Grand Rapids

First Congregational Church,

James Ballard, pastor

James Ballard: Born in Massachusetts, April 20, 1805 --died Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 7, 1881. Came to Grand Rapids with his wife in 1838 and cleared a farm in Paris Township, northeast of Burton and Easterrn. Served as minister of First Congregtional Church 1838-1847; trustee, Grand Rapids Academy 1844-49; principal of Grand Rapids High School 1850-53; then west side Union High School 1853-55. Was early local Prohibitionist and president of the Kent County Bible Society in 1846. After the Civil War, he worked as a teacheer in schools set up in the South for freed slaves. Married Emeline Hinsdill (1807-1867), had 1 son, Stephen, and 2 daughters, Elizabeth and Margarette.


From the Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, Mass., April 12, 1842.

A Catholic Church was recently erected at Grand Rapids, Western Michigan, by Louis Campau, a French Catholic, at an expense of $10,000. The owner had promise of receiving pay for the same from the Catholic Bishop of Detroit (Bishop Reese). He having since been called to Rome under censure, Campau did not receive his pay as expected and was compelled for that cause among others, to make an assignment of his property for the benefit of his creditors. The Congregational Church and Society have made as purchasrer of the above mentioned House for the sum of $3,700. With their own efforts added to aid already received from abroard they have reduced the amount to about $2,000. This money must be paid, the whole of it, before the first of October of the current year. In the purchase of this House two objects were had in view; to commodious place of whorship, and to put a stop to the farther progress of Popery in Western Michigan. The Church by whom the House has been purchased was organized about two years ago and contains between forty and fifty members, most of whom and their Pastor are from New England.

There is no other Presbyterian or Congregational Minister within sixty miles.

As this is the only instance ever known in this or any other coutry of a Catholic Church being bought by Protestants, it is hoped that all to whom this appeal is made will avail themselves of this opportunity of hindering the progress of Popery at the West.

James Ballard

Pastor of the Congregational

Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Will you have the goodness, Mr. Editor, in connection with the above communication, to insert the following letters as descriptive of the Grand River country. The former is from Hon. Lucius Lyon, late Senator in Congress; and the latter from Granger and Hall, a highly respectable firm now doing an extensive business on Grand River. Permit me also through your paper, in addition to sums already received, to acknowledge the following receipts of money: Greenfield $10, Deerfield $3, Whately 38.


Detroit, Michigan, Feb. 21, 1842.

Rev. James Ballard---Dear Sir, Our preparations for manufacturing salty at Grand Rapids, in this State, are now nearly completd, and we hope to make, within the next year, at least 30,000, and may go as high as 50,000 bushels, an expense not exceeding 18 cents per bushel. The price of this necessary article, which has heretofore been very high in the Grand River valley, will consequently fall and be nearly or quite as low as it is in New England. This with our inexhaustible quarries of gypsum, our fertile soil, beautiful springs, valuable pine timber, great water power, and steam boat navigation, (above and below Grand Rapids,) ought to be sufficient to insure to the Grand River country a rapid increase of population, whenever its advantages become known to persons emigrating from the eastern States in search of a home in the west. Land can be bought there as cheap as in Wisconsin or Iowa, and of a quality quite fine.

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 23 January 2011