Stephen Bloomer Balch - Church Planter, Educator

Stephen Bloomer Balch (April 5, 1747 - September 7, 1833) was born in Deer Creek, Maryland to James and Anne (Goodwin or Goodwyn) Balch. He attended Princeton College and graduated in 1774 with an A.B. Degree. While he was there Stephen was a member of the Whig Hall; a debating society.

After graduating from Princeton Stephen went to Lower Marlboro in Calvert County, Maryland. While in Lower Marlboro he took charge of a classical academy there. On October 1, 1775 he was made the captain of the Calvert County Militia and held this rank for three years. From December 1, 1775-1777 he was actively involved in fighting against the British. When the British landed on the shores of the Pawtuxent River and Chesapeake Bay Stephen marched with his company to help repulse the invasion. He was involved in various other actions against the British and was offered promotions several times. Stephen turned down these promotions choosing to remain in service at the Chesapeake border where he was familiar with the region since his childhood.

During his time of duty, in the Calvert Militia, Stephen had continually studied and prepared for the ministry. In 1778, with the defeat of the British, at Saratoga, and the beginning of the American alliance with the French Stephen chose to resign his position and devote himself exclusively to ministerial study and duties. On June 17, 1779 he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Donegal in Pennsylvania.

In the late 1770's Stephen traveled through the Georgetown area (now part of Washington, DC) and preached several times in a log building belonging to the German Lutheran Church. Apparently, from these visits, he attracted a lot of attention and in 1780 some of the residents petitioned the Presbytery of Donegal to send him to Georgetown. On March 16, 1780 he would preach the first sermon in his six month probationary period in Georgetown. At the end of his six months he was made the official minister of the new church.

In October 1823, by order of the Synod of Philadelphia, the Presbytery of the District of Columbia was created and Stephen's name was near the top of a list of ministers to serve there. While he was living and serving in Georgetown Stephen also founded the Columbia Academy. George Washington would send his nephews to the Columbia Academy with the request that they live and study with Dr. Balch. Later he would establish the Columbian Library and is believed to be the first individual to publish a book in the District of Columbia. Later the degree of Doctor of Divinity would be conferred on him by Princeton.

Stephen would minister in Georgetown for fifty three years. At the age of eighty seven Stephen died on September 7, 1833 and was widely mourned throughout the area. It is said that local businesses were closed and church bells were ringing. At first he was interred within the front wall of the church he helped establish. Eventually he would be moved to the Oak Hill Cemetary where he apparently remains to this day.

During his life Stephen would be married three times and have eleven children. In 1782 he married Elizabeth Beall the daughter of George Beall. Stephen and Elizabeth Beall would be married until 1827 and they would have eleven children. In 1827 Elizabeth died and, at the age of eighty two he married Elizabeth King (in 1828). In 1830, or so, Elizabeth King died and shortly after this he married a woman by the name of Jane Parrott.

Genealogy of Stephen:

Father: James Balch
Mother: Anne Goodwin (or Goodwyn)

Wife 1: Elizabeth Beall
Married: June 10, 1781


1. Harriet
2. Alfred
3. Lewis Penn Witherspoon
4. George Ninan Beall
5. Elizabeth Maria
6. Franklin
7. Ann Amia
8. Thomas Bloomer
9. Hezekiah James
10. Anna Eleanora
11. Jane Whann

Wife 2: Elizabeth King
Married: November 5, 1828


1. No Children

Wife 3: Jane Parrott
Married: November 9, 1830


1. No Children

Primary Sources/Links:

Stephen Bloomer Balch - Wikipedia

Balch Genealogica - By: Thomas Willing Balch

The Balch Family of Maryland - Gene Edward Balch

A Brief History of the Presybeterian Congregation in George Town - Georgetown Presbyterian Church

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