The life story of William J. Blan, a soldier and newspaper man

Published 7:55 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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In 1904, William J. Blan passed away.  This story of his life was in his obituary published in the Messenger.

William J. Blan was born April 18, 1845, in Macon County, Alabama, but came in early boyhood to Troy and spent the rest of his life here.  He was the son of John J. Blan, who died shortly after the War Between the States.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

William entered the printing office of the local paper at Troy and mastered the art of type-setting while a boy.  He made a remarkably rapid and correct type.  As soon as he was old enough after the great war began, he enlisted in the artillery and went to the front.  He passed through that trying ordeal and came home when peace was declared bearing the reputation of a brave and faithful soldier.  His comrades in arms delighted in after years to bear testimony to his noble qualities.

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After the war he re-entered the printing office as a compositor.  In the early seventies he purchased the Troy Messenger from a veteran Being of a quiet and retiring disposition, although universally liked, Mr. Blan was not an office seeker.  He chose rather to stay in the background and help his friends.  He was always faithful in his devotion to the fortunes of the Democratic party.  Once his friends put him into the responsible place of county treasurer, in which he proved himself a model officer.  He also served the city as councilman once.  This constituted his service as a public servant.

In 1877 he became a member of Troy Lodge No. 56, F & A. M. and shortly afterwards was made a royal arch mason.  It is needless to say that he always lived up to the teaching of this benevolent organization.

On the 15th of August, 1885, a shocking calamity befell him, the effects of which doubles contributed largely to wreck his nervous system and hasten his death.  At a reunion of the Confederate Veterans held on the hill south of the city, it was decided to have a sham battle.  Mr. Blan being an expert artillerist, was put in charge of a battery  He was serving the cannon against an assault made by the local military company, when a premature discharge blew off both hands, and otherwise severely injured him.  For many weeks his life hung in the balance, but good nursing, skillful medical attention assisted by his own remarkable nerve and will power, at length brought him through this ordeal of suffering.  Though maimed and helpless to a degree that would have appalled and crushed a lest resolute man.  Mr. Blan bravely renewed the struggle for those dependent upon him.  There is something heroic as well as pathetic in the last degree in this battle against cruel and hopeless misfortune.  Nobody will ever know the anguish he suffered, because he went forward so cheerfully.  No one ever heard him complain or murmur.  Deprived of his hands he could work at the case no longer, and could only give oversight to his business.  After a while, however, he was furnished with an artificial hand, with which he learned to write and took charge of the editorial work.  In this he was surprisingly successful.  With limited education in school, he had the practical training of the printing office, which for some purpose is more valuable than that acquired by many who pass through academy and college.

Some three years ago incipient paralysis forced him to desist from work altogether.  The trouble increased as the months went by, until he was forced to stay at home most of the time.  Early on the morning of the 23rd inst. He suffered from a stroke of apoplexy and sank at once into a condition of coma from which he never aroused.

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.