George Edward Balch - Captain of the Howadji

*This article was copied and adapted from Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - By: Galusha B. Balch*


George E. Balch (August 7, 1822-August 23, 1889) was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts to William and Hannah (Stone) Balch. George graduated from Exeter Academy and later, at the age of 22 years he was given the command of the bark Oberlin. and five years later commanded the full-rigged ship, "The Columbus", from Boston to Akyab (I believe this is Burma). While bound from Akyab for Flushing the upper cabin was broken down by a tremendous sea, during the night, which took him with it, head first through the lee bulwarks to his waist, when the boards sprung back and
held him half in and half out of the ship. While in this position one knee was severely injured by a loose spar and he was insensible when rescued. While expecting every minute that they might founder, they sighted a Dutch vessel in distress, with missionaries on board Captain Balch had his men carry him on deck to see the situation and give orders. Volunteers went to the relief of the vessel. The Dutch sailors were drunk when rescued, and at their urging some of their chests were taken off, but instead of clothing they contained whiskey. Unknown to the officers, this was given freely to the men, and all hands refused to man the pumps. Captain Balch though suffering excruciating pain with pistol in hand quelled the mutiny. For this act of humanity and heroism he was given a gold medal by the South Holland Institute. The cyclone lasted three days. Seventeen days later they made the Isle of France. A physician there proposed to amputate his leg, but Captain Balch would not consent, and it was saved. On his homeward voyage, in April, 1851, in the storm that carried away the Minot Ledge lighthouse, the ship was wrecked, and they were left upon the back of Cape Cod for forty eight hours. when they were taken off naked and barely alive. He had a third narrow escape. When four days out from Boston, his ship, the "Howadji" was struck by lightning, and he and his crew were rescued by another ship just before theirs went down.

Captain Balch was married October 21, 1852, to Elizabeth Johnson, daughter of Peter LeBreton of Newburyport. She was born April 17, 1826. Together they had four children.

Genealogy of George:

Father: William Balch
Mother: Hannah Stone

Wife: Elizabeth Johnson
Married: October 21, 1852


1. Le Breton
2. Sarah Beck
3. Lewis
4. Georgianna Elizabeth

Primary Sources/Links:

Palmer List of Merchant Vessels

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

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