Credit: Oneida County History Center
When he died in 1910 at age 88, William Blaikie was identified as the oldest druggist in the state of New York. Blaikie was not only a druggist but also active in many social causes including abolition and the welfare of children and animals. He served on local boards and civic organizations.
Blaikie emigrated from Edinburgh, Scotland at the age of 20. He came to Utica where he found a job on the canal, loading and unloading boats. Along with a group of other young men from the area, he became a “Forty-Niner” and went to California via Cape Horn at the beginning of gold fever. After three years of mining he turned to trading but returned to Utica a year later. He found employment with a local druggist and in 1854 opened his own drugstore on Genesee Street where the former Radisson Hotel stands.
Blaikie became involved with the abolition movement and played an important part in the Underground Railroad. His home, which was located near St. Elizabeth’s Hospital on Genesee Street, became a station where he sheltered runaway slaves. His family sometimes had to flee their home because of the threat of anti-abolitionist violence.
In addition to his abolition work, he served as president of the Utica Savings Bank for 30 years; was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and president of St. Andrews’ Society. He was also a founder of the New York State Pharmaceutical Association. His interest in the welfare of animals resulted in his serving as the first president of Stevens Swan Humane Society.
A number of streets located on what used to be the Blaikie farm are named after places in his native Scotland: Direlton Road, Bonnie Brae, Ballantyne Brae and Douglas Crescent. William Blaikie is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.