Family Stories

Malnor Coons Blaine and Mary C. Phister – Mason County

Malnor Coons Blaine and Mary C. Phister met and married after the Civil War on May 20th, 1874.  Malnor was 28 years of age, Mary was 26.  Both were born in Maysville, their ancestors having settled there in the early years of the city.  Malnor was a minister, having served as a chaplain during the war, but he was also a dentist. 

Let’s get a bit of background on this couple.  Malnor was the son of Samuel L. Blaine, born in 1810 in Pennsylvania, and Ann Coons, born in 1820.  In the 1850 census Samuel was 40; Ann, 30; Eleanor, 10; Elizabeth, 8; John was 6 and Malnor, 4.  Twenty years later the two older boys still lived with their parents, the girls were most likely married.  Samuel was a US assessor.  His son John was an assistant assessor.  Malnor was a US store keeper.  Four other sons were born by 1870 – Charles, 19, a clerk; William, 15, apprenticed to a painter; Robert, 11; and Samuel, 7. 

Mary was the daughter of Charles Phister (from Monday’s post), born 1819, and Margaret Hutchins, born 1829.  In Mason County’s 1850 census Charles was 32, Margaret, 24; Mary, 3; Eveline, 1.  Charles was a coal merchant.  Three sons were born in later years – Morris, 1853; Walter, 1858; and Ben, 1862.

Malnor Coons Blaine enlisted with the Union army September 1, 1864, in Co H, 54th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry.  He was 17 years old, 5’ 10” in height, had a fair complexion, grey eyes, light hair.  His enlistment shows his occupation as dentist.  He was discharged September 1, 1865, but was a private in Kentucky’s 37th Infantry for a year, July 13, 1867 to July 1868, under the name of Leroy St. Phillips.  I’m not sure why he didn’t use his real name. 

A cousin, James G. Blaine, was elected a United States Senator from Maine, and in 1880 he appointed Malnor as Post Chaplain.  This led to Malnor and Mary Blaine traveling the United States due to various posts, including Fort Buford, North Dakota, Denver Colorado, and Fort Ringgold, Texas.

Malnor and Mary had only one daughter, named Mary for her mother.  Tragedy struck the family on November 30, 1896, Thanksgiving night, at Fort Ringgold, when their home caught fire.  “The upper part of his quarters, where his wife and daughter were sleeping, took fire.  He rushed upstairs, found his wife, and, wrapping a blanket about her, got he rout in safety.  Then, in spite of warnings, he went back after his daughter.  The stairs then ablaze, but he made his way to her room, and the last seen of him he had her covered with a blanket, standing at the head of the stairs.  Just then there was a crash, sparks flew in all directions, and father and daughter were plunged through to the cellar.  There they were found when the fire had been put out.  He was horribly burned, but on the dead body of his daughter was not a mark of fire or smoke.  He had fought the flames from her successfully, thought he could not save her life.”  Logan County Pioneer, Gandy, Nebraska, Friday, April 29, 1898.   

Malnor C. Blaine, 1846-1896. Mary Phister, daughter of M. C. & M. P. Blaine, 1885-1896. Maysville Cemetery, Mason County, Kentucky.

Mary lived her sorrow for just over a year before giving up to be with her husband and child.

The Public Ledger, Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky

Monday, January 3, 1898

The Funeral Saturday of Mrs. Mary Phister Blaine Closes a Sad Chapter

The funeral of Mrs. Mary Phister Blaine occurred from the M. E. Church at 10:30 Saturday morning, with services by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Hanford of Covington, her former pastor, after which the remains were deposited beside those of her husband and daughter in the Maysville Cemetery.

Thus ended a most tragic chapter in life history.

Mrs. Blaine was the wife of Major Malnor C. Blaine, Chaplain of the U.S. Army, who was a relative of the late Hon. James G. Blaine.  On Thanksgiving Day, 1896, she with her husband and only daughter were residing at Fort Ringgold, Texas, where Rev. Mr. Blaine were stationed.  That night their residence burned, and after saving his wife he again rushed into the burning building to recue their only daughter, when both were lost.  Their remains were brought here, and ever since Mrs. Blaine has remained with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Phister, in this city.  It was a marvel to her friends how she endured her great affliction, but on December 23rd, the birthday of her daughter, her mind gave way and she was removed to a sanitarium at Cincinnati, where death closed the sad chapter at 2 o’clock Thursday morning.

Among those from abroad who attended the funeral were Chaplain Springer of Fort Thomas, who preached the funeral of her husband and daughter; Mr. and Mrs. John E. Blaine of Cincinnati, Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Blaine of New York and Mrs. Chambers Phister of Newport.

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