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Kentucky Cousins

cousins_showFrancis Preston Blair, Jr., Joseph Orville Shelby and Benjamin Gratz Brown are a part of one of the most remarkable families in the annals of Civil War history.

All from Lexington, Kentucky, Blair and Brown descended from the Gist family of Maryland and Kentucky, as had Shelby, distantly, on his mother’s side. Shelby’s mother Anna was the second wife of Kentucky pioneer Benjamin Gratz; Frank Blair’s aunt had been Gratz’ first wife, and Benj. Gratz Brown was named for the elder Gratz – a close friend of his father’s. The three were close in their youths, and Blair and Brown were frequent visitors to the Gratz home where Shelby was raised through his teens. Another frequent visitor was Shelby’s best friend, John Hunt Morgan. Frank Blair’s brother, Montgomery Blair, was to become Lincoln’s Postmaster General. Frank, along with “JO” Shelby and Gratz Brown, all sought their fortunes in Missouri. The biography of each of these remarkable men – whose political views covered the whole spectrum of mid-Nineteenth Century America – can be found on this site, but a summary is in order: Frank Blair: U.S. Congressman; Major General, USA; Vice Presidential Candidate (Horatio Seymour Ticket, 1868); United States Senator. Gratz Brown: Brig. General, USA; Governor of Missouri; United States Senator; Vice Presidential Candidate (Horace Greeley ticket, 1872). JO Shelby: Brig. General, CSA; United States Marshall; Most famous Missourian of the post-war era; Most prolific cavalry commander in American military history.


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