In her article “Echoes of the Past” in the The Wheaton Alumni News, Julia E. Blanchard, class of 1899 and Jonathan Blanchard’s granddaughter, retold one of the many stories she heard her grandfather tell of his past.
Grandfather says in speaking of his early life, “I now think the Holy Spirit influenced me from my early childhood.” He was not four years old when he first heard the firing of the guns in the battle of Plattsburgh. It filled him with horror to know that men would kill each other. He was a man of strong passions, which were ever stirred most fiercely by oppression, cruelty, or anything which destroyed human life or welfare. Always a great lover of God, his great passion was to seek the God like in man. We children always teased for stories about the poor, black folk, whom they sheltered in their Cincinnati home, the thrilling episodes of the anti-Masonic meetings, which were broken up by angry Masons, armed with bricks, rotten eggs, and so forth. We especially loved to hear about the time they tried to throw him into the Ohio River. It was grandfather’s fierce hatred of the great secret empire, which threatened the very life of the nation, that led him to Wheaton, the smallest, poorest and least promising of the places offered him when he left Knox College; but near Chicago “the Gate City between the Atlantic and Pacific; between western Europe and eastern Asia” — a strategic location for a college whose motto is “For Christ and His Kingdom.”