|Death: ||Apr., 1776|
North Carolina, USA
Hezekiah James Balch was one of the authors and signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in May, 1775.
"Beneath this marble repose the mortal remains of Rev. Hezekiah James Balch, first Pastor of Poplar Tent Congregation, and one of the original members of Orange Presbytery. He was distinguished as one of the committee of three who prepared that immortal document The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and his eloquence the more effectual from his acknowledged wisdom, purity of motive, and dignity of character, contributed much to the unanimous adoption of that instrument on the 20th day of May, 1775"
Hezekiah James Balch was a noted teacher at Nassau Hall, now Princeton University, and also a preacher. He graduated in 1766 in the same class with Waightstill Avery, another signer of the Meck. Dec. of Ind. Ephraim Brevard was also a signer, and David Reese, later an elder of Poplar Tent Church, where Hezekiah James preached. After graduating from college, Rev. Balch studied divinity under Rev. John Strain. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Donegal on 20 April 1768, and was ordained to the full work of the ministry in 1769. He was called to Poplar Tent and Rocky River Presbyterian Churches in Mecklenburg Co., NC (now Cabarrus Co.) on 22 June 1769. It was at this same meeting that he was censured because of having been married by a Church of England minister. Rocky River Church had been formed with the popular Rev. Alexander Craighead as its minister. However, after his death there was not a regular minister. Poplar Tent was formed about 1762 and had never been fortunate enough to have a regular minister.
Evidently Hezekiah James had been in NC at least off and on before moving there permanently in June, 1770. In April 1769, he purchased 88 acres of land from William and Elizabeth Ross for 40 pounds Proclamation money. It was located on the ridge between Coddle and English Buffalo Creeks at the head of Walker's Run and is said to have been in the vicinity of present day Jackson Training School. Witnesses to the sale were William Scott and John White. On 07 April 1769, a receipt was received from William Ross.
Rev. Balch was clearly a strong minister and an ardent patriot. Many members of the Cabarrus Black Boys and several signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration were members of the two churches he pastored. Both churches, especially Rocky River, were focal points of revolutionary fervor and it is said that the pastor was active in encouraging his congregation to support the Revolution.
As an influential, educated patriot, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Three who were to draw up the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in the spring of 1775. The other two members were Dr. Ephraim Brevard, his old classmate from the College of New Jersey (Nassau Hall), and William Kennon. Ephraim Brevard is generally given credit for being the author of the Dec. but many writers aay that it was actually Rev. Balch. The story goes that Rev. Balch drew up the Declaration, but that his handwriting left something to be desired. Therefore Ephraim Brevard copied it over.
Ref. Balch did not live long after he signed the Mecklenburg Declaration. On 03 Jan 1776, he and his wife Martha sold the 88 acre plantation to James Walker. It might be noted that Martha was an educated woman also, as she signed her name to the deed. The witnesses to this sale were Thomas Neely and Francis Harris. The Register of Deeds was Robert Harris. On the same day he and Martha sold James Walker an additional 56 acres between Coddle and English Buffalo Creeks for 45 pounds, witnesses William Scott and John White. It may be that Rev. Balch was ill and, anticipating his death, sold his property. He died sometime in 1776, about 30 years old, leaving no known will. Mr. Davis McWhorter of Bethel, NC, in the early 1950's stated that Rev. Balch's will was administered by his wife Martha and his brother William. It does not seem to have been recorded, however.
After Rev. Balch's untimely death, his widow, Martha, married George Marlin McWhirter, who was one of his students, and assisted Martha with school in the Mecklenburg area.
A record of a Deed recorded April 1769, Mecklenburg Co., NC Deed Bk 4, Pg 485, for the sale of 88 Acres of land known as Coddle & English Buffalo Creek, by Elizabeth and William Ross to Hezekiah James and Martha Balch. This was obviously when they purchased the land.
There is a record of a Deed recorded in Deed Book 10, Pg 221, Mecklenburg Co., NC, transferring 88 acres of land from Hezekiah James and Martha Balch to James Walker in Jan 1778. This land was identified as Coddle & English Buffalo Creek. Another entry on page 223 transfers 56 acres of the same property to James Walker in Jan 1779. It appears that these two transfers were undertaken by Martha after the death of her husband, Hezekiah James. There is also a record of a Deed recorded to a Hezekiah Balch, a transfer of land from Jonathan Gullick in Lincoln Co., NC, Deed Book 2, Pg. 203. It is not certain this was Hezekiah James since his cousin Hezekiah Benjamin is also known to have ministered in the Mecklengurg area of NC and may have held ownership to land in the area.
Most info on Balch family from Gene E. Balch
Hezekiah James Balch (1745 - 4/1776)
Hezekiah James Balch was one of the original signers of the Meckenburg Declaration of Independence.
Balch, like many other signers, was born in Maryland. He moved to this area with his family and moved north to pursue an education. He became a Presbyterian minister, who graduated from Nassau Hall, now known as Princeton University, and served at Poplar Tent and Rocky River Presbyterian Church. Neither of these churches is now in Mecklenburg County. Two of his brothers also became Presbyterian ministers. He participated in the Mecklenburg Resolves Convention on 5/31/1775.
Balch was the first of the signers to die - less than one year after the occasion. He is buried in Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church's cemetery.
Hezikiah James Balch was one of the authors, and signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independance in May, 1775.
Poplar Tent Church Cemetery
Concord (Cabarrus County)
North Carolina, USA
He graduated from Princeton College in 1766, receiving the A. M. Degree. While at Princeton, he was one of the founders of the Cliosophic Society. After leaving college, he studied for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church and was licensed to preach the Gospel in 18767 by the Presbytery of Donegal.
In 1769, he took charge of two congregations in North Carolina, Rocky River and Popler Tent, which he continued to serve until his death. He was ordained in 1770 by the Presbytery of Donegal. Together with Dr. Ephraim Brevard and William Kennon, both like himself graduates of Princeton College, he drew up the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, May 20th, 1775, was one of the speakers before the assembled delegates and one of the signers of the declaration.
"In the convention that met at Charlotte, May 19th, 1775, there was one minister of the gospel, Hezekiah James Balch, of Poplar Tent. That he was active in the preparatory steps for that convention is evident from the fact that he was one of the members that prepared resolutions to be submitted to the convention, which resolutions, after consultation, were amended and adopted by the committee, and by the convention, and published to the world."
-'Sketches of North Carolina, Historical and Biographical'
His motto as a phrase expressive of his character: Ubi libertas, ibi patria. In a letter penned in 1774, he exclaims: "There can be no freedom without order! Oh for the order which is in Christ, that we might have that freedom which is in him also!" And then he expounds eloquently what would be the condition of the land if the order and freedom secured by his divine Master's laws could prevail throughout it.
On 22 April 1872, in Charlotte, North Carolina, William S Harris, a ruling elder of Poplar Tent Church, read before Concord Presbytery and historical sketch of Poplar Tent Church.
"Mr. Balch served as pastor from 1769 to the period of his death, which untimely event occurred in 1776, when this great sorrow came, the little band of settlers felt that 'their strong staff was broken, and the beautiful rod.'
"Mr. Balch was a man of ripe learning and pressed forward with unwavering devotion to the cause of his Divine Master. Abundant in every good word and work, he took an active part in molding and preparing the popular mind for the great struggle of the revolution. He looked to the achievement of principles, upon which a government of regulated liberty and law could be established, and which should be removed from it's strong foundations no more forever. Hence he was a prominent actor in the convention, which declared independence of the crown of Great Britain, at Charlotte, May 20th 1775. He died the following ear in the prime of life and in the midst of his usefulness. It is a remarkable co-incidence, that all of the original bench of elders were removed about the same time with their pastor and, doubtless, were gathered with him tot he fold of the Great Shepherd.
"In the year 1847, a number of citizens met at Poplar Tent on the occasion of a railroad meeting, consisting of the late Judge Osborne, Dr. Charles W. Harris, now no more, and several others yet living, where attention was drawn to the fact that there was no monument to mark the grave of Balch; whereupon the fund was immediately raised to build a suitable monument at the spot where tradition located his grave, in the center of the first burial ground. This centre was ascertained through the knowledge of Agijah Alexander, then more than ninety years of age, and by whom in part one line or wall of the original enclosure had been built.
"The Rev. James A. Wallace, a native of Poplar Tent, then a minister of the Presbyterian Church in the Synod of South Carolina, was informed of the praiseworthy effort to rescue the name and grave of this illustrious man from oblivion, and was appealed to, to write a suitable epitaph. He did so cheerfully, and furnished the beautiful record which is carved on the marble, that now covers his remains."
The inscription reads as follows:
"Beneath this marble repose the mortal remains of the Rev. Hezekiah James Balch, first Pastor of Poplar Tent Congregation and one of the original members of the Orange Presbytery. He was licensed a Preacher of the everlasting gospel by the Presbytery of Donegal in 1767, ordained to the full work of the holy Ministry in 1769 and rested from his labors, A. D. 1776, having been the Pastor of the united congregation of Poplar Tent and Rocky River about seven years. He was distinguished as one o the committee of three who prepared that immortal document, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and hi eloquence, the more effectual from his acknowledged wisdom, purity of motive and dignity of character, contributed much to the unanimous adoption of that instrument on the twentieth of May, 1775."
The Rev. Hezekiah James Balch should not be confused with his brother, the Rev. James Balch, or their first cousin, the Rev. Hezekiah Balch, both of whom married and left descendants.
Martha McCandless McWhirter (1752 - 1835)*
Ann Balch Caldwell (1776 - 1842)*
Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church Cemetery
North Carolina, USA
Maintained by: Jesse McWhirter
Originally Created by: JW
Record added: Apr 07, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 25798186
Added: Mar. 11, 2016
Added: May. 31, 2014
His father, James Balch (1714-1779), is said to have a grave site at the Poplar Tent Cemetery as well. RIP. http://oursoutherncousins.com/balch2.html|
Added: Apr. 14, 2014
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