Phineas Dodge Ballou was born in Starksboro, Vermont. He was a member of an old American family with deep roots in New England. However, Ballou was not the type to stay in one place for long. He lived in Troy, New York, and moved to Albany before stopping in Burlington, Vermont in 1849. The next year he travelled to San Francisco for the California Gold Rush and lived there for a time. He then returned to Vermont where he operated a confections and cigar store and later a bookstore in Burlington.
He gradually rose not only in wealth but in social position. He served in local offices including Alderman and President of the Board of Aldermen. He was elected Mayor of Burlington in 1868. In 1872, he was elected to represent Burlington in the Vermont House of Representatives.
Ballou married his first wife, Sarah F. Boyington, in 1844. In 1850, he married Lucy Jane Farnsworth. But Ballou became restless and cast his eyes once again west. In around 1869 he erected or purchased a brewery in Omaha and entrusted its managment to David Alonzo Van Namee, Jr., a business associate. They employed Corydon H. Downer, a brewer from Chicago. Then in 1873 he sold his business, sold his house, and left his family in Burlington for the Nebraska Territory. He arrived in Omaha in 1873, his family and Van Namee's following a few weeks later.
Ballou, Van Namee and Downer operated the Spring Place Brewery for about four years when Van Namee turned temperate and quit the brewery. Gold fever was in the air and the remaing partners packed up their brewery, lock stock and barrel, and moved it to the booming mining town of Deadwood, in the Dakota Territory.
Downer and Ballou re-established their brewery in Deadwood and planned to prospect for gold, but it was not meant to be. Phineas Dodge Ballou died just a few months later when he fell down a mineshaft. He was 55 years old. His body was recovered and taken back to Vermont.
Learn more at the links below
Spring Place Brewery of Deadwood, South Dakota, USA
Spring Place Brewery of Omaha, Nebraska, USA