Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2009

Ben and Edith Blincoe


My Uncle Ben and Aunt Edith Blincoe were truly "for the birds", a statement confirmed by their lives and in their written words. Benedict J. Blincoe was the author of "The Birds of Dayton and the Central Miami Valley, Ohio", a publication of The Ohio Biological Survey made up of his annotated notes on approximately 275 different birds.

These observations were made over the 40 year period that he and Edith roamed the fields, woods, rivers and lakes of the central Miami Valley. Each bird's popular and scientific name, its abundance or scarcity and the seasonal distribution in specific locations are included. The 150 page study was published and distributed in paperback format in the spring of 1964 by Ohio State University in cooperation with the Dayton Audobon Society and the Dayton Museum of Natural History.

Edith Stoltz Blincoe was born on Shakespeare's birthday in Peebles, Ohio in 1896 to George W. and Maggie E. Stoltz. Her family later moved to Columbus and then to Dayton Ohio where she attended Steele High School. Prior to her marriage, Edith, a graduate of Teacher's College of Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, taught for a dozen years in the Dayton schools. Starting in 1942 and for more than 40 years, Edith was the author of a weekly column for the morning newspaper, The Dayton Journal Herald. The column was based on her observations of the birds and all of nature around her. At the same time she became a volunteer for the Dayton Museum of Natural History. In the early 50's she became the Curator of Children's .Works, a teaching and administrative staff position that she held for 16 years. After many requests from newspaper fans and co-workers at the Dayton Museum of Natural History for a book of her columns, the book "Nature Walks with Edith Blincoe" containing 40 of her "best columns", was published in hardback format in 1981 by The Dayton Journal Herald. The museum director states in his forward to her book "There will never be a way that we can measure the effect of her work in bringing the present museum into reality, but as its director, I can say is was monumental. Her teaching methods have become a part of several university courses for teachers of the young".

Benedict Joseph Blincoe was born in Bardstown, KY in December of 1894, the eleventh child and fourth son of Dr. Aloysius Gonzaga Blincoe and Jane Pottieger Spalding. [Helen Simpson notes in the Fall 1998 Blencowe Family newsletter that there were 134 direct descendents of Dr. A.G. Blincoe in the Association database.] Ben was a self taught man, his only nature study aid being a pocket edition of a bird guide. While a young man in KY he contributed field notes to several nature periodicals of the time, the Auk, Wilson Ornithological Bulletin and Audubon Field Notes.

In 1921 Ben and two of his brothers, Thomas Jackson "Jack" and Richard Aloysius "Louis" [my dad] left Kentucky and bought 5 1/2 acres of land north of Dayton, Ohio and established the Blincoe Brothers' Greenhouse and Nursery.

Ben was an early member of the Dayton Audubon Society. One of his major contributions to the society was the establishment of the Christmas Bird Count, part of the count taken each year by the national society. He organized and kept detailed records of this count from 1923 until his death in December of 1965. By his own estimate he spent over 2000 hours observing wildlife at the Englewood Dam Lake and area, a two mile drive from the greenhouse. Many of those hours were spent observing waterfowl. Following his death a marble stone memorial was placed along the Englewood Lake naming the surrounding area Benedict J. Blincoe Wildfowl Sanctuary.

Ben's memorial
A lovely setting for Ben's memorial

Ben and Edith had one adopted son, Benedict Joseph. Joe died in 1986; six weeks shy of his 50th birthday and is survived by three children and several grandchildren.

I have many great memories of almost weekly Sunday afternoon field trips with Uncle Ben and Aunt Edith. One of my favorite memories of Aunt Edith is a wildflower hike held one beautiful spring day at John Bryant State Park in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It took me many years to understand how Uncle Ben could tell you about every marking he could see on the wild ducks and geese flying overhead at the Englewood Lake and yet ask me to read the phone numbers in the phone book to verify the correct address for flower deliveries because he couldn't quite make out the print. Wildfowl are much more interesting than phone books!

Sarah Blincoe Grentz,
Pennsylvania, USA

updated: 19 August 2009