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Below is a family biography included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.   These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JAMES MADISON BALPH, architect, of the city of Allegheny, Pa., the third child of George and Mary (Shaner) Balph, was born in Sharpsburg, Allegheny county, Pa., Jan, 23, 1839. His father and mother were both born in Butler county, Pa., the former in 1809 and the latter in 1808, where they were married, and resided until 1836, when they moved to Sharpsburg, and removed to Allegheny in 1843, when our subject was four years old. His grandfather, James Balph, was a farmer, and he and his grandmother, Mary (King) Balph, were also born in Butler county, where they lived to an advanced age. Mr. Balph’s parents and grandparents were members of the U. P., formerly the A. R Church, and in politics were whig and republican. His father was, for many years, a contractor and builder, and, in his time, erected a large number of the best buildings in Pittsburgh and Allegheny. He died at the age of seventy-one years, and his mother a few years later, aged eighty years. J. M. Balph received his education mainly in the Third Ward public schools of Allegheny, and evincing as a boy some aptitude in the direction of architecture, he afterward spent four or five years with his father in acquiring a practical knowledge of building, which was invaluable in after life, and then devoted almost four years to the study of architecture with Charles Bartberger, Sr., architect, of Pittsburgh, one of the most eminent in his profession. He opened an office for himself in Allegheny in 1860, and has practiced ever since, nearly thirty years, in but two different locations, having occupied his present office since 1867, over twenty-two years. During his practice he has designed and constructed many of the finest public and private buildings in Pittsburgh, Allegheny and vicinity, comprising churches of all denominations, school-buildings, theaters, hotels, store-buildings, manufactories, city and country residences, etc. He was married in October, 1870, to Amanda M. A. Bayne, daughter of Andrew and Mary A. (Mathews) Bayne, of Bellevue, where he built a home and has resided since. His wife’s father, Hon. Andrew Bayne, was born in 1794, in Fayette county, Pa., was a member of the legislature of Pennsylvania for two terms, and sheriff of Allegheny county one term, and died in 1881, aged eighty-seven years. Her brother, Hon. T. M. Bayne, one of the ablest lawyers of Allegheny county, is now, as is well known, filling his seventh term in the House of Representatives at Washington, from the Twenty-third district of Pennsylvania. In politics Mr. Balph has always been a republican.

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This family biography is one of 2,156 biographies included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.

View additional Allegheny County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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