Judge Bland Ballard of Louisville, Kentucky (1819-1879).

Bland Ballard, the sixteenth child of James Ballard, was born 4 September 1819, and died 29 July 1879.  He received his education at Shelby College, Shelbyville, Kentucky and Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana.  In 1839 he read law under the guidance of James T. Morehead, and was graduated in the law department of Transylvania University of Lexington in 1846.  He entered into practice in Shelbyville, but the same year removed to Louisville where he lived the remainder of his life.  Later in life he was also president of the Kentucky National Bank.1

On 20 October 1861 he was appointed Judge of the U.S. District Court for Kentucky by President Abraham Lincoln.  He was well known for his anti-slavery activities before and after the Civil War.2  An article in The Green Bag notes, “His position as judge of the Federal court in Kentucky made him many enemies.  He was devoted to the preservation of the Union.  Associate Justice Field of the Supreme Court said: ‘As a judge in Kentucky, Bland Ballard was worth twenty thousand men to the Union cause.’  Yet so absolutely just was his administration that, although he died only fourteen years after the war, he numbered among his warmest friends some ex-Confederates.”3  His obituary in The New York Times stated that “He was a jurist of exceptional ability.  Placed in a position for life by his friend President Lincoln, Judge Ballard seemed to resolve at once and forever that right and justice should always be the chief characteristics of his Judicial conduct.  He was as firm as he was fearless, and in times when the community, full of prejudice, severely criticized and condemned any act tending to recognize national rights, Judge Ballard was as plain and pointed as ever in all he said and did.”4

He married 16 December 1846 Sarah Shelby McDowell (born 20 June 1820 in Fincastle, Botetourt county, Virginia, died 2 August 1901, daughter of Dr William Adair McDowell (1795-1853) and Maria Hawkins Harvey (1799-1877), and was granddaughter of Samuel McDowell, the first Marshall of Kentucky).

Bland Ballard left a will dated 26 July 1859, recorded 8 August 1789 in Jefferson County, Kentucky Will Book 10, p. 80 (and also, curiously, recorded 29 May 1907 in Will Book I-K, Vandrburgh, Indiana, p. 447).

I, Bland Ballard, make this my last will.  I give my whole estate of whatever nature and kind soever and wherever situate to my wife.  This devise is made on condition that should my wife marry again, two thirds of the property and estate which she shall then own not including that which she shall may own in her own right or that which she may hereafter receive by descent, gift or devise from any other person that shall pass and be conveyed by my wife to my children who shall then be living, share and share alike.

I appoint my wife guardian of my children and request that she be allowed to qualify without surety.

I appoint my brother A.J. Ballard my executor on request that he be allowed to qualify without surety.

Written with my own hand this twenty-sixth of July 1859

Bland Ballard [seal]

Signed, sealed and acknowledged in the presence of: A.J. Ballard, H.C. McDowell, James Speed.

He and his wife Sarah are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky.

The children of Bland Ballard and Sarah Shelby McDowell were:

Mary, born 1850, married Charles A. Davidson, resided in Cincinnati, and died in 19 August 1928.  The Louisville Courier Journal, Monday, 20 August 1928, p. 14 reported “Mrs. Mary Ballard Davidson, formerly of Louisville, died Sunday morning  at Bass Rocks, Gloucester, Massachusetts following a short illness, according to word received by relatives here Sunday afternoon.  Mrs. Davidson was the widow of Charles Davidson, Cincinnati.  She was the daughter of the late Judge Bland Ballard and Mrs. Sarah McDowell Ballard.  Mrs. Davidson lived in Louisville until her marriage, when she went to Cincinnati.  She is survived by a brother, Austin Ballard, of the insurance firm of Barbee & Castleman; two cousins, R. C. Ballard Thruston and Wallace McDowell, besides numerous other relatives.  Funeral services will be held at Cralle’s Chapel at 3:30 o’clock Tuedsday afternoon.”

Austin, born 11 November 1852 in Louisville, Kentucky; a graduate of Cornell University (1876); appointed Clerk of the U.S. District Court for Kentucky 1 January 1876 by his father; from 1890 to 1916 worked as a stock and bond broker, and from 1916 an insurer.  He married 4 November 1891 Lily Anderson.  He died in 31 December 1934 and his wife Lily survived him (she died 9 September 1945).  Both are interred at Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky.  Their obituaries follow.

“Illness Is Fatal To Austin Ballard

“Former President of City’s Stock Exchange, Ex-U.S. Court Clerk, Dies.

“Austin Ballard,, 82 years old, former president of the Louisville Stock Exchange and clerk of the United States District Court here from 1876 to 1884, died at 1 o’clock Monday afternoon at his home, 1064 Cherokee Road.

“A native of Louisville, Mr. Ballard was the son of Judge Bland Ballard and Mrs. Sarah McDowell Ballard.  He was educated at private schools here and attended Cornell University.  He was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.

“He returned from college to become clerk of the Federal Court.  He became secretary of the Kentucky National Bank in 1889.  With his brother, Bland Ballard, he operated the Ballard Stock & Bond Company from 1890 to 1898.  After his brother went to Chicago, Mr. Ballard carried on the firm under the name of A. Ballard & Company until 1916.

“He was a member of the Louisville Stock Exchange, serving as president in 1917.  Later he was associated with Barbee & Castleman.  At the time of his death he was connected with Gaunt & Harris, insurance firm.

“Mr. Ballard is survived by his wife Mrs. Lily Anderson Ballard; a daughter Miss Lily Anderson Ballard, and a son, Austin Ballard, Jr.  He was a cousin of Thruston Ballard, R. Ballard Thruston and Charles Ballard.

“Funeral services will be held at 11 o’clock Wednesday morning at the residence.  Burial will be in Cave Hill Cemetery.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal, Tuesday, 1 January 1935, p. 1.

“Mrs. Lily Ballard Dies At Home; Rites to Be Today.

“Mrs. Lily Anderson Ballard, well known in Kentucky social circles at about the turn of the century, died at 2:05 a.m. yesterday at her home, 2229 Cherokee Parkway.

“She was the daughter of the late Dr. Turner Anderson, who helped found the Louisville Medical College here in 1837, and the sisiter of the late Dr. Simrall Anderson, prominent Louisville surgeon.  Her husband, the late Austin Ballard, was the son of Judge Bland Ballard, first federal judge appointed in Kentucky by President Abraham Lincoln.  She was a member of the Woman’s Club.

“Survivors are a daughter, Miss Lily Anderson Ballard; a son, Austin Ballard, Jr., and two sisters, Mrs. Peter Lee Atherton, and Mrs. Kenneth Blackfan, Brookline, Mass., wife of Dr. Kenneth Blackfan, noted pediatrician.

“Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Lee Cralle’s Chapel.  Burial will be in Cave Hill Cemetery.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal, 10 September 1945, p. 8.

Their children were: 1. Austin Jr, born c. 1894, died 9 October 1964.  Curiously, no record or news item regarding Austin Jr (other than mention as a survivor in other relatives obituaries) has been found between the 1910 census and his death notice published in The Louisville Courier-Journal on Saturday, 10 October 1964: “Ballard, Austin.  Fri., Oct 9, 1964, at 7 a.m.  Son of the late Lily Anderson and Austin Ballard, Sr.  Funeral and internment private on family lot in Cave Hill Cemetery.”  His death certificate noted that he suffered from schizophrenia, and he presumably died without issue.  2. Lily Anderson, born c. 1903, died 16 September 1947.  The Louisville Courier-Journal, Wednesday, 17 September 1947 reported: “Ballard, Miss Lilly Anderson, at 8:15 a.m., September 16, 1947, at the Baptist Hospital; daughter of the late Austin and Lillie Anderson Ballard; survived by brother Austin Ballard, Jr.; 2 aunts, Mrs. Peter Lee Atherton and Mrs. Claude Moore Fuess, Andover, Mass.; cousins Mr. Bland Ballard, Jr., and Mr. Shreve Ballard of California, Mr. Turner Bridges of Virginia, Mrs. R. Allan Neblett, and Mrs. John A. Serpell.  Funeral from Lee E. Cralle Co., 1330 S. 3d, at 11 a.m. Wednesday, September 17th.  Internment in Cave Hill Cemetery.”  She married Daniel Price Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Lyne Smith on Friday, 17 May 1935; the marriage ended in divorce (which is noted on her death certificate).  She presumably died without issue.

BLAND, married Adele Schreve.

Fannie Thruston, born 1858, died unmarried and without issue on 23 October 1921. “Funeral services for Miss Fannie Thruston Ballard, 63 years old, who died at 11:30 o’clock Sunday night at her home 509 West Ormsby Avenue, will be held at 2 o’clock this afternoon at the residence of her brother, Austin Ballard, 1064 Cherokee Road.  Burial will be in Cave Hill Cemetery.”  The Louisville Courier-Journal, Tuesday, 25 October 1921, page 8.

Susan, born 1865, died 20 February 1909, “died of heart disease in the Cincinnati Sanitarium … Miss Ballard suffered a nervous collapse here about two weeks ago on learning of the death of her brother, Bland Ballard, in Chicago, and went to the sanitarium at Cincinnati for rest and quiet.”  She is interred at Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville.  “Miss Susan Ballard Passes Away in Cincinnati,” The Louisville Courier-Journal, 21 February 1909, p. 6.  She presumably died without issue.


1. H. Levin, ed., in Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1897) notes, “He was an active practitioner of the law up to the date of his appointment as judge of the US district court in 1861, was connected also with the business interests of the city, and took an active interest in all that tended to improve the beauty and welfare of Louisville and its institutions for the benefit and relief of suffering humanity. He was opposed to slavery, from principle, and espoused with great earnestness the cause of the Union, while as a judge he did everything in his power to uphold the government in the contest in Kentucky with those of southern sympathies. The records of the US court in Kentucky probably show a greater number of indictments for treason and conspiracy than any district in the country, the conditions existing in Kentucky being exceptional. Judge Ballard was withal a fair-minded man, stern in his administration of the law, but guided by the law and not by prejudice. He ranked high as a lawyer and judge, and in his personal relations with men was a pleasant, affable companion, a courteous and kindly man.”

2. Thomas Marshall Green wrote in Historic Families of Kentucky, that “The situation of the state and her people during and after the war; the passage of the Freedmen’s Bureau and Civil Rights bills, and other similar measures, by Congress; the new and frequently-changing laws for the collection of internal revenue, and other enactments of a similar nature, bringing before Judge Ballard, for decision, many intricate questions, involving principles never before adjudicated in this country: combined to render the duties of his position at once delicate and perplexing. To the discharge of these duties he brought the powers of a clear, well-balanced mind, professional attainments that were highly respectable, and the vigor of decided and firmly rooted convictions.” Thomas Marshall Green, Historic Families of Kentucky (Baltimore: Regional Publishing Co., 1964 [reprint]) pp. 78-79.

3. Sallie E. Marshall Hardy, “Some Kentucky Lawyers of the Past and Present,” The Green Bag: An Entertaining Magazine for Lawyers, Vol. IX (Boston: Boston Book Co., 1897) pp. 262-63.

4. “Death of Judge Bland Ballard,” The New York Times, July 30, 1879, p.1 col. 6.


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