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Guide to the Blackburne, Woodward, and Ottaway family papers 2013.006

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Jeff Edelstein

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on September 17, 2015
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical note

The Blackburne, Woodward, and Ottaway families' Brooklyn origins date to the arrival in the United States of John Blackburne in 1819 [or 1821?]. Several of his eight children (not all of whom survived to adulthood) remained in England; the Brooklyn family lines stem from his daughter Mary Barrow Blackburne (1807-1850), who married Thomas Woodward in 1828; and his son Robins Cook Blackburne (1812-1850), who married Sophia Ward in 1836. After she became a widow, Sophia married James Littlejohn, continuing to reside at one of several properties the family owned in a parcel on Sands Street in Brooklyn. John Blackburne Woodward (1835-1896) was the oldest son of Thomas and Mary; he was a Civil War general, a successful businessman in the import-export trade, and an active participant in Brooklyn political and civic life. (For a biographical note emphasizing his public life, see the finding aid to the John B. Woodward papers (ARC.275).) In 1870 he married the youngest daughter of Robins and Sophia Blackburne, his first cousin Elizabeth Cook Blackburne (1849-1923), a linking of the family lines that created strong bonds in succeeding generations. Elizabeth, later with her unmarried daughter Mary, would eventually raise orphaned members of two generations of her sister’s family in addition to her own children.

John B. and Elizabeth Woodward resided at 259 Henry Street in Brooklyn. They had four children: the younger two, Elsie (1877-1893) and Arthur (1881-1890), did not live to adulthood; the second child, Robins Blackburne Woodward (1875-1904), died before age 30. Only the oldest, Mary Blackburne Woodward (May or Mae; 1871-1943), lived a full lifespan. Mary graduated from Packer Collegiate Institute in 1890. Although she never married, she helped raise her younger cousins Mary and Ruth Hart.

Elizabeth Cook (Blackburne) Woodward’s older sister Sophia Ward Blackburne (1843-1868) married William Henry Condit (Harry; 1839-1873) in 1864. When Sophia died just four years later, she left two daughters, Sophia Ward Condit (1865-1952) and Elizabeth Blackburne Condit (Lizzie; 1868-1915). The two girls were raised by their Aunt Elizabeth at 259 Henry Street; their father, Harry Condit, died in Florence, Italy, in 1873. Sophia Condit married Edward Haynes (1860-1905), whose father, also Edward Haynes, was the business partner of John Woodward; they had four children, Edward, Elizabeth, Mabel, and Henry, and lived at 54 Remsen Street.

Elizabeth Condit married William Edgar Hart in 1905; they had two daughters, Mary Woodward Hart (1907-1992?; married A. Dexter Best, 1935) and Ruth Blackburne Hart (1910-2011). When Elizabeth Condit Hart died in 1915, the history of the previous generation repeated itself: Elizabeth Woodward, their great-aunt, once again stepped in to give them a home. After her death in 1923, Mary and Ruth were raised by Mary Woodward. Ruth also attended Packer Collegiate Institute as a member of the Class of 1931; from there she continued her education at Rollins College, graduating in 1933. A year later, she married her classmate James H. Ottaway, with whom she had worked on the Rollins school newspaper. In 1936 Ottaway, whose father owned a newspaper in Port Huron, Michigan, purchased a local newspaper in Endicott, New York; Ottaway Newspapers grew to own more than 20 newspapers and merged with the Dow Jones & Company as its community newspapers subsidiary. The business continued under family leadership when James H. Ottaway, Jr. succeeded his father as head of the company in 1984; he retired in 2006 after serving in various positions with Dow Jones. The Words without Borders James H. Ottaway Jr. Award for the Promotion of International Literature, established in 2013, is named in his honor.


  1. "Obituary Notes" [Littlejohn, Sophia Blackburne]. New York Times, January 7, 1873. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  2. "Obituary Notes" [Condit, Sophia W.]. Brooklyn Eagle, May 26, 1863, p. 3. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  3. "Elizabeth Haynes, Americana Author." New York Times, July 2, 1948. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  4. Gillette, F. “James Ottaway’s Dow Jones Odyssey.” New York Observer, July 16, 2007. Accessed June 11, 2013.
  5. "Ottaway Newspapers, Inc. History." Accessed June 11, 2013.
  6. Ravo, N. “James Ottaway Sr., 88, Executive Who Started Newspaper Chain.” New York Times, January 6, 2000. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  7. Words without Borders. “Announcing the James H. Ottaway Jr Award for the Promotion of International Literature.” March 25, 2013. Accessed June 11, 2013.