6 August 1863: "Our weather continues intensely hot, so far Blair endures it well — cheerful as a bird — out under the trees all day about the Spring where it is cool from the dense shade & the cool waters, he makes mill dams, mud cakes & runs barefooted..." — Elizabeth Blair Lee
In 1860, just prior to the start of the Civil War, there were over 18,322 residents in Montgomery County, including 8,177 children. One of those youngsters was Blair Lee, (1857-1944) the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Blair Lee and grandson of Francis P. Blair. Just three years old when combat began, young Blair stayed at Silver Spring in the summer months while his father served as a Rear Admiral in the U. S. Navy. Samuel Lee, (1812-1897) led blockades along the coastal waters of Virginia and North Carolina and then along the Mississippi River until 1865.
During these formative years, Blair Lee's mother encouraged him to experience life as a curious boy should and she recorded these happenings in letters that kept her husband abreast of their son's development. A typical day for Blair included playing outdoors in nature with his pets, pretending to be a soldier and building forts, gardening with his mother and picking flowers, spending time with his grandparents and cousins, doing chores around the farm, learning to read and write, and longing for his father's return and end of the war.
Elizabeth Blair Lee (1818-1906) escaped the ordeal of losing a husband during the Civil War. She was also spared the tragic event of sending her son off to combat and never seeing him again. Her son became the first popularly elected US Senator from Maryland in 1913.
Because Blair was born into a politically connected and affluent family, his daily activities like differed from those of many other children residing in Montgomery County. For instance, more than a half of Montgomery County's slave population included young African American boys and girls aged 18 and under. Instead of leisure, these children typically endured hard physical labor from sunrise to sunset six days a week. Although living beside seven enslaved children on the same estate allowed Blair Lee to enjoy more playful pursuits, the adoption of a new state constitution in Maryland on November 1, 1864 changed the way of life for Blair and many others.