Community History – Ludlow – Thomas Balsly

Balsly, Thomas L.

Ludlow Mayor and cashier at the Farmers and Mechanics Bank. Balsly was born in Boone County, Kentucky on March 12, 1877. He worked as a mail clerk and a schoolteacher. In 1906, he moved to Ludlow to assume the position of cashier at the Farmers and Mechanics Bank. He held that position for the next twenty years.

In 1918, Thomas Balsly was elected Mayor of Ludlow. He held the position for four years. During his term as mayor, Balsly made front-page news. In June 1920, He saved the life of ten-year-old Robert Cunningham. Cunningham was fishing on the banks of the Ohio River at the foot of Butler Street. As he began to slip down a hillside, he screamed for help. Thomas Balsly heard his cries and ran to the site. Balsly jumped into the river and pulled the boy out of the water, thus saving his life. In that same year, Balsly was elected the first president of the newly established Ludlow Welfare Association.

Balsly’s life ended in tragedy. In April 1926, Thomas Balsly, admitted to falsifying the books of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank – tens of thousands of dollars were missing. The bank was closed on April 10, 1926 to deal with the crisis.

On Monday April 12, 1926 at 7:00 a.m., Balsly left his home on Elm Street for the bank to meet state examiners from Frankfort. Balsly knew he faced criminal charges for embezzling over $78,000.00 from the bank. He went to the basement of the building and fired a 38-calibor bullet into his brain. Balsly left no note explaining what he had done with the missing funds.

Balsly was laid to rest at Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell on April 14, 1926. Services were held in the cemetery chapel. Balsly was survived by his wife, Emma Wamsley Balsly. He was a member of the Unity Lodge No. 478 F & AM, and the Syrian Temple of Cincinnati.

Bank officials immediately took steps to seize Balsly’s property. He owned a 935-acre farm in Boone County and two lots and a home in Ludlow (the property was later valued at $113,249.00).

State bank examiners determined that Balsly had spent at least $36,000.00 of the banks money to invest in the stock market. The stocks did not do well and Balsly lost the funds.

Kentucky Post, June 9, 1920, p. 1, May 11, 1922, p. 1, July 17, 1922, p. 1, April 11, 1926, p. 1, April 12, 1926, p. 1, April 13, 1926, p. 1,May 8, 1926, p. 1.

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