Early life and education
He was born in 1741 in Harford County, Maryland along Deer Creek. There is very little information about Balch's early life. The names of his parents are unknown. Family tradition states that Balch was named after his father. Other sources disagree that the elder Hezekiah Balch was his father referring to the man as his cousin. While he was still a child, Balch's family moved south to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Due to the recommendation of a local preacher, he attended Princeton starting in 1758. In 1766, Balch received his Master of Arts from Princeton and was ordained in 1770.
Balch's first acts as a pastor were as a missionary in the rural areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. After his travels as a missionary, he settled in Greeneville, Tennessee and then founded a church in 1783. Balch was a part of a group of Presbyterian preachers in Eastern Tennessee who taught a form of abolitionist Evangelicalism. This formed the basis of the abolitionist movement in the state in the 1830s. Due to the growth in the number of congregations in the area, Balch worked to establish a presbytery in Greeneville in 1800.
In 1795 he helped found Greeneville College, the first college west of the Appalachian Mountains, in Greeneville, Tennessee. The school's first location was a frame building on Balch's farm. At the first meeting of the school's board of trustees, on 18 February 1795, Balch was chosen as the college's president. He stayed in the position until his death in 1810. After being named the college president, Balch traveled through New England raising money for the new college. In 1805, Balch received a Doctor of Divinity from Williams College.
The last years of Balch's life were plagued with illness, but in April 1810, Balch came down with "brief but most distressing illness" and died. He was buried in Harmony Graveyard in Greeneville, Tennessee.
- Balch, Galusha Burchard (1897). Genealogy of the Balch families in America. Putnam.
- Balch, Thomas Willing (1907). Balch Genealogica. Allen, Lane and Scott.
- Drake, Richard (2003). A History of Appalachia. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-7116-4.
- Sprague, William B (1857). Annals of the American Pulpit 3. New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.
- Temple, Oliver Perry (1912). Notable men of Tennessee: from 1833 to 1875, their times and their contemporaries. New York: The Cosmopolitan Press.
- Wheeler, Frank (2000). Tusculum College Tennessee. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738506111.