FL-GenWeb Digital Library and Archives
Duval Co. Biographies
Balfe, John James
Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
II, page 85, 1923.
BALFE, JOHN JAMES. In the career of JOHN JAMES BALFE, proprietor of the Balfe Company, and
a prosperous and enterprising merchant of Jacksonville, there is to be found a lesson for
the ambitious youth who is striving to gain a foothold in the world without aiding influences.
Mr. BALFE was not only compelled to make his own way from a tender age, but to gain his own
education. That he has succeeded in reaching a recognized position in a community where
competition is keen and where there is no lack of men striving for honors, is evidence of
his perseverance, industry and natural ability, homely virtues which have aided him in making
the most of ordinary opportunities.
Mr. BALFE was born at Toledo, Ohio, June 27, 1867, and is a son of JAMES and MARGARET (KILLIP)
BALFE. His father, born in County Monaghan, Ireland, was brought to this country when a mere
child by his parents, on a sailing vessel, the family locating at Rochester, New York, where
the lad received a public school education, following which he learned the trade of patternmaker.
He followed this vocation first with the Cole Company in Pennsylvania, and later for thirty-five
years was identified with the Wabash Railway at Toledo, where his death occurred in 1902. He
was a republican, but never cared for politics or public life, and his religious connection was
with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mrs. BALFE, who was born on the Isle of Man, died in 1908.
Seven of their nine children are living, and JOHN JAMES was the sixth in order of birth.
JOHN JAMES BALFE received his education at East Toledo. At the age of eight years he presented
himself on the streets as a newsboy, and with the money thus earned he put himself through
grammar and high school. At the age of seventeen years he secured a position with the Clark &
Terhune Company, a lumber concern of Toledo, and, starting at the bottom, within three years had
worked his way to the position of bookkeeper. While he was making fairly good progress at
Toledo, Mr. BALFE felt that greater opportunities awaited him in the South, and in 1887 he
came to Jacksonville, where he secured his introduction to his present line of business as
a bookkeeper and clerk for I. E. Baird & Company. This business he mastered from the bottom
upward, studying each department and every detail, and in 1906 he and D. J. CONAROY, a fellow
clerk, purchased the business which they conducted in partnership until 1912 as the Balfe-Conaroy
Company. Mr. Balfe then sold his interest to his partner and embarked in business on his own
account as the Balfe Company. He now has a large and thoroughly up-to-date establishment at
6-8 West Bay Street, where he carries a full line of hardware, paints, oils, glass and wallpaper
and gives estimates on wall papering and decorating, for which he has a corps of able assistants.
He has built up this enterprise by solid merit, untiring industry and unfailing integrity, and
while so doing has gained and held a place in the confidence and esteem of his associates. Mr.
BALFE is a member of Solomon Lodge, F. and A. M.; a thirty-second degree Mason of Florida
Consistory, and a Noble Morocco Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He is a democrat, but politics
have played only a minor part in his career.
On May 11, 1898, Mr. BALFE was united in marriage with Miss JOHANNA MERRILL, who was born at
Jacksonville, and to this union there have been born four children: SARAH, the wife of LINWOOD
EVANS; JOHN JAMES, Jr., ALEXANDER M. and JOHANNA G.
Transcribed by Nancy Rayburn
©2016 Fran Smith
This page presented August 19, 2010