The Life Story of Rev. John H. Ballard, 1924.

Directing our attention to other branches of the Lineage Group I Ballards, we’ve been focused on the families that migrated from Virginia to North Carolina and Tennessee. There are at least three men in the Ballard DNA project that trace to John Ballard (born c. 1755) and Elizabeth James.

While trying to make sense of the families that settled around Buncombe County, North Carolina, Roane County, Tennessee and other parts of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, by chance we looked at a story uploaded to Ancestry by a user (regrettably we did not make a note of the source) called the Life Story of Rev. John H. Ballard, 1924, which describes Reverend Ballard’s descent from John Ballard and Miss James. The most striking information he relayed, however, is that John Ballard and Miss James raised twelve children — ten boys and two girls. Unfortunately, he knew the name of only one of those sons — his own grandfather, Joseph (1794-1884), and the married names of the two girls — Aldrage, who settled in Macon County, North Carolina, and Byrd, who settled in Yancey County, North Carolina.

We have not been able to identify the daughter who married Mr. Byrd, but we find that on 1 April 1825 a Susan Ballard married Francis Aldridge in Roane County, Tennessee, and they removed to Scott County, Virginia sometime before 1850; the 1850 federal census for Scott County enumerates Francis Aldridge, Sr, age 68 (born in North Carolina); Susan Aldridge, age 52 (born in Tennessee), Isaac N. Aldridge, age 14; Susannah Aldridge, age 16; Sarah E. Aldridge, age 12; and John M. Aldridge, age 11; the children all born in North Carolina). By 1860, Francis Aldridge, Sr had died and his widow resided in the household of their daughter Susannah, son Isaac N. Aldridge in Scott County, Virginia with is wife Nancy J. (Lane) Aldridge and their son Ira. The fact that Francis Aldridge is identified as “Sr” indicates that he had a son Francis, and we find also in Scott County, Virginia a Francis Aldridge, Jr who was born in Kentucky about 1824 (age 26; perhaps the enumerated transcribed the two, given the marriage in 1825; Francis was probably born in 1826), showing that Francis and Susan briefly resided in Kentucky.

But what of the nine other sons of John Ballard? One clue is the name Isaac N. (probably “Isaac Newton”, but we don’t have proof of that), used by Francis and Susan Aldridge; the name “Newton” also appears in John H. Ballard’s family, for he had a brother named Joseph Newton Ballard (1853-1935). There was also a Newton Ballard, born 1804 in Tennessee and found in Roane County in 1830 (spelled “Nuton” that year), but removed to Cooper County, Missouri by 1840 when he appeared there in that year’s census (“Newton Ballad”). We believe Newton Ballard is another son of John Ballard and Elizabeth James. In fact, a researcher noted in an online message group that

John Ballard lived in Roane County, Tenn from about 1826 to 1839, when he and his son Newton moved to Cooper CO, Missouri where they both appear on the 1840 Census. John is then listed as  70+ years old. The inspiration for the name Newton Ballard, apparently came from Rev. George Newton, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Swannanoa, just east of Asheville in Buncombe County, and was also the founder of Newton’s Accademy in Asheville. Rev Newton later moved to Tennessee.

A biography of George Newton appears in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography and is posted online, with a copyright notice prohibiting further distribution. The biography corroborates the statements of the researcher noted above concerning Rev. Newton.

The 1840 federal census for Cooper County, Missouri does show “John Ballad” as head of a household comprised of one male age 5-9; one male age 20-29; one male age 70-79, and one female age 60-69. The eldest male would have been born between 1761 and 1770, and the eldest female between 1771 and 1780, making her too young to be the mother of the Thomas Ballard who married Elisabeth Dalton, or the William Ballard born in 1781 (more on them below) which has us wondering that if Elizabeth James had died and this is a second wife whose name we do not know.

Another likely son of John Ballard and Elizabeth James is the William Ballard (1781-1852) who was born in Virginia and died in Roane County, Tennessee; married Mary Polly Eblen (1787-1849). While we have not yet found direct evidence, the circumstances and vicinity argue for this being another son of John and Elizabeth.

Yet another possibility is the Thomas Ballard (born c. 1780) who married Elisabeth Dalton in Rutherford, North Carolina on 26 May 1801; they had two sons, Lewis and Thomas. One researcher on Ancestry gives Thomas’ middle name as “James”, but we have not found proof of this assertion. A Charles Ballard appears in the 1830 federal census in Roane County, Tennessee, but we have not found him in any other record. There are other candidates in other counties, but we haven’t found sufficient proof to argue that they are sons of John Ballard and Elizabeth James, though there are several trees on Ancestry that claim a number of men as sons and many more daughters than what we learn from John H Ballard’s history.

But what of the first John Ballard’s ancestry? We believe his is the son of the John Ballard who pre-deceased his father, Thomas Ballard, whose will dated 30 June 1779 and recorded 9 May 1782 stated, in part:

I give and Devide to my sons Thomas Ballard & Bland Ballard and their heirs for ever all this my land they suffering my daughter- in-law, Mourning Ballard to live on, use and occupy that part of it whereon she now lives during her natural Life and I will and …. the land to be equally divided between them so that Bland enjoy that part whereon he now lives.

We learn that Mourning is the widow of John Ballard from a document that appears in the records of Buncombe County, North Carolina, proving the existence of the will (now lost) of John Ballard, son of Thomas and husband of Mourning:

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 bequeathed 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 to ask, receive, sue for and recover and to appropriate to his own use or to the use of his heirs all that estate or legacy with real or personal bequeathed to me by my father John Ballard by his last will and testimony and to all intents and purposes I do place said Patton and his heirs in my room and sted as heir to that whole legacy to me bequeathed by my father in as full and as ample a manner as I myself am or could be by virtue of sd last will and testimony or by virtue of law & further suit all claim sd legacy warranting, defending it to sd Patton and his heirs from myself and my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns from all other person and persons claiming my right as heir to my devidend of sd estate, given under my hand this 20th day December 1798.  Test : Aaron Patton, George Newton

Buncombe Co. North Carolina Deed Book 3, p. 198.

Also in Buncombe County appears “a deed or letter of Attorney from John Ballard to Robert Patton for all that part of his father John Ballard’s estate that was bequeathed to him by the last will of John Ballard, deceased, was proved in open court by the Reverend George Newton, One of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered.” January Court 1800, Buncombe Co. N.C. Probate of Deeds, p. 98. This confirms that both Samuel Ballard and John Ballard were associates of George Newton (there was only one George Newton residing in Buncombe County, according to the 1800 federal census), and were the sons of the John Ballard and his wife Mourning from Albemarle County, Virginia.

Excerpted below is the first few paragraphs of the Life History of Rev. John H. Ballard. You may view the entire document here.


JOHN H. BALLARD, in the eightieth year of my age, will endeavor to write a short autobiography of my life, with a brief, traditional history of my ancestors. Ballard is said to be a Welch name, from which other names have been derived, as Bollard, Bullard, etc. Some spell it with one I, while it is usually spelled with two l’s. Some accent the last syllable, while others pronounce it as though it was spelled Ballard, accenting the last syllable.

At some unknown date, but soon after the Revolutionary war, there was one, John Ballard, a soldier who fought for our independence, who migrated from Virginia and settled in Powell’s Valley (which is now in the state of Tennessee). The said John Ballard had married one Miss James, by whom he raised twelve children, ten boys and two girls. One of the girls married a man by the name of Aldrage, of Macon County, North Carolina. The other girl married a man by the name of Byrd, of Yancey county, North Carolina. Of the boys I know nothing except for one, Joseph, my grandfather who was born November 9, 1794, and died November, 1884, being 90 years old. The said Joseph Ballard married Sallie Arwood, a daughter of one James Arwood, a Pennsylvanian who served in the Continental army during the Revolutionary struggle for independence. He first served under Washington in the North, being in the battle of Monmouth and others. He, with others, was afterwards transferred to the South, where they fought under Generals Green and Marion and was in the battle at King’s Mountain, and many skirmishes with the Indians and Tories. The said James Arwood altefwards [sic] married one Miss Bryan, and entered on and bought a large boundary of land on the Paint Fork of Little Ivy, which is now in Madison county, N.C., where he settled and raised a large family of boys and three girls. The boys with one exception were frequently drunk and fighting, and thus reduced their father to poverty paying them out of difficulties, and yet when said boys were sober they were tender hearted and inclined to be religious. ‘Ere long the old soldier, my great grandfather Arwood died at the advanced age of 100 years in poverty, while his wife lived to be 102 years old.

Joseph Ballard and wife, my grandparents, raised seven children: first, Susanah; second, John; third, David; fourth, James; fifth, Elizabeth; sixth, George; seventh, Ruth. David Ballard, my father; was born April 25, 1823 A. D. and lived to be almost 83 years old.

Said David Ballard married Vian Harwood, daughter of Squire Harwood, who had married Miss Sallie Dewese, daughter of Rev. Garret Dewese, who was one of the pioneer preachers of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. David Ballard and wife raised eight children: first, John Henry; second, James Robert; third, Sarah Louisa; fourth, Squire Washington; fifth, Joseph Newton; sixth, Erner Lucinda; seventh, David Alexander; eighth, William Woodard. John H. Ballard, the writer, was born October 23, 1844, A. D., on the waters of Jacks Creek, in Yancey county, N. C., and was removed from place to place until his father was able to purchase land of his own, his first purchase being on Gabriel’s Creek, a tributary of Big Ivy in Madison county, N. C. He soon sold said land and bought a mountain farm, on the north prong of Reems Creek, in Buncombe county, N. C. where I have my first recollection. We remained there until I was six years old, and attended one short session of school taught by one Mrs.

Hughey. At that age I was so timid that I could scarcely talk enough to recite my lessons. About the year 1850 my father sold his land on Reems Creek and bought land and moved to Mountain Creek in Cherokee county, now Graham County, about one mile from Robensville, the county seat, where we remained about two years and had no opportunity for schools or churches, it being a backwoods settlement and our neighbors being mostly Cherokee Indians. And yet with these disadvantages before I was eight years old, and scarcely able to read the New Testament, I had some religious impressions, and perhaps would have accepted Christ as my personal Savior at that early age, if I could have had the proper encouragement, but while my parents were strictly moral, they were neither of them religious at the time.

After two years my father sold his property there and moved back to Buncombe county, and bought land on the South fork of Reem’s Creek, where I had the advantage of Sunday schools, and short terms of public schools, about two months each autumn. The balance of the year I had to look after the stock, and the labor on the farm, but while I had some advantages, I was often surrounded with wicked associates and my head grew hard, notwithstanding I had frequent awakenings, and felt very serious, under the preaching of the gospel, or when attending funerals, and yet with an open Bible before me, and with the moving of God’s spirit pressing for my heart’s affection, I stubbornly resisted His overtures until I was almost eighteen years old, while I was always under the conviction that I was resisting the power that sought my well-being, while by force of will I had overcome my natural timidity. I was full of levity and being a pretty good mimic, I spent much time in rude company, mimicking preachers and politicians who frequently stumped the county, either Whig or Democratic. Often while mocking the preacher I would choke with emotion, my own words bringing conviction to my heart. This pastime was not because of any disrespect I had towards the preachers, as I always did respect the man who condemned sin, and espoused the cause of Jesus Christ. Perhaps my negligence about being religious was the reasoning of Satan, who prompted me to think that religion was morbid, and full of gloom and doubt. Something seemed to say to me, “You are destined for a long life, get pleasure out of the world. You see your parents, while very moral, are still worldly-minded, striving by all honest means to make money, giving themselves no rest day or night, and while they often counsel you to be moral and law abiding, they seldom if ever say anything to you about being religious. You are likely to live to be old; religion is more suitable for the old people. See you parents are not uneasy, your grandfather is not religious yet, and you need not wonder at your grandmother’s piety, as she is sorely afflicted, being paralyzed as she is, it behooves her to be religious and if your great grand parents, who have reached the century mark, are religious, you have never heard them say anything about it, so be contented until you grow old and decrepit. Religion is only meant to keep people from going to hell anyway.”

On the 15th day of July, 1862, A. D., it was my privilege to hear a sermon by one James Jones of the Methodist church, who seemed to preach directly to me, which produced great seriousness on my mind, and while striving to get rid of my convictions that afternoon, I had a narrow escape form death. A tree fell on my brother and myself, crippling my brother and killing the horse which he was riding, while I and my horse escaped with minor injuries. I believe that said accident, as it is called, was Providential to make my conviction permanent for from that day on my struggle was intense, until I found peace.

I made the mistake that thousands of others make, by trying to bring myself into favor with God, by much prayer and good works, and thus I continued for about three months. About this time Rev. W. W. Ramsey and others held a protracted meeting, when with experienced Christians as instructors. I was enabled by faith to accept Christ as my personal Savior, realizing that He had paid the penalty for all who would come to God with repentance and faith in the atonement. I was converted on the 15th day of October, 1862. The next thing to do then was to decide on what church to unite with, my people being mostly of Missionary Baptist sentiment, and that church was very prosperous in the community, as also were the Methodist and Presbyterian, the Free Will Baptist on the other hand, was very weak. While I agree with the larger Baptist church on the mode of baptism, yet the communion question settled my convictions, and on the 14th day of December in the year 1862, I was baptized and united with the

Free Will Baptist church at Union Valley, Buncombe county, N. C. Believing that the Lord required the labors of even the weakest talents in his vineyard, I began at once to assist in prayer meetings, to visit the sick, and converse with the unsaved of the neighborhood, with some success among the young people, to whom I confined my labors almost exclusively. Here a sudden trouble comes into my life. The Civil War is on. The young men are volunteering, and going into the Confederate army. What shall I do? I am of Revolutionary descent. My father is an uncompromising union man. I hold a conference with my father, the decision is for me to stay at home as long as possible, rather than raise arms against the flag and union for which our fathers fought, but, on the conscript law comes to take all from 18 to 45 years of age. I was small and beardless so I kept my age a secret for a time. The war went on and I was taken to camp, but I refused to take the prescribed oath, so after much wrangling with threats to send me to Castle Thunder, a prison at Richmond, Virginia. Eventually Captain Wm. Fortune decided to arm me and place me in his company as a private, where I remained for a short time then took another soldier, younger than myself, Henry Bias, by name, and we made our way through the mountains into East Tennessee, and joined the Federal army, where I served under the Star Spangled Banner, as a corporal in Company C Third Regiment North Carolina Infantry volunteers, having bid my parents good-bye, determined to take the course I did, with the decision that if the South should succeed in establishing a Confederacy, I would never return to the old home again. With this decision of course it was a sad parting. Of the part I took in the war I shall say but little, suffice it to say I tried to make a good soldier, participated in several minor engagements and was exposed to the cold on a battlefield, contracting a cold which resulted in bronchitis and caused me to spend some time in a hospital. Said trouble left me an invalid from which I have never fully recovered, (and for which I received a pension after the war.) However I recovered sufficiently to return to my command and serve my company as secretary, making out all the payrolls, etc., until discharged by general order at Knoxville, Tennessee, on the 8th day of August, 1865. So much for my war record. I have said but little about it because I detest war and think all controversies should be settled by arbitration instead of war, however, the Civil war settled two questions, viz: Slavery and State Supremacy. Soon after my return to my home I met a young school Miss, by the name of Mattie J. Honeycutt, daughter of Rev. Stephen Honeycutt. My acquaintance with the school Miss soon ripened into love and courtship, and notwithstanding my physical disability, we decided to enter into matrimony, and on the 23rd day of September, 1866 A. D., we were married by Rev. Jno. Arwood at the residence of the bride’s father in Yancey county. This union proved to be a happy one and to it was born nine children as follows: first, Hester Ann; second, Loretta Leticia; third, Theodore Vasco; fourth, Virgil Adkins; fifth, Channey Marks; sixth, John Bunyan; seventh, Benjamin Randall; eighth, Curtis Nichols; ninth, Effie Haselton. . . .

Life History of John H. Ballard, 1924

4 thoughts on “The Life Story of Rev. John H. Ballard, 1924.

  1. Thank you for posting your research on these Ballard lines. Excellent work and a great read!

  2. My name is Joseph Charles Ballard.
    Very interesting read. Thanks for all the time spent in your research and writing.

  3. Good Day, Thank you for sharing your story. It was an interesting read and I now have to research if your Ballards mentioned are related in any way. My name is Katrina Robinson, and I am related to William Ballard 1848-1940 and his Folklore Interview of 1936-1938, with wife Alice Robinson (Jack Baccus), his mom Sallie and father John Ballard. My grandmother was Addie Ballard who married Claude R. Ballard, who great grandparents were Alice Robinson and Jack Baccus. I am researching my Ballard family that connects w/Waller, Backus, Quarles, Jones, Gilchrist, Harris, Pinn, Haskins, and Gaskins. John B. Cannon was the slave owner and Rev Swearing Jack Waller was a well-known preacher. William Ballard worked on Mr. Jim Aikens plantation as a slave.

    • Somehow I overlooked this — apologies.

      The names you mention are not familiar to me. More information would be helpful. What is this folklore interview? Where can I find it?

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