We’ve noted before how helpful old county biographies can be, because by summarizing a person’s life and travels, they provide a terrific guidance for where to search for records to verify the story contained therein. One such biography is that of Bland N. Ballard of Pulaski County, Missouri (1834-1893), which recounts his father’s origin and travels before settling in Missouri. We’ve added paragraph breaks for ease of reading.
From History of Laclede, Camden, Dallas, Webster, Wright, Texas, Pulaski, Phelps and Dent Counties, Missouri (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889).
Bland N. Ballard, farmer and stockman, of Cullen Township, Pulaski Co., Mo., is a native of Sangamon County, Ill., born in 1834.
His father, Bland N. Ballard, was a native of the “Palmetto State,” born in 1800, and when a young man went to Overton County, Tenn., where he met and married Miss Margaret Smelser, who was a native of that county, born in 1801. In 1833 he moved to Sangamon County, Ill., and four years later came to Pulaski County, Mo., where he spent the remainder of his days, dying in 1861. He was an influential citizen of Pulaski County for many years, and held the following offices: sheriff and collector, circuit and county clerk, a member of the State Legislature and probate county judge.
To him and wife, who died in 1873, six children were born, Bland N. being their third child. He resided with his father until the latter’s death, and then his mother made her home with him.
His [Bland N. Ballard, Jr’s] marriage to Miss Sarah White was celebrated in October 1867. She was born in Springfield, Mo., in 1841, and became the mother of five children: Maggie, Olive, Charles, Cora and Sallie. Her death occurred in March, 1878, and in January, 1789, Mr. Ballard wedded Elizabeth Bradford, a daughter of Neely Bradford, by whom he became the father of four children: Lucy, Samuel, Neely and Winnie. Mrs. Ballard was born in Phelps County, Mo., in 1842.
Mr. Ballard’s first investment in land was seventy-six acres, which he bought in 1866, but he has since increased his acreage until he now owns 102 in the home tract and 198 acres in another. In 1888 he erected a handsome and commodious two-story frame residence, at a cost of $800. In 1861 he enlisted in Company A, under Col. Stein, and served four years, being a participant in a number of engagements. He was captured near Fort Smith, and taken to St. Louis, where he was kept a prisoner for about nine months, when he was paroled, and returned home. He has always been a Democrat in politics, has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for about fifteen years, and is a Master Mason.
Our objective here is to identify the ancestors of the first Bland N. Ballard. We know from the above that he was born in 1800 in South Carolina, briefly lived in Overton County, Tennessee in the 1820s, in 1833 moved to Sangamon County, Illinois, where his son Bland was born in 1834, then moved to Pulaski County, Missouri in 1837, and died there in 1861. According to his tombstone in the Laughlin Cemetery in Waynesville, Pulaski County, he was born July 1800 and died 21 February 1861. Margaret Smelser’s tombstone records that she was born 16 January 1800 and died 5 August 1870 (Findagrave.com). He and Margaret had six children, but only Bland Jr. is named here.
We turn first to the 1850 US Federal Census, which was the first enumeration to give a person’s exact age (as best they knew) and place of origin. The handwriting of the enumerator for District 72 in Pulaski County, Missouri is particularly difficult to read; Ancestry’s transcribers interpreted the name as “Bronie N. Ballow.” The household shows: Bland N. Ballard, 51 (born NC); Margarit Ballard, 50 (born Tenn.); Bland N. Junr, 16 (born in Ill.); Morning Ballard, 14 (Mo.); Minerva Anne, 7 (Mo.); the household includes Eliza J. York, 7, and John M. York, 6 (both born in Missouri). 1850 US Federal Census, District 72, Pulaski, Missouri, Roll M432_411, Page 90A, Image 185.
The 1860 US Federal Census confirms what appeared in 1850, with the household headed by B.N. Ballard, 60 (born in SC); Margaret Ballard, 59 (born in TN); B.N.W. Ballard, 26 (born in Ill.); Minerva Ballard, 17 (born in Mo.); Jane York, 17 (born in Mo.); John M. York, 15 (born in Mo.); the household includes Sheldin G. Farriss, 26 (born in Ill.), who was probably a field hand. 1860 US Federal Census, Township 35, Range 11, Pulaski, Missouri, roll M653_641, Page 277, Image 275.
Working backward, we find Bland in 1840 in Pulaski County, with a household comprised of 1 male born between 1831 and 1835, two males born between 1821 and 1825, one male born between 1791 and 1800, one female born between 1831 and 1835, one female born between 1826 and 1830, two female born between 1821 and 1825, and one female born between 1791 and 1800. Clearly the eldest two are the parents, with three sons, four daughters, Bland being the youngest son. Assuming all of the younger people in the household are their children, it appears that there were five children older than he, even though the biography states that he had two older siblings. Three may not have survived to adulthood. 1840 US Federal Census, Pulaski, Missouri, Roll 229, Page 199, Image 405.
The 1830 US Federal Census is a bit of a surprise, because here we find him in Putnam, Indiana, not Sangamon, Illinois. That household includes one male born between 1791 and 1800, one female born after 1825, two females born between 1821 and 1825, and one female born between 1801 and 1810. Bland must have lived in Indiana for a time before moving to Illinois. 1830 US Federal Census, Putnam, Indiana, Series M19, Roll 30, Page 182.
We have not been able to identify where he might have been living by the 1820 or 1810 Census (he would legally have been an infant those years).
Letters preserved in the files of Brent Holcomb archived at the Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, South Carolina offer bits of interesting information. Mr. Holcomb worked on the origin question for a client, Mrs. Helen G. Crawford, who forwarded letters from descendants of Bland N. Ballard, which are transcribed below. The letters include her parenthetical comments to place them in context.
August 18, 1981
1510 Spencer St
Dear Mrs. Croford
In regards to your letter I can’t give you much information you want as I was only about 8 years old when my father died then I’m 97 now. I do remember one of thing, my father’s father came up from Tenn to Illinois quite a few Ballards in Ill. my father came up to Missouri from Ill.
I’s sorrow I can’t help you more.
Neal B. Ballard
1510 Spencer St
[“This is the grandson of Bland N. Ballard, Sr. He was a son of a second wife of B.N. Ballard jr.”]
A second letter has no date:
Ernest Dear —
The name of the place in Indiana where grandfather Ballard moved was Green Castle — Grandmother Ballard had to [“two”] sisters there Mornin and Charita married to frenchmen Catholics.
When I was widow at home with mother she told me many things about her folks. Grandfather Ballard taught school before coming to Pulaski Co. Pulaski then took in a lot more territory than now.
Love, Aunt Alice
A third letter has no date:
[“To Ernest Warren”]
Your grandmother Gibson [“nee Eliza J. Ballard”] was born in Roan County, Tenn. December 4th 1824 married Sep 8th, 1839. Your great grandmother [“Margaret Smelzer, Schmelzer”] was cousin of General Lafayettes. Her mother [“gr-grandmother Gibson’s”], her father German, at least he was born in Alsace.
Your grandfather Gibson born in St. Louis County Missouri March 11th 1819 passed away Feb 22nd 1883, two of his relatives were signers of Declaration Independence John Hancock a second cousin and I’ve forgotten the other one.
He was judge of the courts, when I was very small. The only thing I remember is after a hard journey he let me light is merchaum pipes. I can not remember exact date of mothers death, seems it was in March 1898. You will have to visit cemetery to find if I am right.
Think your grandfather [“Gibson”] came to Pulaski Co. in 1826 to live with his brother George Washington Gibson. Grandfather and grandmother Gibson died when father was seven years old. You might find something about it in the Pulaski Co. record. Your great uncle Washington was in the Legislature.
Ballards moved to Indiana [“Greencastle, Putnam Co.”] from [“Overton Co.”] Tennessee. Mother told me many times about the low country and the fever the name will come to me. The town [page apparently missing] . . . name Schmelzer — great grandmother’s maiden name.
Ernest — If there are any other questions you think I might answer — just ask me. Am glad you are both well. We are all fairly well. Joido (?) and Max are making us a visit, we are very happy about it. They have sold their cabins. Max does not to go to work until last of April so they may get to stay a few days.
The lady that cleans house for us would like me to move [illegible]
Lots of love, Aunt Alice
[“Alice was a daughter of Eliza Ballard Gibson & granddaughter of Bland N. Ballard, Sr. Note: I think a page was missing from this letter.”]
The sketch above was published in 1889 while Bland N. Ballard, Jr was living; most likely it was he that told that compiler that his father hailed from “The Palmetto State.” Nothing we have found, however, in the earlier primary or secondary sources provide what the initial “N.” stood for.
Bland Ballard in South Carolina
There was a Bland Ballard living in South Carolina in the 1780s and 1790s, who may have been Bland N. Ballard’s father. That Bland removed to South Carolina from Albemarle County, Virginia before 1787. On 15 December 1787, Bland Ballard of the Camden District, South Carolina gave a power of attorney to his brother Thomas Ballard and Francis Taliaferro to convey legal title to a tract of land, lying in Albemarle county, Virginia, sold to Patrick Michie “of which I had an equal part with the rest of my brothers.” Camden District, South Carolina Deed Book 10, p. 463; also Power of Attorney dated 15 December 1787 recorded October 1791 in Albemarle Co. Va. Deed Book 10, p. 463. The land that was the subject of this power of attorney was sold on 6 November 1783 by “William Ballard, in his own proper person & attorney-in-fact for John Ballard, David Ballard, Samuel Ballard & Sarah Ballard” to Patrick Michie, for £300, 400 acres on N. Fork of James River & Naked Creek, in Albemarle Co., bounded by land of Wm. Michie, Thos. Ballard, Jr & sd. Patrick Michie. Witnessed by John Michie, John Walker, John Allen. Recorded June 1784, Albemarle Co. Va. Deed Book 8, p. 135. Given that William Ballard was joined by his wife Sarah, and John, David and Samuel did not include spouses in the conveyance, indicates that at the time they were not married.
Evidently Bland removed to South Carolina with his brothers David, John and Thomas. We know that Bland’s brother David married Rebecca _________, while his brother John married Nancy Graham, and their brother Thomas married (1) Elizabeth Graham, and (2) Mary Parks. A pair of deeds prove the Graham marriages:
23 April 1803. John Ballard for $125 to Andrew Graham and James Trantham of Kershaw District, our undivided 1/7 of the estate of Frances Graham, dec’d, through my wife Nancy. — John Ballard, Nancy Ballard. Witness: Bailey Fleming, George Graham. Recorded Kershaw Co. Deed Book D, p. 145.
6 January 1804. Thomas Ballard of Hershaw District for $139 to Andrew Graham & James Trantham of Kershaw District, undivided 1/7 part of land of Francis Graham, dec’d, by my wife Elizabeth, now deceased — Thomas Ballard. Witness: R.L. Champion, James Ballard. Recorded Kershaw Co. Deed Book D, p. 241.
Francis Graham owned land adjoining the Ballards in Albemarle County, Virginia.
Camden was in Kershaw County, South Carolina, to the south of adjoining Lancaster County, where Bland Ballard was enumerated in the 1790 US Federal Census. That enumeration recorded two males over 16 years of age (born before 1774, two males under 16 years of age (born between 1774 and 1789), and one female. Age ranges for females were not recorded. Assuming Bland was 21 when married and had a son age 16 in the household, then he was at least 37 years of age, and therefore born c. 1753-1760. The other older male, however, could conceivably have been a brother, just not the head of household.
On 26 December 1791, Blan Ballard obtained a plat for 98 acres on the branch of Beaver Creek in the Camden District of South Carolina. South Carolina Land Grants, S213190, Vol. 27, page 458. According to notes by Brent Holcomb the grant was not issued and he owned no land in South Carolina. He did, however, sell cattle on 1 April 1794, Blann Ballard of Kershaw County, Planter, for £15, to Duncan McRa and Zachariah Canty … sale of cattle… — Blann Ballard. Witness: John Crane. Recorded Kershaw Co. SC Deed Book A, p. 144.
While there is no direct proof of a marriage, there does exist a record that indicates where the middle initial “N” might have come from. Recorded in Kershaw County, South Carolina is the will of John Nixson, Sr, which names his daughter Elizabeth Ballard.
Will of John Nixson, Senr.
In the name of God Amen. I John Nixson Senr of the County of Kershaw and State of South Carolina being Very weake and in A low Condition – but of Sound mind and memory but Cauling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die I Do make Constitute and ordain this my last will and Testament in the manner and form as followeth
IMPRIMIS – First I give and bequeath to my Daughter Nancy Reynaulds – Travis Nixson, John Nixson, Elizebeth Ballard, William Nixson, Hanner Bendergrass and Henry Nixson – an Equal Part of my Worldly Estate both Real and Personnal to be Divided by and at the Discresion of my Executors hereafter.
Secondly and lastly – I Constitute and Appoint my Eldest Son Travis Nixson and Thomas Gardner Executors to this my last Will and testament – Disannuling and Revoking all other testaments wills Cordicils or wills by me Made Ratifying this to be my last will and testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my Hand and Seal this fifteenth day of march in the year of our Lord one thousand Seven hundred and ninty Seven – and in the twenty first year of the Independence of the United States of America
— John Nixson
Signed Sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us: Robert Brown, Jean Gardner, Milley Gardner
Recorded Kershaw Co. South Carolina Will Book C, p. 291, 7 November 1797, Apt. 53, Pkg. 1850.
The records of St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Beaufort, South Carolina include the baptism of Elizabeth Nixon, daughter of John and Ann Nixon. She was born 29 August 1764, baptized 28 October 1771. Their daughter Ann was born 22 July 1770, and also baptized 28 October 1771. South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. XXIII, No. 3, July 1922 (p. 142).
By process of elimination, given that Bland’s brothers wives and children are accounted for, and knowing from census records that he was married and had children, this leaves Bland Ballard as the most likely husband of Elizabeth Nixon.
However, we would be more comfortable with this conclusion if we could more reliably document the descendants of two other brothers of Bland, William and Samuel. William is said to have married a “Miss Jarman” and resided below Mechum’s Depot in Albemarle (according to secondary sources), and a Samuel Ballard appears in the 1790 Census for Rutherford County, North Carolina. A son of Bland Ballard (c. 1735-1809), son of Thomas is also said to have married Sarah Jarman; the two may be conflated in earlier research and work is needed to sort them out. We’ve checked Albemarle County deeds from 1758 to 1797, and wills 1748 to 1798 and found no mention of Samuel Ballard following his father’s will of 1779 (recorded in 1780) except the sale of land in which he joined with his brothers (by Power of Attorney, which suggests he was outside the county) on 6 November 1784. He probably died young.
In 1800, a Samuel Ballard appears in the Morgan District of Buncombe County, North Carolina. Note that in 1791 a portion of the west side of Rutherford and Burke Counties were cut off to create Buncombe County. Note that a Samuel Ballard, a cousin of Bland Ballard (the son of John and grandson of Bland’s uncle Thomas) was living in Buncombe County in 1793, as proven by the following quitclaim deed dated 20 December 1793 in Buncombe Co. NC Deed Book 3, p. 198):
Know all men by these presance that I Samuel Ballard of the county of Buncombe and the state of North Carolina do hereby bargain, sell, convey and transfer unto Robert Patton of the said county and state for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred and fifty Spanish Mill dollars to me in hand paid by the said Robert Patton the receipt where of is here by acknowledged for all my right title and claim to all that legacy or heirship left or bequested to me by my father John Ballard by his last will and testimony which legacy is to become due to me at the death of my mother Morning Ballard. I do hereby vest said Robert Patton and his heirs with full power and lawful authority … given under my hand this 20th day December 1793. Test : Aaron Patton, George Newton
The Buncombe County, North Carolina, Index to Deeds, 1783-1850 (Southern Historical Press, 1983) provides a little additional information: a Samuel Ballard purchased 100 acres on Forgey’s Creek from James McMahon by deed dated September 1799 (Book 3, p. 317), and a Samuel Ballard conveyed 100 acres on Swannanoa River by deed dated 16 July 1802 to William Edmondson (Book C, p. 275). It isn’t clear if this is the same parcel; the name “Forgey’s Creek” does not appear on contemporary USGS maps. An examination of the original or a transcript that names the owners of neighboring parcels would answer the question.
Census records show that the Samuel Ballard in Rutherford County in 1790 had a household consisting of three persons: one male over age 16 (born before 1774), and two females (ages were not given in that census). The Samuel Ballard in Buncombe County in 1800 consisted of eight people: the head of household was between the ages of 26 and 44, a female in the same age range, two sons under age 10, three daughters under age 10, and one daughter between 10 and 15. This appears to be the same family. There are no other records of Samuel Ballard in Buncombe deed books after 1802, which begs the question of where he removed to following the sale of the 100 acres.
In light of this, we’re fairly confident that the Samuel appearing in Rutherford in 1790 and Buncombe in 1800 is not Bland’s brother. We have not yet established what became of Bland’s brother Samuel, assuming he was still living in 1800. We can speak with more certainty when we’re able to study additional records of Rutherford and Buncombe Counties, North Carolina and the post-1800 records of Albemarle County, Virginia.
The 1800 US Federal Census records a Bland Balliard in the Morgan District of Rutherford County, North Carolina. This household consisted of three males born between under 10, one male between 26 and 44, two females under 10, one female born between 10 and 15, and one female between 26 and 44. This is most likely our Bland and his family. 1800 US Federal Census, Morgan District, Rutherford, North Carolina, Series M32, Roll 33, Page 97, Image 409.
Who were the other minor males in the household in 1800? One of these is probably Bland N. Ballard, born c. 1800. Another may be the Nixon Ballard who we know from a single record — a marriage license for Nixon Ballard and Mary Rembert, dated 20 August 1819 that appears in the records of Lawrence County, Mississippi. A third possibility is the Charles Ballard who appears in the same county (marriage record of Charles Ballard and Jane Brady, dated 13 March 1821), if we assume Nixon and Charles are related and traveled to Mississippi together. We’ve done no research of substance in Mississippi, so for the moment this is pure speculation.
We note (again) that nowhere in any primary sources that Bland N. Ballard’s middle name was “Nixon.” Past researchers must have reached this conclusion because of the existence of the will of John Nixson that names his daughter Elizabeth Ballard. Given the penumbra of evidence, this is a very likely the correct conclusion. There are no other records that we’ve discovered showing the whereabouts of this first Bland Ballard after 1800, who presumably died after that date, leaving at least three sons and three daughters. We have yet to search records of Rutherford County, North Carolina; when we do, we hope to tell a more comprehensive story about this branch of the family.