Biography of Theodore P. Ballou
Oneida County, NY Biographies





In the march of improvement in Oneida county Theodore Perry Ballou kept step with the vanguard. His business interests were such as contributed to general prosperity as well as to individual success and at all times his aid and influence were given on the side of progress and advancement. He was born in Utica, March 18, 1808, his parents being Jerathmel and Anna (Perry) Ballou, the father at one time proprietor of a dry goods and grocery store in Bagg's square. He was a son of Joseph Ballou, one of the earliest residents of Utica, who in 1792 left Exeter, Rhode Island, and embarked on board a sloop at Provideuce with his wife, two sons and a daughter, proceeding by way of Long Island Sound and the Hudson river to Albany and thence overland to Schenectady. They came in boats up the Mohawk, landing a short distance below the ford, and Joseph Ballou settled on the lot of which Rutger Bleecker leased two hundred and seventy three and a half acres to George Damuth for a term of twenty one years. Previous to the date agreed upon for the first payment, July, 1793, Joseph Ballou seems to have obtained from Damuth or his widow an assignment of a part of his lease, the remainder being held by Mr. Post, since this first payment was made jointly by them. The payments from 1794 to 1797 inclusive are also indorsed as made in part by Mr. Ballou, while those which follow, from 1802 until 1807, were wholly made by him. He placed his farm under cultivation and, in August, 1800, he and each of his sons procured from the executors of Mr. Bleecker a deed to a lot on Main street and upon these lots erected a house and store, the house standing where John street opens out of the square. This house, once known as Union Hall and subsequently by many different names, occupied the site of the present Ballou block Joseph Ballou removed to a house that stood at the corner of First and Main streets, where is now located the large brick building of Hurd & Fitzgerald, wholesale shoe merchants, and lived the life of a farmer, passing away in 1810 at the age of sixty seven years. His sons were merchants and occupied a store adjacent to the farm house on the west. Jerathmel Ballo, the father of Theodore P. Ballou, advertised in 1802 that he "sells dry goods and groceries and will pay the highest price for shipping furors." He was one of the village trustees, elected at the first meeting held under the charter of 1805, and filled the office by successive elections for four years. He died June 29, 1817. In his family were three sons and a daughter.

In the schools of Utica, Theodore P. Ballou pursued his education and on entering business circles became a partner of his uncle, Ebenezer B. Shearman, in the dry goods and grocery business at No. 33 Genesee street, Mr. Shearman being the successor of Jerathmel Ballou. Theodore P. Bailou continued as a partner in that business until about 1840 and later turned his attention to the lumber trade, in which he became largely interested as a proprietor of the Gang's mills at Prospect, first as a partner in the firm of Hinckley & Ballou and afterward as sole proprietor. He was the owner of large tracts of timber land in Hamilton, Herkimer and Lewis counties and at one time had an interest with Lyman It. Lyons in two hundred thousand acres in John Brown's tract. He became one of the foremost lumber merchants of this section of the state and moreover invested largely in realty, owning important holdings in Utica, including the handsome Ballou block at the corner of Main and John streets, which he erected in 1870. He was preeminently a business man who carefully watched every detail pointing to success and gave to his interests the close application and unfaltering enterprise which are so necessary to advancement in the commercial world. The site of the Ballou block was at one time occupied by a tavern. He also owned nearly the whole of Meadow street and held title to property in still other parts of the city.

Mr Ballou was married in Utica to Miss Charlotte C. Wells, a daughter of Palmer Wells, of Westerly, Rhode Island, and they became parents of seven children, of whom Henry C and Charlotte L. are now living in Utica, while the others are deceased. Mr. Ballou attended the Reformed Dutch church of Utica and his influence was felt distinctly as a force for good in the community by reason of his exemplary personal character. His political support was given to the republican party but he would never allow his name to be used in connection with a candidacy for office. In all that concerned the city, however, he took a deep interest and he was ever ready to assist in any undertaking that would promote its welfare or result in its benefit. In his early life he was a member of the volunteer fire department and had many warm friends among the men who did duty in that connection in the early days. He was naturally of a cheerful and pleasant disposition yet quiet and unassuming. He had a wide acquaintance throughout Utica and this part of the state and was uniformly esteemed and respected wherever known. Having always been a resident of Utica, he lived to witness many changes here. He was born at a period which antedated the era of canal and railroad building and which in fact was the pioneer epoch in the history of the county. There were then many Indians in the district and he was well acquainted with a number of their chiefs, having occasion to deal with them when they came to the settlement for trading purposes. Time and man wrought many changes and in the work of transformation he bore active and helpful part, so that he left his impress for good upon the community in its material and moral development. His death occurred February 28, 1887, at No. 42 Broad street, Utica.

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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