This blog has been offline for some time while the author has been trying to reconcile conflicting information. Recent yDNA results have forced the conclusion that the commonly accepted progenitor of the line, Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia, is probably not the ancestor of the Ballards who descend from the brothers Bland Ballard of Spotsylvania County, John and Thomas Ballard of Albemarle County, and Richard Ballard of Caroline County. The blog was taken private while these things were sorted out, but lack of time (blame the demands of the living) have prevented it, so with this caveat we will make it public again, while working to correct what we see as inaccuracies and errors here, which unfortunately have a tendency to be perpetuated by virtue of publication. Perhaps readers can lend a hand and contribute information they know to be true.
Stephen M. Ballard
Introduction (May 2011.)
The history of the Ballard family of Virginia and Kentucky is an interesting one, for it brings together the major currents of American history, beginning with the arrival of the Cavaliers of Virginia in the mid-1600s and the turbulence of Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, followed one hundred years later by the American Revolution, through the opening of the West with the expansion of the colonies after the Revolution. We find participants in the brief war with England in 1812, followed by Antebellum prosperity linked tragically to the “peculiar institution” of slavery, leading inevitably to the War Between the States. We conclude this study in the first third of the Twentieth Century.
The subject of this work, however, is known only to the descendants of a particular union with an illustrious member of the Ballard family, Bland Williams Ballard, the celebrated Kentucky pioneer and one of his slaves, a mixed-race woman known only as Flora. We are fortunate to have a Narrative describing her descent, and it is transcribed in the pages that follow. The genealogy uses this document as a starting point, and takes the family line forward and backward through time, as best as we are able, given the paucity of records in some counties due to the depredations of war, fire and neglect.
The section immediately following this introduction contains the Narrative, which is known to have been written by William Henry Ballard, Sr of Lexington, Kentucky (1862-1954). Included is a companion genealogical chart believed to be contemporaneous with the Narrative, bearing the date 1933.
Below is an analysis of the Narrative in light of information learned from searching public records. A comparison of the letter with contemporaneous sources reveals a number of minor inconsistencies, but for the most part the record supports the Narrative. Also noted are areas of continued research. Following that is another page providing a brief explanation of the results of genetic testing undertaken by the author in the spring of 2010. The results prove descent from one branch of the Ballard family described here, but they do not definitively answer the still unresolved questions that inform this work. Time — and testing of other Ballard descendants — will in time tell the full story.
The next section, The Founder: Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia (1630-1690) contains a narrowly focused genealogy of one of the Virginia and Kentucky branches of the Ballard family, beginning with the founder of the family in America, Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia (1630-1690). This section covers the first five generations so that we have an understanding of Bland Williams Ballard’s origins and the accomplishments of his illustrious family; any more than that would be too exhausting a project in a single lifetime. The goal of this section is to prove the descent of Bland Williams Ballard from Thomas Ballard of James City county by showing the interrelationship of the various branches as they moved from the Tidewater to the Piedmont, and over the Blue Ridge and the Appalachians into Kentucky. Proof of some assertions of a familial relationship lie in these associations, family traditions and naming patterns, for more often than not, there is no direct documentary proof. In the interest of brevity, the section is limited to descent in the male line. Only those lines known to have continued to the present are carried down. In some instances, the reader will find several generations described in a single entry; in others, the line will abruptly terminate, its purpose having been satisfied. The reader must look elsewhere for a comprehensive genealogy of all branches of the family, for that is not the purpose of the present work.
The section called Dowan Ballard, Sr (c. 1825-1909) contains a genealogy of the mixed race descendants of Bland Ballard (presumably Bland Williams Ballard) and Flora down to the 1930s, with incidental information on a few descendants to the present. The principal biographies are limited to individuals who were adults in 1930. This termination date was chosen because the 1930 US Federal Census is the most recent available to us (as of this writing) and, more importantly, the scope is limited in order to protect the privacy of the living who may be offended by the publication of personal information, and to avoid arguments and dissension over the inclusion of more recent family milestones and events.
Following that is Origins, which includes information on possible English origins of the family. Several interesting essays on the Colonial branches written by John M. Weisner of Richmond, Virginia that appeared in an online genealogy forum are included here in full, there being no reason to duplicate his thorough and exhaustive work. And finally, the section called Allied Families contains information that helps tell the story of the evolution of the family in America.
Please keep in mind that at times we have relied upon the work of other researchers who may have relied upon secondary sources which, by definition, are not records that were created at the time of the event by witnesses to that event, although even primary sources should be scrutinized, due to the possibility of human error. Therefore, the information contained therein is not to be relied upon and should be independently verified.
As with all works of this nature, it is by no means complete, nor is it definitive. With time, additional primary sources will no doubt be published, and as new material becomes available, fresh information may come to light that could alter the relationships described here. In the interest of privacy, please note that the names of living individuals are not included. The author has tried to provide thorough and complete documentation, and any errors or omissions are his own.
Stephen M. Ballard