At the age of eleven, young Blair began working at his cousin’s store in Hope, located in this stone building at the corner of High and Walnut Streets, still in use today. Late in his teens, about 1820, John I. Blair moved to the small hamlet of Butts' Bridge, soon to be called Gravel Hill, which at the time contained only four houses and a mill. There he went into partnership as a storekeeper, two years later owning the store outright, a business he would foster for forty years. At age 23, Blair became the postmaster of the local office and, at age 26, he married Anne Locke with whom he established a homestead at Gravel Hill. As his mercantile business grew, Blair set up family members in other stores in Paulina, Marksboro, Huntsville, and Johnsonburg, thereby creating a chain of Blair-operated establishments. He became a wholesale distributor, purchasing local farm produce and carting it by several horse-and-wagon teams to eastern New Jersey and New York. The return trips brought back fresh goods to be sold to other local merchants, as well as for his own stores. In 1830, at 28 years of age, Blair and brother James had accumulated enough capital to open a National Bank in Belvidere, which handled many of the Blair family's transactions in land companies, mining interests, and railroad construction. John I. retained leadership of the bank, noted In 1860, Blair constructed a brick store at 9 Clinton Street in Delaware. The post office has occupied the building since 1884 without interruption, making it the oldest in New Jersey still operating in its original building 5

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