Bally, Pennsylvania

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{land, century, early}
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{area, community, home}
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{town, population, incorporate}

Bally is a borough in Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,062 at the 2000 census, but a 2005 census estimate put the population at 1,102 residents.

Contents

History

The Borough of Bally was originally called Goshenhoppen, an Indian word meaning "meeting place". Mennonites and Catholics settled it in the early 18th century. Clergyman Ulrich Beidler erected the first house of worship, the Mennonite Church in 1731. Father Theodore Schneider, a Jesuit priest, came to the area in 1741 and established what would be just the third Catholic mission church in the 13 original colonies. On land received from the Mennonite community, Father Schneider built St. Paul's Chapel in 1743. St. Paul's is now known as the Most Blessed Sacrament Church, and it is the oldest existing Catholic place of worship in Pennsylvania and the fourth oldest Catholic structure in the thirteen original colonies.

Later in 1743 Father Schneider started a Catholic school at the mission church. The school, originally called St. Aloysius Academy, also marked the beginning of Catholic education in the 13 original colonies. After several name changes, it is currently known as St. Francis Academy, and is the oldest currently operating Catholic school in the nation.

To reflect the many churches in the town (as there were also several other churches in the area of different denominations), Goshenhoppen was renamed Churchville. When the post office was established in 1883, it was named Bally in honor of Father Augustin J. Bally, a Catholic priest and spiritual leader. Bally was incorporated as a borough in 1912.

Bally has traditionally been a home of many Pennsylvania Dutch settlers and their descendants.

In 1912, Bally resident Annie Clemmer Funk, a Mennonite missionary to India, died during the sinking of the RMS Titanic. She was en route to Bally to visit her ailing mother, and reportedly gave up her seat in a lifeboat to another passenger.

Economy

There are numerous business and industry in town, some of which are known internationally. Among the largest industries are Bally Ribbon Mills, Bally Block Co. and Peerless Boilers. Two other major manufacturers, Great American Knitting Mills (now Gold Toe Socks) and Bally Case and Cooler (now Bally Refrigerated Boxes) were founded in Bally, and were located there for decades.

The area is also well known for its agriculture. Bally lies in the heart of an area named "Butter Valley", extending from Hereford, through Bally, to Boyertown. The name is due to the large number of dairy farms in the valley.

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