Bernice Gertrude Blake was born in Manchester, New Hampshire
on 2 March 1905, one of four children born to Edward C. & Gertrude (Hurd) Blake. Her father was an English-Canadian immigrant who had founded Blake’s Creamery, originally as a milk delivery business. By the time Bernice was born, her father was well on his way to becoming successful.
Throughout her life, Bernice explored her interests and pushed the envelope of experiences beyond the normal for women of her time.
Several sources state that she graduated in 1926 from the New England Conservatory of Music where she specialized in piano and organ. I did not see any mention in local newspapers that she performed professionally.
Bernice Blake was the first woman pilot in the state of New Hampshire. She attended flight school at Curtiss Flying Services in Manchester, where she acquired her student’s permit on May 8, 1929. Reportedly her first solo flight on July 15, 1929, and she obtained her pilot’s license on Oct. 16, 1929. At the tender age of 22, Bernice Blake became the first woman in New England to acquire her commercial pilot’s license (only one of only 50 women in the United States to hold one).
Bernice was a charter member of The Ninety-Nines, a group formed in 1929 for the support and advancement of women in aviation, whose first president was Amelia Earhart. Laura Ohrenberg, Headquarters Manager of the Ninety-Nines, Inc. informed me by email that she checked her bio file in their museum archives, and found that Bernice was a recipient of the 1995-96 Ninety-Nines Award of Achievement.
A Boston Herald article of Oct 25, 1936 states, “Bernice G. Blake, of Manchester, N.H. boasts 329 flying hours on her record here and holds a transport license.” Earlier that same month, Bernice became Mrs. Winthrop L. Perry. Bernice and her husband Winthrop had a photography business. Her husband, also an avid aviator, died in 1978.
Various newspaper accounts indicate that Bernice gave flying lessons, (as did her husband) wrote columns for the Manchester Union Leader, took aerial photographs, was a professional photographer, and stringer for the Associated Press (part time news writer or photographer). A search of southern New Hampshire newspapers show that Bernice had numerous event photographs published. She donated a photography collection comprised of about 43,000 negatives to the Milford Historical Society.
In 1940 Bernice photographed Manchester’s airport shortly before the army took it over and created Grenier Field, a base used during and just after World War II. In the fall of 1953 she photographed highway work in Lyndeborough that significantly changed the look of the roadway. In the 1960’s Bernice took photographs of Peterborough’s famous MacDowell Colony residents including playwrite and novelist Thornton Wilder, composers Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and Ernst Toch, and poet Marianne Moore.
According to a 1996 interview with Atty. C. Wilson Sullivan, long time friend, Bernice explored all of her interests. ”She didn’t do anything in a casual way,” Sullivan said. ”When she did something, she did it full board.” But as quickly as she picked up a new skill, she dropped it. ”She would just stop and move on to something else without looking back,” said Sullivan. I spoke with him recently, and he said how impressed he was with the way she invested her money in the stock market, meticulously researching them.
Her philanthropy began during her lifetime. Starting in 1984, she hosted the High Hopes Hot Air Balloon Festival in Milford, which raised money to grant wishes for terminally ill children. (One source states these festivals were held from 1986 to 2006.) In 2006, the festival was moved to the Anheuser-Busch plant in Merrimack.
When she died at the age of 91 in July 1996, Bernice Blake Perry left not only an amazing collection of photographs, but she also provided a $3 million legacy to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation that allows students from Wilton, Lyndeborough and Milford to continue post-secondary learning. A committee selects students for the Winthrop L. and Bernice Perry Scholarship Fund who show the same love of learning and determination to succeed that she did.
During her lifetime, Bernice enjoyed attending assemblies and watching student performances at The Pine Hill Waldorf School, a private school in Wilton. They also received funding–an $850,000 bequest from Perry . Those awards will be given regardless of what type of post-secondary education students are pursuing. According to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Bernice Blake Perry believed the point of philanthropy was to help others create their own story.
Since her bequests became public, several people have become interested in her story. In 2004 John Clayton made reference to her in his Union Leader newspaper column entitled “Preparing to Take off.” In 2005 Dave Brooks (who writes a ‘Granite Geek‘ column in the Nashua Telegraph) also became intrigued after speaking with local historian Ed Brodeur, and interviewing family members.
The life that Bernice Blake Perry led should be emulated. Though rarely known outside of New Hampshire, she remains a remarkable role model for all women.
====Ancestry of Bernice (Blake) Perry====
—–B L A K E L I N E—–
Jasper Blake, son of Jasper and Anne (Amyas) Blake was born 1592, bap. 27 Sep 1592 in Wimbotsham, Norfolkshire, England, and died 1643 in Hampton, Rockingham Co, NH. He married Frances –. Churchwarden 1612; registered pedigree at Herald’s College 1614. In 1623 alienated all his lands to Roger Pratt.
Children of Jasper and Frances (?) Blake:
1. +Jasper Blake, b. 1614, Wimbotsham, Norfolkshire, England, d. 1674, Hampton, New Hampshire.
Jasper Blake, son of Jasper and Frances (?) Blake, was born 1614 in Wimbotsham, Norfolkshire, England, and died 5 January 1674 in Hampton, NH. He married 1648 in Hampton, Rockingham Co. NH to Deborah Dalton. She d. 20 Dec 1678. [Jasper Blake received a farm of 100 received from Rev. Timothy Dalton by deed of gift on 6 Feb 1647, “loving kinsman”]. She is said to have been a sister to Rev. Timothy Dalton and to Philemon Dalton. About 1660 he bought the house lot of Thomas Ward, plus owning other tracts. Mr. Samuel Dalton, “my cosen,” was named in his will as overseer “to have the deciding of any differences.” [This Simon was son of Philemon Dalton.] He was a fisherman and mariner.
Children of Jasper & Deborah (Dalton) Blake:
1. +Timothy Blake, b. 16 Oct 1649, Hampton, New Hampshire, d. 06 Jan 1717/18.
2. Deborah Blake, b. 15 Jan 1651/52; m. Eleazer Elkins
3. Israel Blake, b. Abt. 1654, d. 3 Dec 1678, unm.
4. John Blake, b. 31 Oct 1656, d. 14 May 1716; m. Frances –.
5. Sarah Blake, b. 14 Feb 1658/59, d. 29 Sep 1660, Hampton, New Hampshire.
6. Sarah Blake I, b. 14 Feb 1656, d. 29 March 1716.
7. Sarah Blake II, b. 30 Apr 1661, Hampton,NH; d. Aft. 12 Aug 1701.
8. Jasper Blake, b. 16 Sep 1663, d. 19 Dec 1678
9. Samuel Blake, b. 06 Jun 1666
10. Dorothy Blake, b. 17 Sep 1668, Hampton, Rockingham Co., NH, d. 28 Sep 1737, Hampton, Rockingham Co., NH; m. Nathaniel Locke
11. Philemon Blake, b. 23 May 1671, d. 28 Apr 1741. m. 1698 to Sarah Dearborn.
12. Maria Blake, b. 01 Mar 1673
Timothy Blake, son of Jasper & Deborah (Dalton) Blake was b. 16 Oct 1649 in Hampton NH and d. 6 Jan 1718. He married 20 Dec 1677 in Hampton NH to Naomi Sleeper, daughter of Thomas Sleeper.
Children of Timothy & Naomi (Sleeper) Blake:
1. Deborah Blake, b. 27 June 1679; m. John Morgan
2. Moses Blake, b. 1681 Hampton NH; m. 1701 Abigail Smith, dau of Jonathan.
3. +Israel Blake, b. 1 Jan 1682/83 Hampton NH;
4. Timothy Blake, b. 1 Feb 1684/85; m. Joan/Joanna –.
5. Aaron Blake, b. 27 June 1688; m. Martha –.
6. Naomi Blake, b. 4 Sep 1690; m. Richard Fogg or Foy
7. Ruth Blake, b. 3 Nov 1693; m. Oliver Smith of Exeter
8. Samuel Blake, b. 3 Nov 1696; m. Ann Sylle/Cilley.
Israel Blake, son of Timothy & Naomi (Sleeper) Blake was b. 1 Jan 1682/83 in Hampton NH and d. April 1753 in Nottingham NH. He m. 1706 to Leah Naomi Smith. She was born on 7 Apr 1683 and died in Apr 1753. He settled in Nottingham NH.
Children of Israel & Leah Naomi (Smith) Blake:
1. Deborah Blake, b. 16 Sep 1708; m. Ebenezer Tucker
2. Leah Blake, b. abt 1710; prob. married John Rowe
3. Jedediah Blake, b 15 March 1710/11; m. Mary Rowe, dau of Robert Rowe
4. Joseph Blake, b. 2 Feb 1712/13
5. +Israel Blake, b. 2 Apr 1716 Hampton Falls NH
6. Sarah Blake, b. abt 1718; m. Ephraim Elkins
7. Mehitable Blake, b. 7 Feb 1719/20
8. Elizabeth Blake, b. 18 Oct 1722; m. Obed Griffin
9. Benjamin Blake, b. 31 May 1725
Israel Blake, son of Israel & Leah Naomi (Smith) Blake, was b. 2 Apr 1716 at Hampton Falls NH, baptized 3 June 1716 Hampton Falls Church, and died in 1780 in Cape Rosier Maine. He m. on 28 Dec 1738 in Hampton Falls NH to Mary Swain. She was born on 12 Feb 1715 and died in Apr 1757.
Children of Israel & Mary (Swain) Blake:
1. Mary Blake, b. 1740
2. Mehitable Blake, b. 26 Apr 1741
3. +Israel Blake, b. 18 July 1742 Salisbury MA
4. Sarah Blake, b. 1744
5. Nehemiah Blake, b 1747
6. Ephraim Blake, b. 19 Aug 1752
7. Leah Blake, b. 1754
8. Hannah Blake, b. 1757
Israel Blake, son of Israel & Mary (Swain) Blake, b. 18 July 1742 in Salisbury MA and d. 13 Sep 1816 in Thornton NH. He married abt 1763 in Thornton NH to Charity Welch. She was born in 1741 in Nottingham NH and died on 13 Mar 1817 in Thornton NH. Lived in Falmouth ME and Nottingham East, NH.
[Found in GenForum]From FRONTIER CROSSROADS the people of Newport, Vermont, by Emily M. Nelson, ©1978, pages 10 and 11:
EARLY FAMILIES OF SALEM [VT] EPHRAIM BLAKE
The first family to move to Salem was that of Mr. and Mrs. Ephraim Blake and their four-year-old son, Samuel. They had lived in Thornton, New Hampshire, and moved to Barnet, Vermont, where Mr. Blake worked for two years earning money to establish a homestead. When he came to Salem on March 15, 1798, his resources were very limited, but his industry, thrift, and good management during his residence in Salem enabled him to accumulate a ‘handsome fortune.’ The family followed the Hinman Road, then only a narrow, rocky and dark passageway through Greensboro, Glover, Barton, and Brownington. The road, built in 1795 by Timothy Hinman (Derby’s original settler), extended at this time to Derby.
The first town meeting was held at Blake’s Tavern on April 30, 1822, and Ephraim Blake was chosen as a Selectman and Highway Supervisor. His son, Samuel, was elected Town Clerk and Lister and served as the Town Clerk for thirty years. For five years the town voted against sending a representative to the Vermont Legislature. In 1827 Ephraim Blake had the honor of being selected the first Representative to the Legislature from Salem. In 1836 Samuel Blake was a member to the Constitutional Convention and he was Salem’s Representative to the Legislature in 1838, 1842, 1846, and 1850. Ephraim Blake’s grandson, Charles Blake, was the Salem Representative to the Legislature in 1857. [In 1881 Salem was annexed to Derby, Orleans County, Vermont.]
Children of Israel & Charity (Welch) Blake:
1. Francis Blake b. 24 July 1777
2. Isaac Blake, b. 20 Sep 1765 Falmouth ME
3. Israel Blake, b. 23 March 1766 Nottingham East NH
4. John Blake, b. 17 March 1768
5. Ephraim Blake, b. Sep 1770
6. Daniel Blake, b. 1775
7. +Samuel Blake, b. Oct 1774
8. Sarah Blake, b. 1780
9. Nathan Blake, b. 23 Aug 1782
10. Moses Blake, b. 27 Sep 1783
Samuel Blake, son of Israel & Charity (Welch) Blake, was b. Oct 1774 in Thornton NH, and d. 30 March 1874. He m. 30 Oct 1793 in Danville VT to Sarah Atkins. She was born in 1774 in NH. He removed in 1797 to West Stanstead PQ & Salem Quebec.
Children of Samuel & Sarah (Atkins) Blake:
1. Dorothy Blake, b. March 1795
2. Charity Blake, b. 24 Jan 1797
3. Miriam Blake, b. 22 Jan 1798
4. Sarah Blake, b. 22 Apr 1800
5. Worster Blake, b 6 Dec 1802
6. Rev. Isaac Blake, b. 10 June 1804; m. 1826 Azubah Caswell Aldrich; res. Holland VT. Civil War Veteran; served in Company B., 8th Vt Infantry, and also as chaplain to the 3rd Louisiana U.S. Colored Troops. Buried Mead Hill Cemetery.
7. Priscilla Blake, b. 26 May 1807
8. Eliza Blake, b. 11 Dec 1809
9. Martha Blake, b. 13 May 1812
10. Samuel Blake Jr. b 6 Apr 1814
11. +Rev. Daniel Blake, b. 30 March 1817 Stanstead PQ Canada
Rev. Daniel Blake, son of Samuel & Sarah (Atkins) Blake, b. 30 March 1817 in Stanstead PQ Canada, and d. 23 Nov 1898. He is buried in Fitch Cemetery, Fitch Bay, Stanstead PQ Canada. He m. 11 Nov 1843 to Ruth Small. She was b. 9 March 1826 in Loudon, NH and d. 29 Jan 1910. In 1871 Census of Canada, residing in Stanstead PQ, occupation: Trader.
Children of Rev. Daniel & Ruth (Small) Blake:
1. Betsy Ann Blake, b. 21 Aug 1844 in Stanstead PQ and d. 8 Apr 1932 in Derby Line VT; m. 25 Sep 1867 to Pearley/Perley Benjamin Rand, formerly of Manchester NH. He was b abt 1839-1847 in VT. He is probably the PerleyB. Rand who owned a carriage shop in 1883 in W. Charleston VT and “manufactures 14 lumber wagons and 15 sleighs per year.” He enlisted (from Manchester NH) in Company C, New Hampshire 4th Infantry Regiment on 18 Sep 1861. Promoted to Full Sergeant on 19 Jun 1865. Mustered out on 28 Jul 1865 at Raleigh, NC.; resided Fitch Bay, Quebec, Canada; In 1880 she and son O. Winfred Rand, living in Charleston, Orleans Co. VT. In 1890 she is on a Lowell MA list as the widow of a Civil War pensioner. In 1901 she is living with her son Fred O. She m2) North Hadley, Stanstead, Quebec, Canada on 11 June 1907 to Jesse Wadleigh McConnell, son of Col. John & Alice (Wadleigh) McConnell, as his 2nd wife. He was b. 9 Jul 1836 in Hatley, Quebec PQ and d. 17 Feb 1917 in Hatley, PQ, Canada; he m1) 15 Oct 1858 to Mary Jane Woodward and had 5 children by her. No known children by Betsy. In 1920 Betsy is living in Derby VT with her sister Emily and “cousin” Minnie A. Aldrich at whose home she later dies. Betsey & Perley had one child, O. Winfred “Fred O.” “Frederick” Rand, b. 1 July 1868; m. 25 Oct 1890 in Lowell MA to Florence L. Rediker, dau of George & Emma (?) Rediker. She was b. 20 Sep 1872/1873 in Stanstead, PQ Canada. She was baptized (as an adult) in 1909, St. George’s Church, Stanstead PQ. Fred & Florence had at least one child, Harold Earl Rand, b. 2 June 1892 in Lowell MA, who. m. 25 Apr 1911 in Somerville MA to Leah Mary Ritchie, dau of Joseph & Mary (Dezan) Ritchie.
2. Ernest J. Blake, b. 6 March 1847, d. 15 Feb 1848
3. John Lester Blake, b. 20 March 1849; living with his brother Isaac in Stanstead PQ in 1881.
4. +Isaac Small Blake, b. 4 Sep 1852 in Stanstead PQ Canada; d. 29 June 1908
5. Emma Ruth Blake, b abt 1862; m. — Royce; informant on her sister Betsy’s death certificate. Resided Derby Line VT.
6. Willie S. Blake, d. 1867, d. 23 Feb 1868, age 6 months, buried Fitch Cemetery, Fitch Bay, Stanstead PQ, Canada.
Isaac Small Blake, son of Rev. Daniel and Ruth (Small) Blake, b. 4 Sep 1853 in Stanstead Quebec and d. 29 June 1908 in Manchester NH; He m1) 29 Oct 1872 in Milford NH to Sarah Jane Cudworth, dau of Nathaniel & Emeline (Hutchinson) Cudworth. She b. 1852 in Binghamton NY and d. 1879. Buried Douglass Cemetery, Altona, Clinton Co. NY He m2) by 1881 to Augustia “Gustie” Southwick. She b. 1855 and d. 21 July 1882, age 28 in Stanstead PQ. She is buried in Fitch Cemetery, Fitch Bay, Stanstead, PQ Canada; he m3) 7 Feb 1884 in Manchester NH to widow Lucy Ellen/Ella (Boyer) Cross. She b. 2 Apr 1847 in Three Rivers, Quebec, Canada and d 9 May 1917 in Manchester NH. Isaac’s Occupation was Carpenter. In 1871 and 1881 census of Canada residing in Stanstead PQ.
Children of Isaac S. & Sarah Jane (Cudworth) Blake:
1. Carrie Minnie Blake, b. 24 Sep 1873, d. 22 Feb 1965; She m. 28 Nov 1895 to George Burnham.
2. Nellie Belle Blake, b. 22 Sep 1875 in Stanstead Quebec, Canada , d. 12 March 1883 in Manchester NH.
3. +Edward Charles Blake, b. 4 Dec 1876 in Fitch Bay, Quebec, Canada.
4. Fred Daniel Blake, b. 6 Oct 1878; d. 13 Nov 1963; m. 10 Jan 1900 to Alice Doughty. Children: Roy, Burton, and Dorothy.
Edward Charles Blake, son of Isaac Small & Sarah Jane “Jennie” (Cudworth) Blake, b. 4 Dec 1876 in Fitch Bay, Quebec Canada and d. 25 Dec 1962 in Manchester NH; m. 6 Nov 1901 in Manchester NH to Gertrude Ella Hurd, dau of Leon D. & Julia E. (Foster) Hurd. She b. 20 Feb 1875 in Irasburg or Barton Landing VT and d. 22 Jun 1921 in Manchester NH. In 1900 he founded Blake’s Creamery which originated as a milk delivery service. In 1959 he was President-Treasurer of Blakes Creamery Inc. At that time living at 349 S. Main Street. He m2) 16 May 1923 in Manchester NH to Annie Elizabeth Pollard, dau of Jonathan/John & Catherine/Katherine (Campbell) Pollard. She b.July 1884 in Glasgow, Scotland and d. 1961 in Manchester NH. She had m1) 25 Oct 1905 in Manchester NH to Evan William “William E.” Edwards, son of Richard & Catherine (Tudor) Edwards. He b. 9 March 1882 in Newtown, Wales and d. 1951 in Manchester NH.
1910 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Bedford
Edward C. Blake M W 32 m1x 8 yrs Canada-Eng VT NY imm 1885 milk dealer
Gertrude E. Blake F W 30 m1x 8 yrs 2 ch 2 living VT NH VT
Bernice G. Blake 5 dau F W 5 single NH Canada-Eng VT
Jane F. Blake dau F W 3 single NH Can-Eng VT
Leon D. Hurd Father-in-law M W 59 m2 36 NH NH NH own income
Julia E. Hurd mother in Law, F W 56 m1x 36 yrs 1 ch 1 living VT VT VT
Fred Harrison hired man, M W 23 single Germany Germany Germany imm 1893
1920 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > Ward 10
Blake, Edward E. Head M W 43 married, immigrated 1880, naturalized 1910, Canada-Eng Canada-Eng NY Milk Dealer
Blake, Gertrude wife F W 40 VT NH VT
Blake, Bernice dau F W 14 single NH Can-Eng VT
Blake, Jane dau F W 13 single NH Can-Eng VT
Blake, Leon son M W 8 single NH Can-Eng VT
Blake, Edith dau F W 1-9/12 single NH Can-Eng VT
Humphreys Laurie House girl F W 26 single NH Can-Eng Can-Eng
1920 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester Ward 10 > District 121 [105 Carroll street]]
Edwards William E. Head M W 35 married un PA Wales Wales Wales, Laborer Creamery
Edwards, Annie E. wife F W 34 married un alien Scotland Scotland Scotland
Edwards, Evan J. son M W 12 single NH NH NH
1930 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > District 63 [349 South Main Street]
Blake, Edward C. Head 6000 M W 53 married at age 25 Can-Eng Can-Eng NY imm 1881, naturalized, Retail Merchant
Blake, Annie E. wife H F W 45 married at age 21 Scotland England Scotland immigrated 1884, naturalized
Blake, Bernice G. dau F W 25 single NH Can VT bookkeeper
Blake, Leon H. son M W 19 single NH Can VT
Blake, Edith E. dau F W 12 single NH Can VT
Edwards, Evan J. Stepson M W 23 single NH Wales Scotland finisher
Nolan Delia servant F W 58 single Northern Ire NI NI imm 1888 naturalized
1940 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > 6-88 [349 Milford Street]
Blake, Edward C. Head M W 62 m finished 7th grade Canada-English manager of creamery
Blake, Annie E. Wife F W 52 married 8th grade Scotland
Edwards Evan J. Head M W 33 married NH same place
Edwards Elizabeth W. Wife F W 29 married NH
Children of Edward C. & Gertrude (Hurd) Blake:
1. +Bernice Gertrude Blake, b. 2 March 1905 Manchester, Hillsborough Co. NH; she married Winthrop L. Perry , who died in 1978.
2. Jane Elizabeth Foster Blake b 17 Nov 1906 in Boscawen NH [per marriage cert and town report]; m. 29 Oct 1930 in Plaistow NH to Richard William Daland, son of John & Elizabeth F. (Fielden) Daland. He b. 21 Oct 1905 in Salem MA. [a second marriage record is found in Manchester NH, marriage dated 20 June 1931, same info]. Resided Salem MA and Durham NH. Children [Daland] include: Elizabeth Jane, Martha and ?John.
3. Leon H. Blake, b. 14 Sep 1911 NH, and d. Apr 1976 in Sarasota FL; m. 6 June 1932 in Manchester NH to Evelyn E. Showers, dau of Edwin L. & Elsie (Baer) Showers. She b. abt 1914. In 1959 he was vice president of Blake’s Creamery of 46 Milford Street, and resided at 163 Sylvester Street. Children: Edward C., Natalie E. (nurse),
4. Edith Elizabeth Blake, b 12 March 1918 in Manchester, Hillsborough Co. NH; d. 15 February 2007 Bedford NH; m. Harold Gaudes, son of Alvin and Clara (Meyer) Gaudes. He b. 5 Sep 1907 in Manchester NH and d. 10 Oct 1997 in Manchester NH. Children [Gaudes] include: Barbara, B. David Blake, William, Karen and Linda.
Bernice Gertrude Blake, dau of Edward C. & Gertrude (Hurd) Blake, b. 2 March 1905 in Manchester NH and d. 10 July 1996 in Nashua NH. [see biography above]. he married 9 Oct 1936 in Manchester NH to Winthrop Lane Perry, son of Frank M. and Madaline (Waite) Perry, b. 25 Sep 1893 in Malden, MA and died 15 Nov 1978 in Wilton NH. He was a mechanical draughtsman. He served as 2nd Lieut. in the U.S. Army during World War I. In 1940 living on Elm Street in Milford NH, he occupied as superintendent of Textile Machinery Manufacturing Company. In 1942 (per his WWII Draft Registration Card] they were living on Old Wilton Road in Milford NH and he worked for the Abbott Machine Company of Wilton NH. They are buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Wilton, Hillsborough Co. NH.[see above, she is the subject of this blog article and biography].