baptist Church.  On March 4, 1973, he died and was buried at Evergreen cemetery in Louisville.  His parents were Samuel Thompson and Mary Ann Ayers.  He and Mary had three children:
     A.  Kathleen Gail Thompson ("Kathleen"):She was born on July 4, 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky.  She married Robert Miller Holland on July 21, 1958 in Germany.
     B.  Cecil Douglas Thompson ("Cecil"): He was born on October 20, 1938 in Louisville, Kentucky.  He married Juanita King on March 30, 1966 in Louisville.
     C.  William Palmer Thompson ("Bill"): He was born on March 8, 1947 in Louisville, Kentucky.  He married Nancy Compton Stone on March 11, 1972 in Tallahassee, Florida.

II. Robert Glenn Blair ("Glenn"): (There is a separate article on the Glenn & Jeannine Blair family).  He was born on May 15, 1923 at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain near Killeen, Texas (10-12 miles north of Killeen, in Coryell county).  He was delivered at home at 12:00 am by a Dr. Woods from Killeen.  In 1927, his family moved to Killeen.  On Valentine's Day in 1928, they moved to Holland, Texas where his father went into a partnership with Robert Guess Sutton.  They moved into a big house that later burned in 1933.  They built another house on the same lot.  The labor for the new house was $ 100.00.  After being valedictorian of his class, Glenn went to the University of Texas in Austin, majoring in electrical engineering.  In 1944, Glenn went to work for Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft in Fort Worth, Texas (now General Dynamics).  He worked as an electrical engineer on the B-36 bomber.  In the fall of 1945, he came to assist his father in the trucking business because of his father's poor health.  They moved to Temple, Texas.  Glenn began dating his future wife, Wanda Jeannine Digby ("Jeannine") in the summer of 1946.  On February 11, 1947, Glenn and Jeannine eloped at Rev. Robinson's home in Holland, Texas.  Jeannine was born on January 22, 1931 at home in Belton, Texas.  Her parents are Martin Van Digby ("Mart") and Pearl (Griffin) Digby.  Glenn and Jeannine have five children:
     A.  Gloria Jean Blair ("Jeannie"): She was born on December 12, 1947 at 4:31 am at Scott and White hospital in Temple, Texas.
     B.  Robert Glenn Blair Jr.("Bobby" or "Bob"): He ws born on June 19, 1951 at Sewell hospital in Belton, Texas; he was delivered by Dr. A.R. Kirkley at 8:15 am.
     C.  William Lee Blair ("Billy"): He was born on March 19, 1953 at 7:04 am at Sewell hospital in Belton, Texas; he was delivered by Dr. A.R. Kirkley.
     D.  Mary Beth Blair ("Mary"): She was born on September 29, 1959 at 8:53 pm at Sewell hospital in Belton, Texas.
     E.  James Brian Blair ("Brian", then "James"): He was born on August 25, 1973 at Scott and White hospital in Temple, Texas; he was delivered by Dr. Leavelle and Dr. J.E. Miller at 3:39 pm.

III.  Bertie Pearl Blair: She was born on December 22, 1925 near Killeen, Texas at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain.  She resided in Holland, Texas until about 1979, then she moved to east Texas. 
     A.  Charles Steven Blair: He was born on August 12, 1943 in Temple, Texas.

Bertie Pearl Blair married (1) Ed Whisenant; they had at least four children:
     B.  Eddie Whisenant Jr.: He was born about 1945.
     C.  Mona Jane Whisenant: She was born about 1949.
     D.  Faye Whisenant: She was born about 1951.
     E.  Billy Gene (later William) Whisenant: He was born about 1959.  (See "Find A Grave" website memorial # 122068915 for photo and more information).

Bertie Pearl Blair married a second time to (2) Mr. Powell (a soldier in Germany); her third marriage was to (3) Robert Zboch on February 19, 1963.  Their marriage ended in divorce in Nueces county, Texas on February 10, 1976.  I'm not sure who the fathers are for the following children of Bertie Pearl Blair:
     F.  Teresa ________: She was born about 1954.
     G.  Linda Kay _______: She was probably born between the years of 1954 and 1957.
     H.  (girl): She was born about 1956 and died between the ages of 23 and 26.

Bertie Pearl Blair died on Tuesday, September 18, 1990 in Missouri of an anneurism.  She was cremated on September 22nd at Murphy's Funeral Home in Houston, Texas.  Half of her ashes were spread across her son Billy's grave and the other half were scattered over the ocean at Corpus Christi, Texas (Note: On the "Find A Grave" website, it says the following: "Find A Grave" Memorial # 82123585.  Bertie Pearl Blair died in September, 1990 and is buried at Glenwood cemetery in Houston, Texas (Harris county).  Plot: Section G-3, Lot 123, cremated).

1.  Jewell (Blair) Curry, 1981.
2.  Glenn Blair, November 27, 1980.
3.  Aubrey Blair.
4.  Jeannie (Blair) Pittman.
5.  Wilkerson, Mewhinney, Bond, Haydon by Helen Mewhinney Dobbs (Belton library).
6.  Bell county, Texas courthouse records.
7.  Will of Herbert Orlando Blair.
8.  Tombstones of H.O. Blair; Betie (Swan) Blair, North Belton cemetery, Belton, Texas.
9.  Blair Geneaology chart  of Marvin Smith Blair.
10. Bertie Bell (Swan) Blair death announcement.
11. Birth Certificates: Aubrey Blair; Glenn Blair; Bertie Pearl Blair; H.O. Blair.
12. Jeannine (Digby) Blair, December 1997; July 20, 2007.
13. Lucy (Caudle) Blair, December 27, 1979.
14. Glynda Holdt, Conroe, Texas
15. Steve & Carolyn Blair, December 25, 1981.
16.  "Find A Grave" website.  The memorial number for Herbert Orlando Blair is # 24013066.  The memorial number for Bertie Bell (Swan) Blair is # 24013130.
17.  Conversation with Jeannine (Digby) Blair on August 26, 2007.
18.  Billy Ed Wilson conversation on April 5, 2008 (Hunting stories about H.O. Blair).
19. "Find A Grave" website for Aubrey L. Blair.  Memorial # 112244300.  Created by Cecil Yaden Jr. on July 13, 2013.  (
20. Grave location information for H.O. & Loraine Blair as well as Bertie (Swan) Blair supplied by Glenn Blair to his son Billy.
21.  "Find A Grave" website marriages/ death/ burial information (Some of information is in conflict with family information).

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