Peoria Landmark #414
Steve K: Charles Ballance was an earlier pioneer of Peoria. He was mayor of Peoria in the 1850′s. He wrote a book entitled The History of Peoria in the 1870′s.
Biography from PeoriaCountyIllinois.info:
BALLANCE, CHARLES (deceased), attorney at law, settled in the village of Peoria in 1831, being one of the three first lawyers in the place.
He descended from an ancient family of Durham, England, but his ancestors immigrated to Virginia over two centuries ago. His grandfather, Charles Ballance, was killed in the war of the revolution. Willis Ballance, the father of the subject of this sketch, married Miss Rejoice Greene, of Virginia. Charles was born in Madison county, Ky., Nov. 10, 1800; his educational opportunities were limited to the common schools and his individual efforts; taught several Winters to defray current expenses while pursuing his studies. To his innate desire for knowledge were supplemented an indomitable will and splendid memory, which soon gave him a well stored mind.
He spent about thirty years of the prime of his life in the “French claims” legal controversy which so perplexed and harassed the early American settlers of Peoria. He seemed to be the only attorney who possessed the faith and courage to battle in behalf of the early settlers against those old claims. But he fought to the bitter end, carrying the matter from one court to another, until he won a final triumph and forever silencing the last French claimant and leaving the rightful owners in peaceful possession of their property. Mr. Ballance had in early times purchased a large tract of land in the lower end of the city where some of those French claims rested, and the successful results of his litigations forever removed the incubus from his, as well as his neighbors’, lands. Those contests gave him a knowledge of the laws bearing upon real estate, which rendered him famous as a land title lawyer.
In addition to his extensive legal labors, Mr. B. found time to prepare and publish a history of Peoria in 1870, a book of 270 pages, which was the last work of his life. He was elected alderman from the 1st ward in 1852, and mayor of the city in 1855. Mr. B. married Julia Schnebley, of Peoria, in 1835, who bore him ten children, —— living. He died on August 10, 1872, leaving an extensive estate, chiefly lying in the lower end of the city, and much of it is now occupied by the large manufactories in that quarter.