Balch: Slavery and the Family

*This page is currently under construction*


Slavery is an issue I thought would be interesting to take a look at in the history of the Balch family. Certainly slavery and the issues surrounding it can be the cause of tension and debate. I thought that it would be helpful to take an objective look at the history of this issue in the Balch family. What I have found, in Balch family history, seems consistent with the flow of history overall. In the Balch family there is a history of Balches coming down on both sides of the slavery issue. Galusha Balch's book, Genealogy of the Balch Families in America, indicates that there were both slave owning Balches and abolitionist Balches.

On the internet I have come across evidence of a slave owning Balch in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In an advertisement, offering a reward of $500 dollars, John Balch is seeking the return of his runaway slave named "Fanny". This advertisement appeared in the Alabama Beacon on June 14, 1845 and specifically requests the "apprehension and delivery" of a woman who is described as being "as white as most white women". I have been unable to find additional information on John Balch who evidently lived in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area during this time. The text of this ad is quoted below:

From the Alabama Beacon, June 14, 1845

"Ranaway, on the 15th of May, from me, a negro woman named Fanny. Said woman is twenty years old; is rather tall, can read and write, and so forge passes for herself. Carried away with her a pair of ear-rings, a Bible with a red cover, is very pious. She prays a great deal, and was, as supposed, contented and happy. She is as white as most white women, with straight light hair, and blue eyes, and can pass herself for a white woman. I will give five hundred dollars for her apprehension and delivery to me. She is very intelligent."

John Balch

Tuscaloosa, May 29, 1845"

Slave Owning Balches

1. Lewis P.W. Balch*
2. Peter Balch
3. Theron Eusebius Balch
4. John Balch

Abolitionist Balches

1. Amos Balch
2. Jonathan Balch
3. Hezekiah Balch
4. Lewis P.W. Balch*


*Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch - what is interesting about Lewis is that he apparently owned slaves at one point but freed them (in about 1834) and become an avid supporter of the abolitionist cause - so Lewis P.W. Balch seems to belong on both the slave owning and abolitionist lists*

Primary Sources/Links

Balch Genealogica - By: Thomas Willing Balch

Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - By: Galusha B. Balch

Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave, written by himself

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