The Lilacs

Joseph & Sally W. Blakeley

Joseph and Sally Blakeley were the original owners of the land that became known as The Lilacs. Joseph and Sally left their home in Connecticut and became early settlers in this area. When they left Connecticut is unknown, although it appears they were living in western New York in 1820.

Joseph was born in 1782, and Sally in 1780. As far as we can tell, they had 6 children – 4 sons (William, Ira, Erastus, Russell) and 2 daughters (names not known). Sally died in August 1842 at the age of 62. Joseph subsequently married again and his second wife, Edna, also predeceased him, dying in March 1855 at the age of 69. Joseph died from consumption in March 1863 at age 81. All are buried in East Aurora cemeteries.

There were a number of Blakeley families in this area at that time, although it is not known if they were related, as some were from Massachusetts and some from Vermont (the similar name Blakely was also fairly common in this area at that same time).

Joseph and Sally purchased 166 acres of land in the southeastern part of Lot 16 from the Holland Land Company. We are not sure of the date of purchase, but it was prior to 1826. They had purchased the land on credit with the Holland Land Company, and received deeds to parcels of the property as they made their payments. They established their homestead and starting farming operations. Their house and farm buildings were constructed in what today is part of the village of East Aurora.

The Blakeley’s initially obtained a Deed to 40 acres in Feb 1826. Then, in February 1828, they made another payment on their account with Holland Land Company, sufficient to obtain a Deed to another 35 acres, with the balance of the farm, 91 acres, remaining indebted under land contract. In all, they appear to have paid some $850 for the 166 acres (some $5 per acre).

On the same day in Feb 1828 that Blakeley received the Deed to the 35 acres, he sold 20 acres to Elizabeth Williams for $400. It is worth noting that the purchase contract between the Blakeley’s and Elizabeth Williams was completed by an up and coming young lawyer in East Aurora by the name of Millard Fillmore. With this conveyance successfully under his belt, Millard went on to much greater accomplishments, becoming the 13th President of the US.

Joseph is listed in the book “History of Buffalo & Erie County 1620-1884” as being one of the early settlers in this area. He appears to have been quite active in community affairs, and was one of the organizers of the Presbyterian Church in East Aurora, serving on its initial Board of Trustees.

Only one of the Blakeley’s sons, Horace, ultimately remained in the area, and was still farming with his father at the time of Joseph’s death in 1863.