PA Civil War > Biography > Balsley

Balsley Brothers

Nothing can be told of the paternal ancestry of the Balsley family except that tradition says the emigrant ancestor came from Bavaria, in Europe. The name has been anglicized and so changed that the identity of the original bearer cannot be discovered. This record begins with Samuel Balsley, who came to Fayette county and had four sons who are believed to have been born in this country. There is no record of his wife.

Sons: George H., of whom further. 2. John (q. v.). 3. William, an auctioneer of the county. 4. Hiram, who lived in New Philadelphia.

(II) George H. Balsley, eldest son of Samuel Balsley, was born February 14, 1800, in Fayette county, Pennsylvania; died October 10, 1871. He was a carpenter and contractor of Connellsville where most of his life was spent. He built a residence at the forks of the Mount Pleasant road about 1830, where all but three of his fifteen children were born. This old homestead of the Balsleys is still standing. He married Sarah Shallenberger, born in Fayette county, February 12, 1804, died August 8, 1880. Children: 1. John, born May 29, 1822, died in Dayton, Ohio, in 1882. 2. David, born November 22, 1824, died in infancy. 3. Elizabeth, born January 14, 1826, died 1900; married George Buttermore, of Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. 4. William Yantz, born May 24, 1828, died in infancy. 5. Daniel, born January 20, 1830. 6. Kell, April 20, 1832. 7. Sarah, June 29, 1833, died in April, 1877; married Brookly Buckingham, of Connellsville. 8. Captain Joseph, born November 9, 1835, died May 2, 1912; an architect and builder of Chicago, Illinois; married Adelia Hadley, of Ohio. 9. Christian, born August 21, 1837, a carpenter and builder of Connellsville. 10. George H. (2), born March 31, 1839, died aged two years. 11. Catherine, born May 8, 1841, died June 23, 1881; married Rev. Wesley C. Harvey, a minister of the Baptist church. 12. J. Robinson, of whom further. 13. Weimer, born May 24, 1845. 14. Samuel, December 21, 1846, died young. 15. Benjamin, born January 22, 1848, died on the same day as his brother Samuel.

(III) J. Robinson Balsley, twelfth child of George H. and Sarah (Shallenberger) Balsley, was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, December 13, 1843. He was educated in the public schools, attending the old Pireical, Quaker Grave Yard Rock Ridge schools the few years allotted him for study and school work. He worked with his father until the outbreak of the civil war, when, not yet nineteen years of age, he enlisted in Company H, One Hundred Forty-second Regiment, 142nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, as a private. He was mustered out, with an honorable discharge, January 25, 1865, with the rank of first sergeant. He saw hard service with the army of the Potomac, sharing the fortunes of that army until the battle of Gettysburg, where in the first day's battle, July 1, 1863, he was desperately wounded in both thighs and fell about two hundred yards from where General Reynolds was killed. It will be remembered that the first day of fighting was in favor of the Confederates, and as they drove the Federals back, three of their lines of battle passed over the prostrate body of J. Robinson Balsley. After the enemy had been driven back, he was found still alive by the Union searchers and taken to the hospital improvised at the Catholic Church in Gettysburg, where he lay until the 17th of July, hovering between life and death, when he was taken to the Cotton Factory Hospital at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but youth and a hardy constitution triumphed, and in the latter part of December, 1863, he was sent to the Cliffburn barracks at Washington, D. C., although utterly unfit for the hardships of camp. At first he had no blankets furnished him, but later this was remedied. He was attached to Company A, Seventh Regiment Veteran Reserves, and was called to the front when Stuart's Cavalry made its daring raid in the vicinity of Washington. He continued in the service until January 25, 1865.

His brother, Captain Joseph Balsley, served in the Twenty-seventh Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. Sergeant Balsley returned to Connellsville, after being mustered out of the service, and for a time was in the employ of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company. Later he entered the employ of James Calhoun & Company, becoming superintendent of their planing mill. He continued with them until 1882, when he purchased the old plant of David Walker & Company, in Grape Valley, and began business for himself as principal owner and manager of the Youghiogheny Lumber Yard, using the old buildings for planing mill and shops and the old Fuller Tannery grounds as his lumber yard. On the northwest corner of his property he erected a new building, using the first floor for offices and the second for a finishing shop for fine work. Later he erected a twostory building on Pittsburgh street, on part of the plot now covered by the McClenathan Block, which he used as office and supply house. About the same time he admitted Dr. S. S. Stahl to a partnership, continuing as J. R. Balsley & Company until 1892, when the business was sold to J. C. Munson and others and Mr. Balsley retired from business for a few years. In 1898 he again established in business under his old firm name, "The Youghiogheny Lumber Yard," locating in Connellsville, West Side, where he is yet in successful operation, specializing in every form of builders' supplies and "no order too small or too large" for his careful consideration.

He was a good soldier and as a good citizen has given much time and attention to the welfare of his city. He has served as councilman and school director, giving to each office the same careful attention as to his own private business. He has not allowed his successes of the past to lure him into inaction, but each day finds him at his place of business and bearing his full share of present day responsibilities. While memories of the past are dear to him, he plans as hopefully for the future as though his allotted "three score and ten" had not nearly expired. He lacks little more than a year of having completed a half century of membership in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and for years has been a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Politically he has always been a Republican. He married November 24, 1867, Catherine A. Francis, born in Connellsville, April 29, 1847, died November 25, 1908, daughter of Robert W. and Elizabeth (Radcliffe) Francis. Robert W. Francis was born May 5, 1797; Elizabeth Radcliffe, August 10, 1806. Their children. 1. Walker E., who was born December 23, 1828. 2. William, born March 29, 1832. 3. Mary Jane, July 25, 1836.

4. Isaac, December 10, 1838, died in the hospital at City Point during the civil war; was first lieutenant Company H, One Hundred Forty second Regiment, 142nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

5. Victoria, born August 16, 1844. 6. Catherine A. (of previous mention).

Children of J. Robinson and Catherine A. (Francis) Balsley: 1. Isaac F., born September 12, 1868, now a resident of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, married Ammaretta Wymer, of Connellsville, and has J. Robinson (2), a student at Cornell University, and Anna Maude. 2. Charles H., born June 30, 1870, now associated with his father in the lumber business; married Viola Keenan, of Connellsville, and has Catherine A. and Raymond. 3. Beatrice V., born March 4, 1876; married Charles H. May, of Connellsville, who died July 26, 1911. 4. Benjamin, born June 17, 1872, died in infancy.

(II) John Balsley, son of Samuel Balsley (q. v.) was born in Somerset, Somerset county, Pennsylvania, came to Fayette county, and settled in Connellsville, where he died. He was a carpenter, and later established a wheelwright shop, there building and repairing wagons. He married Eliza Bolley, and left issue.

(III) Thomas, son of John Balsley, was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, December 6, 1833, where he died June 16, 1894. He attended the public school, and learned the carpenter and wagon making trades with his father, an occupation he followed all his active life. He was a natural mechanical genius, and besides his building and contracting was a good gunsmith and cabinet maker. He was a Democrat, and a man of high character. He married Louisa Cramer, born in Dunbar township, Fayette county, April 26, 1839, who survives him, a resident of Connellsville (see Cramer). Children of Thomas and Louisa (Cramer) Balsley: 1. Amanda, born January 19, 1860, deceased; married J. D. Wilson. 2. Jennie, born June 22, 1862, died in infancy. 3. Eliza, born November 1, 1861; married David Percy, of Connellsville. 4. Louise, born November 11, 1867; married Edward Frock, of Uniontown. 5. Samuel L., of whom further. 6. Worth K., of whom further. 7. Charles M., of further mention. 8. John, born April 31, 1881, deceased; a teacher, and at the time of his death, principal of the Third Ward public school of Connellsville.

(IV) Samuel Long, eldest son of Thomas and Louisa (Cramer) Balsley, was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, October 14, 1870. He was educated in the public school, finishing his studies at Connellsville high school. He learned the carpenter's trade with his father, continuing until 1888, when he entered the employ of the Connellsville Planing Mill Company, and nearly completed a quarter of a century's service with that company. He was promoted shop foreman in 1904. In June 1912, he and his brother, W. K. Balsley, entered into partnership under the name of Balsley Bros., general contractors and builders. He is a member (as is his wife) of the English Lutheran church; he belongs to the Knights of Pythias, and is a Democrat in politics. He married, November 5, 1898, Anna Wiant, born in Connellsville, died August 11, 1911, daughter of Paul and Ella Wiant. Children: Thomas, born March 11, 1900; Louisa, February 14, 1909.

(IV) Worth K., sixth child and second son of Thomas and Louisa (Cramer) Balsley, was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, April 24, 1875. He was educated in the public schools of Connellsville, and at the age of eighteen years began learning the carpenter's trade under the instruction of his father, continuing one year. He then entered the employ of Calhoun & Company in their planing mill, and for thirteen years worked in about every capacity that mechanical ability was required. During the last three years with the company he was outside foreman. In 1904 he started in business for himself as a builder and contractor, and still continues in successful business operation. He has become well known as a reliable, capable contractor, and keeps a force of men continually employed. He is interested in undeveloped coal lands in Greene county, Pennsylvania, and is a stockholder in the Dunlap Coal Company. In 1906 he erected his present, but has in course of construction another residence on Snyder street, which he will soon occupy. He is a Democrat, but extremely independent in political action, voting in local and county affairs for those whom he considers best qualified to fill the offices. He married, Thanksgiving Day, 1906, Mary Ray, born in White Haven, England, February 13, 1879, daughter of John and Sarah (Crosier) Ray, both born in England. John Ray was a coal miner in England, holding the positions of pit boss and fire boss. In 1881 he came to the United States and settled in Fayette county, where he has worked in the Dunbar Wheeler and Morrell mines. He is now living in Greenwood, a suburb of Connellsville. His wife Sarah is deceased. Children, all living in Greenwood with their father, except William: John, an engineer in the employ. of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad; William, now of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; James, deceased; Clarence, deceased; Sarah; Jane; Stella and Mary. Children of Worth K. and Mary (Ray) Balsley: Margaret Louise, born October, 1907, died April, 1908; Ray Herbert, born February 4, 1909; Helen Elizabeth, April 11, 1910.

(IV) Charles M., seventh child of Thomas Balsley, was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, October 3, 1877. He received his education in the public schools, and on arriving at suitable age began learning the blacksmith's trade under the instruction of J. W. Buttermore, of Connellsville. After completing his years of apprenticeship he worked as a journeyman smith until March, 1905, when he established his own shop and business on Apple street, in Connellsville. He remained in that location in prosperous trade until the autumn of 1911, when he moved to a larger and better equipped shop that he had built on his own land at Snydertown, in the suburbs of Connellsville. He is well established in public favor and has a steady, reliable patronage. He is independent in politics, voting for the man best fitted to faithfully perform the duties of the office aspired to. In religious faith he is a Lutheran. He married, September 17, 1902, Ada S. Kinney, born in Salt Lick township, Fayette county, daughter of John and Rachel Kinney. Her father died when she was six months of age. Mr. Balsley has no children, but has an adopted son, Robert, born August 3, 1906, who bears his name.

(Kramer -Cramer Line).
Louisa Cramer Balsley descends from a paternal German ancestor and maternally from Ireland, her grandfather Brown being born there and the emigrant to Pennsylvania. The German ancestor was Joseph Kramer, born in Germany, came to the United States and settled in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. His wife Sophia was also born in Germany. They both died in Lancaster county.

(II) Henry Cramer, son of Joseph Kramer, was born in Lancaster county, February 24, 1786, died in Fayette county, September 7, 1845. His parents died when he was quite young, and he was reared by an uncle who deprived the lad of the estate left him by his father. He was apprenticed to a tailor and worked at that trade until the war of 1812, when he enlisted and served until the unusual hardships of army life in Canada caused him to take quiet leave and return to the United States. He settled in Fayette county, where he married in 1821, and later established a fulling mill in Dunbar township, where he died in 1845. He married, November 21, 1821, Jane Brown, born in Fayette county, December, 1802, died September 5, 1880, daughter of William and Jane Brown, who came from Ireland about the year 1800, settling in Fayette county. Mr. Brown was a weaver of linen and woolen goods. He died May 11, 1829; his wife March 16, 1837. Children of Henry and Jane (Brown) Cramer: 1. Mary Ann, born March 16, 1823, married Harvey White, of Connellsville. 2. William, born April 1, 1825, now deceased, lived at Vanderbilt, Pennsylvania. 3. Joseph, born December 28, 1829, was a teacher in the Connellsville public school. 4. Eliza Jane, born March 10, 1832, died February 15, 1842. 5. Henry, born April 2, 1834, died February 3, 1842. 6. Clarissa, born September 18, 1836, died 1842. 7. Louisa (of previous and further mention). 8. Sarah, born September 15, 1841, married Joseph M. Graw.

(III) Louisa, daughter of Henry and Jane Cramer, was born in Dunbar township, Fayette county, Pennsylvania, April 26, 1839. She was six years of age when her father died, and until eleven years of age the family continued in the Dunbar township home. In 1850 her mother moved with children to Connellsville, where Louisa Cramer was married to Thomas Balsley, March 6, 1858. They resided at No. 440 East Fairview avenue for thirty years, until the husband's death, and Mrs. Louisa Balsley continues her residence there. She and all her children are members of the Lutheran church. Thomas Balsley was baptized in the Presbyterian church but never formally joined the denomination.

Source: Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette County, John W. Jordan, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1912.