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A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. By E. Polk Johnson, Volume III. Illustrated. Publishers: The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago-New York, 1912.
BLACKWELL, James S., A. M., was born November 30, 1844, in Henderson County, Kentucky. His father, James J. Blackwell, an educated farmer, was a native of Lunenburg County, Virginia, and was a lineal descendant of John Blackwell, who was appointed Governor of North Carolina, under Charles II of England. His mother’s maiden name was Jeffries; she was also a native of Lunenburg County, Virginia, and was a descendant of the celebrated Jennings family. James S. Blackwell was educated mainly at Hanover College, Indiana, where he graduated, with the highest standing of his class, in 1868. He was, shortly afterwards, elected President of Ghent College. In 1870, he became associated with Rev. B. H. McGowen, in the Faculty of Forest Academy, near Anchorage; and, in 1872, was appointed Professor of Languages in Kentucky Military Institute, with the rank of major. In 1871, the degree of Master of Arts was conferred on him by Hanover College. In1876, he received the degree of Ph. D., from two institutions of learning, in recognition of his remarkable attainments as a linguist. Although scarcely in the prime of life, probably no man in the State is acquainted with so many languages, or has carried his studies to such a vast extent in that direction, speaking readily French, German, Spanish, Italian, Latin, and Danish, and reading Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Persian, and twenty or thirty other languages, ancient and modern. Few men of the country have displayed such ability in the acquisition of language, and have reached such a degree of accurate scholarship at so early a period in life. He is a writer of ability, usually confining his writings to articles for the “Christian Observer” – the representative Presbyterian paper of the South – and to magazine articles, in connection with his researches in the languages, having little time for extended work with his pen. He has the power to sustain any amount of mental labor; has a good physical organization; possesses splendid personal habits, and, it would seem, has before him a career of singular literary eminence. Prof. Blackwell was married, July 8, 1870, to Miss Mary Eva Smith, grand-niece of Hon. Henry S. Lane, of Indiana.