Meet the folks

Terry Ballard's Family Tree

Ignoring the wisdom that says nobody cares about your dreams or your genealogical quests, I have been doing some work on the family tree for the past three or four years. This started when my son had to fill out a family tree chart in Junior High school. While there was a lot of information from my family, my dad could not even tell me the name of his grandfather - only the vague news that he had fought in the civil war for the Confederacy. I knew that my Dad's family had come from Mississippi, so I started there, and contacted the Mississippi State Library and Archives.

A few weeks later, they sent me a copy of the 1880 census, showing my grandfather Arthur Julian Ballard, living with Thomas A. Ballard and Safrona Ballard. They could find no record that Thomas had applied for benefits as a Confederate veteran. I had a hard time convincing my dad that Thomas was his Grandfather. He remembered an Aunt Ethel and an Uncle Thomas, but knew none of the other names (Henrietta, Lurah) on the 1880 census.

The matter was clinched in the Spring of 1998. I had a business trip to Nashville and took out a day to visit Northern Mississippi to see Mount Pleasant and Slayden for myself. By then, (And thanks to the good people at the Marshall County Genealogical Society who worked with me over the Internet) I had located a 2nd cousin on my grandmothers' side who took a morning off to show me around. In the Mount Pleasant graveyard, we found four tombstones in a row - Brother Thomas, Sister Ethel, Mother Sophronia and Father Thomas. That was that. Intestingly, Sophronia lived until 1928 when my dad would have been 7. I asked him if he remembered his dad being upset when his mother died. He said he did not. We had a mystery here.

Back to the primary sources. A letter from my Dad's oldest sister said that Sophronia was the second Mrs. Ballard. So my grandfather was not upset at Sophronia's death, even though she had raised him - she was a stepmother. On a second visit to Tennessee, I visited the Tennessee State Library and Archive a few times. In a book of marriage records for the state, I found it. T.A. Ballard married Laura J. Hicks in 1874. Arthur was born in 1876. That turned out to be a coincidence of names. The Mormon database, which recently went online, showed three marriages for Thomas - all in Marshall County, Mississippi. The first was to Margaret Meador in 1867, then Mary Jane Graves in 1870, and Sophronia in 1880. Since my grandfather was born in the 1870's it appears that Mary Jane was his mother and Lurah's. Thomas and Ethel were Sophronia's children with Thomas. In the Fall of 1999, I happily found researchers who were working on this line. I found out that Thomas and Sophronia had one other child - a daughter named Bell. One mystery solved, but I still haven't found out what happened to Lurah or Henrietta. One of them likely got pregnant and was banished from the family forever, judging from a story that my Aunt wrote us.

In a visit to the National Archive in Washington, I guessed that Thomas' father was Henry M. Ballard, who was living with wife Elizabeth, son Thomas, and many daughters in the 1860 census of Haywood County, Tennessee. I guessed wrong. The researches I just found have compelling evidence that my great-grandfather was Thomas Almon Ballard, and his father was Walter Alvis Ballard. Walter was the grandson of Owen Ballard, born in Warren County, North Carolina around 1766. This is taken from family bibles,which carries more weight than my guesswork. Also, we know that Thomas and Sophronia had a son named Thomas Alvis Ballard, so that strengthens the connection with Walter Alvis. Later DNA evidence nailed that connection.

My dad's half sister Alma had a list of family names - the only one I didn't have a line on was "Grandpa Brittenum." It turns out that Brittenums were one of the pioneer families in Mt. Pleasant, so my guess was that my grandfather married a Brittenum before he married my Grandmother. Once again, bad guess. At a family reunion in 2001, I found out from Uncle John's kids that their grandmother was the former Laura Bogard, who died around 1905.

Arthur Julian Ballard and Laura Bogard Ballard,
sometime in the 1890's.

There was a Thomas A. Ballard who signed up for the Tennessee army in 1861, even though he was only 16. He fought at Shiloh, got captured the next year, and sat out the war in Fort Delaware. A book of Tennessee veterans published in 1990 lists Thomas and mentions that he suffered a head wound. My Grandfather Arthur Ballard had said that his dad was a vet. There was a family legend that he had been wounded in the war. However, the Thomas A. Ballard who was a POW was listed as Thomas Alex, so I'm not at all sure of my great-grandfather's war record.

As of 1998, there are 5 Confederate veterans that are direct ancestors of mine. My great great grandfather Alexander Valentine died at Gettysburg. My great great grandfather Dempsey Eure Curl also got captured and spent some time at Fort Delaware. Thomas's son Arthur married Dempsey's granddaughter Ruby Valentine many years after Thomas died. Don't know if they knew each other in Fort Delaware. One thing for certain is that they are spending eternity in the same graveyard in Mount Pleasant, Mississippi. A fourth veteran, and a very sad story, is Joel Weems, Jr., my great great grandfather on my mother's side. He was captured and held in the prison at Alton, Illinois. After surviving unbelievable hardships, he died early in 1865, months before he would have been sent home. He had one daughter, who married Burrell Anderson, Sr., who died under very mysterious circumstances in Tyler, Texas. Finally, on my mother's side, her great-grandfather Thomas Jefferson Anderson was a likely veteran in Georgia's 23rd Infantry - serving through the entire war. Later we found out that Thomas Jefferson's grandfather served in the war of 1812. His wife, Mattie Weems, applied for a Confederate widows pension.


Dempsey E. Curl presented me with a new problem - he owned 5 slaves. It may seem absurd to feel guilty for something that happened 80 years before I was born, but I found it tough to deal with anyway. My cousin told me that Dempsey was a bit deranged, or maybe just one mean dude. The story was that when children would see Dempsey out on the street and try to talk to him, he used his cane to poke at their feet. However, Dempsey provided an important link to me. We knew from my cousin's work that Dempsey was the son of James Curl, who was the son of William. When the Mormon data came on line recently at I found that a descendant of Dempsey through a later wife had been working on the Curls. She confirmed all of the data we have, and then showed William being born in Sussex, England in 1748 (Our first immigrant!), marrying a Virginia woman. That means William may be the William Curl who was a Revolutionary War veteran in Virginia. Still checking that one out. That was exciting for a week or two, but it turned out that there were two William Curls in the area - mine was not the veteran. He was a Quaker - forbidden to fight. Alternate versions in Ancestry show that William was the son of Hannah Hadley Curl. The Hadley's owned a lot of Philadelphia and Delaware, but I am inclined to discount this connection due to Terry's 1st law of genealogy - The more exciting an ancestor sounds, the less likely they are your ancestor.

Since Dempsey came back from the war and resumed his life as a prosperous Mississippian, he resented the attention that George Washington Valentine, son of Alexander, paid to his daughter Sarah. Eventually, Sarah ran off with George, had many children (including my grandmother Ruby Valentine Ballard), and lived in the same town, Dempsey would never speak to them again. They even invented a smear campaign that George was a "Carpetbagger," which was faithfully repeated by my dad's sisters. The Valentines were original settlers in Mount Pleasant, so that one does not pass the smell test.

More recently, I got a major hit on the Curls when I contacted the people at the Chatham County Genweb. They produced the following document from William Curl - his will, which was written the year he died:

Chatham County Record of Wills (original) Vol. B. (1818-1833) pg. 328 (original pages 13, 14, 15) NC State Archives film # C.022. 80001

Will of William Curl - 28th Jan. 1818

I William Curl of the County of Chatham in the State of North Carolina being of sound & deposing mind, to make and ordain this my last will and testament. first after my decease that my body be decently intered and all my just debts paid, I give bequeath unto my beloved Wife Mary, the Hall a large room of the house I now live in & kitchen all the orchard and meadow and the little field by the barn & priviledge of what Timber she may want for repairs and other necessary use, and fire wood, one cow her choice the grey horse, the Ewe & Lamb; one half of my stock of hogs her choice, one Plough, one pair Plough Gears, 1 Hoe, one axe, all the grain and Provition (provision?) on hand and in the ground together with that half of the Hogs above mentioned for her use & support together with my daughter Ruth & her daughter Polly- all my Household furniture, or so much of it as may be Judged necessary for her & my daughter Ruth & her daughter Polly. All the above I give unto my beloved Wife during her natural life or widowhood.

All the property she had & brought with her after I married her I give & bequeath the same unto her forever; I give & bequeath unto my daughter Ruth one cow, her choice, next after her Mother, one yearling, mare colt, the use of the loom have Kitchen & room (do not understand that phrase) I give and bequeath unto my daughter Ruth, daughter Polly, one cow named Lilly- I Will & bequeath unto my daughter Mary Twenty dollars- will and bequeath unto my son William Thirty dollars. I will all my moveable Property except what I have above divised to be sold & the two legacies above mentioned to be paid out of the proceeds of it. The balance to be equally divided amongst all my daughters, namely Hannah, Elizabeth, Mary, Keziah & Ruth. It is my will and desire that my beloved Wife should have a decent & sufficient support during her natural life or widowhood- therefore for that purpose I enjoin upon my sons George, Benjamin and James each one to Pay in proportion to the value of his fund (?) hereafter will to them a sum sufficient for her support yearly & that each of them shall yearly cut a Hall to her House (?) Fifteen Waggon load of Fire wood- give and bequeath unto my sons George and benjamin all that track (tract) and body of land they both now live on; the lick branch, running thru said tract; I give and bequeath unto my son George that is on the South side of said branch where he now lives- I give & bequeath unto my son Benjamin that part on the North side of said of said (repeated) branch, where he now lives, to them their heirs & assigns forever each ones part to be valued if they think necessary, exclusive of the improvements thereon. and that one who it shall be thought to have the most valuable part exclusive of improvements shall pay to the other the sum that his part my be judged deficient in value.

I will and bequeath unto my son James all the land and Plantation where I now live, subject to the encumbrance before mentioned to him his heirs & assigns forever. I hereby appoint constitute and appoint my sons George and Benjamin my whole and sole Executors of this my last will and Testament hereby disannulling & revoking all others. I will further that if my said widow should marry & after her decease, that the property willed to her for that time be sold or divided. that is to my daughter Ruth one third part the other two thirds equally divided, between all my other daughters. In witness, whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 28th 1st mo. 1818.

Wm. Curl {seal}
John Newlin Clabourn Guthrie
Proved February Term 1818
by Clabourn Guthrie

Skip ahead to 2020, when I have taken a DNA test from Ancestry. This quite simply opened the floodgates. On the Anderson side, they had deep roots in the south - mostly North Carolina. Deep going back far into Colonial days. Carolinas were patriot territory in those days, so it became normal to find a great great great great great grandfather who fought in the USA side. as of the last look, I have 12 Revolutionary War veterans who fought under Washington. Then I turned up two who fought for the King. I began working with the Sons of the American Revolution for entry as a descendant. A weems ancestor, Thomas Scott Weems, looked like a good bet. However, there are disruptions in that tree and we could not prove the connection. Later, on Dad's side, I found Jesse Harris Senior, who fought for North Carolina's militia. Months of reading wills, census reports and marriage licenses did the trick. I am now a member of SAR. The other ten patriots are in various stages of provability, but several are rock solid. One on Dad's side, Israel Watkins, shows more than 100 DNA connections to me. In 2020, I got an exciting new lead on the Anderson side. There is rock solid DNA and textual evidence that Sarah Honor King (Thomas Jefferson Anderson's wife) was the great grand daughter of Samuel King, a private in the Virginia militia, who was in the Continental Army that wintered in Valley Forge with George Washington. This connection between those Kings and my Andersons was confirmed by a cousin who works with the Samuel King Cemetery in Hendersonville, NC.

I sometimes wonder what these ancestors would think about their descendant Terry Ballard reversing their steady Southwestern push and relocating to New York. Maybe I'll find out someday.

Thomas Jefferson Anderson

Return to Terry Ballard's New, Improved Web Page

Please sign my Guestbook

View my Guestbook

Some of Terry Ballard's other pages:

My Gallery of photos