John Blocher Family - Table of Contents
John Blocher Family
(Pronounced BLOAK er)
All of the illustrations below are on
display at Blocher
Homes, 135 Evans Street, Williamsville, NY.
TEXT Beneath Illustrations
Blocher Family Tree
John and Elizabeth Neff Blocher
Newspaper article - Section 1
Newspaper - Section 2
Newspaper - Section 3
Architect's drawing of Blocher Homes
1904 - ground broken
1906 - opened
1969 - Demolished
John Blocher was born in Scipio, Pennsylvania in 1825. His father, of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, had migrated there in 1823. He lived there for only one year when his parents moved to Erie County, New York, and remained here for the rest of his life.
His formal education consisted of a few brief terms in a log school house where he would be spared from farm labor. After his father's death, he became, at the ripe age of 10, the mainstay of his family. After a year working for a neighboring farmer at $4 a month, he was apprenticed at 12 to a tailor He had started his own tailoring shop in Williamsville by the time he was 18.
At 20, in 1846, he married Elizabeth Neff of Williamsville.
During the Civil War he enlisted in the 74th New York Regiment, but was discharged as a Second Lieutenant after one year because of a disability. He bought a farm in Clarence and spent a year in the lumber business. He then moved to buffalo and opened up a boot and shoe factory on Wells Street, where he was soon employing 200 men. for the manufacture of ARMY footwear. In a relatively short time, he became one of Buffalo's most successful businessmen.
His home, 168 Delaware Avenue at Huron, purchased in 1878, was spacious and elegantly furnished containing statuary, paintings and hand-carved articles of mahogany furniture, some of which were later moved to The Blocher Homes.
The Blochers had one son, Nelson, born in 1885. When Nelson died in 1884 at 37 after a long illness , the parents decided to build a memorial in his honor. This is the stately Blocher monument at Forest Lawn. In it are Italian marble figures of the parents standing beside a couch on which the son, Nelson, is lying. The statuary in Forest lawn cost $100,000 ($1, 743,174 in 1997 dollars) plus $5,000 annually for maintenance.
When the memorial was finished, Mr. Blocher is quoted to have said to his wife, "You have had your way. No work or expense has been spared on this monument to our son. Now it is my turn to build what I want: a home where old men and women can enjoy their declining years and be cared for during illness."
Mr. Blocher had his home for the aged built on extensive property which he had acquired in Williamsville. Also on this land he planted large orchards, allowing Buffalo residents to help themselves.
Around the turn of the century the Old Home Days was celebrated on this land on what was once the Blocher Park Pavilion. Today it is the site of Ed Youngs Hardware Store.
In 1902, John Blocher incorporated the Blocher Homes. On September 4, 1904, he broke ground for the original building; a fifty-five room, limestone mansion, which would be home to elderly men and women. In addition, Mrs. Blocher donated several acres of land to the Holy Family Home. On January 1, 1906, the original Blocher Homes was opened for residency.
In 1969, it was decided that it was no longer safe for occupancy, so rather than restore the old building, the Board of Directors at that time decided to erect a new building which was built in 1969 and opened on February 1, 1970 for 55 residents.
One source of text information: Buffalo's Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families, by Edward T. Dunn. Pub. by Canisius College Press, 2003