History of the Baillod Name
The Baillod families in the US and Canada are directly descended from the Baillod families in Switzerland and nearly all can trace their roots back to the village of Gorgier, near present-day St. Aubin in Neuchatel. As early as the 1500s, a large group of Baillod families was living in and around Gorgier. All three families considered on this website descend directly from the Gorgier Baillods and trace back to the common ancestor of Jean-Jacques Baillod of Gorgier, who was born February 17, 1718 at Gorgier. The correct French pronunciation of the name is "bye-o", but many families in the US and Canada have Americanized it to "bay-lod" or "bal-oyd." Today, there are about 150 people in the US and Canada with the last name Baillod or Balloid and about 200 in Switzerland.
Historically, there have probably been less than 5000 people that ever had the name Baillod.
Family names first came into use in Switzerland around 1100, and according to the Armoreal Neuchatelois, the earliest references to the Baillod name occur in the 1300s at Travers in Neuchatel, so Travers is probably where the name actually originated. There are a few variations of the name Baillod, which can be seen in Neuchatel historical documents and directories, including Baillod, Baillot (archaic), Baillods and Baillodz (archaic). Further research into these names reveals that there were actually two distinct groups of Baillod families. The Gorgier family used the spelling Baillod / Baillot, while another significant group, centered around Couvet, Bole and Motiers, used the spellings Baillods / Baillodz. Today, the Baillods family is much smaller than the Baillod family, but has an extensive genealogy showing no historical overlap with the Baillod/Baillot family. Interestingly, the Baillod family history given in the Armoreal Neuchatelois appears to be based exclusively on the Baillods family and shows significant overlap with the Baillods family genealogy, while no members of the larger Baillod family of Gorgier are mentioned.
Accurate genealogies for both the Baillod and Baillods families have been constructed back to about 1600, with anecdotal and folklore data extending back to about 1400. Both families claim to descend from the legendary Jacques Baillod (or Baillodz, depending on which family you belong to), who was knighted for singlehandedly defeating the army of Jacques de Savoie, the Count of Romont (1440-1486) at the Bridge of Thielle in 1476. Baillod was knighted for this deed and received a medal with the Latin inscription "Vires agminis unus habet," which translates as "One has the strength of an army." Click here for an account of this feat. It is probable that both the Baillod and Baillods families share a common origin, but it is not possible to trace through known records. The original meaning of the surname Baillod remains shrouded in mystery, but several possible linguistic origins can be inferred from this explanation.
Neuchatel didn't join the Swiss Confederation until 1815 and was an independent state prior to that time. As such, most Baillods in the 19th century would have considered themselves "Neuchatelois" rather than Swiss or French. The area of Neuchatel where the Baillod family originated is known as "La Beroche" and is known for its farming and for its watch & jewelry making. Many Baillod family members consequently, became watchmakers and some became quite famous for their fine time pieces.
The name Baillod also appears on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. General Jean-Pierre Baillod was born at Songieu in southeast France on August 30, 1771. He likely descends from the Neuchatel Baillod family, since Songieu is just across the border from Neuchatel. Baillod enlisted in Napolean's army and rapidly rose in rank. He barely escaped the Guillotine after being branded an aristocrat during the revolution. He served in the Army of the Alps, the Army of Italy and the Grand Army, serving in battles in Germany, Prussia and Poland, where he commanded the famous Baillod Cuirassiers of the Prussian Cavalry. Baillod was wounded on several occasions and on August 6, 1811, he was named brigadier general, given the title Baron of the empire and given command of the department of the English Channel. His name was then inscribed on the Arc. By the time of his death he was titled Commander of the royal order of the legion of honor, knight of the royal and military order of St Louis and of the imperial order of the iron crown of Austria. He died on March 1, 1853, leaving a son Edme, also a noted military officer, and a daughter Amedee, who emigrated to San Francisco in 1843. The last of his descendents died in 1922