The Balliet Family

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This page gives context to the activities of the Balliet family's iron-producing activities in the mid 1800s. More information on these individuals can be found on their respective pages.

Founded Establishments

The origins of the Balliet family can be traced back to Tancred le Balyard: a commander-in-chief of the army of Chlodwig, King of France, around the year 500. The family’s lineage extends everywhere from France to England, Jerusalem to Germany, and finally the United States. According to early records in the United States, the first Balliet to immigrate to America was Paul Balliet, who arrived in Pennsylvania on February 2nd in 1738. Not long after, Joseph Balliet arrived in 1749. Paul settled in Whitehall township where he secured 97 acres by warrant that became 713 acres by 1774. [1] On June twenty second of 1756, Paul inherited the Whitehall log hotel whose notable symbol, the flowing bowl, served as inspiration for his nickname “Bowl Balliet:" A nickname given to him by local Native Americans. For many years, the hotel served as a post station where the daily stagecoaches changed horses on their way north and returning. As other families settled there and the community grew, the area became known as Ballietsville.

Paul Balliet and his wife Maria Magdalena had nine children: Maria Catharina, John Jacob, Stephen, Susanna, Nicholas, Eva Magdalena Magdalena, and Paul Balliet. When Paul passed away on March nineteenth of 1777, he left a will behind that stated that his son Stephen "shall have the plantation in Towamensing township on the Blue mountains, where Samuel Somery lives, and if Stephen wants the old plantation, he shall have it, and son John have the tract of land bought by Samuel Morris." [2]

Not soon after his father's death and the inheritance of the plantation, in 1826 Stephen became a prominent ironmaster with Samuel Helffrich. In 1828 they erected a forge in East penn township, Carbon county. After Helffrich died, Stephen purchased about 3,000 acres of land, on which he erected a furnace and four houses. Later, Stephen Balliet’s grandson, Paul (son of Stephen Balliet Jr.) built and operated the Coplay iron furnaces. John Balliet, son of Stephen, was born November thirteenth of 1819. He was the first to seriously embarked in business in the charcoal furnaces with his brothers Aaron and Paul.

The Balliet iron plantations, much like any other plantation, was self-sufficient. This meant that there were jobs for everyone including the families living on the grounds. Jobs ranged from ironmaster to shopkeepers, blacksmiths, agricultural workers, and of course colliers. These plantations were commonly made up of thousands of acres and therefore required a large community of skilled workers to sustain themselves and their families. Work forces on the iron plantations consisted of indentured servants, slaves, and free laborers as well as regular workers and ironmasters [3]. Indentured servants were large in numbers and along with slaves, performed the least skilled tasks on plantations: serving as woodcutters to supply the charcoal furnaces or as miners to dig iron ore. It was uncommon for laborers to move upward in ranks on plantations. The original Balliet's Furnace was in operation in 1832 and was already being referred to as the "old Balliet furnace". It later became known as "old Lehigh Furnace."

In 1816, the Ballietsville English school was established. [4] Another English school was established in 1833. "In the beginning of the first decade of the present century, educational matters/importance began to grow." [5] The earliest schools were connected to the Lutheran and German reformed churches and the pastor almost always the teacher (secular).[6] Under the firm name Pretz, Balliet, Gausler & Co. they had established a planing-mill for about three years. [7]

Aaron Balliet

In 1837 Aaron Balliet (1813-1895) erected a charcoal furnace in Carbon County and operated it for twenty years before relocating to Ballietsville[8]. Aaron Balliet, his brother Stephen Balliet (1809-1860), his brother-in-law Benjamin Levan (1806-1886), and his father Stephen Balliet (1781-1854) became incorporated to form Stephen Balliet & Co., with the purpose of building iron furnaces[9]. In 1854 his father died and the company admitted new partners and became the Lehigh Valley Iron Company [10]. In 1879, after various financial hardships, the company reincorporated as the Coplay Iron Company, with Aaron Balliet serving as a director of the company[11]. Aaron Balliet also managed mines with his brothers Paul Balliet (1811-1886) and John Balliet (1819-1886).

Benjamin Levan

Benjamin Levan (1806-1886) was married to Maria Balliet, daughter of Stephen Balliet (1781-1854)[12]. Levan became the superintendent of the Lehigh Furnace in Washington Township, PA, a position that he held for twenty-eight years[13]. Benjamin Levan later moved to Whitehall Township, where he was integral in establishing the furnace at the Lehigh Valley Iron Company. He remained with the company for thirty years serving as secretary, treasurer, superintendent, and general manager[14].

John Balliet

John Balliet (1819-1886) worked at the Lehigh Furnace, which was owned by his father Stephen Balliet (1781-1854)[15]. He later became the co-owner, alongside his brothers Paul Balliet (1811-1886) and Aaron Balliet (1813-1895), and superintendent of said property[16]. John Balliet moved to East Penn Township and became the superintendent of the East Penn Furnace, which was later partially destroyed by floods[17]. John Balliet rebuilt, leased, and successfully ran the furnace for many years. John Balliet also worked outside of the furnace industry; he was the director of the National Bank of Slatington, which was organized in 1875 [18]. Mr. Balliet was also a shareholder of the Lehigh furnace in Allentown and the Coplay Iron Company [19]. John Balliet was also a member of the city council for several years [20]. John Balliet’s impressive life continued with him owning extensive real estate properties including a planing mill, a lumberyard, several farms and various buildings [21]. In addition to his properties, he owned a store in Bowmanstown and owned the Bowmanstown Hotel [22][23]. John Balliet's lands totaled more than eight hundred acres [24].

Paul Balliet

Paul Balliet (1811-1886) managed a furnace that his father Stephen Balliet (1781-1854) owned. Along with his brothers Aaron Balliet (1813-1895) and John Balliet (1819-1886), Paul Balliet became involved in a mining enterprise in North Whitehall. By the early 1800s the Balliet's were entering local politics. This was evident in Paul's role as elected commissioner in 1839 and Hiram Balliet's role as elected commissioner in 1871.

Stephen Balliet

In 1826 Stephen Balliet (1781-1854) and Samuel Helffrich bought the land upon which the Lehigh Furnace would be built, purchasing twenty-five acres at the southern foot of the Blue Mountain from Christian Snyder and Christian Bloss[25]. Stephen Balliet and Helffrich erected the East Penn Forge on the north side of the Blue Mountain in East Penn Township, Carbon County in 1828[26]. In 1830 Helffrich died[27], and his shares in the iron business were bought by Stephen Balliet two years later[28]. In 1837 Stephen Balliet purchased three thousand acres of land near the forge, built another furnace, and constructed additional housing for workers, bringing the total to eleven[29]. Stephen Balliet continued to operate the furnace until his death in 1854[30].

Stephen Balliet

In 1853 Stephen Balliet (1809-1860), his brother Aaron Balliet (1813-1895), his brother-in-law Benjamin Levan (1806-1886), and his father Stephen Balliet (1781-1854) became incorporated to form Stephen Balliet & Co., beginning the Coplay Ironworks[31].

Stephen Balliet married Maria Anna Bieber (1811-1832) in 1831[32]. They had a son together, Lewis Bieber Balliet (1832-1913). Stephen Balliet's wife died in April of 1832. Following her death, he married Elizabeth Huntzinger and together they had eleven children, five of whom survived into adulthood: Sarah, Emma, Fannie, Margaret, and Arabella[33].

The Northampton Bank in Allentown, PA, chartered in 1814, began to fail in 1842 and shut its doors. The bank reopened in 1843[34], and Stephen Balliet was elected as the president of the bank on June 5 of that year[35].


  1. Filby and William 1985
  2. Filby and William 1985
  3. Steffen 87
  4. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 73
  5. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 74
  6. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 72
  7. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 86
  8. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 505
  9. Roberts et al. 1914, 1:633
  10. Roberts et al. 1914, 1:633
  11. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 504
  12. Roberts et al. 1914, 2:51-54
  13. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 504
  14. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 504
  15. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 555
  16. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 555
  17. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 556
  18. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 564
  19. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 556
  20. Portrait and Biographical Record 1894, 268
  21. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 556
  22. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 767
  23. Brenckman 1913, 370
  24. TheCarbon Advocate December 13, 1890
  25. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 553
  26. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 722
  27. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 553
  28. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 722
  29. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 722
  30. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 553
  31. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 504
  32. Roberts et al. 1914, 2:49
  33. Roberts et al. 1914, 2:49
  34. Mathews and Hungerford, 145
  35. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 146


  • Brenckman, Frederick Charles. 1913. History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania: Also Containing a Separate Account of the Several Boroughs and Townships in the County, with Biographical Sketches. Harrisburg, Pa: J. J. Nungesser.
  • Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  • The Carbon Advocate. 1890. Orphans’ Court Sale of Very Valuable Real Estate!- John Balliet, December 13, 1890.
  • Hellerich, Mahlon Howard. 1987. A History of Allentown: 1861-1865. In Allentown 1762-1987: A 225-Year History, edited by Mahlon Howard Hellerich, 91–180. Allentown, PA: Lehigh County Historical Society.
  • Mathews, Alfred, and Austin N. Hungerford. 1884. History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Everts & Richards.
  • Portrait and Biographical Record of Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties, Pennsylvania: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the Counties, Together with Biographies and Portraits of the Presidents of the United States. 1894. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co.
  • Roberts, Charles Rhoads, John Baer Stoudt, Thomas H. Krick, and William J. Dietrich. 1914. History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Its Families. Vol. I, Allentown, PA: Lehigh Valley Publishing Company, Limited.
  • Roberts, Charles Rhoads, John Baer Stoudt, Thomas H. Krick, and William J. Dietrich. 1914. History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Its Families. Vol. II, Allentown, PA: Lehigh Valley Publishing Company, Limited.
  • Steffen, Charles (1979). "The Pre-Industrial Iron worker: Northampton Iron Works, 1780-1820". Labor History. 20 (1): 89–110.