Wesley P. Balch - Wealth, Obsession & Destruction
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Wesley Perkins Balch (Jun. 20, 1822 - Nov. 10, 1890) was born in Medfield, Massachusetts to Wesley Perkins and Mary (Baker) Balch [1]. Little information is available about Wesley's life before his marriage to Almira Patterson Smith in June of 1848. Almira and Wesley would have one daughter they named Mary Elizabeth.

By 1860 Wesley was a leading merchant in Boston, Mass. Amassing wealth, through grain and flour, Wesley would also invest in horses, horse breeding, and horse racing. The stallion Fearnaught and the mare Purity were bred and sold by Wesley for $25,000 each [1].


Down the Path to Destruction:

The prestige and wealth that Wesley accumulated seems to have led him down a bad path. Toward the end of his life Wesley would become involved with the young daughter of one of his friends. Lilian A. Ashley was the 20 year old daughter of a friend Wesley had met through his horse racing. Wesley was married at the time but he apparently fell under the spell of Ms. Ashley and would lavish a significant amount of money and gifts on his mistress. In the end Wesley seems to have squandered the proceeds of a horse sale on his mistress [3]. The horse sale seems to have been for someone else and confronted with the very real potential for embarrassment, and perhaps prison, Wesley opted to commit suicide rather than face the consequences. On November 10, 1890 Wesley committed suicide by shooting himself, in the right temple, with a revolver.

After the death of W.P. Balch Lilian Ashley apparently moved on to another wealthy man with an interest in horses - Elias J. Baldwin. In legal proceedings dated March 30, 1912 Beatrice Anita Baldwin sought to exclude Ms. Ashley from the proceeds of her father Elias' estate. Part of the legal proceedings involved an attempt to portray Ms. Ashley as a "gold digger" - only interested in pursuing wealthy men for their money. The portrayal of Ms. Ashley, in these legal documents, may be accurate or may be biased.


New York Times Article: November 10, 1890

The New York Times: SUICIDE OF A HORSEMAN.; WESLEY P. BALCH SHOOTS HIMSELF IN HIS BOSTON OFFICE. November 11, 1890, Wednesday


Genealogy of Wesley:

Father: Wesley Perkins Balch
Mother: Mary Baker

Wife: Almira Patterson Smith
Married: June 1848

Children:

1. Mary Elizabeth

Geni Profile & Family Tree:

Geni: Wesley Perkins Balch


Primary Sources/Links:

Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - by: Galusha B. Balch [1]

The New York Times: SUICIDE OF A HORSEMAN.; WESLEY P. BALCH SHOOTS HIMSELF IN HIS BOSTON OFFICE. November 11, 1890, Wednesday [2]

Reports of cases determined in the Supreme Court of the state of ..., Volume 162 By California. Supreme Court, Bancroft-Whitney Company [3]

Wallace's monthly, Volume 3 By John Hankins Wallace (Image Source) [4]

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