While William Balch was having Alvarado surveyed for town square, store buildings and family lots, he also had land surveyed for a cemetery located on the Ira Glaze land grant.
Wallis Austin, the son of Mr. & Mrs. George Austin, died in October 1853 and was buried in the central section of the Balch Cemetery. Seven months later Mr. & Mrs. Balch’s son, James, died in May the following year and was buried near Wallis. James Evans, also, had a young son, who died a short time later, after eating green grapes, and was buried near the other two young pioneer children.
Mr. Balch had a false crypt over his family members graves. Michael Percifield, using today’s technique to find grave sites, located 12 graves in the Balch crypt. Leroy Lanfear, Roger Bast, and Kevin Webster cleared the debris from the Balch burial sites. Mayor Jay Tidwell, John Percifield and Michael Percifield assisted them in restoring the finish to the false crypt.
Joseph McClure, writing of the early days of Alvarado, was dismayed in 1917 because there were no stone markers at the grave sites of six early mothers of the Myers and Balch families buried in the Balch Cemetery. In 1995 the Balch/Senterwood Cemetery Association members wanted a tombstone placed near the Balch crypt to pay tribute to these six women. With the help of Nick Vasquez, from Modern Monument, and Frances Wood as a model, a monument was dedicated in 1995 to these six mothers who gave their lives to help settle this wild, uncivilized, pioneer country.
William Balch (1804-1870) migrated to Texas from Illinois in 1848 with his wife and family to receive land from the Robertson land district. In 1851 Balch and his sons and grandson arrived in Alvarado to mark their land claim of 320 acres about one mile northwest of the town. Balch purchased land from the Ira Glaze land grant and donated this site for a cemetery.
The first recorded burial was that of Wallis Austin in October 1853, followed by Balch's daughter Rebecca Balch McClure Parker in November 1853. By the end of the Civil war, five additional pioneer women from two families died and their burials formed the core of the cemetery they were Panina Rallas, Phoebe Balch, Patsy Myers, Elizabeth Myers, and Cynthia Myers.
Buried in the west central section of the cemetery are several Mexican nationals who came to supply the Mexican Army with wheat in 1862 during Mexico's war with France. Also among those interred here are many of the area's pioneer families and their descendents, veterans of the Civil War, and three local out-laws. A yellow fever epidemic in 1883 and a smallpox outbreak in 1889-1890 caused the Balch Cemetery to fill much of its available space, and another cemetery was established on College Hill. (1996)
Alvarado Heritage & Preservation Foundation
Alvarado Heritage Center