Orlin M. Balch. The mercantile interests of the thriving and prosperous Town of Earleton, in Neosho County, are well represented by Orlin M. Balch, who has resided in this community all his life and is known to its citizens as a business man of ability and a citizen who has played his part in the town’s development. Mr. Balch has other interests here, being president of the Earleton State Bank, and his record is one that is creditable both to himself and to his community.
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Orlin M. Balch belongs to a family of Scotch-Irish origin, which was founded in America in colonial days, the original emigrant locating in Virginia. From the Old Dominion state the family migrated with the western tide of civilization to Illinois, and in that state, in Coles County, George Balch, the father of Orlin M., was born in 1832. He was reared and educated in his native community, but about the time of the outbreak of the Civil war went to Wisconsin, where he enlisted in the Third Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and served nearly four years as a Union soldier. These four years were ones crowded with hard fighting, for the Third Wisconsin took part in some of the most important campaigns and battles of the great struggle, being, among others, at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga, and with Sherman on his great march to the sea. On one occasion Mr. Balch was wounded and taken prisoner by the enemy, but later his exchange was effected. At the close of his military service, or shortly thereafter, Mr. Balch came to Kansas, and in 1865 homesteaded 160 acres near the Town of Earleton, in Neosho County. The splendid record which he had made as a soldier was duplicated as a civilian, and his agricultural labors, prosecuted industriously and managed ably, brought him into possession of a fine tract of land. He continued as a farmer up to the time of his death, in 1909, when he was the owner of 440 acres of land. Mr. Balch was always a republican, and while he did not seek office, took an active interest in the success of his party. He belonged to the United Brethren Church. Mr. Balch married Miss Sarah Stevens, who was born in 1845, near Paris, Indiana, and she still survives her husband and resides on the old home farm near Earleton. They became the parents of four children, as follows: G. T., who is connected with the Cudahy Refining Company and resides at Chanute; E. F., who resides with his mother and superintends the operations on the home farm; Orlin M., born at Earleton, November 4, 1877; and Mattie, who is the wife of A. L. Skinner, a merchant of San Diego, California.
During his boyhood Orlin M. Balch resided on the home farm, on which he worked during the summer months, while in the winter he attended the district schools near Earleton. Subsequently he enrolled as a student at the Chanute High School, from which he was graduated in 1893, and then went to the State Normal School at Emporia, where he completed the course of the junior year. He commenced his career as an educator, and for four years taught in the country schools of Neosho County, but his first business experience was with the Long Bell Lumber Company of Chanute, with which he remained four years. In 1910 Mr. Balch became a proprietor on his own account, when he purchased a store building on Neodesha Street, near the depot, at Earleton, and installed a stock of up-to-date merchandise. From small beginnings this has grown to good proportions, and four clerks are now necessary to handle the business, which comes from a radius of eight miles. The store building is 40×70 feet, has all modern accommodations and conveniences, and reflects the progressive spirit of its owner. The goods are well selected, attractively arranged and fairly priced, and have been purchased with an idea of meeting the demands of his trade. Mr. Balch is a business man with an excellent reputation for integrity and fair dealing, and his name connected with the Earleton State Bank, in the capacity of president, does much to inspire confidence in the solidity of that institution. He is the owner of a residence one-half block east of his store building on Neodesha Street and of a well-cultivated 80-acre farm, situated 2½ miles east of Earleton. In politics he is a republican. He has always been ready to serve his city in public office, and has been a member of the township board of trustees and the board of school directors. Fraternally Mr. Balch is well known and has many friends among his fellow-members in Chanute Camp, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Chanute Lodge No. 806, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Earleton Camp No. 5070, Modern Woodmen of America; and Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons.
In 1907, at Earleton, Mr. Balch was united in marriage with Miss Lizzie Foetisch, daughter of Charles and Mary (Potts) Foetisch, both of whom are deceased. Mr. Foetisch was a pioneer of 1869, when he homesteaded a tract of 160 acres in Neosho County. Mr. and Mrs. Balch have one child, Joe, born February 26, 1913.