N. W. Ballantyne

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
March 19, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 360-361

N. W. BALLANTYNE. Of the citizens of known business
ability who have been called to public office in Hancock
County, one of the best known is N. W. Ballantyne, a
member of the Board of County Commissioners, and one
of the proprietors of the West Virginia Fire Clay Company
of New Cumberland. Connected with this line of enter-
prise practically since youth, he has made a success of
his operations therein, in view of which fact it was thought
that he would be equally successful as a county official.
His record in office shows this faith to have been fully

Mr. Ballantyne was born at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
and is a son of Alexander Ballantyne, a glass manufac-
turer, who died when his son N. W. was but fifteen years
of age. The latter then went to live with his maternal
grandfather, James L. Freeman, a son of Thomas Free-
man. Thomas Freeman was the original operator of a
plant taking out fire clay, which was under his own farm,
one mile south of New Cumberland, and James Freeman
was also engaged in the fire brick and sewer pipe business,
his plant being on the site of the present Freeman plant,
one-half mile below the above plant. James Freeman died
when past eighty years of age. His daughter, Irene (Free-
man) Ballantyne, who was the mother of N. W. and C. A.
Ballantyne, died at the age of sixty-eight years.

N. W. Ballantyne secured a good, practical educational
training, and with his brother, C. A., came into the owner-
ship of the old Freeman home place. In 1896 they started
a small plant of their own in partnership, and have con-
tinued to be associated together in their business ventures
ever since. In 1903 they founded the West Virginia Fire
Clay Company at New Cumberland, and in 1906 the busi-
ness was incorporated by them, with a capital of $50,000.
This plant manufactures fire clay, which is sold to the
manufacturers of fire brick and similar products, and has
a capacity of 300 tons daily, this coming from a vein of
clay of from eight to twelve feet thick under the hill on the
edge of the works. Something unusual and most opportune
connected with this plant is that immediately above the
vein of clay lies a three-foot vein of excellent steam coal,
the mining of which involves but slight expense, and which
supplies the fuel for the plant. Above this is the solid
rock forming a natural permanent roof. The average out-
put for one entire year was 6,000 tons per month, and
the securing and preparation of the product, done by elec-
trical machinery, necessitates the employment of from
twelve to eighteen miners, and from about thirty to forty
men in all. This clay goes into grinders to make it uni-
form, and is then shipped to the southern states, New
England and Canada, from 120 to 175 cars monthly being
utilized. The pay-roll approximates $2,500 monthly. The
selling office of the concern is at Pittsburgh.

N. W. Ballantyne is also interested in other plants,
manufacturers of fire clay products in Beaver Valley,
Pennsylvania, and in Ohio, with offices at Pittsburgh. He
has several civic and fraternal connections, and is actively
interested in all good movements for the community wel-
fare. In 1920 he was elected a county commissioner, hav-
ing been nominated by the republicans and receiving the
endorsement of the democratic party. The county is now
engaged in building good roads, keeping pace with other
sections, and in 1921 a new Court House was built, cost-
ing approximately $100,000, to replace the old building,
destroyed by fire, which was erected in 1884 and donated
to the county by the citizens in order to secure the county
seat from Pughtown, four miles distant. The sheriff’s
residence and jail are in a separate building, but in close
proximity to the Court House.

Mr. Ballantyne married Miss Lucie Brown, daughter of
the late Adrian W. Brown, for many years publisher of
the New Cumberland Independent and a leading and in-
fluential citizen. She was reared at New Cumberland,
graduated from the West Virginia University as a mem-
ber of the class of 1900, and for a time taught English
at the West Liberty Normal School and later at Marshall
College, Huntington, West Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Bal-
lantyne have two children: Robert and Irene Virginia.