A few weeks ago, documents from the Spotsylvania County Chancery Causes published online by the Library of Virginia appeared in the Ballard Family History and Genealogy page in Facebook. With the pandemic resulting in more idle moments than anticipated, it seemed prudent to study the records and determine which family these documents describe.
In the case Administrator of William Ballard vs. James Ballard etc, Index No. 1823-005 (Original Case No. 16), we find a handful of documents that describes actions taken in 1822 by William Carter, the administrator of the estate of William Ballard of Spotsylvania County, Virginia.
In the worshipful, The Justices of the County Court of Spotsylvania in Chancery sitting – Humbly complaining your orator William Carter respectfully represents that a claim William Ballard departed this life intestate on or about the ____ day of _______ and that your orator administered upon his estate in full form of law in the sd. County court of Spotsylvania, that your orator as admin. has possessed himself of four negros belonging to the estate of the intestate whose names are Frank, Caroline, Elizabeth and Tener and also of a small tract of lease land of inconsiderable value, which negroes together with lease of ?? are subject to the distribution amongst the children of the intestate. That the intestate left the following children who are his heirs at law, to wit. James and Lewis Ballard who are about the age of 21 years. Betsy and Mary Ballard who are infants (to defend whose rights in this suit your orator prays that a guardian may be appointed by the court) and Sally who intermarried with Winslow Parker – that from the number and relative value of the negros aforesaid an equal allotment cannot be effected amongst the children afoursaid so entitled to distribution – and your orator believes that it would be highly detrimental to the interests of all concerned that the sd. Negros should be kept together for the purpose of cultivating the leased land afoursaid, he wishes therefore in order to just distribution of the sd. Negroes and lease, that a sale thereof may be desired by the court, and the proceeds of such sale, rather than the property itself, distributed amongst the children aforesaid. To which end he prays that the said James, Lewis, Betty & Mary Ballard, Winslow Parker and Sally his wife may be made parties to this bill and may be required to ensure the same – and to state whether they have any and if any, what objection to a sale of the negros and lease aforsaid for the purpose aforsaid.
The joint answer of James & Lewis Ballard, Winslow Parker and Sally his wife formerly Sally Parker on bill of complaint published against them in the county court of Spotsylvania in chancery by a certain William Carter admin of William Ballard dec’d. These respondents for answer to the sd. Bill saith that they are willing to a sale of the negros and lease mentioned in the plaintiff’s bill.
The joint answer of Betsy and Mary Ballard infant children of William Ballard dec’d by Charles Lewis their guardian appointed by the county court of Spotsylvania to defend them in this suit instituted against themselves and others in the sd. Court of chancery ??? thereof, by a certain William Carter admin. of William Ballard dec’d. These respondents for ??? to the plaintiff’s bill say that they have no objection to a sale of the negros and lease mentioned in the said bill – being infants they submit their rights to the court.
The second document in the file appears to be a draft of the more formal and dated third document, transcribed below.
At a court held for Spotsylvania county the 7th day of January 1822
William Carter administrator of William Ballard, dec’d, plaintiff, against James and Lewis Ballard, Winslow Parker and Sally his wife formerly Sally Ballard, Betsy and Mary Ballard infants under the age of 21 years by Charles Lewis their guardian ad litem appointed by the court, which said James, Lewis, Sally, Betsy and Mary, are children of William Ballard, dec’d, defts [defendants].
This cause came on this day to be heard upon the bill of the plaintiff, the joint answer of James and Lewis Ballard, Winslow Parker and Sally his wife – and the joint answer of the infant defts, Betsy and Mary Ballard by Charles Lewis their guardian appointed by the court to defend them in this cause, and was argued by counsel. Upon consideration whereof the court doth adjudge order and decree that the plaintiff William Carter sell by public auction upon a credit of 12 months the slaves and lease in the proceedings mentioned, taking bonds with approved security for the purchase money, payable to himself as admin. of William Ballard dec’d, and that he make report of his proceedings to this court in order to a final decree.
A copy Teste
R. L. Stevenson
A fourth document appears to conclude the matter.
Pursuant to the annexed decree, I did on the 11th day of January 1822, after having given three weeks notice in the Virginia Herald, expose to sale by public auction to the highest bidder the slaves & Lease therein referred to also all the personal effects of the late Wm. Ballard, as will appear by the act [account] of sales herewith returned – [account not included in the file].
William Carter, Admin. of Wm. Ballard, dec’d.
1st Augt. 1822
A guess from a first reading, given what is known of the family, was that the late William Ballard was a son of Benjamin Ballard, Sr (c.1725-1814), which proved to be correct. This is confirmed by another chancery record, James L. Leavell & Wife etc. vs. James Ballard, Index No 1841-055. This case identifies these children as the heirs of William Ballard, the son of Benjamin Ballard. The suit was initiated by Nancy (Ballard) Leavell in order to obtain a “fair” division of 304 acres of land once owned by her father among his eight heirs (and if no longer living, their heirs per stirpes). The relevant document is written in a cryptic script and is very difficult to read, so it is transcribed only in part below.
James L. Leavell & Nancy his wife, Jesse Wayt & Peggy his wife, James B. Lewis and John Montague adult heirs of Hannah Herring, dec’d, Charles Lewis & Mary his wife, Benjamin Ballard, James, Lewis, Winslow Parker & Sally his wife, Betsy & Mary, adult heirs of William Ballard, dec’d; Beverley, Thomas, Benjamin, Lucy & Mary, adult heirs of George Ballard, deceased; which said Nancy, Peggy, Hannah, Mary, Benjamin, William, George together with James (hereafter ??? defendant) are the devisees of the real estate of Benj. Ballard deceased respectfully ??? represents their ??? Ballard acct in Dec 1812 dividing up a tract of land ??? containing about 289 acres his will to bequeath the same (upon directing 25 acres given to his son Charles) to be equally divided amongst his children …
Searching Ancestry, we found a couple of census records for Winslow Parker and Sally Ballard. The 1850 census found them residing in the Eastern District of Spotsylvania county, Virginia: Winslow Parker, age 60 (born c. 1790), Sally Parker, age 54 (born c. 1796) and their children Horace, Sarah, Ann and Frank.
We have not, however, been able to identify the name of William’s wife. Evidently she pre-deceased him, since she is not named in the 1821 administration of William Ballard’s estate, nor have we uncovered a marriage record. Nothing was found in William Armstrong Crozier’s Virginia County Records: Spotsylvania County, 1721-1800 (New York: Fox, Duffield & Co., 1905; Reprinted: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1990). Perhaps a search of the surviving Spotsylvania county land records created between 1800 and 1822 might provide an answer.