Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ballard-Montague Connection

I am continuing the review of the Library of Virginia's scanned Chancery cases from Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Earlier I found the will of Benjamin Ballard Sr in the case file Leavell v Ballard. Benjamin's sons James and William Ballard were named as executors of the estate. William died around 1821, leaving James as the sole executor.

James had married Isabella Montague, a daughter of Clement and Hannah Montague. Clement made a will in 1791, which can be found in the Library of Virginia Chancery file index number 1841-082. The children named in Clement's will included Thomas Montague, Clement Montague Jr, Elizabeth Carpenter, Isabelle Ballard and Sarah Whiting. The estate was to be divided equally among all the children (except Isabella was "not to have not part no part negroes except the part left to my wife for reason that the said James Ballard has a bill of sale for a negro wench named Mima."). Next Clement left the children of his daughter Susanna Duerson deceased, wife of Joseph Duerson, an equal part of the estate, exclusive of what he had already devised. This was conditioned on Joseph not claiming an interest in a bond he had of Clement's for 25 pounds. If you're a descendant of the Montague family, one can find the will in the case file here.

The disposition of Clement Montague's estate became entangled with the Ballard family in the case James Ballard and wife, etc v Henry Duerson etc (index number 1831-001). On Clement Montague's death, he had a reversionary interest in 190 acres of land in Spotsylvania County held by a Mrs Collins in dower. Collins had moved to Kentucky several years earlier and it was believed that she had died. Seven years had passed since she had been heard from, and Clement had not disposed of his interest in the land during his lifetime. His daughters Isabella Montague Ballard and Elizabeth Montague Carpenter claimed 1/8 interest each, and said they could not obtain this without the aid of the court.

The claim also notes that Clement Montague left two grandsons in the county, Henry Duerson and Montague Duerson, the latter of whom was dead, but he had an infant son William Duerson. The claim asked that a court appoint a guardian ad litem for the infant. Clement's five other children were believed to have moved to Kentucky. Some of these children were already dead - Ann Estes, Thomas and Clement Jr. The portions held by Ann, Thomas and Clement Jr, along with Sarah Whiting (by now married to Abner Wilson) had been sold or assigned to a Thomas Wigglesworth, representing 4/8 of the interest. Wigglesworth had sold his interest to Benjamin Ballard Jr (my 5th-great-grandfather). There is a document showing Benjamin Ballard paid $37.39 to the children of Thomas Montague for their interest (see below), executed on 3 November 1828.

Henry Duerson responded, representing himself and serving as guardian ad litem for infant William Duerson (his nephew). I don't read this as a contentious suit. Henry's response makes it clear he admitted the matter as set forth in the complaint and agreed to abide by any decree the court thought was just and equitable. He also asked if he could be dispensed from his costs in responding to the case. Wigglesworth and Ballard also did not contest the case, as they both stood to benefit from the court's resolution of the issue.

Charles L. Thomas appeared as an attorney for the children of Thomas and Charles Montague, and they also agreed that the land should be sold.

The court agreed and directed the land be sold and proceeds be divided into 8 parts: to James and Isabella Ballard, Elizabeth Montague Carpenter, to Henry Duerson for 1/16 interest and to Henry as guardian ad litem to William Duerson for another 1/16 interest, to Thomas Wigglesworth for 3/8 interest, and to Benjamin Ballard for 2/8 interest (from the purchase of interests from the children of Thomas and Charles Montague). The land went to public auction, and Benjamin Ballard bought the property for $427.50. Benjamin was able to get some money back since he had previously purchased the interest of Clement Montague's children (and had already paid for the interest of Thomas Montague).

In June 1828, James Ballard had appointed Charles L. Thomas as attorney to represent the interests of the children of Thomas and Clement Montague. At some point in 1830, news of the case reached the heirs of Clement Montague in Kentucky, and they joined the action against Benjamin Ballard for their interest. Specifically, Sally Montague (wife of Clement Montague Jr), who had married Hardin Davis in Barren County, Kentucky in 1817 after the death of her husband, claimed that Hannah Montague, wife of Clement Sr, was entitled to a distribution from the estate. Hannah had remarried and moved to Kentucky with other Montague children. Hardin and Sally Davis submitted their response on 16 October 1830.

The documents in the case are a little out of order, as next in the set is a power of attorney signed by Samuel Endicott, Elizabeth Endicott, Thomas Montague and Thomas Hart, appointing Thomas Ballard as attorney to represent them. These four descendants of Clement Montague were in Harrison County, Kentucky. Their document was signed on 27 August 1825. It looks like Thomas Ballard attorney was the son of James Ballard.

It isn't entirely clear how the case was finally resolved. For that I will have to see the Spotsylvania County Court records in person.

This case (and the earlier case containing the copy of Clement Montague's will) provides invaluable information on the composition of the related Ballard and Montague families in Virginia and Kentucky. It is great to see the signature of my 5th-great-grandfather and to see how he may have acquired the 190 acres in Spotsylvania County.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Digging through the chancery cases

In looking through the Ballard family in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, it has been very helpful to examine the Library of Virginia's Chancery case files. I've already found the will of Benjamin Ballard Sr in the case file Leavell v Ballard. I started by going to, selecting Spotsylvania as the county from the menu, and entering "Ballard" on the surname search. In the case Pritchett v Pritchett, index number 1812-001, there is a deposition from Benjamin Ballard (see image 23 of 47). I think this is from Benjamin Ballard Sr.
Source: Library of Virginia Chancery files, Spotsylvania, 1812-001, image 23
The deposition shows that Benjamin witnessed a deed by James Pritchett to Thomas Pritchett. It is not clear when the deposition was taken. The case was filed in 1785, and still going when Thomas Pritchett died in 1812.

Another case called Executors of Benjamin Ballard v Benjamin Stewart is in the files with an index number 1820-001. There are 11 pages, but mostly these are supoenas signed by Richard Lewis Stevenson. It is not clear how the case was resolved from the scanned documents.

The next case in the set was brought by William Carter, executor of William Ballard's estate (son of Benjamin Ballard Sr). The case was heard in Spotsylvania County Court on 7 January 1822, so William must have died in 1821 or earlier.

The following case is James Ballard and wife vs Henry Duerson. There are 29 scanned pages in this set. I will have a full post on the case, as this helps provide some clarity to the family of James' wife Isabella. The case also contains the signature of James' brother, my 5th-great-grandfather, Benjamin Ballard Jr.

It is slow going through these files, and I have primary duties. More posts to follow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Will of Benjamin Ballard Sr

At the end of February I posted an inventory of the estate of Benjamin Ballard, my 6th-great-grandfather. After checking the Library of Virginia's Chancery case files for Spotsylvania County, I found a scanned copy of Benjamin's will in a case filed by James Leavell and wife against James Ballard, executor of Benjamin's estate.

Source: Library of Virginia, Chancery records, Spotsylvania County, Case 1841-055.

Right away this document is visibly different from the transcription of the will in the Spotsylvania County Court Will Book. The words are the same, some are more legible in this copy than in the Will Book version, but this version takes two pages, where the Will Book version fills all of page 387 in Book H. The will names his children Charles (who was given 25 acres during Benjamin's life), George, Peggy, James and William. Benjamin Sr. named his second wife Elizabeth as executrix with sons James and William as Executors.

It is interesting to see several of Benjamin's known children not listed in the will, including my 5th-great-grandfather Benjamin Ballard Jr, but the Leavell case notes that the land in the estate was divided into 8 parts. The first document in the file describes the suit by the Leavells. Other heirs of Benjamin Sr are named here, including Benjamin Jr, James Ballard, Charles Lewis & wife (Mary Jane Ballard, daughter of Benjamin Sr), James, Lewis, Winslow Parker & Sally (Sarah Ballard) his wife, Betsy and Mary Ballard, daughters of William Ballard, and children of George Ballard (deceased), Beverley, Benjamin, Thomas, Lucy Ballard, and Mary Trigg Ballard (George's wife). It appears that Charles Ballard transferred his interest in the land to the Leavells. They asked for a survey of the 25 acres gifted to Charles and a survey of the remaining land of Benjamin Ballard.

The next document (page 3 in the scanned set), more clearly lists the persons in the action. James Leavell and Nancy, his wife, Jesse Wayt and Peggy (Ballard, daughter of Benjamin Sr), James B. Lewis and John Montague, children of Hannah Herring deceased (Hannah Ballard, daughter of Benjamin Sr), Charles Lewis and Mary his wife (Mary Jane Ballard), Benjamin Ballard (Jr), James, Lewis and Winslow Parker and Sally his wife (Ballard), Betsy and Mary, adult heirs of William Ballard (son of Benjamin Sr), Beverley, Thomas, Benjamin, Lucy and Mary, adult heirs of George Ballard deceased (son of Benjamin Sr). The eight heirs of Benjamin Ballard Sr are listed as Nancy, Peggy, Hannah, Mary, Benjamin, William, George and James. Benjamin Sr. left behind 304 acres, of which 25 of those acres had already been gifted to Charles Ballard. The Leavells were asking for a "fair division of the land" to the heirs.

James responded that Charles Ballard and Sally Estes (another daughter of Benjamin Sr) had been given promissory parts of property prior to the creation of Benjamin's will, and that those persons along with himself were entitled to the land. There is a handwritten note at the bottom of the page which appears to have been added later stating "see Plat Book 10 page 9 for plat". I'll have to check this next time I go to the Spotsylvania County Court.

It looks like the case was filed in 1827, dismissed in November 1841. From the file it is not clear how the case was resolved. I'll have to look at further documents in Spotsylvania County, including land records, in order to see if there was a resolution to the case. I am grateful that the case exists, as it preserves key information on the family and descendants of Benjamin Ballard.

There are more chancery cases involving the Ballard family in the Spotsylvania County records published by the Library of Virginia. I will have a few more posts from these cases, as they contain signatures of James Ballard and Benjamin Ballard Jr.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Land of Ice

My "Frequent Traveling" sister vacationed to Iceland in mid-February. It looks like a visit "North of the Wall" on Game of Thrones.
Photo by L. Jones. Iceland. Feb 2015.
Photo by L. Jones. Iceland. Feb 2015.
Photo by L. Jones. Iceland. Feb 2015.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Will of Bland Ballard

224 years ago, my 7th-great-grandfather Bland Ballard signed his last will and testament in Spotsylvania County. Bland was the father of Benjamin Ballard, and Benjamin was named as an executor of the will. The image below was taken using Evernote Scannable from a photocopy made at the Spotsylvania County Court in December 2014.

The Ballards were a prominent Spotsylvania County family. As with the transcription from John Booher's estate, slavery was a common occurence with the Ballards and this is reflected in his will and estate.


In the name of God amen, I Bland Ballard of the County of Spotsylvania being very sick & weak, but of perfect sound mind & memory, (thanks be to almighty God for the same) do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form viz. --

Item - My will and desire is that all my just debts & funeral expenses shall be fully paid & satisfied.

Item - I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Ballard, one negro wench named Sall, & her future increase to him & his heirs forever.

Item - I give and bequeath unto my son John Ballard, one negroe wench named Gin, with her future increase, to him & his heirs forever.

Item - I give and bequeath unto my son Benjamin Ballard, one negroe wench named Grace, with her future increase to him & his heirs forever.

Item - I give & bequeath unto my daugther Ann Haydon, one negro girl named Frank with her future increase to her & her heirs forever.

Item - I give and bequeath unto Betsy Tenant, one bed, one sheet, one poster, one pillow, two blankets & one counterpain to her & her heirs forever.

Item - One negroe child named Keziah & all the rest of my estate of what so ever kind it may consist of after my decease, as stocks of any kind household furniture, my will & desire is, that the said child Keziah shall be sold, & the money thence arising to be equally divided amongst my children, that is to say Thomas, John, Benjamin and Ann.

And I do hereby appoint & ordain my sons John Ballard & Benjamin Ballard, my joint executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking & disannulling all former & other wills by me made. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 28th day of February one thousand seven hundred & ninety one.

Signed, sealed & acknowledged in presence of

G. Bell
William Ballard
Suener Tennant

Bland Ballard {seal}

On 3 January 1792, Benjamin Ballard, Edward Herndon and Reuben Hudson paid a bond of $1000 to the Justices of Spotsylvania County Court (Thomas Towles, Robert Hart, Thomas Strachan and Stockley Towles). Benjamin then committed to make an inventory of his father Bland Ballard's estate This document was signed by Benjamin, Edward Herndon and Reuben Hudson, in the presence of Beverley Chew. John Ballard made the same statement, signed by Reuben Hudson and Maxfield Whiting.

The next document contained an inventory of the estate.

"In obedience to an order of Spotsylvania Court made the 3rd day of January 1792 to us directed we the subscribers being first sworn have appraised the estate of Bland Ballard decd which was shewed to us by the executors, and are as followeth --

Two hundred & fourteen pounds 1.7 1/2
Sall (Pounds 50)
Grace (55)
Jenny (55)
Frank (15)
Keziah (10)
1 mare (5)
1 colt (2)
1 brown cow (3)
1 red bell cow (2.10)
1 yellow cow (2.10)
2 yearlings (1.10)
1 sow & 6 shoats (1.10)
1 bed bedstead and furniture (4)
1 ditto, ditto & ditto (4)
1 desk (15)
1 oval table (10)
1 safe (6)
1 large chest (8)
1 Linen wheel (15)
4 chairs 3 basons (11.6)
Carried Over 209.18
1 dish & 6 plates (10)
3 knives and 4 forks (1.6)
1 spice morter 8 pr stillards (18)
1 candle stick (7 1/2)
1 Looking glass (1.1 1/2)
2 stone pots (6) 1 tea kettle (6)
2 bells (5) 2 pr cards (4.6)
1 ox chain (6) 1 gallon jugg (1.3)
1 mustard pot, salt seller & 3 spoons (1)
1 pair tongs (2) plough hoe (1.6)
3 broad hoes, grubing hoe (2.3)
1 narrow ax 1 iron wedge (3.9)
1 plow 1 rawhide (7)
1 mans saddle & bridle (10)
1 meat tubb 1 hand saw & auger (1.3)
1 pair pot hooks and iron rack (1)
Total amount $214 1.7 1/2

A true copy from the original. Witness our hand, signed by order

Joseph Brock Clrk
Frances Simpson
Edward Herndon

Some of these items may have ended up in the inventory of Benjamin Ballard twenty-two years later in 1814. For more on Bland Ballard, read Stephen Ballard's blog entry here.