John Insley Blair

John Insley Blair

The John Insley Blair Exhibit is located at 26 Main Street Blairstown, NJ 07825.


From Poverty to Philanthropy

John Insley Blair’s rather plain gravestone will tell you he was born on August 22, 1802 and died on December 2, 1899. What it doesn’t tell you is what a humble and remarkable man he was and the adventurous and philanthropic life that he lived. Born just two miles from Belvidere on his parents’ farm in Foul Rift and later growing up in Hope, his childhood was defined by vigorous farm labor, a very poor education, and the sudden death of his father. Yet, he was able to take those experiences and turn them into unimaginable success.

Unlike his contemporaries who desired to operate from New York City or one of the other emerging cities, he conducted his business from Blairstown, the town that bore his name – where he was known to walk Main Street wearing his signature tattered coat and windblown hair. While John Insley Blair did not invent service to others, he did live an inspiring life of philanthropy. It is said, when Rockefeller and Carnegie began to give money away, they were simply following John Insley Blair’s lead.

  • John Insley Blair
    John Insley Blair: Poverty to Philanthropy

Warren County Hall of Fame 2017 Induction Ceremony

Following our nomination of John Insley Blair into the Warren County Hall of Fame, the Blairstown Museum graciously and humbly accepted the award on Mr. Blair’s behalf at the WCCC Induction Ceremony at Hawk Pointe Golf Club on Saturday October 21, 2017. Our efforts now turn to obtaining State and Federal recognition of Mr. Blair’s achievements and contributions.


Blairstown Museum Acceptance Speech

On May 10, 2017 the Blairstown Museum nominated John Insley Blair for the Warren County Hall of Fame. We received notification on September 8, 2017 that our nomination was endorsed by the Selection Committee. Members of our Board of Trustees attended the induction ceremony on October 21, 2017 where our Curator, Jeanette Iurato, accepted the award on Mr. Blair’s behalf.

Since 2015, the Blairstown Museum has worked to have Mr. Blair’s achievements and contributions acknowledged on a Local, State and Federal level. Now we can officially say — one down, two to go. Everyone throughout the greater Blairstown area should be especially proud of Mr. Blair. We, certainly, are. 

We cordially invite you to visit the Blairstown Museum to learn more about John Insley Blair’s life – from Poverty to Philanthropy.


Museum of American Finance

In April 2018, the Blairstown Museum was contacted by the Museum of American Finance, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, regarding the Spring 2018 edition of their magazine, Financial History. MOAF staff members requested family photographs; as well as information the Blairstown Museum could provide in respect to his life and establishment of Blair & Co., Inc.

The article appears on pages 30-34, and discusses in great and interesting detail the history of Blair & Co., Inc. – from its early days involving John Insley Blair to its mass exodus from the financial world in 1970.