Jethro Ballard, the elder son of Abraham Ballard of Perquimans County, North Carolina, married Elizabeth Sumner (Bond) Dec. 30, 1774 in Chowan County. Benj. Sumner, security. North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. I, No. 2 (April 1900) p. 243.
Elizabeth Sumner was the sister of Theresa Sumner, who married Jethro’s brother, Kedar Ballard. The 1790 Federal census lists the household of Jethro Ballard in Gates County as follows: Free White Male 16+, 1; Free White Male <16, 1; Free White Females, 6; Slaves, 25.
In 1794, Jethro Ballard had the temerity to write to President George Washington informing him of a possible claim of his on land that Washington had, with Fielding Lewis, purchased from Marmaduke Norfleet on 26 April 1766 in what was then Perquimans County, North Carolina (now Gates County). After Fielding Lewis died, Washington and Fielding’s son John Lewis sold it to John Cowper, who then advised Washington of this claim by Jethro Ballard, as revealed in this letter addressed to John Cowper:
To John Cowper
Philadelphia March 9th 1794.
After waiting several months from the time your bond, dated the 18th of May 1791, for £146.13.4 became due, to see if (without reminding you thereof) you would make payment, I hardly expected, when application was made, to learn that I was yet to wait many months more for the money. As this, however, is the case, and you ask, “whether I chuse the payment to be made in Philadelphia, should you be as late as the last of June next in making it,” my answer, and wish is, that this may be the case, unless you have other advice from me in the meanwhile.
I never heard, before the receipt of your letter, of the claim of Jethro Ballard Esq: to any part of the land which was bought of Mr Marmaduke Norfleet; nor can I easily conceive that such a claim is founded in equity. For I recollect well, that all the disputable part of it, which was known to him, was given up. My opinion therefore is, that before any more of it is relinquished, he, or his heirs ought to be consulted; as they are certainly liable for any loss that may be sustained.
It appears a little extraordinary, that a claim of this sort should not have been known by Mr Norfleet; nor by Colo. Lewis & myself, whilst we had possession of the plantation—was shewn, & always viewed the contested spot as part of the premises, if Mr Ballard was the proprietor thereof in virtue of an elder patent—especially as I am very confident the lines & corners comprehending it, were ascertained to us by Mr Norfleet at the moment he announced a dispute in another part, which, as I have beforementioned, was given up with his consent, rather than embark in a contest.
It is, however, the business of mister Jno. Lewis (from whom you purchased the land, or rather with whom you made the agreement) to examine into this matter; for I have not time, nor will my situation allow me to do it. and further because the land was disposed of contrary to my judgment, & given into, merely to accommodate the demand on his father’s Estate. I am, Sir, &c.
The letter outlining the claim of Jethro Ballard to the land in question has been lost. However we do know that the 1,093 1/2 acres of land sold to George Washington and Fielding Lewis consisted of four tracts: one-half of the tract that Thomas Norfleet purchased of William Jones of 275 acres on 5 April 1697 and devised to his son Marmaduke Norfleet (that is, 137 1/2 acres; note that the deed to Washington and Lewis recites “William James”; the deed from Washington and John Lewis acting as executor of Fielding Lewis to John Cowper names “William Jones”); a tract of 40 acres that Thomas Norfleet purchased from Charles Drury on 26 July 1721 and devised to his son Marmaduke Norfleet; a third tract that was granted to Marmaduke Norfleet by John, Earl of Granville on 23 July 1760 for 430 acres; all three were in the vicinity of White Oak Spring in Perquimans County. A fourth tract straddled two counties, Perqimans and Chowan, and was granted by John, Earl of Granville to Marmaduke Norfleet on 23 July 1760 of 466 acres. This totals 1,073 1/2 acres, but all accounts describe it as approximately 1,093 1/2 acres. Details of this transaction appear online in Norfleet Family Genealogy.
What could this claim be based on? President Washington in his letter to John Cowper dated 9 March 1794 states “For I recollect well that all the disputable part of it, which was known to him, was given up. My opinion therefore is, that before any more of it is relinquished, he, or his heirs ought to be consulted; as they are certainly liable for any loss that may be sustained.” Evidently the Ballards and Norfleets owned adjoining property and settled their differences before the conveyance by Marmaduke Norfleet in 1766, but the boundary was in dispute.
The will of Jethro Ballard was recorded among the records of Gates County, North Carolina in 1796.
In the name of God amen, I Jethro Ballard of Gates County and state of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory do this 29th day October one thousand seven hundred and ninety six make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner following.
First I leave to my loving wife Elizabeth Ballard one third part of all my lands, the charge of two negro men out of my flock of negroes, also two negro boys such as she may choose, also my yoke of oxen and ten head of cattle the choyce of my stock, 4 live(?) head sheep & one horse the choyce of which I leave to my loving wife Elizabeth Ballard for and during her Natural Life;
it is my further will and desire that all my land be equally divided between my two sons Thomas W. Ballard and Richard H. Ballard to be equally divided as near as can be;
I leave all the rest and residue of my estate to be equally divided between my loving wife and my six children, namely Thos. W. Ballard, Rich. H. Ballard, Martha Ballard, Elizabeth Ballard, Juley Ballard and Lucinda Ballard, share and share alike.
Also I leave to be equally divided between my sic children after the death of my loving wife all that part of my personal estate that left to my said wife,
Lastly I nominate and appoint my loving wife Elizabeth Ballard & my brother Kedar Ballard and my son Thos. W. Ballard Executrix and Executors of this my last will and testament. Signed and acknowledged the day and date above written. Jethro Ballard
Noted at the bottom: “Entered after signed, the word personal with different ink.”
The image appearing online does not include the names of the witnesses, but an abstract appearing in the North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register Vol. II, No. 1 (January 1901) p. 40 names the following witnesses: Jethro Sumner, Kedar Ballard, Miles Benton.
According to an online index of Gates County Wills, 1762-1966, the will of Jethro Ballard was probated in 1796.
An Estate file cataloged online by familysearch.org contains images of bonds posted by his widow Elizabeth Ballard acting as guardian of Julia Ballard, Lucy Ballard, and Richard Henry Ballard; Jethro’s widow Elizabeth received her portion of his lands in February 1803:
We the subscribers Jurors after being duly summoned and qualified for this purpose have proceeded to lay off and set apart the Dower of Mrs. Elizabeth Ballard relict of Jethro Ballard dec’d out of the lands in this County, which the said Jethro Ballard died seized and possessed, which we have done in the following manner (to wit): Beginning at a marked red oak on the swamp side running thence by a line of marked trees to Norfleet’s line, thence by that line to the marsh, and binding thereon to the swamp, thence up the swamp to the first station dividing the piece of land at the Island. We witness our hands and seals this 10th day of February 1803.
Witnesses: James Barnes, Thomas Parker, James Jones, John Small, Elisha Harve, John Brinkly, David Benton, Abraham Benton, John Porcelll, Dennis Knight, John Ellis, Moses Small. Jethro Sumner, Sheriff.
Elizabeth died in 1807, when a division of slaves contained in the same file names Richard H. Ballard, Lucinda Ballard, Julia Ballard, Thomas W. Ballard, and John Cowper, in right of his child William Cowper; apparently John Cowper married either Martha or Elizabeth, presumably both were dead by 1807 and one leaving issue. North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, database with images, FamilySearch, Gates, County, Ballard, Jethro (1802). An inventory of Elizabeth’s estate taken by her son Thomas W. Ballard is dated 30 October 1807, and an administration bond in the file is dated 18 November 1807. North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, database with images, FamilySearch, Gates, County, Ballard, Elizabeth (1807).
Jethro Ballard and Elizabeth Sumner had issue:
THOMAS W., presumably the eldest son, being named executor of his father’s will and administrator for his mother’s estate, married Mary __________ and had issue: 1. Thomas; 2. James; 3. Jethro. In estate files dated 1822, Mary is identified as his widow, now called Mary Brothers. Her portion of his lands was laid out in February 1816: “Pursuant to an order of Court hereto Annexed, We the subscribers being duly summoned and sworn, have laid of and set apart to Mrs. Mary Brothers formerly the widow of Thomas W. Ballard, dec’d, one third part of the Lands belonging to said dec’d, being the north side of the Coosang Swamp, beginning at the mouth of a branch in Kedar Ballard’s line, thence by a line of marked trees along said Ballard’s line to a corner tree in Simeon Brinkley’s line, thence along said Brinkley’s line to Abraham Roddick’s line, thence along said Roddick’s line to Richard H. Ballard’s line, thence along said Ballard’s line to the first Station containing one Hundred Acres, it being one third part of the said dec’d lands, given under our hands and seals this first day of February 1816.” North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, FamilySearch, Gates County, Ballard, Thomas W (1812).
RICHARD HENRY, who is identified as an orphan of Jethro Ballard in a bond posted by her mother Elizabeth on 20 May 1805. Richard Henry Ballard left a will dated 20 July 1850.
In the name of God amen I Richard H. Ballard of the County of Gates and State of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory do this 20th day of July one thousand eight hundred and fifty make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner following.
First, I give and bequeath unto my two sons Robert Henry Ballard and Charles Edward all the tract of land whereon I now live known as the Folly Plantation to be equally divided between them, I also give and bequeath unto my son Charles Edward Ballard my negro woman Nancy.
I give and bequeath unto my son Stephen Decatur Ballard all my marsh plantation known as the White Oak Spring Marsh Plantation with the tract of marsh land that I purchased of Andrew Voight and also the tract of land lying on the orapeak Swamp, I also give and bequeath unto my son Stephen Decatur Ballard three negroes namely Dave, Mourning and Joe.
I give and bequeath unto my to daughters Martha Elizabeth Ballard and Ann Maria Ballard (after my just debts are paid) all the rest and residue of my estate to be equally divided between them.
Lastly, I nominate and appoint my two sons Robert H. Ballard and Charles E. Ballard executors of this my last will and testament. Signed, sealed and acknowledged R. H. Ballard
This paper writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Richard H. Ballard was proved in the open cout by the oatt of Jno. L. Gordan, James R. Riccick & William H. Harrell who swore they were well acquainted with the hand writing of the said Richard H. Ballard, and that the said paper writing was all in the hand writing of the said R.H. Ballard, therefore was ordered by the Court to be recorded as the law directs. At the same time appeared Robert Henry Ballard & Charles Edward Ballard the within named Executors in said will and were duly qualified by taking the oath as prescribed by law in such case …W.G. Daughtry, Cl.
Recorded 1851, Gates Co. N.C. Will Book 3, p. 142. North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970.
Lucinda (“Lucy”), who is identified as an orphan of Jethro Ballard in a bond posted by her mother Elizabeth on 20 May 1805.
Julia (“Juley”), who is identified as an orphan of Jethro Ballard in a bond posted by her mother Elizabeth on 20 May 1805.
Additional leads to follow:
Jethro Ballard of Wilmington, North Carolina, may have been the son of Thomas W. Ballard above. We have more work to do here.
Obituary of Jethro Ballard of Wilmington, NC:
Died of Apoplexy, at his residence in Wilmington, N.C., on the 3rd of November, Mr. Jethro Ballard, after a brief illness of only four hours. Mr. Ballard was long known to this community as the former proprietor of the Clinton Mill, and commanded the respect and esteem of all he came in contact with, for his sterling integrity, frank and amiable disposing and engaging manners. He was in every sense an honest man, “the noblest work of God,” and a consistent and faithful christian. He had no enemies, and many friends, in whose hearts his memory will ever be cherished — especially those who, like the writer, knew and prized him long. His bereaved wife and orphan children have the sad consolation of knowing that the sympathies of our entire community are with them, and that he has exchanged the trials and sufferings of this life for, we trust, a home in the bosom of his God.
The Daily Journal (Wilmington, North Carolina), Friday, 4 November 1853, p. 2.
The Fayetteville Weekly Observer (Fayetteville, North Carolina) of 7 November 1853 noted that he was aged 50 years, 5 months.