Rogers Clark Ballard, the son of Andrew Jackson Ballard, was born 6 November 1858 in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1884 he legally assumed his mother’s family name, “Thruston.” He was pressed into this by his mother, who wanted the family name to continue, but he never married or had children.
He is best known for having revived The Filson Club, Louisville, Kentucky, of which he was president for many years. He died 30 December 1946 in Louisville, Kentucky, unmarried and without issue.
His obituary follows (from 31 December 1946. Family History and Obituary, The Filson Club History Quarterly, Volume 21 No. 2, April 1947.
Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston, Historian, dies at 88.
Funeral rites will be held this afternoon.
Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston, who died at 2:15 a.m. yesterday of a heart attack, probably did more to preserve the history of Kentucky than any other man. He died at the age of 88 at the Jewish Hospital. His residence was in the Weissinger Gaulbert Apartments. Thuston, whose family is closely linked with the history of the state, retired from active business in 1909 to devote his time to historical research. He had been president, generous supporter of, and contributor to the Filson Club, Kentucky historical club since 1923. Thruston, son of Andrew Jacskon Ballard and Frances Ann Thruston, was born in Louisville, November 6, 1858, the younger of four sons and a daughter. At the request of his mother he assumed her maiden name when he was 16. He took the name “Thruston” by a decision of the Fayette Co. Court in 1884. Thruston remained a bachelor all his life. George Rogers Clark was his great-grandmother’s brother.
Thruston was educated at Hopkins Grammar School, New Haven, CT., Williston Seminary, East Hampton, MA., and in 1880 was graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University. After graduation he went to work with the Monon Railroad as a clerk.
He was with the Kentucky Geological Survey for several years, was engaged to buy property for the Interstate Investment Company, and had charge of the land department of the Kentucky Union Land Company. From 1895 to 1899 he was manager of the Big Stone Gap Iron Company of Virginia, selling out his mining interest 10 years later to take up his chief interest – history.
Saved Filson Club. Credit is given to Thruston for the saving of The Filson Club. In 1913 during the last illness of Col. R.T. Durrett, founder and president of the club, a large part of the clubs collection and Durrett’s library were sold, by mistake. Thruston went to the Durrett home, where the club met, salvaged relics that had not been sold and took them to his house where the club met during the following years. When the new fireproof building was constructed in 1929, Thruston, keeping a promise made many years earlier, gave the organization his historical library and collections and an endowment fund of $100,000 in income-producing securities. In 1940 he increased the endowment by another $50,000. A metal tablet honoring Thruston, “whose library and other gifts are a nucleus of these collections,” was placed in the club. In addition to giving the club his library and family relics such as the gloves and crepe that his father wore to Abraham Lincoln’s funeral, Thruston was untiring in his efforts to obtain additional material. He was chiefly responsible for the Photostat copies of 21,000 manuscripts relating to the campaigns of George Rogers Clark, Jouett’s portrait of Clark is another gift to the club from its president.
Another valuable portion of the club collection is the group of Kentucky mountain-area photographs, interior and exterior, Thruston made during the ‘80s. Many of the pictures are in the gallery of the Forestry Department in Washington.
During this era he knew John Fox, Jr and James Lane Allen who drew on the area for material for their stories. Thruston and two other young men, all of whom were appointed special policemen in Big Stone Gap in those turbulent days, were the composite prototype of the young engineers in Fox’s “The Trail of Lonesome Pine.”
Thruston was a recognized authority on the US flag. His pamphlet, “The History of the Origin and Evolution of the US Flag” was published by the Government. He wrote comparatively little for publication, but gathered more Kentucky history than any other Kentuckian and made it available to the public. He occasionally contributed his historical magazines. Another of Thruston’s interests was the Louisville Free Public Library. He was a member of the board from 1918 until 1940 when he retired as president of the board. He was a member of the Kentucky Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and a past president of the National S.A.R. He was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati and the Kentucky Society of Colonial Wars. He served as president of the Yale Alumni Association of Kentucky as a member of the executive committee of the Yale Alumni Advisory Board and as a member of the American Printing House for the Blind, the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum, and the Kentucky State Historical Society. In 1927, he received an honorary degree from the University of Louisville.
He was the first chairman of the Louisville Chapter of the American Red Cross for Kentucky, serving from 1917 to 1918. He resigned to become assistant manager of the Lake Davison of the American Red Cross in Kentucky and served for three years. The Thruston family presented Louisville with three public playground parks and deeded the original home of George Rogers Clark on Poplar Level Road to the City. The parks are Ballard Square, Churchill Park, and George Rogers Clark Park.
He is interred at Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. He left a lengthy, interesting and colorful will, portions of which are excerpted here:
Will of R. C. Ballard Thruston.
Item 1. I, R. C. Ballard Thruston, do make, publsih and declare this to be my last will and testament, herby revoking any and all wills and codicil thereto by me at any time heretofore made.
Item 2. I am a bachelor, the fifth, the youngest and today, the only surviving child of my parents, the late Andrew Jackson Ballard (1815-1885) and his late wife, Frances Ann Thruston (1826-1896), of Louisville, Kentucky. I was born November 6th, 1858, and on the 27th day of October 1884, by an order of the Co. Court of Fayette Co., Kentucky, where I then resided, and to gratify a wish of my Mother, I changed my name by adding my Mother’s family name of Thruston to that which I previously bore, thus making my full name Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston.
Item 3. Of the five children of my parents, the second and third died single and without issue. The first was my eldest brother, the late Charles T. Ballard (1850-1918) and the fourth was another brother, the late Honorable S. Thruston Ballard (1855-1926). Each of these two brothers of mine married and had issue as follows.
Item 4. My eldest brother, Charles T. Ballard (1850-1918) married in New Orleans, Louisiana, in April 1878, Mis Eilina Modest (Mina) Breaux (1857-1933). Both of these are now dead, and it is not my intention to name either of them as a legatee in this my will. This eldest brother of mine and his wife had eight (8) children, four of whom, the second Emilie, the third, Mary T., the fourth Charles M. T. and the 7th Churchill, all died without issue, and it is not my intention to name any of these four children as a legatee in this my will.
Item 5. Each of the other four children of my eldest brother married and had two children, It is my intention that each of these twelve, four children and eight grandchildren, of this brother of mine, shall participate inter alia and equally in my residuary estate and later they will be more specifically named as legatees in this my will.
Item 6. My other brother, the late Honorable S. Thruston [married] in January 1883, Miss Sunshine Harris (1862-1938). Both of them are now dead, and it is not my intention to name either of them as a legatee in this my will. This brother of mine and his wife had four children of whom the second, Theodore, the third, Thruston, and the fourth Rogers Clark, died in youth and without issue. It is not my intention to name any of these three as a legatee in this my will.
Item 7. The eldest of the four children of this brother, the Honorable S. Thruston Ballard, was a daughter, named Marry Harris. She married in January 1906, Dr David C. Morton, and had three children. It is my intention that each of these four, the daughter and three grandchildren of this brother of mine shall participate inter alia and equally in my residuary estate and later they will be more specifically named in this my will.
Item 8. As to the disposition of my remains after death. I am the holder of lots 24 and 25 in Section G in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. There are buried the remains of my matenal grandparents, and their children, my parents, a brother, my sister and certain law kin. The space next to the grave of my father has been set aside for my remains. There I have erected a headstone with an inscription complete except as to the dates of my death; that date I direct my executor to have suitably inscribed thereon.
Item 9. My desire is that my body be cremated; that my ashes be placed in a simple glass, metal or pottery container and be buried on the site above named. I also desire that all necessary forms and ceremonies be dispensed with and that the disposition of my remains after my death be accomplished simply, quickly and inexpensively.
Item 10. As long as there is unoccupied burial space in these two lots (Numbers 24 and 25 in Section G in Cave Hill Cemetery) I desire that any descendant of my parents together with husband or wife of such descendant, who may be desirous of being buried there shall be granted the priviledge.
Item 11. I have made some small loans to friends and acquaintances. Sometimes I made a memorandum of the loan but more frequently I did not, at any rate they are of no material value. All such debts I desire cancelled whether memorandum be found or not.
Item 12. For some years I have been an annual subscriber to my church, also the Community Chest in Louisville, occasionally to some other cause, or causes, which I deemed worthy. Should there be any such subscription in whole or in part made by me and that may be outstanding and unpaid at the time of my death, I desire my executor to settle same promptly.
Item 13. Such debts as I have are few and small, mostly incidental to my living; my executor will have little trouble in locating and settling them, also which may be incident to my death and burial and settlement of my estate.
Item 14. In my apartment number 834, in the Weissinger Gaubert, there are four paintings: 1. Jerusalem, by James McDougal Heart. 2. The Plague, by Nicholay Pousson. 3. & 4. Two small festal scenes, formally attributed to Jean Antoine Watteau, but experts who made recent examinations of them think they were by some earlier and unidentified artist. They were hanging in our old home on Walnut Street when and where I was born, and were given by me to the J. B. Speed Memorial Museum soon after it was organized, but to be delivered after my death. These should be delivered as soon after my death as practical and I direct that it be done by my executor.
Item 15. The Filson Club was founded in 1884 by a group of our citizens who were not only interested in collecting and preserving our history but also in making it accessible for the future benefit of our community and historians. Coln. R. T. Durrett, one of the founders, was its first President and housed its library and collections in his home along with similar material that belonged to him. During his long last illness no meetings were held and shortly before his death in 1913 his library was sold and as that of The Filson Club was dovetailed in with his they both went together. A couple of months later I was told what had happened. Investigation proved that I was correctly informed so, of what was left, I saved and housed what I could find. The Club was revived and I was made its Vice President. At a meeting of its officers in January 1920, I made to them an offer that The Filson Club would acquire its own home with at least one fireproof room, I would give to it my historic library relics and treasures and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) in good income producing securities as an endowment fund. I became its President in 1923, and in June 1929, they met my requirements and moved into their present home at 118 West Breckinridge Street, Louisville, Kentucky. I promptly fulfilled my promise. However, as in the case of the paintings above mentioned in Item 14, some of my books, bookcases and other material were left with me because I held them together in my apartment them around me I would indeed have felt lonesome. I wish The Filson Club to have whatever there is in my apartment, other than the above mentioned four paintings that may wish to have.
Item 16. Now as to the distribution of the rest of those intimate personal effects of mine that may still be in my apartment at the time of my death: Miss Ludie J. Kinkead has been with me, first as my stenographer, then as my secretary, which position she still holds, and later as the Curator of The Filson Club, of which I am still the President, for over thirty years, and some of those intimate personal effects, which I still have, were gathered by me during that period. She knows, better than anyone else, what disposition I would like to have made of them and I desire that se be assessed by me executor to assist in making this distribution. Under no condition do I wish any of those intimate personal effects of mine sold, at either public or private sale, as part of my estate. Excepting the small amount of cash I that may have on hand at the time of my death I desire that nothing at my apartment be considered as a part of my residuary estate.
Item 17. When The Filson Club moved into its present home in June 1929, we thought we had ample room to answer us for fifty years of expansion. We are now crowded and rapidly growing. We need more room, more staff, more income and endowment and I wish to add to their Endowment fund the following stock which I hold: a. Seven hundred and fifty (750) shares of the common stock of Ballard and Ballard Co. having a par value of Fifty Dollars ($50.00) each. b. Five hundred shares of the common stock of the Belknap Hardware and Manufacturing Company having a par value of Ten Dollars ($10.00) each. c. Two hundred and fifty shares of the stock of the United States Trust Company of Louisville, Ky., having a par value of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) each. d. Two hundred and ten shares of the stock of The Virginia Coal and Iron Company, having a par value of One Hundred and no/100 dollars ($100.00) each. e. Forty-seven shares of the stock of the Stonega Coke & Coal Co. having a par value of Sixty & no/100 Dollars ($60.00) each. I herewith instruct my executor to transfer to The Filson Club all of my stocks in those five companies together with all of my rights and privileges incident thereto.
Item 18. There are certain institutions in whose work I have been interested, with some of them I have been personally connected as an officer, a member or a contributor and to each of which I wish to leave a small bequest, as follows: a. Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, at New Haven, Ct. [Alumnus]; b. University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky. [Alumnus]; c. University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky. [Alumnus]; d. Rogers Clark Ballard School, Glenview, Ky.; e. Berea College at Berea, Ky.; f. Lincoln Institute at Lincoln Ridge, Ky.; g. Lincoln Memorial University at Harragate, Tenn.; h. J. B. Speed Memorial Museum; i. John N. Norton Memorial Infirmary, Louisville, Ky.; j. Frontier Nursing School; k. Pine Mountain Settlement School; l. Hindman Settlement School; m. Louisville Free Public Library, Louisville, Ky.; n. Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia; o. National Society Sons of the American Revolution; p. Kentucky Society Sons of the American Revolution; q. Society of the Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Kentucky; r. Kentucky State Historical Society, Frankfort, Ky.; s. American Antiquarian Society of Worcester Co., Mass.; t. Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Md.; u. Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va.
Item 19. Legacies [item(s) omitted, relationship noted]: A. Mary Jane Fish Ballard, wife of nephew G. Breaux Ballard. B. Charles Horner, husband of niece Fanny Ballard Horner; C. Mrs Lilly Anderson Ballard (widow of cousin Austin Ballard). D. Mrs Elixabeth Chalkey – cousin. E. Mrs Louise C. Peter (wife of Judge Arthur Peter). F. Mrs Amelia C. Jungbluth (cousin, widow of Karl Jungbluth of Louisville). G. Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston, son of Charles Mynn Thruston. H. Mrs Edith F. Bodley (widow of Temple Bodley). I. Credo F. Harris (brother of sister-in-law). J. Doctor Gavin Fulton (friend – physician). K. Miss Ludie J. Kinkead (secretary). L. Otto A. Rothert (Secretary of The Filson Club). M. Miss Evelyn R. Dale (former employee). N. Mrs Margaret M. Bridwell (wife of Roy Bridwell, former employee).
Item 20. Residuary Estate [legacies omitted, relationships noted], Section A. 1. Gustave A. Breaux, brother of my elder sister in law. 2. Christ Church Cathedral. 3. Louisville Council Area Boy Scouts of America. 4. George Rogers Clark Memorial Fund.
Section B. 1. Abby Churchill Ballard married at Louisville, Ky. On June 1st 1899 to Jefferson D. Stewart and died June 30th 1922 (now deceased) … her two children Abby, Jr, Jeff, Jr. 2. Mary Harris Ballard married January 25th 1906 Jefferson Co., Ky., to Dr David C. Morton now of Richmond, died June 3rd 1927 deceased … her three children: Thruston, Jane and Rogers. 3. G. Breaux Ballard (nephew) married Miss Mary Jane Fish September 27, 1913 at South Bend, Indiana. 4. Fanny Thruston Ballard (niece) married Charles Horner on August 31, 1912, Jefferson Co., Ky. 5. Mina Breaux Ballard (niece) married June 6th 1914 to Warner Jones and second on June 29th 1922 Henning Chambers.
Section C. Eleven Grandchildren of my two brothers. 1. Grand Nephew Thruston Ballard Morton now Lieutenant Commander US Navy married to Miss Belle Clay Lyons April 18, 1931 Jefferson Co., Ky. 2. Grand Niece Jane Lewis Morton married October 13, 1928 George W. Norton 3rd Major US Army. 3. Grand Niece Abby Ballard Steward married November 4, 1939 in Louisville, Ky. to William H. Abell, Lieutenant, US Army. 4. Grand Nephew Rogers Clark Ballard Morton Lieutenant US Army married Miss Ann Prather Jones May 27, 1939. 5. Grand Niece Mary Jane Fish Ballard married September 9, 1936 in Jefferson Co., Ky. to John Pryor Castleman, Major, US Army. 6. Grand Nephew Jefferson Davis Steward, Lietenant US Navy married Miss Nancy Lewis September 19, 1936 in Louisville, Ky. 7. Grand Nephew Warner LaValle Jones, Jr, Lieutenant US Army married to Miss Hariett Seelbach on February 18, 1939 in Louisville, Ky. 8. Grand Niece Mina Ballard Jones, Jr married on September 30, 1939 J. Royden Peabody Jr, Lieutenant US Navy married in Jefferson Co., Ky. 9. Grand Nephew Gustave Breaux Ballard Jr, Lieutenant US Navy married Miss Ann Perdue July 19, 1941 in Mobile, Alabama. 10. Grand Niece Fanny Breaux Ballard Horner married November 2, 1943 in Cambridge, Mass. To Wm. Sawyer of Buffalo, New York, Lieutenant US Navy. 11. Grand Nephew Robert Samuel Ballard Horner, Lieutenant US Navy married March 20, 1944 in Bartholomew Church in New York City to Miss Marion Kampmann of Philadelphia, Pa.
I herewith constitute and appoint the United States Trust Company, Louisville, Kentucky, my sole executor with full power to act. This my last will consists of nine (9) typewritten pages; at the top of each page is Page … of the will of R. C. Ballard Thruston, dated December 1944. At or near the bottom of each page is my signature, R. C. Ballard Thruston. Witness my hand this 11th day of December 1944 (signed) R. C. Ballard Thruston.
We the undersigned hereby certify that the foregoing instrument of writing was this day signed by R. C. Ballard Thruston in our presence and declared by him to be his last will and testament, and we at his request, do hereby subscribe our names as witnesses to said will in his presence and in the presence of each other this 11th day of December 1944. Signed: A. B. Comstock, Louisville, Ky., B. B. Veech, Louisville, Ky., Richard Barfield, Louisville, Ky.