LIFE OF COLONEL ANDREW BALFOUR
Colonel Andrew Balfour was a key figure in the history of Randolph County.
He was truly a respected man of his time and of ours.
We have several remnants to remind us of him.
Balfour is honored by having a community at North Asheboro named after
him. We also have a Masonic Temple named for him.
The local DAR chapter of Asheboro has also been given the name Balfour
for its title.
Andrew Balfour was one of the noblest patriots in Randolph County during the
Revolutionary War. Balfour was an
earnest worker for the cause of liberty and was a great favorite of the Whigs.
He soon became hated by the Tories and they marked him as a victim of
Andrew Balfour was born in Edinburgh Scotland.
The date of his birth is unknown. (we know now)
Although little is known about Balfour’s childhood since he wasn’t
from America, he did go to Edinburgh College.
While he was still in Scotland, Balfour became engaged in the mercantile
business with Robert Scott Balfour, his brother.
Balfour then established his own store and his business soon became
prosperous. He decided to marry
Jane McCormick. They soon had a
child named Isabel whose nickname was Tibby.
Eventually, when Balfour’s business became bankrupt, he decided to come
to the United States. Leaving a
wife and young child behind, Balfour sailed from Grenock, Scotland in May of
Balfour sailed on the Snow George and arrived in Boston on the 18th
of July, 1772, three months after he set sail.
He headed north to New York and soon became engaged in the mercantile
business with a friend he had met in New York.
When that business also started going downhill, Balfour went to Enfield,
Connecticut. After he had been in
America for about a year, he heard the shocking news that his wife had died in
Scotland of inflammatory fever on June 17, 1773. His sister Margaret wrote that Tibby, Balfour’s daughter,
and she would embark to America. They
landed in Charleston, South Carolina, where her brother John was living.
Meanwhile, Balfour had met Elizabeth Dayton of New Port, Rhode Island.
After awhile the two decided to get married.
They were married by Doctor Ezra Stile, pastor of Second Congregational
Church at New Port, Connecticut on May 1, 1774.
They then went to Charleston, South Carolina, to reunite with Margaret
and Tibby. Balfour then came to Randolph County in 1779, the same year
the county became separate from Guilford County.
Balfour had purchased 19,000 acres of land on one of his past trips through
Randolph county. The land is
located on the road two miles east of Macon’s old store.
The Betty Magee creek flows through the land now.
It is located about one mile southwest from the Asheboro Municipal
Airport. Soon after he was settled,
the fight for independence began. At
the outset of the struggle, Colonel Balfour was undecided whether to remain true
to his mother country or to fight for the cause of liberty.
Ultimately he decided to join the colonists.
In 1780 Col. Balfour was chosen one of the first representatives to the State
General Assembly and a short time later was appointed Colonel of the Militia.
History shows that he took an active part in General Ashe’s Georgia
expedition. During this campaign, Balfour and Jacob Shepard were captured
by a band of Tories but were rescued shortly by armed patriots.
About the same time Balfour was fighting for the Whigs, a man by the name of
David Fanning appeared in the county. Fanning
led a band of cutthroats for the Tories. They
murdered and pillaged in Randolph County and surrounding areas.
Colonel Balfour marched against David Fanning in July 1781, with about seventy
five men, but finding out that Fanning had around 400 men, Balfour had to
Fanning then planned to raid
Balfour. Early on Sunday morning,
while the servants were at church, Stephen Cole came running hollering
“Fanning is coming, run for your life!”
Balfour then ran to his horse outside the house.
With the sound of hoofs ringing in his ears and with Fanning almost upon
him, he really didn’t have a chance to get away.
As he desperately tried to mount his horse Absalom Autry, one of
Fanning’s men raised his pistol
in an attempt to foil Balfour’s escape. The
shot hit Balfour in the shoulder. Wounded,
Balfour knew he could not escape, so he ran back into the house. Balfour’s wound was attended to by his sister and daughter.
Just then, Fanning and about twenty-five Tories dismounted and ran into
the house. Margaret and Tibby were
clinging hopelessly to Balfour and were pulled from him.
Held down by the Tories’ heavy boots, all they could do was watch the
execution. Fanning then drew his
pistol and shot a lead slug through Col. Balfour’s head, killing him
Fanning then allowed his men to do what they wished with the women.
The men hacked them with their swords and molested them.
Margaret and Tibby then crawled to a neighbor’s house where their
wounds were attended to.
Balfour’s wife, Elizabeth, was in New Port at the time of the murder.
When she learned of the tragedy, she moved to Salisbury where she was
appointed postmistress by George Washington.
Balfour was buried on his land, and the graves can still be seen.
The graveyard was restored by the DAR Chapter.
Col. Andrew Balfour’s epitaph reads “In the day of my trouble I
sought the Lord.”
Also buried in the graveyard are: Elizabeth
Dayton Balfour, Andrew Balfour Jr., Margaret Balfour Hughes, and Margaret
to the Top Caruthers' writing Fanning's Narrative