Danford (Danforth?) Balch - First Man Executed in Oregon

*This Article Needs Additional Information*


Danford (Danforth?) Balch (1811-October 17, 1859) was born in Massachusetts (possibly Connecticut); parents unknown.

At some point in his later life Danford headed west. In 1842 he married a woman by the name of Mary Jane in Augusta, Iowa and together they traveled to Oregon in 1847. Danford Balch made a claim on a piece of land (in modern Portland) and soon set out to carve his life out of the Oregon wilderness. On the land he claimed, Danford built a large cabin to house him, his wife, and according to one source, his nine children. Trouble began for Danford Balch when on a neighboring portion of land the Stump family made a claim and set up a home of their own. Below I have quoted the information I found concerning this man on the Macley Park web site.

"He (Danford Balch) carved out a space in the forest for a large cabin in which to house his wife, himself and their nine children. A nearby donation land claim was taken by the Stump family. The two families did not care for each other. In true Shakespearean fashion, Mortimer Stump, the eldest son of the clan, began courting Anna, the oldest of the Balch daughters. Danford Balch, a peaceful man, warned Mortimer to stay away from his fifteen-year-old daughter, but Mortimer paid no heed. When Anna turned sixteen, she and Mortimer ran away to Vancouver, where they eloped. Two weeks later, Danford Balch met members of the Stump family, including Mortimer, at the Stark Street Ferry. They began arguing and Balch shot Mortimer with his shotgun, killing him instantly. Balch later became the first man to be legally hanged in Oregon. The creek that runs through Macleay Park bears his name, since for years after his hanging people still referred to that area as "The Old Balch Place."

Genealogy of Danford:

Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown

Wife: Mary Jane Young(?)
Married: June 12, 1842

Children: (Names differ depending on the source)

1. Ann Hamilton
2. Hosea
3. Thomas
4. Celeste
5. Celinda
6. Danford, Jr.
7. John
8. Emily
9. Lewis

Primary Sources/Links:

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

Early People - The Arrival of Peter Guild

Northwest Paranormal Times - The Witch's Castle

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