From Ohio History Central
John H. Balsley was born in 1823. He earned his living as a carpenter in Dayton, Ohio. His greatest contribution to Ohio history was the invention of the first folding step ladder.
While step ladders had existed for several years, on January 7, 1862, Balsley received the first patent in the United States of America for such a device. Step ladders were named this because they resembled steps rather than traditional straight ladders. Previous to Balsley's patent, step ladders were not foldable for easy storage. Balsley placed hinges at the top of his ladder, allowing users to fold and store the ladder. Since Balsley's invention, most step ladders have followed his design.
Balsley died in 1895. His body was interred in the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio.