Robert Ballard of Mecklenburg County, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland (c.1742-1793).

This post is compelled by a desire to correct a great injustice.  John Bennett Boddie’s inaccurate research has resulted in many researchers overlooking the contributions of this Robert Ballard, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Continental Line during the American Revolution.  In his Southside Virginia Families (1955) Boddie placed this Robert Ballard (who removed to Baltimore, Maryland and married Rebecca Plowman) as a grandson of John Ballard of Yorktown (1700-1745), when in fact he came from Mecklenburg County, Virginia, as proven by his own correspondence with President George Washington, which is quoted in full below, and the records of that county.

His descent has yet to be traced by this researcher; we know he left a number of sons and a daughter.  There is still much, much work to do with this line.

The compiler is indebted to Brenda Ballard Pflaum for many of the abstracts that follow below – thank you.

Robert Ballard, the son of John Ballard of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, was born c. 1742, died before 7 August 1793 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Robert Ballard was three times sworn Sheriff of Lunenburg county: Order Book 1763-64, p. 99; 1764-65, p. 164; 1766-69, p. 133.

On 14 February 1767 he witnessed a deed between Robert Cunningham and John Goode in Mecklenburg county (14 February 1767. Robert Cunningham John Goode; £160 for 370 acres on east side of Cox Creek; Spittle Pulley’s lower corner at mouth of branch; Lewis Parkham, Robert Ballard and Samuel Oldham witnessed. Mecklenburg Co. Va. Deeds Vol. 1, 1765-1768, p. 466.)

On 13 July 1767 he witnessed a deed between his brother John Ballard Jr and George Jefferson.  (George Jefferson of St. James Parish to John Ballard Jr; £135 for 400 acres in St. James Parish, on the branches of Miles’ Creek; Ruffins line; part of a tract he bought of Henry Delony. Signed. William Holloway, Robert Ballard and Thomas Farrar witnessed.  Mecklenburg Co. Va. Deed Book 1, 1765-1768. p. 453.)

7 March 1772 Robert Ballard, Isaac Holmes, Reuben Morgan, Thomas Taylor Jr, and John Ballard Sr, are bound to John Tabb for £5,000. Agreed that Robert Ballard shall keep 1/3 of Tabb’s fees as clerk, and keep all papers and records. Robert Ballard and John Tabb signed agreement, and others all signed bond agreement. Witnessed by John and William Lucas and William Duncan. Recorded on 13 April 1772 Mecklenburg Co. Va. Deeds, Vol. 3 (1771-1773), p. 336.  LDS Film # 0032533

24 September 1773, Accounts of sales of estate of Dennis Lark: John Ballard Jr  bought corn and a cart: William Ballard bought wheat: Robert Ballard bought corn. Vol. 1, p. 171. (Mecklenberg Co. Va. Wills, Estates, Probates, Inventories and Sales, Vol. 1 (1765-1782), p. 171.   Film # 0032518.

On 12 September 1774, Robert Ballard purchased 150 acres on Huey’s Mill Creek from Joshua Mabry, but the next year sold to Robert Burgon of Granville, North Carolina.  He must have removed to James City county, for in the latter transaction he is identified as “Robert Ballard of James City”, and the deed was witnessed by John Ballard, Jr, Joseph Speed, Edward Garland and Bennett Goode (12 September 1774. Joshua Mabry to Robert Ballard; £40 for 150 acres on Huey’s mill creek, at Hughey’s and James Blanto’s lines. Isaac Holmes witnessed. Mecklenburg Co. Va. Deeds, 1774, p. 326).

On 8 May 1775 he participated in a meeting of freeholders of Mecklenburg County to elect a committee  of safety pursuant to a resolution of the Continental Congress “the better to secure a due observation of the association entered by the said congress.”  The members included John Speed, Bennett Goode, William Lucas, Henry Speed, Francis Ruffin, Lewis Burwell, Robert Burton, Edmund Taylor, Clevieous Coleman, Thacker Burwell, Sir Peton Skipwith, Joseph Speed, John Tabb, John Jones, William Leigh, Robert Ballard, Samuel Hopkins, Jr. and John Ballard, Jr.  John Speed, Esq. was chosen chairman, and Mr. Isaac Holmes clerk.  The Virginia Gazette, 1 June 1775 p. 1, Col. 1.

Virginia Gazette,  20 October 1775, p. 2, col. 2. Contains reports of military activity related to troops of Lord Dunmore. Reference is made to “two companies of regulars…commanded by Capt. (Robert) Ballard of Mecklenburg and Capt. Fleming of Goochland

He resigned as clerk of Mecklenburg County, Virginia in 1775 to command a company in the 1st Virginia Regiment.  He noted this fact in a letter to President George Washington dated 1 January 1789:

My Attachment and Love for my Country have been uniformly ardent and sincere, and though I presume not to claim equal distinction with many other Officers who had the Honor of serving under your Excellency’s Command, yet I humbly hope even my services will not be wholly forgotten. Early in the late glorious Struggle for Peace, Liberty and Safety, sacraficing as well pecuniary as other Considerations, I steppd forth a Volenteer to oppose the Depredations of Lord Dunmore, near Williamsburg; after which I received an appointment to command a Company in the First Regiment raised in Virginia, which I speedily recruited and marched to Camp—resigning at the same time the Clerkship of Mecklenburg County, a lucrative place which I purchased of John Tabb Esqr. the then Clerk after serving five years

After resigning as clerk of Mecklenburg County and joining the Continental Army, he was likely stationed in Williamsburg in James City County when he sold the 150 acres on Huey’s Mill Creek (5 December 1775. “Robert Ballard of James City” to Robert Burton of Granville NC; £100 for 150 acres on Huey’s mill creek. Witnessed by John Ballard Jr, Joseph Speed, Edward Garland and Bennett Goode. Recorded 11 March 1776. Mecklenburg Co. Va. Deeds, Vol. 4 (1773-1776), p. 507).

On 5 July 1776 Robert Ballard published in The Virginia Gazette (page 2, col. 2) a notice addressing rumors that were being spread about him; this included corroboration from one of his colleagues:

It is with real concern I find an injurious report has been spread through the country, nearly affecting my reputation as an officer and man of honour.  As I am conscious of my own rectitude, I am always ready and willing to have a review of any part o fmy military conduct; and, on this occasion, shall lay before the publick the following certificate, which I hope will sufficiently refute the charge that has been alledged against me.



Whereas a report has been propogated, much to the prejudice of capt. Robert Ballard, that he has made use of the soldiers money under his command, and is indebted to them for their wages, tot he mount of 6 or 700l.  I take this method to inform the public, that such reports are entirely false and groundless, as it appears, upon examination, that capt. Ballard has punctually paid his soldiers, and now has their receipts in full, with a balance in his favour, and that they are well satisfied in every particular with him.

FRANK EPPES, Lieutenant-colonel of the first regiment.

Money — rather, the lack of it, appears to have been a constant struggle, for on 26 September [1776] he wrote to General George Washington from Fort Constitution (now Fort Lee) in New Jersey, asking permission to sell his commission to Lt. John Pettrus in order to pursue “a Captaincy of Marines in an armed Vessell that is now fitting out in Virginia.” The reason for his request, he says, “is not from any dislike to the service, or for want of zeal to the glorious cause, but from experience [I] find that I cannot afford to stay in the Service, being naturally of an extravagant turn & not fortune sufficient to support that Dignity that is observ’d in our Camp” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

Congress took no action on Ballard’s request, and on 22 March 1777 he was promoted to major of the 1st Virginia Regiment (see General Orders, that date, DLC:GW). In October 1777 Ballard became the regiment’s lieutenant colonel and commanded a garrison on the Delaware River (see GW to Ballard, 25 Oct. 1777, DLC:GW). Ballard transferred to the 4th Virginia Regiment in September 1778, and he resigned his commission the following July.

The Virginia Gazette, 21 February 1777, p. 3, col. 1. Adam Jones and Dudley Ballard, late of Capt, Ballard’s company of minutemen from Mecklenburg…are ordered to wait on the commanding officer at Williamsburg immediately. On failure, they will be treated as deserters. –-Samuel Cobb, lieut.

The Virginia Gazette, 7 March 1777, p. 2, col 2.  (Supplement). In regard to the meeting of the officers of the 1st Virginia regiment…announcing the meeting must be rescheduled due to many of the men having smallpox. —Robert BALLARD

The Virginia Gazette, 14 March 1777, p. 3, col. 3, March 4, 1777. “Ralph Cobbs, Edward Cook, Richard Worsham, John McCarter, John Thompson, Matthew Durham, Johnathan Terrell, John McNeal and Gideon Patterson of my company who enlisted as privates in the continental services last August had a furlough given them of ten days, after which time they were to rejoin the company then on the march for General Washington’s army. And, as I have not heard from either of the above mentioned…I deem them deserters and will give a reward of ten dollars for each…” —Robert BALLARD

5 May 1777 John Ballard Jr. to Richard Watts of King William £250 for 116 acres on Miles creek at Dennis Lark’s line to Reedy branch to Willis’s line. Witnessed by Noah Dortch, Mary Watts, Robert Ballard, Ebenezer and Elizabeth Marcharg. Mecklenburg Co. Va. Deeds, Vol. 5 (1777-1779), p. 49.  LDS Film # 0032534

The Virginia Gazette, 17 July 1778, p. 3, col. 1. “Baltimore, July 3, 1778. I have instructions from his Excellency General Washington to call together all the Captains and subalterns of the 1st, 5th, and 9th Virginia regiments who are now in Virginia or any (unreadable) whatever. They are therefore directed to meet me in the city of Williamsburg on Monday the (unreadable) when farther orders will be given.” —Robert BALLARD, Lieut. Col.

16 April 1780. Bills of lading for goods shipped by Gov. Hill aboard the Nelson (dated 5 Oct 1780). The goods are consigned to Howe & Harrison. Mr. Robert Ballard and Messrs. Newton & Kelly, all of Virginia. [reference needed]

On 13 July 1780 Robert Ballard married Rebecca Plowman of Baltimore.  He noted in his letter of 30 May to George Washington that not only his own funds had vanished in the Baltimore lots speculation but £1,600 belonging to his wife.   In the Maryland General Assembly sesson of 3 November 1783 to 26 December, a bill was introduced to authorize him to administer the estate of Jonathan Plowman, late of Baltimore County, deceased, “unadministered by Rebecca Plowman and David Arnold, his executors.”   Laws of Maryland, Made Since MDCCLXIII [1763] (Annapolis: Frederick Green, Printer, MDCCLXXXVII [1787]).

1 December 1784.  Articles of Agreement between Henry Delony, gentleman and Robert Ballard, a merchant of Baltimore, MD and John Ballard of Lunenberg. Delony agrees to rent to them for 7 years, 5 months and 15 days, that is until 15 May 1792, a 5 acre tract with houses, which was land of David Dortch, deceased, and leased to Dinwidie and Company? With annual rent of £50. All signed.  Mecklenburg Co. Va. Deeds, Vol. 6 (1779-1786), p. 470.  LDS Film # 0032534

In his letter of 1 January 1789, Robert Ballard asked President George Washington to oblige him with a government appointment in reward for his service to his country, after noting his financial misadventures:

During the infatuation which generally prevailed in this Town for purchasing Lots, I was unfortunately drawn in to speculate to my distruction, and by one ill-fated step, I lost all I had acquired, which hath left me, with a Wife and a number of small Children, destitute of the means of a comfortable support.  Thus circumstanced, Sir, if I might venture to name the Office I should prefer, I would solicit the Clerkship of the Federal Court, as I flatter myself my past Experience would enable me to discharge its Duties with propriety. If I should be so fortunate as to meet your Excellency’s Patronage on this occasion, I shall consider it the happiest Event of my Life, and my Children may live to thank their generous Benefactor. I fear your Excellency will think me premature in thus early addressing you on this subject—but I trust my necesstous situation will plead my excuse.

I will no further obtrude on your Excellency’s Time than to add the anxious hope that my true Federal Principles will have some Influence with the Friends of the Federal Constitution, and that I am with the greatest Deference Your Excellency’s Most Obet hum. Servt

In August 1789 President George Washington named Ballard surveyor of the port of Baltimore, and in 1791 Ballard also obtained the office of inspector of that port.  His correspondence with General — then President — George Washington and James Madison appears below, verbatim (with notes) as it appears in a database of the National Archives, Founders Online.

Robert Ballard died before 7 August 1793 in Baltimore, Maryland.  His death is noted in a letter from David Plunket to George Washington bearing that date, in which he wrote: “The office of Surveyor of this Port haveing become vacant by the death of Colonel Ballard, I take the liberty of recommending to your consideration in the appointment to be made, Mr John H. Purviance son of the late Mr Samuel Purviance of this town—” (Letter to George Washington from David Plunket, 7 August 1793).

An action by his executor to collect a debt for the estate of Robert Ballard appears in the records of Person County, North Carolina:  Jacob Vanhook Sheriff to William Dickens of Granville Co. (to satisfy judgment brought by Robert Burton administrator of Robert Ballard, decd. Against Anthony Brown) for £410 lbs, 3 negroes (Ephraim, George, Ben), 290 ac. on Tar River adj. Samual Bumpass. 26 Sept. 1800. Ackn. in open court.

Robert Ballard and Rebecca Plowman had issue [note: this has not been verified or traced]: [The 1790 Baltimore Census shows five sons and one daughter; another as yet unverified record shows five children.


Correspondence Between Robert Ballard & The Founders of the Republic

From George Washington to John Hancock

Head Qrs Heights of Harlem Septr 30th 1776


Since I had the honor of addressing you last nothing of importance has transpired,1 tho from some movements yesterday on the part of the Enemy it would seem as if something was Intended.

The inclosed memorial from Lieut. Colo. Sheppard of the 4th Regiment,2 I beg leave to submit to the consideration of Congress, and shall only add that I could wish they would promote him to the Command of the Regiment and send him a Commission, being a good and valuable Officer and especially as the vacancy is of a pretty long standing and I have [not]3 had nor has he, any Intelligence from Colo. Learned himself who had the command and who obtained a discharge on account of his indisposition, of his designs to return.4 I have also inclosed a Letter from Captn Ballard which Congress will please to determine on, the Subject being new and not within my authority.5 I have the Honor to be Sir Your Most Obedt St

Go: Washington

P.S. A Commission was sent for Colo. Learned, which is now in my Hands, having received no application or heard from him since It came.

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy,DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter and its enclosures on 2 Oct. (JCC, 5:838).

2. GW means the 3d Continental Regiment.

3. The word “not” is inserted above the line at this place in the text in both theLB and Varick transcript by some person or persons other than the copyists who wrote those documents.

4. Lt. Col. William Shepard in his petition to GW of 28 Sept. asks permission to resign his commission, because, he says, “when he views the Regiment to which he belongs, which has been destitute of a Chief Col. for almost six months and not filled, and other Regiments, vacant, but a few hours before they are filled by advancements from their own Corps, Your Petitioner is convinced, that he is judged by the wise and prudent Rulers of the States (whom he will honour and esteem) not to be an Officer worthy of promotion, or the most flagrant injustice is done him” (DNA:PCC, item 152). Congress on 2 Oct. promoted Shepard to colonel of the 3d Continental Regiment ranking from 4 May 1776 when it was calculated that Col. Ebenezer Learned’s command of the regiment ceased (ibid., 839; see also Hancock to GW, 4 Oct.).

5. Robert Ballard (d. 1793), who resigned as clerk of Mecklenburg County, Va., in 1775 to command a company in the 1st Virginia Regiment, wrote GW on 26 Sept. from Fort Constitution (Fort Lee), N.J., asking permission to sell his commission to Lt. John Pettrus in order to pursue “a Captaincy of Marines in an armed Vessell that is now fitting out in Virginia.” The reason for his request, he says, “is not from any dislike to the service, or for want of zeal to the glorious cause, but from experience [I] find that I cannot afford to stay in the Service, being naturally of an extravagant turn & not fortune sufficient to support that Dignity that is observ’d in our Camp” (DNA:PCC, item 152). Congress took no action on Ballard’s request, and on 22 Mar. 1777 he was promoted to major of the 1st Virginia Regiment (seeGeneral Orders, that date, DLC:GW). In October 1777 Ballard became the regiment’s lieutenant colonel and commanded a garrison on the Delaware River (see GW to Ballard, 25 Oct. 1777, DLC:GW). Ballard transferred to the 4th Virginia Regiment in September 1778, and he resigned his commission the following July. In August 1789 GW named Ballard surveyor of the port of Baltimore, and in 1791 Ballard also obtained the office of inspector of that port.

From Major Robert Ballard to George Washington

2 OClock Red Bank [N.J.] Octr 23. 1777


I am just Arrivd at this place on command from Fort Mifflin, and finding that Colo. Green & the Commodore was sending by express to your Excellency the Glorious Event of last Evening and this Morning,1 think proper to give you the particulars from our Garrison. This Morning at half after Six OClock the enemy from Province Island began a very heavy fire from their Bomb Batteries and about an hour after, was Joind by their fleet which kept up on us incessantly ’till after 12 OClock, Our Battery in Consort with the Commodores Fleet playing on them the whole time, in short we Ply’d them with 18 & 32 lb. Shots so closely that they I believe began to give Ground, however they ran a Sixty four Gun Ship and a Twenty Gun Frigate a ground & after fruitless attempts in vain to get them off, they set fire to them both, to our no small Satisfaction as it was out of the Power of our Fleet to take them.2 We sustain’d no Damage except a Capt. & 1 private slightly wounded.

Our Garrison shew’d a firmness & Resolution becoming brave Men, & I dont doubt will acquit themselves with honor. The Fleet are making down again fast, as low as Billingsport. I am doubtfull we shall want Ammunition for our Cannon & 32 lb. Ball as the quantity on hand will not I am certain last us more than one Days hot fire. Small Cartridges from No. 17 to 20 are absolutely wanting. It wou’d be too much to loose a place of so much Importance for the want of War like Implements, which I haven’t a doubt may easily be <had—>3 the Sizes for our Cannon of Cartridges 18 & 8 lbs. Cartridge paper will not be Amiss. The foregoing are Circumstances which I know at least Strike Colo. Smith & I do not doubt the Baron also. I hope to hear welcome news from your Quarters before long, in mean time every exertion of the Garrison of Fort Mifflin in Opposition to the Enemies fleet will be strictly attended to. We had the upper part of one of our block houses blown up to day. I expect this night or tomorrow night the Enemy will for the last make an Effort to Storm our fort. I have the honor to be Your Excellencys most Obedt Servant

Robert Ballard

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 24 Oct. 1777, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

Congress ordered the publication of a partial version of this letter, which consists of the first paragraph (except the phrase “to our no small Satisfaction as it was out of the Power of our Fleet to take them”) and the first two sentences of the second paragraph (see the Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser, 18 Nov. 1777).

1. See the letters that John Hazelwood and Samuel Ward, Jr., wrote to GW on this date.

2. Several ships of the British fleet moved up the Delaware River on 22 Oct. to support the Hessian attack on Fort Mercer by engaging the American fleet and Fort Mifflin. Late that afternoon as the British ships maneuvered in the channel to approach the upper chevaux-de-frise near Fort Mifflin, the 18–gun Merlin and the 64–gun Augusta ran aground. On the morning of 23 Oct. the British attempted to refloat both ships, but they were hampered severely in their efforts by American galleys, floating batteries, and fire ships. About eleven o’clock the Augusta caught fire by some undetermined means, and about a half hour later the British deliberately set fire to the Merlin to prevent its capture. The Augusta’s powder magazine blew up about two o’clock in the afternoon, and the Merlin exploded about half an hour later (see the journals of the Roebuck, Camilla, and Pearl, 23 Oct. 1777, in Naval Documents, 10:246, 248, 250–51, and the courts-martial of Capt. Francis Reynolds and Comdr. Samuel Reeve, 26 Nov. 1777, ibid., 603–10). Capt. John Montresor says in his journal entry for 23 Oct. that before the explosion of the Augusta “many of the seamen jumped overboard apprehending it, some were taken up by our ships [and] boats, but the Chaplain, one Lieutenant and 60 men perished in the water” (Scull, Montresor Journals, 470; see also Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side, 41).

3. This word, which is mutilated on the manuscript of the ALS, is taken from the copy enclosed in GW’s letter to Hancock of 24 October.

To Major Robert Ballard from George Washington

Head Quarters [Whitpain Township, Pa.] Octor 25th 1777.


I received your favor of the 23d Inst. and am obliged by the intelligence it contains. The conduct of your Garrison has equaled my most sanguine expectations, and merit my warmest acknowledgements & thanks. Be assured no exertions of mine shall be wanting to give you every support in my power; ammunition is now on its way to the Forts, and a supply of that article shall not be wanting, when possible for me to procure it. I am &c.

G. W——n

Copy, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.


From Major Robert Ballard to George Washington

Woodberry [N.J.] 15th Novr 1777


This will be presented by Capt. Moss who waits on your Excellency for leave to Resign he has made me acquainted with the necessity of being with his family. I am Sensible the Service will loose a good Officer, but as the urgency of his business demands his Attention at home, I have given him my Approbation to go. Capt. Boykin is under the same predicament & waits on your Excellency.1 I have Honor to be Your Excellencys Most Obedt Sert

Robert Ballard
Majr Comt of the 1st V. Rt

ALS, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31305.

1. John Moss (c.1743–1809), who was commissioned a first lieutenant in the 1st Virginia Regiment on 22 Feb. 1776, was promoted to captain on 15 Sept. 1776 and resigned from the Continental army on 18 Nov. 1777. Francis Boykin (1754–1805) was made a second lieutenant in the 1st Virginia on 30 Sept. 1775, and he was promoted to first lieutenant on 30 Aug. 1776 and to captain in 1777. Boykin did not leave the service at this time.

To Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ballard from George Washington

Head Quarters Valley Forge 18th June 1778


Having recd information that the State of Virginia have determined to fill their Regiments by Recruits, I have directed the 1st 5th and 9th Regiments to be incorporated for the present, and the supernumerary Officers to proceed to Virginia to superintend the recruiting Service. You are therefore to proceed, with such supernumerary Officers, to Virginia, and, upon your arrival there, wait upon His Excellency the Governor and take your instructions from him. You are to look upon the Officers from Genl Muhlenbergs Brigade as under your particular direction, and you are to designate them to such parts of the Country as they are best acquainted with. You are to desire them, from time to time, to make you returns of their progress, which returns you are to make regularly to me. The sooner the Recruits are marched to Camp, after they are inlisted, the better; and you are therefore to send them forward in Squads, under the Care of Officers; as fast as they can be collected. I lately issued an order, which was published in the Virginia papers, calling upon all Officers in that line, not absent upon command, to repair to their Regiments immediately.1 But you may, under the present circumstances, detain all those of the 1st 5th and 9th to assist in recruiting.2 I am &c.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1. On 12 June, Alexander Purdie’s Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) published the following notice of 29 May, signed “By his Excellency’s command” by Alexander Hamilton: “The Commander in Chief positively requires all officers absent from the camp, belonging to the troops of the state of Virginia, except those who are detained on publick service by His Excellency the Governour of that state, or any general officer of the same, or those who have furloughs not yet expired, immediately to join their respective corps.”

From Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ballard to George Washington

Williamsburg [Va.] July 24th 1778


Agreeable to your instructions I waited on Governor Henry, on Monday the 20th Inst., expecting to receive from him an Order for recruiting Money &c.,1 The Governor inform’d me he did not know at that time what to do in the matter, as 10 Gentlemen were already employed for to recruit men to fill up the Virginia Regts, but he woud consult the Council on the Occasion; the result of which, was, that the whole of us (meaning the Officers of Gl Muhlenbergs Brigade) was immediately to set out in search of Security for the Money intended to be given us. I was to provide Security for the whole of the Money, & take Security of each Officer for the respective sums given them, at my risque.

I convened the Officers and inform’d them of the Governor & Councils Instructions. They (for very cogent reasons in my Opinion) unanimously objected to the instructions, alledging that after marching 3 or 4 hundred Miles on foot, and having met me agreeable to my Appointment, and then, to set out again in persuit of Security on foot, was an obligation too hard to comply with, and what was not expected by you, nor was it a practice in your Army to go after Security when Ordered on the like business. besides the Officers say they do not know where to provide security, and it is unnecessarily drawing reflections on them; for, if they cannot procure security, the publick is directly aquainted thereof.

As to my part, I conceive it totally out of my power to obtain security for 20 or 30 thousand pounds on the principal of runing the risque of the Money given to each Officer, especially as the Council refus’d to undertake to refund their expences; indeed I thought it unjust to ask a friend to become my security on those terms. I acquainted the Governor & Council of the mode adopted in your Army when Officers were sent out to recruit: And if they chose to Issue Money to me and wou’d receive each Officers rect to whom I delivered money, & place to my Credit I wou’d undertake it with all my heart, but they possitively refused; on which I altogether refus’d to attempt Security.

The Governor and Council affected much Surprize when inform’d of the Number of Officers Sent to Virginia to recruit, and pretended that those 10 Gentn which they had employed was Sufficient for the undertaking.2 Those employed were Gentn who had been living at home enjoying themselves in peace and plenty, taking the advantage of the times to accumulate wealth, to whom very considerably Wages was given; when your Officers who had experienced every hardship at the risque of Life & fortune, for the protection and ease of those in private life, was refus’d any extra pay for their necessary expences. I fear we have an ungrateful publick.

The Officers who march’d under my Command to this place <are> much distressed for want of Money, several of whom I was oblig’d to advance Money, to get them home, I made the Governor & Council acquainted thereof, & beg’d they wou’d Order two or three Months pay to each, ’till I cou’d acquaint you, but I was put off with a kind of a recommendation to any Continental Pay Master I might meet with; at the same time they knew there was no Money in the Military Chest here. I never was so trifled with, by Gentn, in all my life. The Officers beg’d me to request your Excellencys favor in Ordering them pay here, if to remain any time.

I flatter myself my conduct will meet with your Excellencys Approbation. Any Commands Your Excellency may please to communicate shall to the utmost of my power be attended to. I have the Honor to be Your Excellencys Most Obt Sevt

Robt Ballard

P. S. Colo. H. Recheson is here, & meets with the Same fate with me.3


1. For Ballard’s instructions, see GW’s letter to him of 18 June.

2. “An act for recruiting the continental army” passed at the May 1778 session of the Virginia legislature authorized the governor “with the advice of the council … to appoint from time to time such and so many recruiting officers in this state as in their judgment shall be requisite” (Hening, 9:454). On 10 July the Virginia council appointed “Francis Smith & Alexander Baugh of Chesterfield; John Lewis of Pittsylvania; Elisha White & Thomas Richardson of Hanover; John White of Louisa; Daniel Barksdale of Caroline; John Holcombe of Prince Edward; William Allen of James City; and Alexander Cummins of Bedford” to fill the positions ( Va. State Council Journals , 2:164).

3. The journals of the Virginia council do not record decisions about recruiting for Muhlenberg’s and Woodford’s brigades by Ballard and Lt. Col. Holt Richeson, but on 24 July the council considered a request by recruiters from Scott’s brigade and decided “that the recruiting Officers already appointed under the late Act of the Assembly would probably succeed better than any of the said Officers—it is judged unnecessary to issue the Warrants they desired” (ibid., 2:172).

George Washington to
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ballard1

West Point, July 30, 1779. Accepts Ballard’s resignation.

Df, in writing of H, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1. Ballard was a lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Virginia Regiment.

From Robert Ballard to George Washington

Baltimore January 1st 1789


I flatter myself the period is not far distant when we shall see the new Government in motion, and your Excellency elected President of the United States by the unanimous Voice of their grateful Citizens. I entreat your forgiveness in thus early soliciting an appointment under the new Constitution. I have been urged to the measure by a sad reverse of Fortune, and emboldened by the Idea of your disposition, to relieve the sufferings of the unfortunate soldier.

My Attachment and Love for my Country have been uniformly ardent and sincere, and though I presume not to claim equal distinction with many other Officers who had the Honor of serving under your Excellency’s Command, yet I humbly hope even my services will not be wholly forgotten. Early in the late glorious Struggle for Peace, Liberty and Safety, sacraficing as well pecuniary as other Considerations, I steppd forth a Volenteer to oppose the Depredations of Lord Dunmore, near Williamsburg; after which I received an appointment to command a Company in the First Regiment raised in Virginia, which I speedily recruited and marched to Camp—resigning at the same time the Clerkship of Mecklenburg County, a lucrative place which I purchased of John Tabb Esqr. the then Clerk after serving five years.1

During the infatuation which generally prevailed in this Town for purchasing Lots, I was unfortunately drawn in to speculate to my distruction, and by one ill-fated step, I lost all I had acquired, which hath left me, with a Wife and a number of small Children, destitute of the means of a comfortable support.2 Thus circumstanced, Sir, if I might venture to name the Office I should prefer, I would solicit the Clerkship of the Federal Court, as I flatter myself my past Experience would enable me to discharge its Duties with propriety. If I should be so fortunate as to meet your Excellency’s Patronage on this occasion, I shall consider it the happiest Event of my Life, and my Children may live to thank their generous Benefactor. I fear your Excellency will think me premature in thus early addressing you on this subject—but I trust my necesstous situation will plead my excuse.

I will no further obtrude on your Excellency’s Time than to add the anxious hope that my true Federal Principles will have some Influence with the Friends of the Federal Constitution,3 and that I am with the greatest Deference Your Excellency’s Most Obet hum. Servt

Robert Ballard

Robert Ballard (d. 1793) served with the Virginia forces in the Continental army during the Revolution, rising to the rank of colonel before his resignation in 1779. GW wrote a noncommittal reply to this letter from Mount Vernon on 2 Mar. (GW to Thomas Barclay, 2 Mar. 1789, note 1). Ballard renewed his application for a clerkship in the federal court on 30 May, and on 25 June he wrote GW of his willingness to accept an appointment as surveyor of the port of Baltimore if a clerkship was not available. In August 1789 Ballard received the appointment as surveyor and in 1791 assumed the duties of inspector of the port as well. For his complaints that he was not adequately compensated for either post, see Ballard to GW, 4 Sept. 1791.

1. In his letter of 30 May Ballard added this summary of his Revolutionary career: “It was my fortune to be on the heights of Haarlem—the White Plains—the celebrated retreat through Jersey, and the memorable enterprize of Trenton—Here I received Orders from Lord Sterling major General for the day to march the captured Troops off the field. I was next at Brandywine—and shared in the defence of Fort Mifflin till the last day of that Seige, as well as in all the hardships of the Winter at Valey Forge” (DLC:GW).

2. On 13 July 1780 Ballard married Rebecca Plowman of Baltimore. He noted in his letter of 30 May that not only his own funds had vanished in the Baltimore lots speculation but £1,600 belonging to his wife.

3. Three prominent Baltimore federalists attested to Ballard’s “Federalist Principles.” James McHenry wrote to GW on 17 April that the appointment of Ballard, among other candidates, would “give great joy to the federalists of this town.” McHenry also indicated that he was persuaded “that he [Ballard] is competent to the business of the office, and . . . that he will execute it faithfully.” Samuel Smith affirmed on 24 June that Ballard’s appointment “will give Satisfaction to almost all the respectable Merchants in this Town—but especially to all those who have been the friends of the present Government,” and on 5 July Otho Holland Williams wrote GW that Ballard “has generally (I believe uniformly) acted, with the friends to order, and good Government.” All of these letters are in DLC:GW.


4 August 1789.  The Senate confirmed president Washington’s nomination of Ballard as surveyor for the Port of Baltimore.

From Robert Ballard to James Madison

Baltimore Mar. 5th 1789


I am very sory that I had not the pleasure of seeing you in Baltimore on your way to Congress.

The Inclosed, will I hope excuse the liberty of Addressing a Gentlemen on business of a Public Nature, to whom I am not known.1 On receiving Mr McHenry’s Note to you I purposed to follow you, and Mr Lee, as far as Mr Scarrets Tavern, but Mrs Ballards indisposition prevented. Sir, to be as brief as possible I am very depended, indeed, Poor—and want the aid of friends, to Assist me in obtaining an Office under the new Government, that will yield a support to a large family, that have been brought up to ease. At a time when my Country wanted the assistance of its Citizens, I turned out a Volenteer to oppose Lord Dunmore near Williamsburg; and afterwards appointed to a Company in the first Regiment raised in Virginia, which I speedely recruited and Marched to Camp, sacrificing as well pecuniary as other considerations. Under these impressions I place faith in the gratitude of my Countrymen to give a return of service.

The Office that I at present contemplate, is the Clerkship of the Federal Court, as I flatter myself my long experience in that business, would enable me to execute its duties with propriety—having injoyed the Office of Clerk to Mecklenburg County Court, several years; after serving five Years apprentiship; which Office I relinquished when I went into the Army. It will be very important to me if I am so happy as to meet your patronage and Interest on this occasion.2 As it is my intention to be in New York very soon, I will not comment any further on my Necessitous situation, only to thank you to present my respects to Mr Lee, and will esteem myself greatly obliged for his friendship and Interest on this my day of Trial. I have not the Honor of being acquainted with Mr Lee—but am on terms of friendly intimacy with Coll Henry Lee his Brother, from whom I received the other day a pleasing letter on this business. I have wrote you much hurried, and am with all deference Sir Your Ob Servant

Robert Ballard

RC (DLC). Addressed by Ballard. Docketed by JM.

1. Ballard enclosed James McHenry’s letter to JM of 5 Mar.

2. Ballard received an appointment in the customs service as surveyor at Baltimore (DHFC, II, 15, 20, 495).

From Robert Ballard to James Madison

Baltimore [ca. 1 February 1790]


The Secretary of the Treasury has wrote the Officers of this Port, for the exact Sum, each Officer has received, up to the first of January.1

I hope the Secretary is of Opinion that our Fees are too small and that he will lay a Statement thereof before Congress, for Their Consideration.

I have estimated on a frugal Plan the Sum I must expend for the Support of my Family, and find it will considerably exceed the Sum my Fees produces, for the same time—a circumstance I am persuaded the Rulers of my Country will not permit.

The Attention I am necessarely obliged to pay to the Inspectors, Weigher, Measurer, Guager, and measuring the Vessells, ascertaining the Tonnage and recording it, obliges me to Keep a Clerk, and such a One as requires large Wages.

The Nature of my Office makes me acqu[a]inted with most of the Masters of Vessells, as well Coasters as Foreigners. They all agree that the Officers Fees are so trifling that they scarcely feel them, and the Coasting Gentlemen laugh at us, and tell me: I do their Business for nothing, which is really the case! For Instance, a Boston Vessel arrives with a Cargo of Onions Potatoes &ca: &ca. that fills a Manifest, as long as my Arm, which I am to record, examine the Vessel, receive the Inspector’s Report and compare it with the Manifest, and enter it in my Book, agreeing or disagreeing, as the case may be—for all this trouble, I do not receive on an average more than 18. Cents. Vessells from the adjoining States I receive nothing from, Or the Vessells trading up this extensive Bay. And Sir, I will venture to say:They are the Vessells that will attempt smuggling. I am obliged to search and attend them. Surely then the Labourer is worthy of Hire. Another Piece of Service is particularly hard on the Surveyor: He is obliged to measure and ascertain the Tonnage of all foreign Vessells, record the same, and transmit a copy thereof to the Collector, for all Which trouble, he does not receive One Farthing. I have it from a Number of Masters of Vessells, that in the Ports of England they demand and receive Four Dollars and a half; for every American Vessel the Surveyor measures.

The Surveyor incurs a heavy Expence for Books, Paper, and blank Manifests. I have already wrote Two Rheams of writing Paper. And I calculate my Expences for Stationary and Printers Bills, at nothing less than Thirty Pounds per Year. The Law does not secure a Return of this Money. There are other Circumstances to shew that the Surveyor has not an adequete proportion of Fees for Services he must render, if he regards his Duty, and his Country’s Good. I have at an early period discovered a Zealous Attachment for the Wellfare of my Country. I have been unfortunate, and am honoured With a Commission by Our Truly Honourable and Worthy President. The Office on my part shall be executed with Fidelity.

I trust Sir, from Your own Observations, and what little Light I may have thrown on the Subject, that You will rather Coincide with me, that the Ratio of Fees to the Surveyor, are unequal to the Services he must perform. In that case permit me Sir, to sollicit Your Patronage and Aid, With each branch of the Legislature for further Allowances in Fees.2Inclosed I will take the Liberty of discribing what I think at Least the Surveyor deserves.

The Collector of this Port is very anxious, that each Officer shou’d collect his own Fees. I am sattisfied it should be so, provided the Law secures the Officers in such a Manner, that they may not be deprived of their Fees.

Knowing the goodness of your heart, to act and explain on all occasions for the best, I have taken the liberty to address you on this subject. Sir, I cannot l<ive> on the present fees—my family accustomed to live well must be stinted. I am sure the Proportion of fees I have laid to each sized Vessell, cannot be objected to by any Owner.

One Case more I will suggest. A Vessell arrives from a Forreign Port, the Surveyor performs all his Duty of receiving a Manifest recording it, examines the Vessell, Measures her, Ascertains Tonage, records it also, & passes a Certificate to the Collector, & receivesonly five Shillings. The Collector & Naval Officer Divide Five Dollars besides Perquisite fees. I am with great respect Yr Hb. Servt

Robert Ballard

From Robert Ballard to James Madison

Balt. Decr. 25th. 1790


Through some of my friends in Congress, I hope application is made for a further allowance in fees to the surveyor at Entry of Vessells under One Hundred Tons burthen, and for an allowance in fees from the Coasting Vessells. Vizt.

Vessells from a Forreign Ports with Dutiable Goods

All under 70 Tons, Two Dollars

All above 70 Tons, Three Dollars

From 60 to 100 Tons are generally the Sized Vessells which trade to the West Indies, and they require more duty to be performed by the Surveyor than a Vessell of 200 Tons laden with dry Goods. Scarcely any one of them but what have Goods to be Weighed Measured and Gauged—every Hhd. of Rum of each Cargo must be proved by the Surveyor, and Six different quallities to be Ascertained and Certified by him to the Collector—and perhaps all those things come to five or six different Consi[g]nees. Surely then One Dollar & a half is not addequate to the trouble.

To the Surveyor on Coasting Vessells.

from 15 Tons to 30 Tons One Quarter’ Dollar
from 30 to 60 half a Dollar
All above 60 Tons three quarters’ Dollar.

(Pilate Boats to be excepted)

Sir, It is generously believed that through the Medium of Small Vessell’s will all the Smugling business be attempted. I am oblig’d to search the whole of them and receive little or no compensation for my trouble.

The sums as above Proportioned, are so small that they would not be objected to, and are by no means less than what the surveyor of right ought to have.

Hopeing for your Aid & interference in this business, I am with the most perfect Respect sir Your most Obedt. Servt.

Robert Ballard
surveyor of Port’ Balt.

P. S. I am sorry to trouble my friends in Congress, but my poverty, and fees falling short of maintaining my family, obliges me to call on them. My utmost exertions have and shall be applyed for the interest of the Revenue.

R. Bd.

From Robert Ballard to George Washington

Balt[imore] April 3d 1791.


I discover by the Act of Congress for laying an Additional duty on Forriegn Spirits and Spirits Distilled in the U.S.—and that your Excellency & the Supervisor are to make appointments for carrying into effect the Services the Act requires to be performed. and furthermore that your Exellency may appoint such Officers of the Custom’s as may seem Proper to you. I am therefore humbly to sollicit your Exellency’s favor in granting and giving me the appointment of superintending and performing the duties for the Port of Baltimore agreeable to Law.1

I have not had time to peruse the Law with strict attention, but I observe that the duties to be performed, will come more immediately under the Observation of the surveyor in Sea Port Town’s, than any other Person; he, being constantly employed on the Water & Wharfs. If Sir, I have read the Law right, the Supervisor makes appointments for the home made Spirits. In this Town at present there are only two both immediately on the Water; by each I pass in my Barge four times a day—the Duty to be performed there like wise come natural and easy for the Surveyor, and at the same time, save the Additional expence of another Boat and hands. Your kindness in giving me the Surveyors Place for this District will make a lasting impression on my mind, and I hope to merit by my works the good opinion of your Excellency. I beg to observe that altho<’> I am pleased with the Office your Excellency has intrusted to my care, yet the Emoluments fall short of maintaining my family. My only wishnow is to live to maintain my house full of Boys, give them an Education and make them usefull Citizens. I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedt hum. Servt

Robert Ballard


1. Robert Ballard, whom GW had previously named surveyor for the port of Baltimore, was appointed excise inspector during the recess of Congress. His appointment was confirmed by the Senate on 8 Mar. 1792 (Executive Journal, 104, 111). For Ballard’s later complaints about the inadequacy of his compensation, seehis letter to GW, 4 Sept. 1791.

From Robert Ballard to George Washington

Baltimore Septemr 4th 1791


I must once more take the liberty of trespassing on your time with a few lines, which respects the compensation to be allowed me for my services as Inspector of the Revenue.1The Supervisor in his Circular Letter to me, says that, “as it was supposed that the Office would add but little trouble to the Office of Surveyor, no particular compensation is allotted.” I cannot find any part of the Law which warrants such an opinion—and I am sure that in exercising the duty, I find the entire service falls on me. Mr Gale performs not any duty other than that of furnishing me with blank Cerficates, and semiquarterly a Copy of my proceedings. I am, sir, to acknowledge the very great obligation I owe you for your goodness in bestowing this second kind favor on me; and permit me to assure your Excellency, that I shall observe the most watchful attention in the exercise of my duty—but sir, if Mr Gales Opinion prevails, that is to say, I do all the duty, and he receive all the pay, then I am more than ruined. My fees arising from my Surveyors Office is far short of maintenance, and nothing but the kind indulgence of my Creditors prevents me from Suits. The duty of an Inspector of the Revenue, is very arduous, and the office important & respectable—at present I keep only one Clerk who does nothing but write in the Office; to him I give £100 per Year. In the Spring when the Crops of Spirit comes in, I must have an additional Clerk. It is a melancholy reflection where my whole time and service is yielded to the Public to know that the emoluments allowed, falls considerably short of Support: especially as I am growing old & have a large family to maintain and educate—and that is all I now look up to.

I have, may it please your Excellency, been thus particular, well knowing that when any case comes fairly before you that the strictest justice will be done, I must furthermore add that the Ex<mutilated> business falls considerably heavy on my other duty, without any reward for it. The Gauger and Weigher are paid for their share of that duty, and nothing is allowed to the Surveyor.2 I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellency’s most Obedt humble Servt

Robert Ballard

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1. On 3 April Robert Ballard, surveyor for the port of Baltimore, solicited from GW the post of excise inspector for the port. He apparently already assumed his duties under Maryland district supervisor George Gale, although his appointment, together with that of the other inspectors, was not confirmed until mid-March 1792 (Executive Journal, 111).

2. Tobias Lear informed Ballard on 7 Sept. that he first should have brought the matter to the attention of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton: “As it is impossible for the President to attend to the minutiae of business which may be communicated by Individuals, he wishes always to receive such information as may be proper to come before him, relating to the several Departments, thro’ the heads of the Departments to which the business properly belongs. Upon this view of the matter the President is persuaded, Sir, that you will not consider his declining to reply to the subject of your letter, at this time, as a singular case; for he observes the same conduct on all occasions of this nature” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Lear forwarded to Hamilton Ballard’s letter along with a similar one Boston collector Benjamin Lincoln wrote Lear (Lear to Hamilton, 7 Sept. 1791, DLC:GW; see also GW to Lincoln, 14 Aug., n.3, and Hamilton to Ballard, 17 Oct. [letter-not-found entry], in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, 9:401).

From Robert Ballard to James Madison

Baltimore April 1st 1792


I had a long while impatiently waited to see the Secretary of the Treasurys report on the mode of compensation to the Officers of Revenue. Since that report was made, I cannot see by the debates, that the Honble. Congress, have acted on it.1 To speak of myself, my fees as Surveyor last year did not exceed £300—out of that sum, I have to pay for House rent & Clerks hire, £175. From last December to the Middle of March I did not receive a fee, being blocked up by the ice. I see nothing before me but inevitable ruin, if the Honble. Congress does not do something for us, before they close the Session.

Since I was honored w[i]th the Commission of Surveyor, my fees fall short of support upwards of Four hundred Pounds, which money is now owing to the Merchants and Tradesmen here: and if the Surveyors fees are not raised, and a generous compensation given to the Inspectors of the Revenue; (whose Arduous service is well known) I then know my fate. My Creditors will distress me; the consequence, will be I must go to Goal. My Commissions (the only things I have to look up to) taken from me, thereby beggaring my Wife and a house full of fine Boys, whose education is my greatest wish.

I have not the pleasure of being personally known to you, yet I have taken the liberty of addressing you on this subject, being fully persuaded that it is your Wish, the Officers of the Customs should be amply compensated; and that your aid in bringing forward the business before the Session is over, will not be wanting. I have the Honor to be with great respect, Sir, Your most Obedt. Servt.

Robert Ballard

RC (DLC). Addressed by Ballard. Docketed by JM.

1. Hamilton urged the House of Representatives to increase the compensation for revenue officers in his “Report on the Difficulties in the Execution of the Act Laying Duties on Distilled Spirits” of 5 Mar. An act which became law on 8 May increased the compensation to officers in many ports but for the collectors at Baltimore provided only that one-fourth of their expenses would be paid by the district naval officer (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton, XI, 77, 104–6; U.S. Statutes at Large, I, 274–75).

Re-visiting William Ballard of James City & Charles City County: An Alternate View

"Map from the Confederate Engineer Bureau in Richmond, Va. General J.F. Gilmer, Chief Engineer[.] Presented to the Virginia Historical Society by his only daughter, Mrs. J.F. Minis, Sav[ana]h, Ga."--Note on map. (1863)
“Map from the Confederate Engineer Bureau in Richmond, Va. General J.F. Gilmer, Chief Engineer[.] Presented to the Virginia Historical Society by his only daughter, Mrs. J.F. Minis, Sav[ana]h, Ga.”–Note on map. (1863)
It’s a bit ironic that James Branch Cabell includes in an acknowledgment in his The Majors and Their Marriages (Richmond: W.C. Hill, 1915) an apology to Philip Alexander Bruce, on whose monumental Institutional History, Economic History and Social Life of Virginia during the seventeenth century.  He apologized because

To the last-named three histories in particular the compiler stands so deep in debt that it seems hideously ungracious to point out in Mr. Bruce’s account of the Stephens-Harrison duel, as given on page 245 of the Social History, a curious misprint, whereby the wrong participant is killed; but, thus embalmed in a work of such perdurable worth, the error is of grave weight to all descendants of Captain Richard Stephens, since it untimeously bereaves them of their progenitor an awkwardly long while before his marriage.  Yet — be it repeated, — it is only the splendor and finality of Mr. Bruce’s achievement which lends importance to any mistake therein, such as elsewhere might be trivial.

We find this ironic because Mr. Cabell’s work is the foundation of every Ballard genealogy, and as a consequence has the “splendor and finality” he wrote of one hundred years ago. In an effort to understand the descent of the Ballards who resided in Charles City County and their progeny, this compiler has been studying the record books, especially wills and deeds book covering the years 1725 to 1731.  This book was unknown to Cabell; it was carried off during the War Between the States, remained in private hands, and returned to Virginia in the early 1970s. There are several records Cabell would no doubt have included in his book.  For example, the will of a William Loyd of Westover Parish (dated 16 December 1724), who devised property to John Major and Sarah, the wife of John Major; this observation borders on speculation and would require additional study, but perhaps this Sarah was the sister of William Loyd.  Another, and more importantly to readers of this blog, is the will of Elizabeth Ballard of Westover Parish (dated 22 May 1726).  Elizabeth and her children have no place in Cabell’s narrative; conscientious researchers acknowledge it but don’t know what to do with it; others simply ignore it. For the reasons outlined below, this compiler believes that Elizabeth Ballard was probably the wife of William Ballard, the youngest son of Thomas Ballard of James City.

William Ballard of James City, then Charles City County

Very little is known of William Ballard, the youngest son of Thomas Ballard of James City county. We assume that he was born after 1668, given the bequest made to all of the children of Thomas Ballard except William by Robert Baldrey in his will dated 1 May 1668  and recorded 30 December 1676 in York county.1 He is probably the William Ballard who witnessed a deed on 11 October 1686 between family friend Henry Blagrave of New Kent county and John Gowry of Stafford Parish, Stafford county, for the right to 600 acres in Stafford granted by patent to Capt. David Mansell “my late grandfather,” being a patent dated 6 October 1654. The language of the acknowledgment indicates that it was executed in New Kent county.2  Please note that a person 14 years old or older could serve as a witness in Colonial Virginia. He figured in the York records shortly after his father’s death, in a suit he brought against James Harrison, William Ballard being then described as “assignee of Benj: Goodrich, Attorney of Alice Ballard, Exorx Coll: Tho. Ballard, dec’ed”: this suit, begun at a court held 24 September 1691, was dismissed at a court held 24 November 1691, the defendant making oath the debt had been paid through Jerome Ham.3 Most significantly, two records place him as residing in James City County. A William Ballard appears in a Militia list for James City county dated 27 March 1702 preserved at the Public Record Office at London, England.4 And he is probably the William Ballard who in 1704 had 300 acres in James City York county, as shown in the Quit Rent Roll of that year.5 Since he resided in James City county, then sadly the bulk of his public life likely took place in what are now known as “burned” counties whose records have been destroyed, such as James City and Charles City, among regrettably many others. We note that his association with Benjamin Goodrich continues, for on 24 April 1708, William Ballard witnessed a deed recorded in Essex county between Benjamin Goodrich of James City county, Gent. to Wm. Aylett6 of St. John’s Parish, King William Co., Gent., for £10 Sterling, “all his interest in a tract granted to Jos. Goodrich & ‘one Price & Ball’ [probably “Jno Price & Batt”] by patent, in Essex Co.”7  William Aylett is known to have been a cousin by marriage, having married Sibella Caynehoe (1628-1674), the widow of Matthew Hubbard whose second husband was Jerome Ham. There is also mention of a William Ballard in a deed recorded among the records of Charles City County, suggesting he had acquired land there as an investment sometime after 1667 (the date the property was acquired by Charles Roan, who took a patent for it that year8), and a William Ballard who is named in a deed that recites the chain of title. The transaction between Archibald Blair and Benjamin Willard is dated 31 December 1728 and recorded in Charles City county:

Deed dated 31 December 1728 from Archibald Blair to Benjamin Willard, for £130, 200 acres on Kittawan Creek in Weynoke Parish, bounded by land now or late of Edward Turner & William Arronger, being a moiety of 400 acres purchased by Thomas Gregory & William Ballard of Charles Roan, Gent., & divided by line running from mouth of Mapscoe Creek. Witnesses: Jno. Edloe, Richd. Grinsell. Recorded 1 January 1728.9

Since one had to be at least 21 years of age to purchase land, that transaction was probably after 1695, since no mention of an order to record the deed appears in the extant Order Books.  The transaction was certainly prior to 1724, which is the date the Inventory of Thomas Gregory was recorded in the Charles City County records. The reader should be well acquainted with the will of Elizabeth Ballard (now included in our page on William Ballard of Charles City County) that was recorded among the records of Charles City county in 1726. Her associations (Henry Soane, the Duke family, etc.) indicate that she was a member of one of the more illustrious families of the county, and the uncanny similarity of the forenames of her children named in the will: Thomas, Francis, Rebecca, Anna, John, Elizabeth, William, Martha — suggests close kinship with Thomas Ballard of James City county and his son, Thomas of York county. This compiler has searched the extant records of Charles City county and found no mention of any Ballards prior to 1725. These are the resources consulted: Abstracts by Beverly Fleet, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol. III (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988)

  • Court Orders, 1655-1658
  • Court Orders, 1658-1661
  • Court Orders, 1661-1664
  • Court Orders and Fragments, 1664-1696

Abstracts by Benjamin B. Weisiger, III:

  • Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders 1687-1695, with fragment of Court Order Book, 1680 (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Publishing Co., 1980)
  • Charles City County, Virginia Colonial Records, 1725-1731 (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Publishing Co., 1984)
  • Charles City County, Virginia Records 1737-1774 (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Publishing Co., 1986)

The Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers (Richmond: The Valentine Museum, 1927)

Boundary Change Between James City and Charles City

And we should note that there was a boundary adjustment between James City county and Charles City county, where a part of James City was added to Charles City in 1721. William Waller Hening lists the following legislation in his Statutes at Large:10

An Act for enlarging Charles City County; and for consolidating those parts of the Parishes of Westover and Weynoake, on the North side James River, and that part of Wallingford Parish, on the Westside Chicohominy River. An Act to divide those parts of the Parishes of Westover and Weynoake, which lie on the South side James River, from those parts of the said Parishes which  lie on the North side the said River; and for uniting Westover and Weynoake Parishes; on the South side James River, to Martin Brandon Parish, in the County of Prince George; and for erecting a Chapel in Bristol Parish, in the said County.

Noted antiquary Lyon G. Tyler put it this way: “It took in the portion of Wallingford Parish west of the Chickahominy River (the Sandy Point region previously in James City County”). Morgan Poitiaux Robinson, Virginia Counties: Those Resulting from Virginia Legislation (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992) p. 78 (a reprint of the Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, Volume 9 (January, April and July 1916). Wallingford Parish existed from 1643 to 1721. Acts in 1643 increased the area of Wallingford Parish to include all of James City County west of the Chickahominy, as well as considerable territory east of it. According to Charles Francis Cocke in Parish Lines: Diocese of Southern Virginia (Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1964, p. 61), David Jones’ Creek, now Kennon’s Creek in Charles City county, was the western boundary of James City county. With the Act of 1720, the following year the boundary between Charles City and James City counties became the Chickahominy river. Other families associated with the Ballards in Charles City in the 1720s appear in the Quit Rent Roll of 1704 under the list for James City county:

  • Henry Soane, 750 acres
  • Henry Duke. Jr. 1,000 acres
  • Henry Duke, Esq. 2,986 acres
  • Benja Goodrich, 1,650 acres
  • Henry Blankes, 650 acres
  • William Broadnax, 1,683 acres

See Louis des Cognets, Jr, English Duplicates of Lost Virginia Records (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1958) pp. 172-77. It appears that all of their property fell into Charles City County with the boundary adjustment with James City County in 1721.  Curiously, there is an entry in James City for a Thomas Ballard owning 100 acres.  We are inclined to think this Thomas is William’s son.  Curiously, there is no enumeration for Ballards anywhere else in the colony.

Ann Ballard Talman and her Descendants

In an earlier post we recounted a tradition that came down from a descendant of the Henry Talman named J. Staunton Moore, who writing in 1903 describes how his ancestor, Captain Henry Talman, came to Virginia in the 1720s and married Ann Ballard, the daughter of William Ballard of Ballardsville, a grandson of Thomas Ballard of James City county. His account strains credibility with the assertion that Ann’s father was was a lieutenant in the American Revolution — if she married Henry Talman in the 1720s (as Mr. Moore himself states), then William would have been in his 70s (at least) in 1781. Incidentally, The Virginia Gazette reports that Captain Henry Talman died at his house in New Kent County “a few days ago” in the edition published 7 December 1769, not in London in 1775, as reported by Mr Moore and repeated by William Armstrong Crozier in his Virginia Heraldica (1908). The birth of the children of Henry Talman and Ann Ballard is recorded in the register of Saint Peter’s Parish, New Kent:

  • Martha dau of Henry & Ann Talman born 16th March 1733 – bapt 16th June
  • Rebeckah dau of Henry & Ann Talman born 2 April, bapt 12th June 1737
  • Henry son of Henry & Ann Talman born 26 Dec bapt 8th April 1739

But while family traditions may evolve over time, at their heart is a kernel of truth.

Where was Ballardsville?

Mr. Moore includes in his account a letter from an Isaac H. Christian, who writes of how William Ballard of Ballardsville fought in the Revolution, and that his (unnamed) father owned the property after the death of Ballard. This statement is deceptive, implying that Mr. Christain’s father purchased it from William Ballard’s heirs. A quick Internet search reveals that one online genealogy reports that Isaac H. Christian was born 25 May 1831 at Ballardsville. His parents were James Hendricks Christian (1794-1873) and Susan Brown Hill (she died 1857).  Apparently Susan Brown Hill inherited the place from her father, Isaac Hill (see below), then the property passed throught he Christian family.

The Christian’s land holdings in the vicinity of Blanks Crossroads are evident in this map we found in the collection of the Library of Congress. Note that the land is due north of Kennon’s Landing and what is now called Kennon’s Creek (but identified here as Swanneck Creek), and would have been part of James City County in the early 1700s. Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 4.37.31 PM In this detail of the map above, note also some of the neighboring family names associated with this branch of the Ballard family surrounding Blanks Crossroads, which we know was in the vicinity of Ballardsville: Clopton, Major, Marrable. Who did James Hendricks Christian purchase Ballardsville from? Most likely it was from the heirs of the Thomas Ballard of Charles City county who died without issue in 1804 (this is something we would like to verify). Thomas’ will speaks wistfully of the graves of his ancestors on his land: 13 August 1804. Will of Thomas Ballard of Charles City County, Parish of Westover.

Just debts shall be paid. The family burying place now on my land shall remain solved and free for the internment of the family & their connections. That is to say a sufficiency ground for that purpose and for no further disposel. This I do for through the respect and duty I owe my ancestors and family and hope the same may be remembered by those who may ever consider it.

The will names brothers John Ballard, Francis D. Ballard, sisters Elizabeth Fontain relect of Moses Fontain, Sarah Fountain wife of Abraham Fontain and Lucy Eppes, wife of Peter Epppes. Executor: John Ballard, Wyatt Walker, John Firth. Witnesses: Wm. Graves, Ed. M. Williams, Furnea Southall. Recorded 20 September 1804.11

An unverified online genealogy of the descendants of James Blanks notes that a Thomas Blanks (c.1766-1808) married Mary _____, and that “Thomas is listed in the Charles City County, Virginia census in 1787 as a taxpayer, which indicates he was probably born before 1766.  His will indicates he was the owner of the Tavern, purchased from Thomas Ballard, marked on the County Map as Blanks Tavern (Charles City County WB-2, p. 14).  Thomas [Blanks] is believed to have died in 1808, since his wife is the property tax payer in 1809.”  One of the children of Thomas and Mary Blanks is Mary Ballard Blanks, suggesting a familial connection.


This leads us to the conclusion that William Ballard, son of Thomas Ballard of James City county, married Elizabeth, whose sister Sarah married Henry Soane (incidentally, Henry’s estate was probated by what appears to be a second wife, Rebecca Hubbard Soane — the Hubbards being Ballard relations); they resided in that part of James City county that became part of Charles City county in 1721, and it is their descendants who are described in Cabell’s The Majors and their Marriages, which, while well researched, like so many other publications of this sort (including this one) contains errors.

Since first publishing this post, we contacted the Charles City County County Family History Center and asked if there were a family plot at the property.  We were told that unfortunately, no — what was there was plowed over about 50 or 60 years ago, and “the only information I was able to gather from locals when I made inquiries about 20 years ago was that it may have been located in the field on the east side of the drive.  We have a newspaper clipping from the 1970s about a tombstone (Bocock) that was found in a barn at Ballardsville.”

A follow-up question about whether the original house still stood on the property resulted in this reply: “There was a turn of the century dwelling on the property that was torn down about seven years ago.  Isaac Hill acquired Ballardsville in 1811 and may have built what was described as an elegant home.  His daughter Susan married James H. Christian.  I believe the property then passed to Rev. Christian’s daughter America who married Dr. Pryor Richardson.  America died in 1885 and the author of her obituary (in 1885) stated that he had been at the Richardson’s elegant home the night it took fire and burned to ashes.”

The vast majority of Ballard researchers accept the proposition that this William Ballard is the son of Thomas Ballard of James City county and resided in the Northern Neck with his wife Philadelphia, and produced that line of Ballards that included families of relatively modest means that emanated from Caroline county — some Quaker, some not.  We discount this theory because (1) there is a stark lack of connection with the known family associations of the Ballard siblings, such as the Soane, Hubbard and Goodrich families.; (2) the assumption that this family wedded to the Virginia establishment would convert to Quakerism makes little sense, absent compelling evidence to the contrary. On William’s death, whatever real property he owned would have been devised or passed to his eldest son, so it is likely that the Thomas Ballard who married Mary Dancy is his eldest son, and Thomas’ son Thomas (who left an estate valued at £723, a not inconsiderable sum).

This leaves us with three unresolved issues:

1. Accounting for what happened to Thomas Ballard, son of Thomas of York County. To date we’ve relied on Cabell’s conclusion that he must have been bound out to John Major according to the terms of his father’s will (the will is silent on this), which is what he assumed brought Thomas to Charles City County. Hopefully the solution to that problem will be the subject of a future post.  He could very well be the answer to another vexing question — the ancestry of a Thomas Ballard who lived in Stafford County in the early 1700s.

2. The full name of the Ballard killed at Charles City during the American Revolution on 8 January 1781.  To date, we have been unable to find additional documentation that may shed light on this event and provide the name of the soldier killed; so far, only applications to patriotic societies by Talman descendants have turned up.

3. Cabell names two daughters of Thomas of Charles City, Elizabeth Ann (who he identified as marrying Henry Talman; subsequent genealogies call her “Ann Elizabeth” in an effort to reconcile the two), and Mary Ballard, who married John Major.  We’d like to confirm what is known about them. Meanwhile, we have been re-ordering the genealogy contained herein to reflect this conclusion.


1. Recorded York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders Wills 1672-76. 2. Deed recorded 9 December 1686, Stafford Co. Deed Book D, Part 1, pp. 19-19a. Sarah, wife of Henry, relinquishes dower; Mrs Mary Mansell relinquishes right, and her signature is acknowledged by John Waugh, attorney for Henry Blagrave. This is most likely the same Henry Blagrave, II who was a devisee in the will of William’s nephew, Matthew Ballard. See notes on the Blagrave family appearing in Allied Families. Note also that among the Minutes of the Council and the General Court there appears an interesting order: “Mr Thomas Ballard, on the behalfe of Mr David Mansell moved this board that the word Thomas in a former order of this Court might be made John about land deserted by Jno. Suggett; it is ordered that Mansell’s . . . to Mr Ballard be recorded.” H.R. McIlwaine, Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1924) (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1924) p. 225. This indicates that Thomas Ballard had acquired land from David Mansell. 3. James Branch Cabell, The Majors and Their Marriages (Richmond: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1915) p. 101. “24 November 1691. Mr William Ballard, asignee of Benjamin Goodrich, attorney of Mrs Alice Ballard, exor. Of Coll. Thomas Ballard, dec’d., plaintiff vs. James Harrison, deft. Having brught an action of debt against James Harrison, the suit is dismissed with cost, the deft. having made oath that the debt was paid to Mr Jerom Ham by order of ye said Thomas Ballard.” York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders, Wills No. 9, Part 1, p. 35. 4. The list includes Benjamin Goodrich, Francis Dancy and Henry Soane, Jr,; the latter two are known to be Ballard relations. Public Record Office, File No. C.O.5/1312, in Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988) p. 216. 5. The Quit Rent Roll of 1704-1705 was ordered by Governor Francis Nicholson; a copy was sent to the Board of Trade and is preserved in the Public Record Office in London. It was published as an Appendix to The Planters of Colonial Virginia (1922) by Thomas J. Wertenbaker, and reprinted in his compilation of three earlier works, The Shaping of Colonial Virginia (New York: Russell & Russell, 1958) p. 211. The same Roll lists Thomas Ballard as owning 100 acres in James City county. It should be noted that the Quit Rent Roll of 1704 does not include the names of property owners residing in the Northern Neck, for they paid their Quit Rents to the Proprietor of the Northern Neck, not the Crown. 6. It should be noted that William Aylett was the third husband of Sibella, the widow of Matthew Hubbard of York county, making William Aylett and William Ballard cousins by marriage (William’s brother Thomas Jr having married Katherine Hubbard, the daughter of John Hubbard in 1684. The Jerome Ham referenced in Note 3 was Sibella’s second husband). See Cabell, pp. 68-70. 7. Deed dated 24 April 1708, recorded 28 April 1708, Essex Co. Va. Deeds & Wills No. 13, p. 197. “One Price & Ball” is probably an incorrect interpretation of difficult handwriting, and needs investigating. An earlier deed dated 8 December 1703 between “Benjamin Goodrich of James City county, Gent., to William Aylett, Gent., of King William county, for £22, 200 acres in Essex Co., part of a tract taken up by Joseph Goodrich, William Batt, and Jno. Price, adjoins Mr John Lightfoot’s land, and Mr Edward Chilton’s land – this 200 acres, commonly called Mt Maple and sold to the said Joseph Goodrich on February 2, 1691 by John Clark, then of Rappahannock county, and is now vested in Benjamin Goodrich by act of law, as heir of the said Joseph Goodrich, sometime since deceased.” Recorded 10 December 1703, Essex Co. Va. Records, 1703-1706, p. 132. This last document requires some explanation. The founder of the Goodrich family, Colonel Thomas Goodrich, acquired land in Old Rappahannock county that later became part of Essex county when that county was created. In his will dated 15 March 1678/9, recorded 3 April 1679, he left large bequests of land to each of his children. To his eldest son Benjamin, he left “200 acres of land on the river side which I bought of Clement Thresh and one-half the difident of land I now live on with all the profits, commodities and emoluments thereto belonging” (this being about 3,000 acres). The other children received 400 to 1,000 acres of land, and the rest of his estate went to his wife, Anne. Sweeney’s Wills of Rappahannock County, pp. 76-77. Benjamin Goodrich resided in James City county, where he was listed as a Justice there on 6 April 1685. He also served the James City county Militia, and was Sheriff on 3 March 1692, for on that date in the Calendar of State Papers appears a communication by the House of Burgesses to his Excellency, the Governor, “that they had been informed by Captain Benjamin Goodrich, Sheriff of James City county that he had been commanded to provide an officer to attend the House.” The will of Benjamin Goodrich has been lost, but we know he had one because his wife, Alice, having married Edward Sorrell, appears in several documents as his Executrix, for on 27 April 1695 there was an acknowledgment in the General Court a deed for some land to John Griffin, which was also recorded in the Essex Co. Va. Wills & Deeds, 1702-04, Book 11, p. 2. We also know that at least one son survived him, for a Benjamin Goodrich, Jr appears in the Quit Rent Rolls of 1704 as possessing 1,650 acres in James City county, and whose death is noted in The Secret Diary of William Byrd as having occurred on 29 April 1710: “April 30, 1710 Colonel Duke told me that Ben Goodrich died at night and was well that morning 2 days since.” Benjamin Goodrich was the heir-at-law of his brother, Joseph Goodrich. Another deed dated 1703 from Benjamin Goodrich to William Aylett of King and Queen county was for land that was part of a tract bequeathed by Col. Thomas Goodrich to his son, Joseph, who by his will bequeathed it to his son, Danby Goodrich. Danby Goodrich died in his minority and the land reverted to Benjamin Goodrich as Joseph’s heir. Source: an online posting by Charles Hughes Hamlin, The Goodrich Family of Virginia. 8. Charles Roan’s patent is dated 7 August 1667, for 401 acres upon the North side of Kittawan Creek in Charles City County.  Patent Book No. 6, 1666-1678 (pt.1 & 2 p.1-692) p. 109. 9. Charles City Co. Va. Wills & Deeds, 1725-31, p. 220. 10. Hening’s Laws of Virginia, November 1720 – 7th George I. pp. 94-95. 11. Charles City Co. Va. Will Book 1787-1808, p. 605.

Talman of New Kent and the Ballards of Charles City County in Virginia.

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

1 st

. 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.

The Will of Addison M. Ballard of Oldham County, Kentucky (1799-1879).

Addison M. Ballard, a son of James Ballard of Spotsylvania County, Virginia died unmarried and without issue, but his will, transcribed below, provides interesting insight into his time and character.

Addison M. Ballard was born 17 October 1799 in Spotsylvania county, Kentucky and died 26 July 1879 at the town of LaGrange in Oldham county, Kentucky.  A diary that he kept from 1839 to 1853 resides among the records of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Will of Addison M. Ballard of Oldham County, Kentucky

I, Addison M. Ballard, according to family records was born on the 19th of October 1799 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near Fredericksburg, but was of Henry County, Kentucky, where I have resided since February 1831.  Being now May the 12th 1870 in good health, of sound mind & disposing memory do make this my last will & testament: should I not think proper hereafter to alter it, as follows:

1. So soon after my death, as convenient, I desire to be buried in a metallic coffin, at the graveyard where my brother Thomas M. Ballard wife & some of the family are now buried (B.J. Ballard now owning the premises).

2nd. I desire my Executor (hereinafter mentioned) to pay my burial expenses out of what money I may leave on hand, if none held out of what he may first collect out of my estate, and also to pay off all my just debts of which there are but few, & should I live much longer, I think there will be none to pay.

3. I give & bequeath to Benjm. J. Ballard the old James Ballard place commencing from the Southern corner between me thrice running east, to a stone, in the line between me & P. Harwood nearly opposite Harwood’s graveyard, bounded East by Harwood’s by the Taylor or B.J. Motes farm, W by the Come’s or Day’s place & Spot Houseworth & N by B.J. Ballard & the place whereon I lived see deed from Bland & Jas. T. Ballard & B. Rounder & Absalom Matthews for the same.

4. I give & bequeath to James B. Ballard the place whereon I now live, from the old James Ballard place given to B.J. Ballard & bounded by B.J. Ballard Bland W. Ballard & J. Riley on the west – north by R. W. Vance, crossing the creek in various places – E. by Harrods creek. On condition that W. A. Smith & Pendleton Harmon & J.B. Ballard will in a reasonable length of time, deed to Bland W. Ballard the place whereon he now lives of about 100 acres. Should James B. Ballard fail or refuse to deed to B.W. Ballard his place there & in that — I give & bequeath to Bland W. Ballard the northern portion of my farm of about 104 acres purchased of R. W. Vance. See deed for same.  And I give to B.J. Ballard the place of whereon I now live between the old Ballard place and the Vance purchase – see deed from C.M. Ballard & wife & deed from Father to Ca — & me brother Thomas – a tract in that each I give and bequeath to James B. Ballard the old Ballard place I first gave to B.J. Ballard.

5. I desire my Executor to sell away the Braunam place for the best price he can get, but not for less than $10,000, also my house & lot in Newcastle, but not for less than $2,000. Both places have cost me more than I propose to take. Should said property not be sold under three years I wish my Executor to advertise the same & sell for the best price he can get, to which account I desire sufficiency of cash out of my notes to be added to make $18,000 Eighteen Thousand Dollars – one sixth of which viz $3,000 I give to my Brother, Flavious Josephus Ballard, now of Stafford Cty, Va. – his Post office is Falmouth 1/6 viz $3,000 I give to J. O. Ballard, A. C. Ballard & W.J. Ballard, children of C.M. Ballard dec’d – 1/6 viz $3,000 I give to Isabella E. Hicks wife of L.B. Hicks, Margret W. Ballard Cordelia Ballard & Demetra Ballard the children of John Ballard decd to be equally divided between them.  1/6 viz $3,000 to be equally divided among my brother Collatinus Ballard’s children of Huntsville Texas I know not their names.  1/6 viz $3,000 I give to Mary Jane Anderson wife of R.S. Anderson.  1/6 the balance of $3,000 I desire my Executor to loan out for the benefit of my sister Mary Augusta Burton & let her have the interest on it annually so long as she may live & at her death having no children I wish the principal & accrued interest after her death divided between b.W. Ballard who is to have 2/3 of it and B.J. Ballard 1/3 the balance.

[6. omitted] I give to Isabella E. Hicks the house & lot including Dr. Berry’s shop, provided she will take her sisters & take good care of them & to help do so I giver her sisters Margaret, Cordelia & Demetra Ballard the house & lot where J.E. Alsop is now living.  All I the town of La Grange & wish my Executor to act as guardian for the 3 minor children until they become of age or marry, but should Isabella E. Hicks fail or refuse to take her 3 sisters above named then I wish the house where she is living sold & the proceeds divided among her sisters.

7. I give to L.H. Ballard the house & lot known as Garglay House west of the Keynen Farm.

8. I own 2/3 in the Thos Wells House & lot, LaGrange I give to A.C. Ballard.

9. I have a deed dated 27 Apl 1857 made to – money advanced viz $226.24 by Joshua Pruitt & wife Eliza lying on little fallen timber in Henry Cty Ky – I agreed to let him release the excess & deed it to his wife – he paid $100 Jany 15, 1858 & April 22, 1858 he also paid $57.75 & holds my notes for the same. And should he give the notes up & secure to my estate $70 I desire my Executor to deed the place to his wife. Should I not do it before I die. It is less than what is due me.

10. I own some stock in the laGrange & Shelbyville Turnpike Road & have paid one half of my subscription $100 being yet due as calls may be made. Also I signed a note with some five others at the last court in LaGrange to a man by the name of Bell for $770 due in 12 months my portion of that will have to be paid when due. Should I die before I settle the above I wish my Executor to settle the above and I give my interest in Road to A.C. Ballard.

11. I desire my Executor to leave out five hundred dollars for the benefit of J.J. Ballard’s daughter —- —- [two lines; apparently he did not know her name] of Texas until she marries or becoming of age.  I wish the same divided between J.T., A.C. & W.J. Ballard.

12. I give & bequeath to A.C. Ballard two horses ten sheep, two hogs, our two horse & one single horse plough he to have the selection.

13. I give & bequeath to Margaret W. Ballard Cordelia & Demetra Ballard one bedstead, bedding etc they to have the selection, the balance of bedsteads beds etc. I give to A.C. Ballard.

13 [repeated].  I give & bequeath to J.B., B.W. & B.J. Ballard all the rest of my household & kitchen furniture.  My stock of every description farming utensils, except my small wagon which I give to A.C. Ballard with all necessary gear etc. necessary for running the same.

Should any of my connections attempt to break or upset my will, I divest them from any interest in my estate & the said ??? to be divide among those to home I have desired, and I humbly appoint S.E. DeHarm my Executor.  Should he die or refuse to act I appoint R.W. Vance or J.T. Ballard.  This is written by myself & need no witness.

Signed: A.M. Ballard


14. After devising the above to my connections, I think it nothing but just to aid my colored friends of African descent who have remained with me & who have helped me to make what I now have. Therefore I give & bequeath to my old servant Bob Eady the place whereon he now lives, known as Fort Pickins, all except what I sold to James Jett south of the road about 2 or 3 acres. I wish the line to run from a White oak north of his house nearly East to the line between me & Doyl.  I also give to him my horse Pomfre which he now has & wish my Executor to pay him out of my estate fifty dollars.

15. I give & bequeath to my old servant Sarah all that portion from what I have given Bob Edy with the Dayl line to Spot Honsworth North & R. Button W. by R. Button & what Edgar Tomes (colored) now owns –  so long as she may live & after her death I give the same to Edgar Haines (colored).

16. The balance of the place bounded North & East by Spot Housworth & South by E. Dayl I give & bequeath to Jimmy Davis (colored) that I have raised.

17. I also give to my old servant Sarah the sum of five hundred dollars.

18. I give to Edgar, Bill, Barney & Jarard one hundred dollars each.  I also give my old George (colored) one hundred dollars which I wish my Executor to loan out until he becomes of age – he can pay him the interest annually to clothe him etc.

19. I understand my cousin James Ballard deceased left a daughter named maria Ballard now living with Miss Wilford in Fredericksburg Va – she wishes to qualify herself for a tutoress – I desire my Executor to advance her five hundred dollars, but should she die before receiving it I give the same to my brother F.J. Ballard of Stafford Cty Va.

20. I give to James B. Ballard my blacksmiths tools now here.

21. I have two sets of blacksmith tools in LaGrange at the Buchanan Shop – one set I give to Bland W. Ballard, the other to B.J. Ballard should I not sell them.

22. I give to B.W. Ballard my Encyclopedia of 13 volumes, the rest of my books he J.B. & B.J. Ballard can divide among themselves.

23. I think after the expenses of of winding up my estate so far as devises are thus far made there will be something left, all of which I give to J.B., B.W. & B.J. Ballard to be equally divided among them.  But should times change or I be unfortunate before my death I wish my Executor to make a pro rata division so far as devises are concerned in money matters, but the disposition of my land I wish to stand & as before stated should any of my connections attempt to break or upset my will I divest him or her of any interest in my estate.   And I hereby as before appoint S.E. DeHaven my Executor.  Should he die or refuse to act I appoint R.W. Vance my Executor & should he die or refuse to act I appoint John T. Ballard of Shelby Cty Ky my Executor.   This is all written by myself and requires no witnesses.

Signed:  Addison M. Ballard

[a codicil follows]

I, Addison M. Ballard do hereby make the following alterations to my will dated May 12, 1870, viz:

1st.  Instead of being buried on B.J. Ballard’s place as instructed in the 1st clause of said will I direct my Executor to buy a lot in the cemetery at LaGrange, have the same well enclosed and bury me in said lot.

2. I hereby revoke the bequest of the house & lot in LaGrange Ky made to Isabella E. Hicks set forth in the 6th clause of said will.  I will and direct that said house & lot shall be sold and conveyed by my Executor as the Bramman place house & lot in Newcastle are directed to be sold and the proceeds disposed of in the same manner.  If the Brauman place be sold for $10,000 before the expiration of three years after my death then my Executor will at once sell the house & lot in LaGrange and also the house & lot in Newcastle, Ky.

3rd. I do also revoke the bequest to L.H. Ballard of the Gaslay House made in the 7th clause of said will.  This house has been sold & conveyed by me since such will was written.

4. I do also revoke the bequest made in the 8th clause of said will to A.C. Ballard of my interest in the Wells house & lot in LaGrange.  I direct my Executor to sell said house & lot & dispose of same as directed in the residuary clause of my will.

5. I do hereby revoke the 9th clause of said will as the business has all been settled by me.

6. I do hereby revoke the 10th clause of said will in which I devise my stock in the LaGrange & Shelbyville T.R.R. Co. to A.C. Ballard as I have since bought said road and sold it to Turney.

7. I do hereby revoke the 12th clause of said will in which I devise to A.C. Ballard two horses ten sheep etc as I have sold off all this stock.

8. I hereby revoke the 13th clause of said will in which I give three beds except Demetre Merriweather and I will & bequeath to her my new set of chamber furniture including bed bedsteads & bedclothes belonging to same – bureaus, wash stand & cradle stand & 4 chairs.  Except the walnut writing desk

9. I do hereby revoke the 2-13th clause of said will in which I dispose of the balance of my household & kitchen furniture stock etc.  I have three horses which I hereby give and bequeath to Rebecca Ballard wife of Bland Ballard.  I will and bequeath my riding mare “Dolly Vardell” to Bland W. Ballard.

10. I hereby revoke the 16th clause of said will in which I devise the balance of the “Fort Pickens’ Place to Jennie Davis (colored) and I do hereby devise the balance of such place (devised to said Jennie Davis) to Sarah Eddy her mother for life, and at her death to go to Ed Holmes (colored) and in lieu of such devise to said Jennie Davis above revoked i do hereby will and bequeath to her the two lots of land on the short line railroad conveyed to me by Jno McMahon & wife including the Spout Spring, bounded by the old Ballard place E. by Harowwds lands W T. R. Pinkston land & S by the railroad containing 16 or 18 acres & same on which she now lives.

11. I revoke the bequest made to Jarrard in the 18th clause of said will as he is dead and the hundred dollars devised to him I do hereby devise the same to Sarah Eaddy one of my old servants.

12. I do hereby revoke the 20th clause of said will of the blacksmith tools to J.B. Ballard as they have all been disposed of.

13. I do hereby revoke the 21st clause of said will and direct my Executor to sell all of such tools that may be found after my death.

14. I do hereby revoke the bequest made to Margaret, Cordelia & Demitra Ballard sisters of Isabella E. hicks made in the 6th clause of said will or the house & lot in which J.E. Alsop then lived and do hereby will and bequeath the same to Cordelia Callahan wife of John Callahan.

15. I do hereby will to L.H. Ballard my split bottomed armed chair & Mexican blanket and do hereby will her all she owes me by note or account & direct my Executor to deliver to her all evidences of her indebtedness to me.

16. I will to Bettie Russell wife of J.W. Russell thirty dollars, and also one red corn ??? ??? cow for her kindness to me in my illness.

17. I hereby release Jas. Davis, Bob Eaddy, Barney Eaddy & Will Thompson (all colored) of all they or either of them owe me by note or accoutn & direct my Executor to give up to each of them any evidences of debt I hold against them or either of them.

18. I do hereby will to W.J. Ballard a note I hold on him for a little over four hundred dollars.  This was given to me for judgments vs. J.W. Blakern and others, and he has never received anything therein & never will I reckon – and my Executor will deliver him said note & he is in no way to account therefor.

I will and desire that my Executor shall whenever he thinks best sell and convey all the rest & residue of my real or personal estate and after paying expenses & special bequests made herein dispose of the proceeds thereof as hereby before directed in the residuary clause of this will.

If Pat Turney wants on years indulgence on his indebtedness to me, on account of the Turnpike road, I direct my Executors to give him that much longer to make his payments as he has been unfortunate in having the bridge wash away and the road much injured by heavy rains.

Signed: A.M. Ballard

Signed in the presence of July 10th, 1789 Alexander Duncan, Martin Decass

Proved August 18, 1789 by oaths of S.E. DeHaven, Alexander Duncan and Martin Decass.  Recorded Oldham Co. Ky. Will Book 6, p. 375-81

Will of Albert M. Ballard of Oldham County, Kentucky (1835).

Below is the last will and testament of Albert M. Ballard of Oldham County, Kentucky.  We don’t know much about him, and we aren’t sure of his relationship to the Thomas M. Ballard mentioned in the will, who may be Thomas Montague Ballard (1789-1865) of Oldham County.

The will devises property to his wife Harriet, who we know to be Harriet Louisa Button, the daughter of John Button of Oldham County, who also died in 1835.  An abstract of his will that was found online appears below.

Will of Albert M. Ballard of Oldham County, Kentucky (1835).

I, Albert M. Ballard of the County of Oldham and State of Kentucky being weak of body but of sound and disposing memory do make this my last will and testament in manner following, to wit:

First I give and bequeath to my wife Harriet Ballard three of my negro slaves, to wit: Linn, Kitty and Amanda and their future increase for and during the natural life of the said Harriet Ballard, and should the said Harriet marry after my decease and at her death leave lawful heirs of her body living at the time of her death then my will and desire is that said three negroes and their future increase shall go to and vest in the said heirs of the said Harriet Ballard, and in default of of such heirs of the body of the said Harriet living at the time of her death, then my will and desire is that said three negroes and their future increase shall go to and vest in all the children of Thomas M. Ballard that may be living at the time of my death, to be divided among the said children of the said Thomas M. Ballard in such manner and in such proportions as he the said Thomas M. Ballard may think proper.

Secondly I give and bequeath to the said Thomas M. Ballard my negro man Jeff with the understanding that this bequest is made in discharge of a debt of about $400 which I am owing to the said Thomas M. Ballard, on condition the said Thomas M. Ballard will take the said negro man Jeff in discharge of said debt and also pay to my wife the said Harriet Ballard $150 for said negro within one year from my death.

Thirdly I give and bequeath to the said children of the said Thomas M. Ballard that may be living at the time of my death all and singular my other negroes and slaves and their future increase to be divided among the said children of the said Thomas M. Ballard in such manner and proportions as he the said Thomas M. Ballard may think proper.

Fourthly I give and bequeath to my wife the said Harriet Ballard all and singular the other property I own either in ? or expectancy and all my right and credit of all descriptions and ? whatsoever and that is not before disposed of in this will, and

Lastly I do nominate and appoint the said Thomas M. Ballard sole Executor of this my last will and testament.  In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and affix my seal this 17th day of September in the year of our Lord 1835.

Signed: A. M. Ballard

Signed in our presence who attested the same: Geo. Armstrong, W.S. H. Slater, F.B. Culver.

At a county court for the County of Oldham on the 19th day of October 1835, this writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Albert M. Ballard dec’d was presented in court and proved by the oaths of Geo. Armstrong and W.G.H. Slater, tow of the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded, which is done accordingly.  Attest: [illegible]

Recorded Oldham Co. Ky. Will Book 1, p. 417.


Will of John Button of Oldham County, Kentucky (1835).

In the name of God Amen I John Button of the County of Oldham and the State of Kentucky being weak in body but of sound mind…I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Frances Button for and during her natural life my mansion house and half of my farm and the following servants…and all my household and kitchen furniture, three head of my stock of horses to be by her chosen, five cows if she should want so many and ten head of sheep and twenty head of hogs to be also chosen by her…all the balance of my wordly estate …to be equally divided amongst my children except my son Leonard who is to have a $50.00 horse over and above the rest of my children which was given to him by his grandfather Leonard Young.  …I have a quarter section of land in the State of Missouri which I will and bequeath to either of my children who may first ? of it at the sum of $350.00 which is to be considered in the division of my estate…I give to my son James Button my tan yard and four acres of ground around the same so as to include the spring…I have heretofore given to my son Joel H. Button $700.00 & $100.00…I charge him for the rent of my tan yard and shop which he has had five years making in all $800.00 which sum is to be considered in the division of my estate…I have heretofore given to my son Henry Button $360.00 which in the division of my estate is to be considered as so much received by him; to my son Leonard Button I have heretofore given $200.00 which in the division of my estate is to be considered as that much received by him; to my son in law Albert M. Ballard who married my daughter Harriet Louisa I have heretofore given $100.00 which is to be considered in the division of my estate as so much rec’d by him…having full confidence in the honesty and ability of my sons Joel H. Button & Henry Button and my son in law Albert M. Ballard do hereby appoint them executors to this my last will and testament…3/15/1835

Wit: Thomas Button, Daniel Yager

Probated 5/18/1835.  Recorded Oldham Co. Ky. Will Book 1, p. 393.

The Will of James Ballard of Oldham County, Kentucky (1783-1841).

Poking around the web I came across an index of wills for Oldham County, Kentucky — none of which this writer has seen.  An email to the county clerk brought a swift reply, and copies were dispatched by post.  As time allows, I’ll transcribe and publish them.

James Ballard was a son of Bland Williams Ballard of Shelby County, Kentucky (1759-1853).


The Last Will and Testament of James Ballard of Oldham County, Kentucky.  Oldham County Ky. Will Book 2, p. 319.

I James Ballard of Oldham county being sick of body but of disposing mind do make this my last will and testament in manner following.

1st I desire that enough of my perishable property shall be sold to pay my burial expenses.

2nd I give to my beloved wife Elizabeth Ballard during her natural life my farm together with George Ann my negro girl and my negro boy Sam and at her death the said negro boy Sam I gave to my son Blan L. Ballard together with one half of my farm and the other half I give to my son James Thomas Ballard together with GeorgeAnn and her increase forever.

My negro man Squire and my negro woman Sarah must be hired our during the life time of my wife Elizabeth to pay my physicians for services rendered to me in my illness the balance to be used in the schooling of my son James Thomas Ballard & the support of my wife Elizabeth during her natural life.

I give to my daughter Elizabeth Williamson my negro boy Augustus during her natural life and at her death to go to the heirs of her body forever.

My negro boy Benjamin I give to my son Benjamin Ballard forever at the death of my wife my desire is that Squire Sarah and her future increase shall be sold & equally divided among all my children as soon as the business of John Shackleford shall be settled whatever may be derived therefrom I request it be equally divided among my above named children.

Lastly, I do hereby appoint my wife Elizabeth my sole Executrix.

N.B. I give to my son Benjamin Ballard my palomino filly.  Witness my hand and seal this 26th day of November 1841.  James Ballard

Witnesses: James Mount, John Ballard.


Kewntucky S.S. At a county court held for the county of Oldham on the 20th day of December 1841 a paper purporting to be the last will and testament of James Ballard dec’d was produced in court and proved to be such by the oaths of James Mount and John Ballard subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded which is done accordingly.  Att Wm. D. Michell, Clk. by E. F. Waide

Deed from Servant Ballard to Isaac Avery, Warwick County, Virginia 1792

Deed from Servant Ballard

Poor Warwick.  The original shire of Warwick River County was created in 1634, and the name shortened to Warwick in 1643.  The county records were destroyed several times, but the most were lost as a consequence of the War Between the States.  The clerk’s office burned in 1864, and additional records burned in Richmond in 1865 where they had been moved for safekeeping.

Fortunately the Library of Virginia has been cataloging and publishing online records from “lost counties.”  Warwick was just added this year.  This post from “Out of the Box” describes the effort.

Over the years, portions of records pilfered from the courthouse during the War have found their way home when found in the collection of other repositories or among the papers of soldiers who served the Union during the War.  This deed is one such record, which helps tell the story of Servant Ballard, a son of Francis Ballard of Elizabeth City County and grandson of Thomas Ballard of James City County.

Having settled in Elizabeth City and Warwick and thus oriented toward the Atlantic Ocean, this particular branch of the family appears to have produced a seafaring people not concerned with the accumulation of land.  This deed conveys the 100 acres of land devised to Servant by his father, Francis, on Francis’ death in 1719/20.

There are two ways to interpret this document: (1.) Servant Ballard is conveying the property that was devised to him by his father’s will of 1718/19; or (2.) Given the time that has elapsed (73 years), this Servant Ballard may be the grandson of Francis, not the son; however we have not found evidence that Servant had married or produced children.  The fact that no wife joined in the transaction to convey a dower interest shows that if he had a wife, she pre-deceased him; and the fact that this legacy is being sold rather than devised to children suggests that Servant was childless, assuming this is the Servant Ballard born c. 1702.  Given the tendency of members of the family to live to advanced age, we are inclined to believe that this was the devisee of Francis Ballard.

It is also interesting to note that Servant is identified as “of Elizabeth City County,” not Warwick, so clearly he lived in that county on not on this parcel of land.

This indenture made and executed this 29 day of February anno domini one thousand seven hundred and ninety two between Servant Ballard of Elizabeth City County in the State of Virginia of the one part, and Isaac Avery of the County of Warwick of the other part …

That the said Servant Ballard for and in consideration of one hundred pounds current money of Virginia, in hand paid by the said Isaac Avery to the said Ballard, the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge hath given, granted, bargained, sold, conveyed, confirmed and doth by these present give, grant, bargain and sell, convey and confirm unto the said Isaac Avery and his heirs and assigns forever, a certain tract or parcel of land in the said County of Warwick containing one hundred acres, bounded northwesterly on the lands of the said Isaac Avery, Southwesterly on the lands of Miles Carey, and Westwardly on James River.

To have and to hold (etc.) …

Servant Ballard

Signed and sealed in the presence of:

Samuel Thomas, Snr., Samuel Dubroe (sp?), Saml. Selden, Nancy, Dalley, John Flax (his mark); Jacob _________ (his mark)

Proved at Warwick Court July 12, 1792 by oaths of Samuel Thomas and John Flax; at a Court held Sept. 13, 1792 the same were further proved by oath of Samuel Dubroe (sp?) and ordered to be recorded. Signed: Miles Carey, Cl. Cur.

While seemingly a dead end, at least this helps fill a gap in the story of this branch of the Ballard family.

Could Bland Ballard’s Family be from Ireland?

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 2.47.48 PMIn the last week I received notice from Family Tree DNA of a number of close matches of men who tested to the 67-marker level.  None bore the Ballard surname, and all were for families in Ireland.  Some were close “in a genealogical timeframe,” which is a rather generous 24 generations.

I noticed some time ago that most of our matches (speaking for those who are exact matches in the States in Lineage Group I of the Ballard DNA Project) were in Ireland.  We made a mental note to study this in the future, and “bridging the pond” is the gold standard in this business, so in an idle moment we took some time to study this closer.  A handful in England, a couple in Scotland, but the majority are in the southwest quadrant of the island.

Family Tree DNA has a number of tools available to parse their data.  One of the more interesting is a “Matches Map” that shows the location of the earliest known ancestor of each person.  The caveat here is that this bit of data is self-reported by the participant, so there is the possibility that if their assumptions about their origins are incorrect (or the research flawed), there is no way to know and the data may be a bit off.  An increased volume of testing might help with that.

Family Tree DNA gives this explanation of the “Ancestral Origins” page:

The Y-DNA – Ancestral Origins page of your myFTDNA account lists the country of origin reported to us by the people that you match. This country of origin is meant to be the country your paternal ancestors came from before recent migrations to the Americas. However, some individuals instead enter their country of birth or that of a recent ancestor. You should treat these entries as “Unknown.”

Here is what the data shows for the 111-Marker and 67-Marker results:

yDNA 111-Marker:

One match in Wales, 7 steps removed.  Six additional matches who have unfortunately not placed themselves on the map.

yDNA 67-Marker:

Exact Matches: (2).  2 exact matches in the United States, both with the surname Ballard

[note: there are additional exact Ballard matches at the 37-, 25- and 12-Marker level. For useful genealogical information, the 37-Marker test is usually recommended, and at that level, I have three exact matches with the Ballard surname; two 1-step matches, one 3-step, and one 4-step match.]

2-step Matches: (0).  None

3-step Matches: (1) [green in the map above].  1 in Fornaght, County Cork, Ireland

4-step Matches: (6) [purple].  3 in Ireland, 3 in the United States (one a Ballard).

5-step Matches: (18) [lavender].  Of those reporting a location, 4 are in the United States, 1 in England, three in Wales, 2 in Scotland, 3 in Ireland

6-step Matches: (35) [brown].  Of those reporting a location, 12 in Ireland, 2 in Scotland, 13 in the United States, 1 in Norway

7-step Matches: (41) [gray].  7 in Ireland, 3 in Scotland, 1 in England, 11 in the United States.

What does this mean?  For the single 3-step match, the statistical inference is, assuming a common ancestor, one would have to go back 24 generations to make that determination with any certainty.  Results are similar for the 37-Marker group.

It’s curious that regardless of the “steps”, the majority of the matches are in Ireland, which to this writer suggests that the descendants of the progenitor of Lineage Group 1, if presumably of English origin, emigrated to Ireland and then (of course) to the United States.  Assuming a generation is 20 years, give or take, we are looking at a common ancestor of all these men was someone living in the early 1500s.  Representatives of the R1 haplogroup, of course, moved into the United Kingdom from the continent in waves tens of thousands of years ago; the progression from England to Ireland makes sense.

Research in Ireland

What resources are available to the family historian studying Ireland?  Poking around some public repositories we learned that a vast number of records of genealogical interest went up in flames in 1922.  Knowing that, perhaps the results in Ireland are a bit skewed because with a paucity of records family historians are trying whatever they can to sort out their lineages (it would be interesting to see statistics on the percentage population of a given country being tested).

Still, there are bits to go on, and a search of the indexes of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast turned up reference to a will of a Benjamin Ballard who died in 1715.   Why is this of interest?  The Anglo-American tradition of naming patterns, for one thing — Bland Ballard of Spotyslvania County, Virginia named a son Benjamin, who in turn gave a son the same name, while Bland’s son George named one of his sons Benjamin, and Bland’s son Bland Jr. named one of his sons Benjamin.

With Belfast not exactly easy for us to get to, we found a researcher there (PRONI publishes a list) who had a look at the document — but unfortunately, it did not provide much (as of this writing, we await the researcher’s report):

I am putting this in the post today but I think you will be disappointed it is only an extract – the document will have been destroyed.   Not much information –

T797 page 44 –

Number 160 – Will of Benjamin Ballard, only son of Wm. Ballard Alderman of Cork – sgd (signed) 7 April 1715 pr. (probate) 18 Feb 1715.

Speaks of his bro.-in-law, Swithin White of Rochfordstown, Co. Cork

Was there anything to learn from allied families?  Yes.

An online genealogy of Thomas Boles of Cork (b. 1608) states that his daughter Anne Boles married William White of Castle White, Rochforstown, county Cork.  Their son Swithin White married Anne Ballard, the daughter of Alderman William Ballard of Cork.

We learned a bit more about the family in two ancient law books available on Google, A Treatise on Leases for Lives, Renewable For Ever, by James Lyne, Esq. (Dublin: Hodges and Smith, College-Green (1837).   This treatise cited the case of Moore v. Dawson, which notes:

By indenture of 26th March, 1707, the defendant demised the lands of Moore Galbally, in the county of Tipperary, to William Ballard, his heirs and assigns, for the lives of Benjamin Ballard, (son of the said William), Swithin White, and Samuel Godfrey, and the survivor of them, at the yearly rent of £20, during the then wars with France and Spain …

In 1717, William Ballard, on the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth with one Walter Harris, did, by indenture, covenant to assign the said lease to the said Walter and Elizabeth and their heirs ; and, in pursuance of the said covenant, did, in August, 1717, assign the said lease to J. Wallis and one Harris, in trust for the said Walter and Elizabeth.

Benjamin Ballard, one of the cestui que vies, had died in 1715, and the said Walter Harris, being indebted to the plaintiff by bond conditioned for the payment of £150, assigned the said lease to the plaintiff, to secure the said sum ; but no fine was levied thereof.

The substance of the lawsuit and its results are of no genealogical consequence.  We’re grateful that it provides what it does, even though it isn’t much.  But what can we learn about the father, William Ballard, Alderman of Cork?

A study called The Laneways of Medieval Cork, by Gina Johnson (Cork: Cork City Council, 2002) describes three Ballard’s Lanes in that city.  Names of the lanes changed over time,  but she notes:

Several Ballards occur in the records from the 17th century onwards.  It isn’t clear which individual gave his name to this lane, but it might have been William Ballard who was a prominent citizen in mid- to late 17th century Cork.  William held the office of mayor twice, first in 1687, and then in 1690 when he was the first mayor to be elected after the Williamites regained control of the city from the Jacobites.  Ballard was one of only nine individuals to have served the office twice between 1656 and 1700.  A William Ballard, probably the same individual, was one of the church wardens of Christ Church in 1675.

Another source mentions that when William first held the office of mayor, King James II also appointed Ignatius Gold to serve with him.  This suggests William was either allied with the Williamites or was one of the Scots-Irish (though his election in 1690 leans towards Williamite).  Very briefly: the Williamites supported the protestant Prince William of Orange; the Jacobites supported the Catholic King James II in the conflict over who would be king of England, Scotland and Ireland.   The result of the war is that the Protestants dominated life in Ireland, which caused discord among the majority Catholic and Scots-Irish (Presbyterian) citizens, who were excluded from power and land ownership.  Wikipedia provides a good summary of the conflict.  Evidently James II did not trust a protestant William Ballard and appointed a Catholic to serve as mayor with him.  James was the last Catholic ruler of England Scotland and Ireland, who reigned from 1685 to 1688.

The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork: From 1609 to 1643 and From 1690 to 1800, by Richard Caulfield (Guildford: J. Billings & Sons, 1876) repeatedly mentions William Ballard, Alderman.  A William Ballard also served as sheriff, though the date of service is not clear from the text.  However, an ancient text called The Cork Remembrancer by Anthony Edwards (1792) lists William Ballard as sheriff in 1679 (under Charles II), and notes his service as mayor in 1687 (under James II) and 1690 (under William and Mary).  The appendix in the same volume includes an enumeration of protestants that fled from King James II (and includes an inventory of the value of their estates), and lists William Ballard, “w. and 8 ch.” (“wife and eight children”).  One other record in The Council Book provides a clue: in one instance there is the listing of a William Ballard, Jr., Alderman, in 1694, so apparently father and son served simultaneously, and perhaps Benjamin is the son of William, Jr., which leaves a large number of William, Sr’s children unaccounted for.  We have not yet found a record of direct descendants other than the snippets listed above.


We are certainly in the realm of speculation — but could this Benjamin Ballard be the father of Bland Ballard of Spotsylvania County, Virginia?  Since Benjamin died in 1715 and Bland is believed to have been born c. 1700, it is certainly possible.  Note that he was identified in the will fragment as “the only son of William Ballard …” so he likely had no brother to carry down his genetic heritage.

We’ve speculated earlier that his forename came from a marriage with a member of a Bland family.  Was such a union possible in Ireland?  Short answer – yes, for Sir Bernard Burke’s History of The Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Harrison-Pall Mall, 1875) provides the lineage of Bland of Derriquin Castle:

This family claim to of Yorkshire origin.  The first who settlend in Ireland was the Ven. James Bland, archdeacon of Limerick [James was the son of John Bland of Sedburgh, Yorkshire, in what is now Cumbria; the registers of the parish church in Sedburgh contain numerous entries for assorted Blands; this can be studied online].  He m. Lucy, dau. of Sir Francis Brewster, lord-mayor of Dublin 1674-75, and was father of

Nathaniel Bland, LL.D., judge of the Prerogative Court of Dublin, and vicar-general of the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadae.  He m. 1st, Diana, only dau. of Nicholas Nemoys, and had by her a son,

James, his heir.

He m. 2ndly, Lucy, dau. of Francis Heaton, Esq., by whom he had issue.

Francis, father, by Catherine Mahony his wife, of Colonel James-Francis Bland, of Killarney, and of Frances, m. to the Rev. Robert Hewson

Nathaniel, m. Mary Mead, but had no issue.

George, m. Hannah Westrop, but had no issue.

Lucy, m. George Orpen, Esq., a military officer, distinguished at Minden, 4th son of the Rev. Thomas Orpen, of Killowen, co. Kerry.

Hester, m. to Robert Sinclair.

Dorothea, m. to Francis Crumpe, Esq., and had, with other issue, Nathaniel Crumpe of Randalls Park, in Surrey, who took the additional surname of Bland.

Another line, though not present as early as this one, resided in Queens’s County, Ireland.  Could a female Bland relation have accompanied James this to Ireland?  There is no way to know.  The Blands are a fertile and well-traveled lot and it appears no one has completely puzzled out the descent.  A fascinating resource available on Google Books is Collections for a History of the Ancient Family of Bland (London, 1826) by Nicholas Carlisle.  These are the same lines that produced the Bland families that invested in the Virginia Company and settled in Virginia in the 17th century, but that connection, though intriguing, is too remote to take seriously at the moment.

If anyone knows anything about this Benjamin Ballard of county Cork who died in 1715, I’d love to hear about it.


Shortly after finishing this post, I was contacted by a fellow researcher who noted our connection and invited me to participate in the R1b-CTS4466 Plus Project.  This project is working to define the parameters of the CTS4466 subclade, and is seeking to identify branches within it.  This particular subclade is called the “Irish Type II Subclade,” and features prominently in the south of Ireland.  Results of this test are expected in a few months.

An Interesting Discovery.

It’s tough to stay focused when researching family history.  With so many branches to study, and so many unanswered questions, it is difficult to pursue one “story” to its conclusion.  So one carries about — either in a notebook or in one’s head — a “tickler” file of things to look for if the time is ever found to do so.

An idle moment and a bit a serendipity resulted in the discovery of an astounding bit of information.  This concerns my immediate line — the descendants of Dowan Ballard of Franklin County (c.1825-1909).

Dowan’s son William Henry Ballard wrote down all he knew of his ancestry sometime about 1933, and in that narrative recounts how his father was once owned by “the Macklin family.”

Dowan Ballard, Sr. son of Bland Ballard (white) and his servant Flora was born in the year 1820 at Ghent Ky.  At an early age he was sold to the Macklin family at Stamping Ground in Scott Co., Ky., in 1848.  Later he was sold by the Macklins to Dr. Ben Duvall in Franklin Co., Ky., near the forks of Elkhorn Creek and remained a slave in this family until the Emancipation was proclaimed in 1863.

He was married 3 times during his life.  The first wife died shortly after their marriage and no children were born to them on the Macklin farm.  The second wife bore him two sons John William and Flournoy and she died from burns received when the cabin on the Duvall farm where they were living burned down.

The prospect of finding a record of the sale from Bland Ballard to “the Macklin family” is tantalizing.  No Macklin family records have found their way to any public repository, so a search began for descendants of that family.

We know that the family descends from a Hugh Macklin, who settled in Kentucky in 1798.  Hugh Macklin had two sons, Alexander and John; Alexander became a wealthy hog farmer, while John cultivated wheat and became successful miller active in the New Orleans trade; both resided in Franklin County, Kentucky.   We also know that Dowan was owned by John Macklin, because there is an entry in the Franklin County, Kentucky Vital Statistics (1852) that records the death of “Flourney”:

August 1852 – FLOURNEY – 4 – black male – single – laborer – resident of Franklin County, Ky – born Franklin County, Ky – slave of John Macklin – died, Franklin County, Ky – cause of death – Typhoid flux.

We found a biography of John Macklin Stevenson, a descendant of John Macklin in History of Kentucky (Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1922) Vol. 4, pp. 605-606, that provides a valuable clue, which we quote here in part:

John Macklin Stevenson.  Of a pioneer Kentucky ancestry John Macklin Stevenson has for many years been one of the prominent lawyers of the Winchester bar, and has achieved success in other fields of enterprise, both business and politics.

His paternal grandparents, James and Mary (Darnaby) Stevenson, were natives of the historic community around Bryant Station, Kentucky, where the Stevensons and Darnabys settled on coming from Spottsylvania County, Virginia, about 1785. …

His son, Rev. Thomas J. Stevenson married Anna Macklin, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Black) Macklin … Mrs. Anna Stevenson still lives in Geogetown [in 1922] and owns the old Macklin farm which was acquired by her grandfather Hugh Macklin in 1798 and has been continuously in the family possession ever since.  Her father, John Macklin, was an active business man and large landowner, and John Macklin Stevenson was born on the old Macklin homestead in Franklin County, January 12, 1873.  On this farm John Macklin operated a mill on the banks of Elkhorn Creek, and made large quantities of flour for the New Orleans trade.  Mrs. Stevenson, the mother of the subject of this sketch, spends much of her time on the farm, operates it, and has shown special qualities as an able business woman.  She has two children, John M. and Mary M., , the latter unmarried and living at home…

John Macklin Stevenson married at Winchester in 1899 Miss Linna Witherspoon, the daughter of N. Holly Witherspoon.  They had four sons: Holly Witherspoon Stevenson, Thomas Johnson Stevenson, Frank Webb Stevenson and John Macklin Stevenson, Jr.

Given that the original Macklin homestead passed down from Hugh Macklin to John Macklin, then to the Stevenson family by the marriage of Anna Macklin to Thomas J. Stevenson, then it stands to reason that perhaps some family papers survive among the belongings of these Stevenson descendants.  Web searches found obituaries showing that two of these sons removed to Hartford, Connecticut, where they had successful careers in law and insurance; both obituaries mention a surviving relative residing in Winchester, Kentucky.

By way of Facebook, we found an email for this descendant, whose identity is not being disclosed because we do not have permission to do so.  We wrote a note explaining what we were looking for; she replied that she could offer no promises but would do some searching of her mother’s things.  A couple of days later I received this note:

I still can’t believe it, but I found the Bible yesterday afternoon.  It is a Macklin family Bible, and the following names are listed–this is my interpretation because some of the letters are hard to determine.   Flurnoy Matry’s child born April 5th, 1849 and Harriet’s child Dowen born March 22, 1852.  I am not sure about the name Matry…it may be Matsy.  I am still studying the letters, and I plan to send you photos of these listings.

So here we have a vital statistics of Flournoy’s short life:  Born 5 April 1849 in Franklin County, Kentucky, son of Dowan Ballard and Matry/Matsy [after seeing copies, I concur on the interpretation as “Matsy’], all slaves of John Macklin of Franklin County, Kentucky; died August 1852, the cause of death being “typhoid flux,” and rather sadly (and ludicrously) identified as a single laborer.

The second entry is more problematic, with several possibilities: (1) This Harriet is yet another consort/wife, previously unknown; perhaps the birth of a child was unknown even to him; (2) Dowan’s son bearing his name is not the son of Matlida Bartlett, but the son of this Harriet; or (3) there is no familial relationship whatsoever — but the name “Dowan” is not common, and its recurrence in this instance is compelling.

William Henry Ballard records that the mother of Flournoy Ballard and John William Ballard died in a fire in their cabin at the Macklin farm; most likely he took up with another woman before his marriage to Matilda Bartlett in 1854.  Matilda was a slave owned by Dr. James R. Butler, whose farm adjoined that of Dr. Benjamin Duvall.  This suggests that Dowan was sold to Dr. Duvall sometime between 1852 and 1854.  This conclusion is, at best, speculative, but this is amazing information to have nevertheless.  This isn’t our direct line, but this additional data helps confirm what we learned from one other primary record (i.e., the 1852 Kentucky Vital Statistics).   And it is likely that this information appears no where else.

Our special thanks go to our guardian angel in Winchester, Kentucky who safeguarded and preserved this dusty old book, and generously shared the information found there.  Thank you.


Progress, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step.

–Samuel Smiles (1812-1904)

Anyone beginning the study of family history might be overwhelmed by the possibilities, with so much published, so many records to go through, and seemingly endless possibilities.  But what is the goal?  Filling in blanks on a chart as far back as one can go?  Some take that approach, often with a religious fervor.  Others are self-described “one namers” who devote themselves to a single line.  This certainly makes the adventure more manageable, but it leaves living descendants of some branches feeling neglected.

We follow the tact of the “one namers” and take solace in the fact that it mimics the pattern of the y-DNA results, and is probably the best way to corroborate the information gleaned from genetic testing.  So what “progress” has been made?

I started this post intending to highlight which pages were edited or added to, but after some reflection decided it was too tedious to recount, because minor tweaking goes on all over the place.  I’ll stick with the pledge to limit such announcements to major breakthroughs.  Perhaps most newsworthy is the fact that I did just upgrade to the 111-Marker test offered by Family Tree DNA, and to date no exact match has been found in the Ballard DNA project.  I do know that my exact match at the 67-Marker level has taken the upgrade, and those results are some weeks away.  With that information, we may be able to narrow the most recent common ancestor time frame with greater precision, which may help us sort out the relationships among and between the Ballards that settled in Buncombe county, North Carolina after the American Revolution, those that remained in Albemarle county, Virginia, and  those who removed to Kentucky.   Click here for a discussion of DNA test results in the Ballard DNA Surname Project to date.

I’ll reiterate a request: if you come to these pages seeking your family history, take what you want or need, but return the favor: please have a y-DNA test done on yourself (or, if female, your nearest male relative) and join the Ballard DNA Surname Project, especially if your family history is well documented and you have no doubts of your origins.  It could help many fellow researchers overcome those pesky “brick walls” that are so much a part of research in the Southern colonies, where record losses have made this avocation such a challenge.

An Impassioned Plea.

Most blogs are fairly dynamic, with timely, frequent updates.  You won’t find that here. This blog is a repository of over twenty years of research, and is now being published in this format in order to share the information with others interested in the history of some of the Ballard families of Virginia and Kentucky, and their descendants.

The focus of this particular work is to prove the ancestry of one branch of mixed-race descendants of the family.  This work is not a genealogy of all descendants of Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia, though in time it may evolve into one.  Anyone with an interest in genealogy knows that it is addictive, and the work never ends because there are always more relatives to discover with interesting stories to tell.

Since starting this work over twenty years ago, two developments have revolutionized genealogy research: (1) the Internet, which makes possible finding data with a few key strokes that in years past would take days — if not years — to uncover; and (2) DNA testing, which makes possible connections that otherwise could never be proven, and providing valuable leads for additional research.  Anyone who has attempted research in a “burned” county knows the frustration caused by the gaping chasm created by the loss of countless, invaluable records that simply cannot be replaced.  DNA testing can help fill those gaps.

On the other hand, the Internet has been the cause of much mischief, because while it allow the easy gathering of information, it also facilitates the gathering and dissemination of unreliable information.  The diligent researcher will check information gathered online against original records when possible.  On the other hand, the Internet has made possible genealogy services like Ancestry, which have revolutionized the field, making it both a blessing and a curse.

So here, then, is our impassioned plea — if you are a Ballard descendant, whether you are certain of your ancestry or not, have an inexpensive y-DNA test done (preferably the 37-Marker test), and join the Ballard DNA Project.  Those of us with confounding gaps in our family tree will benefit immensely, and those whose history is well documented will have confirmation of their lineage.  There are several companies providing DNA testing and one may shop around, but Family Tree DNA is a good place to start.

In the interest of privacy, information on the living is not included.  Comments, and more importantly, corrections to what appears here are strongly encouraged.  Notable developments in this research will be the highlight of future posts.