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About the Author

John Blair Linn

John Blair Linn, author and historian, was born in Lewisburg, Pa., October 15, 1813. His great-great grandfather, William Linn, emigrated from Ireland in 1732, settling in Chester County, Pa.  John Blair Linn was the son of John F. Linn, a Lewisburg lawyer, democrat, and abolitionist and Margaret A. Linn (née Wilson).  He shares his name with Shippensburg-born poet, John Blair Linn (1777-1805), also descended from William Linn.

Linn was educated at the Lewisburg Academy and Marshall College at Mercersburg, now Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Pa.  He studied law in his father’s office and was admitted to the bar September, 1851.  He was elected the first district attorney in Sullivan County and served until he returned to Union county in 1854.  There he practiced law until moving to Bellefonte in Centre County in April, 1871.  Two years later, the Hon. H.S. Quay appointed John Blair Linn as his Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  John Blair became the Secretary of the Commonwealth with Quay’s resignation in May, 1878 and continued in this service until Governor’s Hoyt’s inauguration in 1879.  John Blair returned to Bellefonte and edited the second series of the Pennsylvania Archives, a publication that continued for nineteen volumes, twelve under the joint editorialship of Linn and Egle.  In Bellefonte’s North Ward, Linn served as Justice of the Peace from 1887-1897, in two terms lasting five years each. 

John Blair Linn published a number of books and essays, focusing primarily on military and colonial history of Pennsylvania and including histories of Union, Centre, and Clinton Counties.  He continued working through the end of his life, publishing and editing a number of historical publications. 

On September 29, 1862, Linn enlisted in the Union Army, spending time as a first lieutenant for Company K of the Pennsylvania 51st. He later appealed to Eli Slifer to obtain positions in the corps for friends and family, as is evidenced in a number of the letters in Dickinson College’s collection.  He resigned from his regiment March 9, 1863.

John Blair Linn was twice married.  On October 22, 1857 he married his first wife Julia J. Pollock, with whom he had two children—Sarah P., born April, 1859 and Bessie W., born September, 1860.  After his first wife’s death on July 19, 1862 from tuberculosis, John Blair married Mary E.D. Wilson and had another two children—Mary H., born July, 1869 and Henry Sage, born January, 1873.  John Blair Linn passed away January 2, 1899 from illness. 

Please visit the following link for materials authored by John Blair Linn maintained in the Their Own Words database:

Linn, John Blair , 1831-1899

Researched, authored, and edited by Margaret Browndorf.

Page created: April 27, 2009                                            close window