Bland Ballard, Jr of Spotsylvania County, Virginia (1735-1788).

Bland Ballard, son of the first Bland Ballard, and father of Bland Williams Ballard, was born about 1735 in Spotsylvania county, Virginia.  He married, first, about 1755 Elizabeth Williams (c. 1740-1776), second _____ Tyler, and third _____, who died 31 March 1788.  He had nine children, all of whom, with the possible exception of the two youngest, are by his first wife.  Descendants of Thursia Ballard, Mrs. Thomas Drake and Mrs. John H. Rush were interviewed by R. C. Ballard Thruston on 2 October 1921 and told him: “Sally was full sister to Bland W., James, John and Benjamin . . . Thursia was about three years old at the time of the massacre (of 1788) . . . name of her mother is unknown.  The youngest child (Elizabeth) was not Thursia’s full sister.  She was the only child of Bland Ballard by his last wife.”1  

In a statement made in November 1844 to Dr Lyman C. Draper, Bland W. Ballard said that was the third child and oldest son of Bland Ballard and Elizabeth Williams, and that he was born 16 October 1759 near Fredericksburg.  He and his father, Bland, came to Kentucky in 1779 and went to Harrodsburg, remained there a week or two, then moved on to Boonesboro, where Bland Ballard raised a crop of corn.  They joined Bowman’s Campaign, and in the fall of that year went back to Virginia.  In the following spring Bland returned to Kentucky with his family and settled at Louisville.2

Bland Ballard was among those who, in 1779, drew town lots, where Louisville now stands, but the one he drew, as was shown later, was on the land claimed by John Campbell.  It was recovered by Campbell and accordingly Bland Ballard’s title was declared null and void.3 Early in 1783 he moved his family to Linn’s Station, on Beargrass Creek, near Louisville.4

In 1783 Linn’s Station was attacked by Indians and a number of pioneers killed, among whom was John Williamson and his eldest son, George.  A younger son, John Williamson, was taken prisoner.  A daughter, Elizabeth, the wife of Bland Williams Ballard, escaped.5  Letters dated 6 February and 7 March 1883 in the Draper Manuscript Collection from G. T. Wilcox, grandson of Squire Boone to Dr Lyman C. Draper state: “My old friend John W. Williamson is dead, died the 4th of this month in the 87th year of his age.  Bland [W.] Ballard was his uncle, having married his father’s sister. . . . Ballard was Clark’s commissary at the Falls . . . His (Williamson’s) grandfather’s name was John; his father’s name was John, and his elder brother name was George . . . the old man and George was killed by Indians at Linns Station of the 4th of July, 1783 . . . John Williamson was taken prisoner by the Indians that day . . .” 6

On 4 May 1784, Bland Ballard served as security for Mary Stevens, the relict of William Stevens, who was appointed administrator of his estate.7  On 7 September 1785, Bland Ballard was appointed Captain in the Jefferson County Militia, along with David Standiford, Aquilla Whitaker and Hardy Hill.8  We can distinguish the father from the son in the records, for six months later, on 5 April 1786, Bland Ballard, Jr is appointed Ensign to Captain Burks,9 and on 8 November 1786, Bland Ballard, Jr is appointed Lieutenant to George Pomeroy, the latter being appointed a Captain of the County Militia that same day.10

On 3 April 1787, Bland Ballard is appointed with Isaac Hite, Samuel Wells, and George Pomeroy to view the nearest and best way for a road from Louisville to Richard Chenowith’s land.11

In the fall of 1787 Bland Ballard and his family moved from Linn’s Station to Tyler Station on Tick Creek, in Shelby county, Kentucky.  That station, according to a statement by John T. Ballard, had been built several years before by Bland Ballard, Bland Williams Ballard, James Ballard and other pioneers.12  There, in the spring of 1788, the Ballard Massacre took place, where five Ballards were killed.  Bland Williams Ballard’s first-person account of the massacre is probably the most accurate; it was given by him in an interview with Dr Lyman C. Draper in November 1844 in Shelby county, Kentucky:13

Bland Ballard settled on Tick Creek, five miles east of Shelbyville, about Christmas, 1787.  On the 31st of March, 1788, as the heavy snow of that winter had just passed, a party of fifteen or twenty Delawares (the same as was supposed who killed Col. Isaac Cox) made their appearance early in the morning, and killed John Ballard out at the wood pile, in his sixteenth year; the Indians then surrounded the house of Mr. Ballard, who had two loaded guns in the house.  As soon as the Indians fired and killed John Ballard, Bland W. Ballard (who lived together with Robert Tyler, John Kline and one Bailey, and their families, in some cabins close together, something like a hundred and fifty yards from old Mr. Ballard’s) ran out to see, and soon discovered the Indians among the trees: Ballard treed in such a position as to guard the front door of his father’s house; several of the Indians commenced firing at Bland W. Ballard, while several of the Indians commenced firing at Bland W. Ballard, while several others went to the rear of the house, knocked the chinking out of the house, and shot old Mr Ballard; his son, Benjamin, in his fourteenth year, his little daughter Elizabeth about a year old, wounded another daughter Thersia about two years old, then bursted in the back door, when Mrs Ballard broke out the front door, was overtaken and tomahawked in the yard; the Indians then got in the house (sic) was taken some distance, and probably designed taking to their town, but making some resistance probably they tomahawked him, some seventy yards off; little Elizabeth was tomahawked in the [house?] and little Thersia was their tomahawked, and they attempted to pull off its shirt, but the wristbands being sewed they drew it over its head and thus left the garment, throwing the child into a waterhole in the yard.  All except the child were scalped.

B. W. Ballard got his six shots and brought (down) an Indian every time, the seventh shot was at an Indian behind the fence, and he aimed at his forehead just over the top of the upper rail and lodged the ball in the rail about an inch too low.  Bland W. Ballard saw each of his six Indians tumble over.

Tyler ran out at the first alarm, and shot a long shot – this was before      B. W. Ballard got treed, some fifty yards from his house.  Tyler fired no more; staid guard his house; Bailey made no effort, and Kline was rather old and was no gun; and so B. W. Ballard had no help.

After the Indians plundered the house hurriedly they decamped.  Bland W. Ballard found his little sister Thersia with signs of life, he stitched up her wounds on the head and face, and she finally recovered and yet lives [1844].  It was evident that old Mr. Ballard shot off both guns, and was in the act of loading when he was himself shot – and the Indians subsequently confessed that they lost seven of their party before reaching their towns; and hence Mr. Ballard must have killed one.

B. W. Ballard and the other men searched and found, within a distance of three miles, six dead bodies where the Indians had hurriedly buried them.  Ballad had one brother, James, who was not at home, who was thus saved.

The children of Bland Ballard who were not killed in the massacre were Bland Williams Ballard, James, and Sally; also two unnamed elder sisters.  Bland W. Ballard said in an 1844 interview with Lyman C. Draper that he was the third child and eldest son of Bland Ballard and was born 16 October 1759.14  The two elder sisters probably died in infancy, as we have no record of them other than the statement made by Bland W. Ballard.  James and Sally were not present at the time of the massacre; Sally may have been married before that event.  The whereabouts of James, who was then a young man of twenty-four, is not definitely known, but one of his sons, Bland Ballard, afterwards Judge of the U.S. District Court for Kentucky wrote Dr Lyman C. Draper on 27 March 1845:15

The attack on my Grandfather’s house was made about daybreak.  My uncle Bland slept in the fort nearby.  My father, who is about two years the junior of my uncle, was at a Mr. Guinn’s about three miles off attending school, and my uncles John & Benjamin the former about 16 and the latter 14 years of age together with Grandfather, Grandmother and an aunt slept in the dwelling house.  My uncle Bland being aroused by the firing of guns ran out of the fort and when he had proceeded about half way to my Grandfather’s house commenced firing on the Indians.  He fired frequently, but as the dead and wounded were all carried off there was by no means of certainly ascertaining how many he had killed.  My uncle was always of the opinion that he had killed six and this impression was confirmed by the report of two young men, citizens of Woodford County, Ky. Who have been taken prisoner by this same party of Indians & released.  These young men reported that seven Indians were killed or mortally wounded in the attack referred to.  It is quite certain John killed none.  He was found dead outside and near the house and no arms of any kind near him.  Benjamin I think was attempting to escape to the fort but was overtaken and killed, and there is no possibility that my Grandfather killed more than one, Grandmother or rather my step grandmother was attempting to escape towards my uncle Bland and had proceeded about forty yards from the house when she was overtaken and killed.

On 7 May 1788, Bland Williams Ballard was appointed administrator of his father’s estate, having entered bond of 500 pounds, with Richard Chenowith and Robert Tyler his sureties.16  An effort to settle claims by merchants who suffered losses during the Revolution resulted in the collection of information called British Mercantile Claims.  A claim dated 12 November 1800 provides additional  insight into the life of Bland Ballard:

Bland Ballard, Junr., Spotsylvania.  £12.18.5 (Falmouth Store) and £9.2.0 (Fredericksburg Store).  William Cunningham & Co.  He removed to Fauquier County shortly before the war, where he remained a few years in the character of an overseer and as is usual with men of that description had very little property but only lived from hand to mouth on the produce of his annual share of the crop.  He went to Kentucky early in the Revolution where he was killed by the Indians soon after he arrived in that country and before the peace.  Thomas C. Fletcher of Albemarle, formerly of Culpeper, knew him when he lived in Fauquier (he having lived near the county line).  Bland Ballard of Albemarle had the account of him from his connections, all of whom have removed from Fauquier county.17

The children of Bland Ballard and Elizabeth Williams were:

BLAND WILLIAMS, married Elizabeth Williamson.

JAMES, married Amy Leman.

John, born 1772, died without issue 31 March 1788.

Benjamin, born 1774, died without issue 31 March 1788.

Sally, married Benjamin Pulliam and had one son, Bland Ballard Pulliam (born 24 January 1878, died 6 October 1853).  Because of a quarrel with his father, Bland Ballard Pulliam changed his name to Fulliam.18

The child of Bland Ballard and _____ Tyler was:

Thursia, born c. 1785; survived the Ballard Massacre, lived to be an old woman.  On 23 November 1814 she married Joshua West and had seven children.  She is buried in Franklin county, Kentucky.19

The child of Bland Ballard and _____ was:

Elizabeth, born c. 1787, died without issue 31 March 1788.


1. Kentucky Genealogies, p. 54.

2. Statement made by Bland W. Ballard to Lyman C. Draper, Draper Mss. 8J 150 and 8J 181 in State Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.

3. The Filson Club Publications, No. 8: The Centenary of Louisville (1893), by Reuben T. Durrett, pp. 142-43; 154.

4. Kentucky Genealogies, p. 54.

5. Kentucky Genealogies, pp. 54-55.

6. Draper Mss. 19C 181-2.

7. 4 May 1784. Admin. of estate of William Stevens, dec’d granted his relict Mary Stevens, who made oath and entered into bond with John Chambers and Bland Ballard her securities in the penalty of £250 & costs. Jefferson Co. Ky. Minute Book 1, 6 April 1784-7 December 1785, p. 27 (cited in James R. Bentley, Early Kentucky Settlers: The Records of Jefferson Co., Ky. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988) p. 110.

8. Jefferson Co. Ky. Court Minute Book 1, p. 127; cited in Michael L. Cook and Bettie A. Cummings Cook, Jefferson County Kentucky Records, Volume I (Cook Publications), p. 137.

9. Jefferson Co. Ky. Court Minute Book 2, p. 9; Cook I, p. 185.

10. Jefferson Co. Ky. Court Minute Book 2, p. 34; Cook I, p. 211.

11. Jefferson Co. Ky. Court Minute Book 2, p. 42; Cook I, p. 219.

12. The Ballard Massacre, Ballard Files, in The Filson Club.; Kentucky Genealogies, p. 55.

13. Draper Mss. 8J 150-181.

14. Draper Mss. 8J 150 and 8J 171.

15. Draper Mss., 8J 184.; Kentucky Genealogies, pp. 60-61.

16. Jefferson Co. Ky. Court Minute Book 2, p. 82; Cook I, p. 270; the estate was not settled until 6 June 1797. Jefferson Co. Ky. Circuit Court Minute Book 5, p. 59; Cook II, p. 119; the estate remained open, for on 2 April 1804, there was a motion to examine and settle the accounts of the Administrator (Co. Court Minute Book 6, p. 164; Cook II, p. 286; and again on 2 July 1804, p.188; Cook II p. 294).

17. This record proves that Bland Ballard of Spotsylvania county was a blood relation of the Ballards of Albemarle, and that they knew of one another.  British Mercantile Claims, 1775-1803, The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 32, No. 4 (1988) p. 269 [pp. 88-89].

18. Bridwell, p. 58

19. Bridwell, p. 58.


4 thoughts on “Bland Ballard, Jr of Spotsylvania County, Virginia (1735-1788).

  1. I am a descendant of the John Cline (Kline) in Tyler’s Station as mentioned in your narrative. I’ve explored Shelby Co., Ky and have found several references. It always makes me so happy to see John’s name.

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