Hezekiah Balch

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Hezekiah Balch, D.D. (1741–1810) was a Presbyterian minister and one of the co-founders of Tusculum College, originally called Greeneville College.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in 1741 in Harford County, Maryland along Deer Creek.[1][2] 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.[1] Other sources disagree that the elder Hezekiah Balch was his father referring to the man as his cousin.[3] While he was still a child, Balch's family moved south to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.[2] Due to the recommendation of a local preacher, he attended Princeton starting in 1758.[1] In 1766, Balch received his Master of Arts from Princeton and was ordained in 1770.[4]


Balch's first acts as a pastor were as a missionary in the rural areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.[2] 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.[5] 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.[6]

In 1795 he helped found Greeneville College, the first college west of the Appalachian Mountains, in Greeneville, Tennessee.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] In 1805, Balch received a Doctor of Divinity from Williams College.[4]


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.[6] He was buried in Harmony Graveyard in Greeneville, Tennessee.[8]



  1. ^ a b c Balch 1897, p. 507
  2. ^ a b c Sprague 1857, p. 308
  3. ^ Temple 1912, p. 11
  4. ^ a b Balch 1907, p. 375
  5. ^ Drake 2003, p. 87
  6. ^ a b Sprague 1857, p. 311
  7. ^ Balch 1897, p. 508
  8. ^ a b Wheeler 2000, p. 10
  9. ^ Sprague 1857, p. 310


  • 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.