It makes for difficult reading, but an old out of print book called Reminiscences: Letters, Poetry and Miscellanies, by J. Staunton Moore (Richmond: O.E. Flanhart Printing Company, 1903) includes information on the Ballards of Charles City County, Virginia that evades placement. Bits of information contained therein found its way into print in various publications (namely The William & Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol. III, No. 2, and The Cuthberts: Barons of Castle Hill & Their Descendants in South Carolina and Georgia (1908), but these reminiscences appear to be the first.
Be forewarned that some of what is included here is “information” that has confused the record rather than helped it, but there may be buried within nuggets that could shed light on the confused ancestry of the Ballards of Charles City county.
We’ll excerpt the relevant parts here:
The only branch that has multiplied, increased, and brought forth much fuit is the one transplanted to America — Captain Henry Talman. …
Captain Henry Talman, our ancestor, was a sea captain, and owned two ships that he plied between Virginia and Bristol, in which he made occasional trips after his marriage. I have a bill of lading, bearing his autograph, in 1737-’38, of his ship “Vigo.” He came to Virginia about 1720 or ’25 and married Ann Ballard, of Ballardsville, Charles City county. She was a daughter of William Ballard, who was a grandson of Colonel Thomas Ballard, who was a member and Speaker of the House of Burgesses, and a member of the Council of Virginia; in 1678, colonel of militia, and a prominent citizen of York county. Colonel Thomas Ballard was the son of William Ballard, who came to Virginia in 1635, who was descended from Thomas Ballard, (his mother was the daughter of Thomas Welch,) who was a herald of King Edward IV … [in 1903, researchers believed a William Ballard came to Virginia in 1635 then moved on to Massachusetts and founded the Ballard branch there, which we now know is incorrect].
I have a copy of the Ballard coat of arms. Thomas and John P. Ballard, who kept the Ballard House, in Richmond before the war, are from the same stock. Ann Ballard’s father was a lieutenant of the artillery in the Revolution, and was killed at Charles City Courthouse in 1781 by Tarleton’s troops, after the sacking and burning of Richmond. My friend, Judge Isaac H. Christian, of Charles City county, whose father owned Ballardsville after the death of Ballard, writes me, under date 11th May 1895, as follows:
Mr J.S. Moore:
My Dear Sir, — Yours received. William Ballard, of Ballardsville, my father’s old home, where I was raised, was the only man of two or three hundred stationed at this point (Charles City Courthouse) when Tarleton made his fight, who made any fight at all — the rest were all taken prisoners or fled away in a panic. Ballard was stationed in the tavern, and fought with his sabre a dozen or more British dragoons, who cut him to pieces, and his blood stained the floor for over half a century, when the tavern was burned down. Your honorable ancestor is worthy to be remembered among the undying heroes of any age. The troops here were surprised by a ruse of the enemy. I am
Very truly and sincerely yours,
Isaac H. Christian.
The dark spot on the floor of the tavern, where his life-blood ebbed out, was known as “Ballard’s blood,” until the old tavern was burned. Lossing’s “Field Book of the Revolution” also mentions the death of Ballard at the old courthouse. Captain Henry Talman had three children, who lived to maturity: William, who married Elizabeth Hewlett, and two daughters; one married Bacon, the other Hewlett. William and Elizabeth Hewlett Talman had six children. Austin and John, who married and have issue now living in Virginia and elsewhere; Patsy, who married Boolington; Hannah married Turpin, and moved to Augusta, Ga., and has descendants now living there….
Captain Henry Talman, after his marriage to Miss Ballard, settled in New Kent county, near the X roads about twenty miles from Richmond, and built him a fine home, the bricks for which he brought over from England in one of his vessels. The house was burned many years ago, but the place still goes by the name of “Talman’s.” I have in my possession the old oval-shaped black walnut table that Captain Talman brought from England, and that stood in the dining room, and was given me by our grandmother when I was about fifteen; but with the understanding it was to remain at the old place as long as Uncle Josiah lived. He died this year, and I have just gotten the table, which I prize very highly. I also own a gold sleeve button that Captain Talman once wore. Captain Talman died in 1781, and is buried at “Talman’s,” New Kent county. . . .
Benson John Lossing’s Pictorial Field Book of the American Revolution (New York: Harper Brothers, 1850) does mention Ballard, but does not provide a first name, stating simply “Two of the militiamen (Deane and Ballard) were killed. One of them was slain upon the landing at the head of the stairs, while fleeing to the chamber for safety. The spot was pointed out to me, where, until within a few years, the stains of the victims blood might be seen.” (Lossing, p. 238).
Mr. Moore used this service to support his application to the Sons of the American Revolution, among whose records this account appears verbatim. The source of the information on the Revolutionary War service of this Ballard (other than the first name “William”) is likely the Revolutionary War Pension Application of Jones Gill, which follows below.
We are presented with inconsistencies, however, for this William Ballard (assuming this account is substantially correct) does not fit the narrative we have constructed. The drama of the event is the sort of thing to faithfully pass down in a family, so we have little reason to doubt it. We also know from the study of family history how generations can be conflated. This William, for example, would be the right age to be a son of William Ballard of Mecklenburg county, but that would not fit with Mr. Moore’s assertion that he was a grandson of Thomas Ballard of James City county (and sadly Mr Moore fails to give William’s father’s name). It also does not explain how he would have been in possession of a plantation called “Ballardsville.” Some researchers assert that this was not a William Ballard, but a Thomas Ballard who died at this tavern, and that he was the son of the Thomas Ballard III who married Mary Dancy.
Its also very interesting that the will of Elizabeth Ballard of Charles City County names an Ann Talman as a daughter, which indicates a family connection to the Talmans going back generations.
Perhaps the key is to identify which family actually owned Ballardsville, and take it back from there. The name still resonates in Charles City county, for it appears in the county’s description of County Historical Markers. We’ve put in bold the family names closely associated with the Charles City Ballard families.
This intersection of the Old Main Road , or Ridegpath, and the road from Soanes Bridge to Kennons, derives its name from an eighteenth-century tavern owned by the Blanks family. Blanks tavern was one of a few licensed ordinaries in colonial Charles City County . Other landmarks have included an Oldfield school, Manoah Baptist Church (1848-1933) and the first Methodist Meeting House (est. 1791), also known as Charles City Chapel. Prominent area homes have included Ballardsville and Sunnyside, the home of Charles City County physician Dr. Gideon Christian. Soldiers Rest, the home of Revolutionary War soldier “Fighting Joe Christian,” was also located in this vicinity. Area resident Lemuel E. Babcock was Charles City County ‘s delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1867 and William Page, a freedman, became a major landowner here in the years after the Civil War.
We aren’t satisfied with this yet, and the digging continues.
Pension Application of Jones Gill S10185 VA
Transcribed and annotated by C. Leon Harris.
State of Virginia } S.S
County of Amherst }
On this 19th day of June 1834 personally appeared in open court, before the court of Amherst county now sitting Jones Gill a resident of the county of Nelson and State aforesaid aged 70 years, who being sworn according to Law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.
That he enterd the service of the United States, under the following named officers, and served as herein stated: That some time in the year 1780 having attained to the age of 16 years he was placed upon the muster roll in the county of Charles City Virginia, that being the county of his nativity and shortly thereafter was drafted into the service for a tour of six months under the command of Capt Seth Stubblefield and was stationed and served at differant points, at one time at Fort Hood on James River [in Prince George County] at another at Sandy Point but the greater part of the time at Morven Hills [sic: Malvern Hill 15 mi SE of Richmond] where he was discharged after serving out his tour of six months as aforesaid
That after returning home to Charles City and remaining there but a short time, he was again drafted into the service under the same company officers for a tour of three months, and was stationed and performed duty pretty much in the same places as he did the first, during this second tour, like the first nothing of note occurred, but marches, counter marches, alarms and watching except upon one occasion whilst he was stationed at Charles City Court House the emenys forces led by Col Tarlton at the head of some cavalry [sic: Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton’s Legion; but see endnote] and routed us killing four of our men viz McKinney, Dean, Mosher, Ballard, one of our party was drowned in a mill pond in attempting to escape, and the centinal who was surprised by them was taken prisoner, this tour was performed as well as the first in the character of a private soldier and continued three months
That after this period and some time in the year 1781 he was again drafted into the sevice from the same county as a private soldier and placed under the same company officers, when he was marched from point to point to watch the movements of the enemy who were in our watters and it was the purpose of our forces to prevent their marauding excursions into the country, that the forces to which he was attached was thus employed in the James and York Rivers until the enemy retired to York Town [1 Aug 1781] and that part was invested by the combined american & french army, when he was discharged the service after serving five months and before the surrender of that part [surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, 19 Oct 1781]
That he served in the whole three Tours aforesaid fourteen months in the character of a private soldier and to the best of his recollection Major Hardiman [sic: Henry Hardman] & Col Munford [William Green Munford R16697] during all the tours his field officers and Genl Thomas Nelson his general officer, some time Genl Lafayette and at York Town whilst he was there Genl Washington
That he recollects seeing many officers both french and american at York Town, but he does not now recollect names. That he has no documentary evidence, and that he knows of no living person whose testimony he can procure who can testify to his service
He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State
Interrogarorys propounded by the Court
. Where and in what year were you born?
answer I was born in the county of Charles City Va as I was informed by my parents and was sixteen years of age some time in the year 1780, but do not know the year in which I was born.
. Have you any record of your age, and if so where is it?
answer I have no record of my age, but have understood that my age was recorded in Charles City County Clerks office and accidently destroyed by fire with the office after the close of the war of the Revolution
. Where were you living when called into service, where have you lived since the Revolutionary War, and where do you now live?
answer I was living in the county of Charles City when called into service, have lived in the countys of Charles City Buckingham, Nelson and Amherst since the close of the Revolution, and do now reside in the county of Nelson adjoining to Amherst and near the county line & a part of the tract of land upon which I reside lies in Amherst
. How were you called into service; were you drafted, did you volunteer or were you a substitute, and if a substitute, for whom?
answer I was drafted each Tour.
. State the names of some of the Regular officers, who were with the troops where you served; such continental and melitia Regts as you can recollect and the general circumstances of your service.
Answer I recollect seeing Genl [Anthony] Wayne and other regular officers at York Town but cannot recollect names or corps and refer to my declaration for the general circumstances of my service.
. Did you ever receive a written discharge from the service, and if so by whom was it given and what has become of it.
answer I never did receive a written discharge from service to the best of my recollection nor do I believe it was usual in those days to give such to Militia – if I ever did receive such they are lost
. State the names of persons to whom you are known in your present neighborhood and who can testify as to your character for veracity and their belief of your sevices as a soldier of the Revolution.
Answer There is no clergyman residing immediately in my neighborhood, but I refer to William M Waller Esqr and Capt Jeremiah Yager who I expect will so testify in my behalf
Amherst County to wit
The affidavit of Jones Gill of lawful age taken before me a Justice of the peace in and for the county aforesaid. The affiant being first duly sworn according to law saith, that he is informed by letters from the office of the Commissioner of Pensions that his claim to a pension under his declaration made in the county aforesaid and transmitted to that office during the last year the said declaration being under the act of Congress of the 7 June 1832, has been rejected or suspended at the said office, because in his said declaration, he declared for two tours of service each beyond the term of six [sic: three] months that
is one tour for six months & the other for five besides another tour included in the said declaration, that in explanation of the said two first named tours objected to at the Pension office, (because as he understands it is said, that it was unusual in those days except on extraordinary occasions to draft the militia of this state for a longer period than three months at a time,) he states that at the time he performed the said service as declared for in his declaration aforesaid, it was the custom to draft for but three months at a time, but that in his case arising from the invasion of the state, in his immediate neighborhood he was detained the time as stated by him, that is six months at one time & five months at another, he was informed that he would be credited for a tour for each three months, he was in service.
That he has recently been informed by John Thompson Jr of this county that in the correspondence of the late Thomas Jefferson published since his death, that he gives an account of the descent of Col Tarlton with a corps of cavalry upon a party of our Troops in the year 1781 stationed at Charles City Court House, is mentioned by Mr Jefferson [see endnote], and is also mentioned by this affiant in his said declaration, in which he the affiant gives the names of the killed on our side on that occasion, this affiant states that until recently informed of this by the said Thompson during the last winter, say some time in January last, that he did not know that there any where existed any corroborative testimony to establish the truth of his said claim, and that not being a reading man (although not unletterd) he had never seen nor heard of, nor to this day has not seen the book styled the memor & correspondence of Thomas Jefferson, in which the said evidence is said to be found. That being poor and needy if the department will not pay him for his full services, he is willing to take what by the rules of the office they may award him.
Subscribed & sworn to before me this 13 March 1835
A letter by John Thompson, Jr. in the file indicates that the following is the passage referring to the attack thought to be by Tarleton: “One of the evenings during their encampment at Westover & Berkeley their Light horse surprized a party of about 100 or 150 Militia at Charles City Courthouse killed & wounded 4. & took as has been generally said about 7 or 8.” (Gov. Jefferson of Virginia to the Delegates of the State, Richmond, 18 Jan 1781.) Since Tarleton did not arrive in Virginia until April 1781, his legion could not have been the ones referred to in the letter as “their Light horse.” In fact, Jefferson’s letter refers to an attack on the night of 8 Jan 1781 by Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe and 40 mounted rangers under the command of Gen. Benedict Arnold.
Gill was pensioned for only nine months service.