James Blackburn’s grandparents, George and Prudence Blackburn, came to Kentucky from Virginia around 1784. His father, Edward (“Ned”) Blackburn, was a horse-breeder who read law with George Nicholas. He married fifteen-year-old Lavinia Bell on September 2, 1809. They made their home at "Equina" in Spring Station in Woodford County where James Blackburn was born on April 30, 1841.
He joined the Confederate armed forces in Arkansas in 1861 and served until he was taken prisoner in 1864. He was exchanged in February 1865 and then served until the end of the war.
He was listed as a farmer in the census of 1870. His wife’s name was listed as Henrietta, and he had four children, James (age 12), Samuel (age 9), Mary (age 4), and Henrietta, (age 2).
James Blackburn served in the State Senate from 1875 to 1879 and as Secretary of State from 1880 to 1883 in the administration of Luke P. Blackburn. In 1890 he was a member of the constitutional convention.
James Blackburn apparently moved to Hamilton County, Ohio, after 1900. The federal census of 1920 lists James Blackburn from Kentucky as living in Symmes, Hamilton County, Ohio, with a birth date of “about 1840.” A James Blackburn residing in Hamilton County died on February 17, 1926.
Nancy D. Baird, "Luke Pryor Blackburn," (1979), pgs 1-2;
Federal Census 1870, 1880, 1900, 1919, 1920;
"Kentucky Marriages to 1850";
William E. Mickle, "Well-Known Confederates and Their War Records," pg 40;
William E. Railey, "History of Woodford County," (1965), pg 34;
Ohio Vital Statistics, Ohio Historical Society, Vol. 4462, Certificate 9934.