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Pajama Genealogy and My Beulah Blakley Rose

By Carol Johnson, CGHS Member

On May 16th I attended the Fairmount Cemetery Heritage Rose Sale.  To celebrate Fairmount’s 125th Anniversary, the Fairmount Heritage Foundation, in partnership with High Country Roses, propagated new cuttings from several roses never previously available commercially.  I purchased a Beulah Blakley, a mystery rose new this year from historic Riverside Cemetery.  How interesting to find that such mystery roses are given the name of the person on the nearest tombstone.

Then, on a Memorial Day visit to Riverside Cemetery I found Beulah Blakley’s tombstone in Block 20, Lot 212.  It reads:  “Beulah B. Blakley, Eldest child of A.A. and Ophelia Blakley, Born:  June 24, 1881, Died:  April 15, 1890.”  In front of the tombstone is her rose bush, which was propagated, one of which I bought, and which is now planted in my garden.

Now I want to know more about Beulah Blakley and her family.  Find A Grave includes her obituary from the Rocky Mountain News on 16 April 1890:  “BUELAH (sic) V. BLAKLEY – Died – in Denver, Apr 15, daughter of A. A. and Ophelia Blakley, aged 8 years and 10 months.  Funeral from residence of P.W. Blakley, 3545 Blake Street, 2 o-clock today.  Friends invited.  Riverside Cemetery record, Blakeley, Berelah (sic) V., age 8, interred 4/16/1890” (Find A Grave Memorial #32766991).

In checking for other Blakleys buried at Riverside, I find one of Beulah’s younger brothers is buried in the same block and lot:  Harry E. Blakley was born on June 1, 1889, and died on June 4, 1890, only two months after Beulah.  His tombstone’s inscription reads:  “Youngest child of A. A. & Ophelia L. Blakley” and “Our Baby Boy” (Find A Grave Memorial #99597319.)

The Ausloos Urban Family Tree at Ancestry indicates that Alderson B. (sic:  A.) Blakley (1859-1931) is her father, and Ophelia L. Bonnell (1856-1935) is her mother.

In the Miller-Sheehan Family Tree at Ancestry I learn that P.W. Blakley is Proman W. Blakley, her paternal uncle mentioned in Beulah’s obituary, who is a hackman (a driver of a carriage for hire) and lives at 3545 Blake in the 1888 Denver, CO City Directory (page:  155).

The 1900 Federal Census for Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado, done 7 Jun 1900, lists Alderson Blakley as the head of family living at 3344 West 44th Avenue.  He is a married white male who is 41 years old, having been born in March, 1859, in Kansas.  He has been married for 19 years.  His occupation is Weighmaster (for the Union Pacific Railway).  His wife, Ophelia, is 42 years old, having been born in October, 1857, in Kansas.  She has had 7 children, 5 of whom are still living:  Lilburne, a son born in January, 1883, in Colorado; Arvell, a son born in March, 1885, in Colorado; Dixie, a daughter, born in April, 1887, in Colorado; Ralph, a son, born in March, 1893, in Colorado, and a 4-month-old unnamed daughter (eventually named Bonnell Collins Blakley), born in January, 1900, in Colorado (Family History Library Microfilm:  1240118; Roll:  118; Enumeration District:  0048; Page:  7B; #68-74).

The 1930 Denver City Directory lists Alderson A. Blakley as the president of A. A. Blakley Live Stock Commission Company.  He and Ophelia live at 3433 W. 44th Avenue (page 648).  The 1930 Federal Census for Denver, Colorado, shows them living at the same address and owning the house worth $8,000 with only their 47-year-old son, Lilburne, who is a Newspaper Pressman (Enumeration District:  16-221, Page:  1A, #17-19).

Another of Beulah’s younger brothers, Arvell Alderson Blakley, is listed in the 1930 Denver City Directory as a Vice President of the A. A. Blakley Live Stock Commission Company living at 4540 King Street, a house worth $8,000 which he owns. He appears in the 1940 census as a Livestock Salesman who is married to Viola and owns their house worth only $5,000 at 4540 King Street (Enumeration District:  1; Sheet No. 11A, #20).

The youngest of Beulah’s brothers, Ralph S. Blakley, elopes in 1913 with one of the Meyers sisters, who are pronounced to be “among the most beautiful girls in Denver,” and the marriage announcement appears in a front-page article in the Denver Post (8 Feb 1913, Page 1).  By 1940 Ralph’s occupation is the Vice President of the A. A. Blakley Livestock Commission Company living at 4546 King Street in the 1940 Denver City Directory (page 502).

In checking at Find A Grave for more Blakleys, I find that Beulah and Harry are the only Blakleys buried at Riverside.  Their parents, Alderson A. Blakley (1859-1931) and Ophelia L. (1856-1935) are both buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Jefferson, Colorado (Find A Grave Memorial #43516072 and #43516073).  Their paternal uncle, Proman W. Blakley, and his wife, Rose Ella, are buried at Crown Hill (Find A Grave Memorial # 62762334 and #62762335).  One of their brothers, A. A. (Arvell Alderson) “Val” Blakley (1885-1955) and his wife, Viola C. (1886-1968) are buried at Crown Hill (Find A Grave Memorial #29939277 and #29939330).

In spite of losing their oldest and youngest child in two months’ time in 1890, the Blakley family achieved a successful life in Denver.  Beulah’s father worked as a hackman at his father’s livery stable and a railway weighmaster before forming a livestock company and serving as Denver’s Excise Commissioner and President of the Fire and Police Board.  He faced some real political challenges during 1913-1914.

Now whenever I look at my Beulah Blakley rose in my backyard, I will recall a morning of what I call “Pajama Genealogy”, when I sat at my computer and researched Beulah and her Blakley family in Denver.  I can hardly wait for next year’s rose sale at Fairmount.  I wonder whose rose I will get then?

Join us for the annual Rose Sale Saturday May 14th! Details Here>>