James E. Ballard of Ray County, Missouri (1817-1893).

About eight years ago we stumbled on a curious legislative act among the Laws of Kentucky and at the time did not pursue researching it, until now.   In a volume entitled Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky: Passed at December Session, 1847 (Frankfort: A.G. Hodges & Co., 1848), pp. 254-55, we found the following.

AN ACT for the benefit of James L. Ballard and Matilda, his wife.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That it shall be lawful for Matilda Ballard, wife of James L. Ballard, to join in the sale and conveyance of her interest in a tract of land that descended to her from her brother, William Flournoy, deceased, lying in Washington county; and a deed of conveyance executed by her and her said husband, James L. Ballard, in conformity with existing laws, shall be effectual to vest the title, in fee simple, in the grantee, as if the said Matilda were of full and mature age: Provided, that no such conveyance shall pass the title to said land until the said James L. Ballard execute bond, with one or more good securities, in a penalty double the value of said Matilda’s interest in the land to be conveyed, payable to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in the Clerk’s office of the Washington County Court, conditioned that the proceeds of the sale shall be vested in lands in the State of Missouri, and the title to be secured to and vested in the said Matilda Ballard; which bond shall be preserved in said office, and it may be put in suit by the said Matilda Ballard, or her heirs, for any breach thereof.

Approved February 25, 1848.

This tells us that the couple sold the property she inherited from her brother William Flournoy (who lived in Washington County, Kentucky), Matilda was under the age of 21, and the couple was moving to Missouri but needed this act to legitimize the conveyance.

Given that this occurred just before the 1850 census, we turned first to the census records to try to find the couple. At the time there was only one couple named James and Matilda Ballard in Missouri, but that James had the middle initial “E.” Presumably the “L.” in the legislative act was a transcription error.

The 1850 Census enumerated James E. Ballard, age 33, born in Virginia; Matilda Ballard, age 22, born in Kentucky, and Adeline Ballard, age 1, born in Missouri. 1850 US Federal Census, District 75, Ray, Missouri, Roll: M432_412, Page 289B, Image 19.

In 1860, James, Matilda and Adeline are erroneously listed as “Rolland”, not Ballard. The household listing begins with a Samuel Rolland, age 40, a farm hand, followed by Rebecca, age 19, John, age 17, and Jessie, age 16. Next is James Ballard, age 44, a Miller, born in Virginia; Matilda, age 30, born in Kentucky; Adeline, age 10, listed erroneously as born in Kentucky; and a new addition, James Ballard, age 2, born in Missouri. 1860 US Federal Census, Richmond, Ray, Missouri, Roll M653_643, Page 269, Image 273.

By 1870, the family is still in Richmond in Ray County, Missouri, but by then James has retired (“retired merchant”), age 53, born in Virginia; Matilda, age 43, born in Kentucky; Adeline is no longer with them, but James J. Ballard, age 12 is “at home.” An additional member of the household is a Lemuel Boon, age 79, “no occupation.”

By 1880, it appears Matilda had died (we’ve found no record of this, however), and James Ballard, age 64 is in the household of S. Ken C. Hancock, age 37, a farmer from Tennessee, who married his daughter Adeline (“Addie Hancock”). Their daughter Ida Hancock, age 1, was born in Kansas. James’ son James, age 22 is also with them.

James E. Ballard and his son James J. Ballard are both interred at Greenwood Cemetery in the town of Sedan in Chautauqua County, Kansas. James E. Ballard’s tombstone shows that he was born 22 November 1817 and died 3 February 1893, and his son was born in 1859, died in 1923.

According to her tombstone, James’ daughter Adeline Hancock was born 27 March 1849, died 10 February 1920, while her husband S. C. Hancock was born 27 October 1844, died 15 November 1898. Both are interred at Greenwood Cemetery.

In 1900, James Ballard (the son) was a servant in the household of Henry and Eva Colyer. This record listed him as born in March 1861, yet he is the only James Ballard in Missouri with a father from Virginia and a mother from Kentucky. He is apparently unmarried, and presumably died without issue. We have not found him in the 1910 or 1920 census.

Nor have we found anything other than the Act linking Matilda to her family in Kentucky, and based on his response in the 1880 Federal Census, James did not know which states to name as their places of birth.  While this particular male line appears to have died out (Adeline had two children — Ida and Elliott — that may have had children), knowledge of his descent could help untangle the lines of the Virginia families.

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