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Ernest Henry Blackwell  1913 - 1985                              

Tombstone of Ernie and Jessie Blackwell

14th Generation  Ernest Henry Blackwell    (Biography)  (Obituary)
b. 31 Mar 1913 Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
d. 1985 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
Married:  7 Jan 1941 Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
Jessie Lillian Byford     Also see Byford
b.  8 Dec 1917 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.
d. 29 Oct 1971 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.
buried:  Rosedale Cemetery, Moose Jaw on 2 Nov 1971.                              
She is the daughter o
f Arthur Byford Sr. (Seymour)                                                                                                      
and Nellie Leticia Cousins b. 21 Jan 1885  Norfolk, England. 
                                     d.  9 Dec., 1967 Melfort, Sask. 

The Family of Ernie
The Family of Ernie Blackwell and Jessie Byford
15th Generation Children of Ernie Blackwell (  and Jessie Byford                                                            Photo 105
15th Generation  Children of Ernie Blackwell and Jessie Byford 
Ronald Ernest Blackwell  b. 11 Nov. 1945   Melfort Sk.  Infant Death  Moose Jaw, Sk.  Infant Death  Moose Jaw, Sk.



Ernest Henry Blackwell   abt 1966
Photo 106
Ernest Henry Blackwell
1913 - 1985
Fourth Born Son of John Blackwell of 1877

Some of the positions offered, declined or accepted by Ernie Blackwell
Founder and first President of the Melfort Kinsman Club 1950  -  District Administrator - Moose Jaw Little League Baseball
Member and Director of Moose Jaw Chamber of Commerce  -  Member - United Commercial Travelers - Moose Jaw
Sportsman of the Year Award - Moose Jaw -  Nominated for City Council - Declined Opportunity  -  Multiple Civic and Business Awards
Asked to run for Mayor's Office - Declined Opportunity  -  Baseball Diamond named in his honour - Moose Jaw

Also See - Melfort Juniors

Jessie and Ernie Blackwell in Melfort, Sk. abt 1941Both Jessie and Ernie became heavily involved in the sport of Baseball. 
Their efforts, along with other dedicated people, came to a vivid reality
of good times, good friends, and great expectations of life for young
people.  They both lived their lives with great dignity, and pride.  They
became respected in every community they lived in. 

Jessie & Ernie
believed taken 1941
 Photo 107

My Grandmother and Grandfather (Lillian and Nelson Switzer) had given me a Bible in 1954.
My Mother (Jessie) would insert little pieces of paper and other collections into the pages. 
I have copied a couple of them here for all to read.....

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.   1 Cor. 2:9"

On the same little insert is a short poem that responds to the Biblical passage above  1 Cor. 2:9

Perhaps if we could see the splendor of that land
To which our loved ones are called from you and me
We'd understand.
Perhaps if we could hear the welcome they receive
From old familiar voices - Oh! so dear,
We should not grieve.
Perhaps if we could know the reason why they went,
We'd smile, and wipe away the tears that flow,
And wait content.

Jessie Blackwell in Melfort, Sk.  about 1938
Jessie Byford - Blackwell
Photo about 1938
Photo 108

Jessie was loved and respected by all members of her family as well as by those she met as she made her way through the years.  She was a strong Christian woman who was actively involved in her Church (Emanuel Lutheran) in Moose Jaw.  At that time, the Church was located in the 400 block of Ominica Street.  My mother was born in Boharm, Saskatchewan.  I don't know how they ended up in Melfort, but that was the location she met my father.  Later, when they moved to Moose Jaw, and now she was only 8 miles east of her original childhood home.  An interesting item is her school years.  She attended a one room school house.  She had the same teacher from Grade 1 to grade 8.  The year my mother graduated from Grade 8, the rules changed and the teacher was now able to teach high school classes as well.  My Mother continued on in that same little school house for another 4 years, in the same desk with the same teacher.  However, the teacher was excellent and my Mother's education was very good.  I can only imagine the quality of that teacher as a person as her influence would have been dominant in the children she spent so many years with. 

Home of Ernie & Jessie Blackwell  Melfort, Sk.  Ernie's father, John of 1877,
built the house you see here.
It was a beautiful home inside
and it still stands today.


Blackwell Home
    Melfort, Sask.
         Built by
John Blackwell
      Photo 109

1968  Ernie - Jessie - Ron  (Photo by Linda Elsom)
The Ernie Blackwell Family
Ernie - Jessie - Ron
Taken in Moose Jaw at 535 Athabasca St. - about 1968
Photo by Elizabeth (Linda) Elsom
Photo 110

Tombstone or Ernie and Jessie Blackwell  Moose Jaw, Sk
Tombstone of Ernie and Jessie Blackwell
Jessie passed away in 1971
Ernie passed away in 1985
Photo 111

                              Obituary of Ernie Blackwell
Obituary of Ernie Blackwell
Moose Jaw lost one of it's more prominent businessman and sportsman on Thursday when Ernie Blackwell passed away at the age of 71.  The owner of Blackwell's Piano and Organ Company moved to Moose Jaw in 1952.  He was born in Brandon, Man.  While building up his musical business, Blackwell was also involved in city's sports community.  He is especially remembered for the 26 years spent promoting little league baseball.   In 1961 he was presented the CHAB Sportsman of the Year Award.  Community affairs also interested Blackwell, who was both a member and director of the Moose Jaw Chamber of Commerce.
He was predeceased by his parents and wife Jessie.  He is survived by his son Ron, daughter-in-law Chris, grand daughters Carolyn and Melanie and great grandson Christopher, all from Moose Jaw.  Other family members are:  Mrs. Phyllis (Carl) McGraw, sister, in Dayton, Ohio; Allen Blackwell, brother, Santa Rosa, CA.; Gordon (Ina) Blackwell, Penticton; and Agnes Blackwell, a sister-in-law from Melfort.  Funeral services will be held at the W.J. Jones and Son Chapel Saturday at 2:PM.  Pastor Cliff Haberstock of Emmanuel Lutheran Church will officiate.  Internment will be at the Rosedale Cemetery.



Ernie and Jessie are buried together in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in the same cemetery as Jessie's biological father, Arthur Byford The cemetery is located just west of Moose Jaw on Caribou St. that is the main road to Boharm, Saskatchewan; the Byford home of Jessie.  The Blackwell Baseball Diamond is located in a new section of Moose Jaw that is not far from their burial site.  The cheers of the game can be heard  from their resting place. Thanks to the People of Moose Jaw for this gracious honour.


The 1950 Melfort Junior Team started the run of five straight titles.
(Back L to R)  Bud Hurlbert, Ken Bird, Jimmy Linell, Jim McPhee, Jack Payne, Harvey Smith,
Irvin Pyett, Keith Hoshagen, Ron Cowie, Pete Melenchuk, coach Ernie Blackwell
(Middle)  Billy Gervan, "Moe" Armstrong, Merle Leipert, Doug Sinclair
(Front) mascot Brian Leipert, bat boy Terry Melenchuk and mascot Ron Blackwell
Inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame on August 18, 2001
Photo 112

See much more on the Melfort Juniors


More on Jessie and Ernie

The story of Ernie Blackwell is special to me as I am not only the webmaster of this site, but Ernie is my father.  He was born in Brandon, Manitoba in 1913.  He was the second youngest of the children.  His grandmother was Lois Twichell.   His older brothers were Allan, and Ivan with an older sister, Phyllis.  His younger brother was Gordon.   He also told me that his parents lost their little girl Lois in infancy.  Lois was their first born child and had she survived, she would have been the eldest and first of two daughters.

I think they had a middle class life style in Brandon in the early years but hardships followed after that.  I did hear some terrible stories of their life in Saskatchewan.  Hardship was common place for a lot of people in those days.   Food was scarce and I have heard stories of having potatoes and corn syrup for food as a staple.   Not because it was tasty, but because that is all they had or could store for any length of time. Every home had a Root Celler'.   This is a fancy word that meant a hole in the ground (often below the house) to keep their food stuffs.  Do not confuse this with our nice basements we have today.  It was really novel to go down into the Root Cellar and see the "Shelves" cut out of the dirt so the preserves could be put up on them.  It was very cool but not freezing.

I remember my father telling me about his father (John being a Plasterer and in Construction in Manitoba.  He used to take the payroll to the job site in a case that was full of cash to pay his employees.  One day, when things were so bad that he had to shut down, he took all his cash and any money he could raise from the sale of his property to pay his employees what he owed them.  This left the family destitute and they then headed West to the Peace River region of Canada.  However, they ran out of travel money in or near Melfort.   That is how Melfort became their home.  It is this kind of integrity that I saw in my father in later years.  He had ample opportunity to take the route of most financial success but the options to do that meant betrayal of his ethics.  I never understood this until later years, but I am very aware of it now.  He was possibly the most credible human being I have ever met, not because he was my father, but because he was truly that kind of man, and was recognized by others for that as well.

Ernie Blackwell - Coach, Manage and Friend to Champion Melfor Jr. 1948In growing up, my father had done it all.  He had traveled with the carnival called the Royal American Shows.  During the day he built the wooden track for the little cars out of planks.  He then would be a "barker" for one of the side shows in the evening.  A barker is the fellow who stands up at the front of the tent and tried to talk you into buying a ticket.  The barker had to be good in his excitement and his ability to persuade you to buy a ticket.   He got to see a lot of country in his travels and meet a different cross section of people.   Closer to home, he drove truck for the Carrot River Oil Company.  I recall his telling me about the corduroy roads he had to travel.  These are roads that are built with logs laid across areas of permafrost.  It was the only way to take a vehicle into some of the areas he had to travel.  In the summer, the frost in the ground would melt and the logs would take the stress of the vehicle without sinking out of sight (sometimes).  In the winter, the permafrost would set in and it was a safer trip.  In those days you got paid by the mile and it was not much.  You had to drive non stop for days to end up with enough money to make a living.   After many days on the road, my father came to the point of exhaustion.  He went to the owner and said, "that's it, I am going to bed for a couple of days".  "If you want to give my job away, that is up to you".  He handed the owner the keys for the truck and left.  A few days later he came back and the owner had the keys ready and waiting for him.  His truck did not move the whole time.  The owner, it is believed, saw the honesty in my father as he did not discolour the fuel or skim the count as other drivers seemed to do on a regular basis. and the owner knew this.   (Explanation)  When you deliver Gas their are two of three sections to your tanker truck.  Each held different types of fuel.  They were called, Red, White and Purple Gas.  They all had a slightly different colour.   Some drivers would 'dye' the gas and sell the cheaper gas as costlier gas and pocket the difference.  Others would simply "short pour" the tanks of the end user and keep the excess.  All transactions were usually done in cash by the smaller accounts.

My father met and married my mother who was living in Melfort and working at the Star Store on Main Street. (a five and dime store)  It was on Jan. 7 of  1941 that they were married. My mother told me a very funny story that only became humorous years later, but at the time, it was a serious situation.   It seems that my father and mother owned a Furniture Store.  Like any other business of the time, you did not keep regular hours and a lot of the time was spent on the road.  On one particular trip my father had been away on a road trip delivering and selling furniture. He returned on a November night that, believe it or not, was raining and snowing all at the same time.  At that time of year, it would of or should have been well below freezing.  He did not go home but went immediately back to the closed store.  (it was late) and picked up some samples to take on a call he had arranged.  The call was to the Hospital Administrator who was in need of furniture for the waiting rooms.  My father appeared with his samples in hand and as he approached the counter, he noticed the nurses were in a frenzy.  He heard one of the nurses call to another,  "Quick, call Doctor Levitt, Mrs. Blackwell is having her baby".  That was the first indication my father had that his wife had been taken to hospital in his absence and was about to give birth.    A note of information here.  It was not until I started my genealogy (2001) and went through some old letters and cards of congratulations that I saw the real seriousness of this story.  It was not funny at all for all parties.  It seems that my mother had a bad time in her pregnancy and just about died in the process of my delivery.  It was anything but normal.  It was a difficult time for my parents and I now understand why I was cared for and raised in the manner I was.  They kept this information from me all my life.  It was only my genealogy research that allowed me to understand this.  I was so relieved when I did.  Thus, one of  the values of Genealogy.  (Photo 113 of Ernie Blackwell in his Melfort Uniform)

Just before they were married, my mother gave my father a ring. (late 1930s)  It was a beautiful, large red Ruby set into a solid gold setting.  I remember as I was growing up how much I admired the ring.  It was beautiful.    My father never took it off his hand.  On the night of my fathers passing in the hospital room, I was led to a small room only moments after he was gone.  I sat there in a state of confusion, disbelief and fear.  A nurse walked in and asked me if I would like anything from the room.  I knew what she meant.  So, I asked for my father's ring.  A few moments later it was brought to me.  I put it on.  It was then that I realized the reality of the situation.  To this day, as I sit here and type
these words, it is on my hand.   I wear it on my third finger of my left hand to remind me of all the people in my life who are, and have been so important to me.  It is sort of a wedding ring, birth stone, friendship ring, and family ring. 

My father was an avid baseball fan and player.  He loved the game.  One day in Melfort (abt 1947 / 48) he was approached by some local young people to support them in a desire they had to start a baseball team.  My father did and in a big way.  I will not go into detail here but you may want to have a look at a tribute page to a group of great ballplayers.  MELFORT JUNIORS    They were entered into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.  To learn more about Ernie Blackwell, you must read the information on this page.   As I indicate on the Melfort Juniors Page, my father was an individual who found great pride in his team.  He thought of them like family and throughout the rest of his life, he would always refer to these days as the best in his life.  There are lots of photos on the Melfort Page.

After doing the research on all the Blackwells and associated families for this website, and seeing how the traits of each of the family members continued on through the generations, I found that my mother had the same characteristics as two members of previous Blackwell History.
Jessie Blackwell had the compassion and spirit of
Lois Twichell and the heart and strength of Mary Jane McGannon.  This is the only way I can describe my mother.  I believe these lifestyles are carried on from family to family by social and physical environment, not genetics.  Thus, it appears that a statement I once heard appears to be correct.  "The raising of a child is a community responsibility, not just a parental responsibility".  My Mother, while sitting at the dinner table, told me that a person is judged by the company they keep.  This was in reference to how I picked my friends.  My father, being a business man, immediately commented on my Mother's statement, and put it in different terms.  He said, "People may be judged by the friends they keep" - "A business is judged by the people they keep".  So, onward goes the environmental impact of right, wrong, and ethics.  These things do not come through the genes, but through the senses.  I lost my Mother when I was about 22 years old.  I lost my father in 1985.  I wish I had more time with my parents, but what I did have was wonderful.  I was very proud of them both.


Ernie Blackwell was the coach, manager, and friend to all the members of the Melfort Juniors Baseball Team.  This team was awarded a place in the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame on August 18th of 2001.  They achieved unbeaten records that stand to this very day.  View Melfort Jrs.


"Ernie Blackwell was known to be a man of his word"


Biography of Ernest Henry Blackwell
Biography of Ernest Henry Blackwell
An organizational and executive meeting lasting until midnight.....a couple of hours of sleep....up again at 3:AM to drive to Regina with Moose Jaw's Little League All-Stars.  This was the hectic start of last Wednesday for Ernie Blackwell, president of the Moose Jaw Little League.  The early morning drive to Regina was unusual but worth it.  It was all part of the success achieved by the Little League this season.  The All-Stars, of course, were on the first lap of an air journey to Salt Lake City for the International Little League divisional playoffs being contested by the four champions from the central area of North America.
Mr. Blackwell started in Little League seven years ago.  For the last four, he has been their president.  His work on the field is nil but the executive responsibility of the League keeps him busy from morning until night.  Since the All-Stars entered playoffs, his day has been further lengthened with the jobs of arranging for cars, billets for the players in the city they visit, arranging for chaperons and all other chores that go along with the sending the boys on the playoff trail.  All the work doesn't fall on Mr. Blackwell's shoulders but like any other interested person, he's there making sure everything goes according to plan.
As president, Mr. Blackwell cannot participate in any way with the teams or running the games.  Getting personnel to run the 32 teams in the league does come under his jurisdiction along with the executive, 53 coaches and managers, 50 umpires and 38 scorekeepers were signed.  How does a person get involved in baseball for boys, all 12 years old?  Mr, Blackwell was asked to join the organization when his son Ron, signed to play.  After he graduated, Mr. Blackwell stayed with the league.
"I don't know how much time I've spent on the league," says the man president since 1958.  "The busiest time is March and April when the entire summer program is drafted."  As president he is not allowed under league rules to coach, manage or work in any way with the playing of the game or to show any favoritism toward any one team.  His love of baseball and the enjoyment he gets working with boys led him to volunteer to coach a team in the Optimist Colt League.
His career in baseball started back in his home town of Melfort, Sask. where he played ball there for 20 years.  He played senior ball there when he was 16. 
Mr. Blackwell's work on the organizational end of the game started in Melfort.  He coached and managed a junior team winning five straight provincial titles and three Western Canada championships.  "Some of the boys from those teams went on to play pro ball in the States," he recalls.  (see Melfort Juniors)
Ernie played for 20 years in and around Melfort and one year in a semi-pro league in Manitoba.  While in Melfort as a member of the Kinsmen Club he worked with 15 other Kinsmen to build a baseball park and a swimming pool.  "We built the ball park in eight days, completely landscaped, built bleachers and a fence.  It was as good a park as any around," he said.  Mr. Blackwell moved to Moose Jaw in 1952 with his wife, Jessie and son.  In the city he managed Crescent Furniture store for two years before starting his own piano and organ business.
Mr. Blackwell said his wife is "as interested in baseball as I am."  She is a member of the Women's Auxiliary to the Little League and can always be seen at one of the Little League or Colt League games keeping score.  In the city Mr. Blackwell is on the executive of the Chamber of Commerce, past senior councilor of the Commercial Travelers Association and a member of the Rotary club.  In Melfort he was a founding member and first president of the Kinsmen club.
Mr. Blackwell was winner of the CHAB Sportsman of the Year award for 1961 in Moose Jaw.  Mr. Blackwell has seen Little League in Moose Jaw grow considerably since he started in 1955.  "That year we had just opened our two diamond park and had two leagues with four teams each," he recalls.  "This year Little League has 32 Teams operating in four leagues and six ball parks.
Mr. Blackwell outlined the operation of the International Little League of which Moose Jaw is a member.  "With headquarters at Williamsport, PA., Little League has over 6000 leagues operation in 27 countries.  Over one and a half million boys between the ages of 8 and 12 play in the League."  "For the Moose Jaw league, cost of affiliating with the international group is $100.00 this year.  Fifteen dollars was the gat percentage from the Saskatchewan championship playoff here this summer.  Mr. Blackwell said if the Moose Jaw team goes to the World Series, Little League would spend some $10,000.00 on the All-Star team."  "Right now, all our expenses have been paid for the trips to Drumheller and Cut Bank.  The league is paying for the trip to Salt Lake City (about $3500.00 just for the plane fare)," he said.  "We get all this for $100.00," said the Moose Jaw president.  "This is really something for the boys and the coaches."  "It's the first time a Western Canada team has ever won in a regional playoff against United States Teams," he added.  "The attitude of the boys is good and I don't think this trip will affect them in the wrong way.  I haven't seen 14 boys so well mannered, and such good sports," he said of the city's all-star team.  "Great credit for the boys' attitude should go to the manager and coach."  said Mr. Blackwell.  Murray Gould is coach and Glenn Forbes is the manager.  "Our boys winning this trip will give a boost to all kids in minor sports in the city." he said.  "We've noticed the caliber of play climbing over the years because of the prospect of such trips." he stated.  Mr. Blackwell said many of the boys have asked him "will they hold off our playoffs until we get back."  They are interested in their own playoffs which started here this week.  "They're interesting in coming back as soon as they can. (winning of course) and playing in the city playoffs," Mr. Blackwell said.
One of Mr. Blackwell's pet projects is trying to get minor baseball in Moose Jaw under one central organization.  Many times Mr. Blackwell has said all the ball, - Little League, Parkhill, Sandlot, right up to Junior ball and even the senior - should come under one head.  "There are differences between the various leagues but these can all be worked out.  It'll take time but in the end it will be best for all concerned," he said.

Written by John Fagan   Moose Jaw Times Herald - Sports Staff.   August 11, 1962


The four last generations in my line.
The Blackwell Line of the Ernie Blackwell family ends here with me. (REB)

George Blackwell 10.2.4 1834-1916 John Ernest Blackwell 1877-1974 Ernest Henry Blackwell  1913-1985 Ronald Ernest Blackwell 1945
 George Blackwell          John E Blackwell         Ernest H Blackwell        Ronal E Blackwell       
1834-1916                 1877-1974                1913-1985                    1945-                  

     Photo 114                   Photo 115                    Photo 116                     Photo 117              


This little saying that I have placed here was the result of a conversation at the breakfast table one morning in the Blackwell home.  My mother was trying to teach me that people would see me as being like "part of the group"  If I had nice friends, then I would be viewed as being nice, and so on.  She said, "Ronnie, you are judged by the company you keep"  I remember looking at her and giving her my usual reply, "Yup".  Just at that moment, my father, the businessman, said, "Yes, but remember, A Company is judged by the people they keep"  My head swung over to my father's direction.  I looked directly into his face, but I remember distinctly, that my mind was taking his words very seriously as one does when one hears something considered profound.  I was very young at the time, about 10 years old, but his words went right through me.  I understood Mum's statement, but Dad's was intense.  In later years, this was my foundation for my own business.  This may be a little thing for some, but for me, it set the tone of the future in business affairs.



"A Person is judged by the Company they keep"
"A Company is judged by the People they keep"

                                                    Jessie & Ernie Blackwell  abt 1958