George W. Blatterman (or Blættermann, as he is listed in the U.Va. Matriculation Books) was born in England. He had lost his parents at four years old, and was adopted by his aunt, Mrs. Charlotte Elizabeth Blættermann (ca. 1776-1864), and her husband Dr. George W. Blættermann, L.L.D. (1782-1850). (Daily public ledger) Dr. Blættermann was born in Thuringia, Germany, and his wife was an Englishwoman. In 1824, the family was living in London when Dr. Blættermann was hired as the first professor for Thomas Jefferson’s new school, the University of Virginia.
While Dr. Blættermann was considered an excellent scholar and taught Modern Languages for fifteen years at the new University, his curmudgeonly disposition did not make him popular. He was finally dismissed from his position by the Board of Visitors in 1840, because he had been seen beating his wife. The problem was not that he was beating his wife, but that he was doing it in public, which could have affected the reputation of the entire school. (Stith) Mrs. Blættermann then separated from her husband and re-opened her school for girls at Ivy House, while the ex-professor lived at his farm, Limestone. In 1850, after her husband’s death, she moved to Maysville, KY to live with her son George.
George W. Blatterman (the younger) had attended the University of Virginia in sessions 13-15 ( 1836-1839), and had moved to Maysville, Kentucky in 1841. In 1843, he married Eleanor Orr Collins (18 Feb. 1826-29 Jun. 1901). The couple had seven children: Louis Collins, Charlotte Elizabeth, Mary Eleanor, Fanny Decins, George Walter, Katherine “Kate” Keith, and Joseph Baron Blatterman.
Also according to the Census, Blatterman had wide business interests. In 1850, his occupation was “bookseller”. In 1860, he was listed as “pairfine [paraffin] manufacturer,” having sold the bookstore in March 1860 to a Mr. Pearce. (Humphreys v. Pearce) In 1870 he was a “ret. drug”; and in 1880, he was listed as a “druggist,” as were his sons Louis Collins and George Walter. Local historians state that 34 West Second Street in Maysville was “G.W. Blatterman’s Drugs and Paint Store which was started in 1872 and lasted until the 1890s.” (Parnell) In the 1900 Census he is listed as “Supt. Schools” (Mason County Superintendent of Schools). He was an organist, deacon, and elder in the Presbyterian Church.
At the end of his life, George W. Blatterman moved to Charleston, West Virginia, and lived with his daughter Mary and her family. He died in Charleston, and according to the obituary in the Maysville Daily public ledger, was buried in Maysville Cemetery.
[N.b. The birth date of George W. Blatterman was found in the U.Va. Matriculation Books. The death date for Eleanor (Collins) Blatterman was located in her obituary in the Daily public ledger.]
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. (accessed 10/20/2011).
- “Another pioneer passes.” Daily Public Ledger (Maysville, KY). 01 July 1901, p. 2, in Chronicling America (Library of Congress) [database online] http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069117/1901-07-01/ed-1/seq-2 (accessed 10/21/2011).
- “Brooks.” In Miller, Thomas C. and Hu Maxwell, West Virginia and its people. New York, 1913, v.2, p. 56-58.
- “Col. Charles C. Wertenbaker’s Recollections of the University, pt.1.” University of Virginia Alumni News, v.2, no.9 (7 Jan. 1914), p. 104-106. (accessed 10/20/2011).
- “Humphreys v. Pearce. Appeal from Mason County Circuit Court.” Decisions of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, Winter Term 1864, p. 237-239 (accessed 10/21/2011).
- J.J.W. “George W. Blatterman.” Daily Public Ledger (Maysville, KY). 25 Mar. 1912, p. 1, in Chronicling America (Library of Congress) [database online] http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069117/1912-03-25/ed-1/seq-1 (accessed 10/21/2011).
- Parnell, Jeremy. “History of a building.” Maysville Mason County Kentucky. [blog] http://masoncountyky.blogspot.com/2008/09/history-of-building.html (accessed 10/21/2011).
- The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. Minutes, Sept. 14, 1840. http://xtf.lib.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=2006_06/uvaGenText/tei/bov_18400914.xml (accessed 10/21/2011).
- Stith, Wayne Lee. On the origins of post-secondary German instruction in the United States: the Rezension of George W. Blaettermann, first professor of modern languages at the University of Virginia. Ph.D. Thesis (U.Va., 2008).
- University of Virginia Matriculation Books, 1825-1904, Accession #RG-14/4/2.041, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.