FFF~Week #48

The beginning of my 3rd generation maternal ancestors!  Looks like this will carry over into 2016.  Once I get into the 4th generation people, I might combine husband and wife pairs if I haven’t been able to research them.

Ancestor: My maternal 3rd-great-grandfather (Aaron Ballard)

Facts: Please look here and here.

I’d like to share how grateful I am that Aaron Ballard and his wife Nancy Pearson decided to settle here in Henry County, Indiana.  It’s a lovely county, rich with history, and I feel a special connection with these folks I never had the chance to meet.  Maybe someday I will.

I’m also thankful that I have this space in which to record my thoughts and share neat things about my family.  I appreciate you all for taking the time to read my gibberish.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Genealogy Do-Over~Week 9

NOTE: Life got in the way and I totally fell behind! It happens!

Week 9: 27 Feb – 5 Mar 2015

* Conducting Cluster Research
To me, cluster research = FAN club, dubbed appropriately by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG. I’ve mentioned it before here. That will direct you, hopefully, to a much better explanation of this concept. And, the FAN club concept does make sense. I’ve used it several times and have had good results. For instance, I researched and found information on Aaron Ballard’s neighbors in Henry County, Indiana, who mentioned him as being a kind, helpful man. Also, I’m still fleshing out the relationship between Paul Mayer and Casper Zeph, mentioned earlier here. Were they related or just friends?

* Organizing Research Materials – Documents and Photos

My state of organization, at this point, would be best described as so-so. I really need to take a month off work and focus on organizing all that I have amassed but how realistic is that? I have 2 days off a week and those are spent with family, groceries, volunteer work, or other meetings/appointments. My goal *should* be to spend an hour on organizing as soon as I clock out (I work at home, so I could get right on it).  Actually, my documents are organized in so-so fashion; my pictures are a disaster. I used to scrapbook a lot and had sat down and organized every single photo we had into a giant box with dividers. Then, the box got knocked to the floor and all the pics scattered everywhere. They were put willy-nilly back into the box. That was, well, more years ago than I’d like to admit. I pulled the box out yesterday and put it on my list of things to-do, reorganize it!

Thomas Pearson (b: ca 1751 in England)

This is my Revolutionary War patriot, the one for my DAR application.  He has been proven.  He is my 5th-great-grandfather.

Thomas (1751) > Thomas (1783) > Nancy (1809) > Amos (1840) > Harvey (1890) > Donald (1915) > my mom > me

Since Thomas (1751) has been proven as the father of Thomas (1783), I needed to prove my kinship to Nancy and Nancy’s kinship to her father. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but Nancy’s father wrote a letter to Nancy and Aaron Ballard, her husband, detailing his children and their birth/death dates. And the letter survives! This is good because Nancy’s father did not leave a will.

Thomas Pearson fought at the Battle of Waxhaws in South Carolina in 1780 and suffered injuries to his face and arm that incapacitated him for the rest of his life.  It is thought that he married a woman by the last name Palmer shortly after the Revolutionary War.  It is thought her name was Elizabeth, but that has not been proven.

Thomas and [Elizabeth] Palmer Pearson’s children were, in no particular order (thank you, Mr. Mark Dixon, for graciously sharing the info you received from Ms. Gertrude Mann regarding the Pearson children):

Thomas, b: 23 March 1783 (per letter written by himself to Aaron/Nancy Ballard)









Benjamin A.

While working on my DAR application, a distant cousin of Thomas Pearson, the Patriot, shared with me photos of a Pearson family Bible she has in her possession.  I thank her greatly for sharing the pictures (Ms. Rebecca Reuben Dyer). The Bible itself is very fragile and delicate; I very much appreciate Ms. Dyer for taking the time to get wonderful pictures of it to share. The handwriting in the Bible matches the handwriting in the letter (a very unique capital P is written).

pearsonbible1 pearsonbible2

Now, the story is Thomas Pearson, the Patriot, came from England and purportedly married in Loudoun County, VA. I think I might turn my attention to passenger lists and Pearsons in England, though I know that task might be insurmountable with his common given name of Thomas.

On a similar note, my DAR application is ready to be signed and sent!! I have turned my attention to finishing my Civil War Society applications; I have 3 to do and 1 is nearly finished. My goal is to have these all turned in by 31 Dec 2014!

Aaron Ballard~Part Two

When I did some research recently at the Indiana Historical Society to view some Ballard letters, I found these papers included:


Aaron Ballard’s second wife, Nancy Pearson, related these events to her granddaughter, Addie Burris who then told her granddaughters. I’m not sure who wrote them down or how they got included in the Ballard letter batch at the IHS, but I was shocked to find them there. I had read these memories online but to see them actually written and included with historic letters was completely awesome.

Aaron Ballard must’ve returned to Virginia from Kentucky sometime after 1825. He married Nancy Pearson in Franklin County, VA, on 5 January 1832. By the end of October 1832, he had land recorded in Henry County, IN. I learned in my session about pioneer migration after the War of 1812 that walking 600 miles took approximately 2 months. From Franklin County, VA, to Henry County, IN, is about 500 miles. I don’t know what route they took to get to Indiana, the Wilderness Road or the Great Wagon Road. Either way, it probably took them 2-3 months. And, in October 1832, Nancy Pearson Ballard was 3 months pregnant with their first child.

One major thing Aaron Ballard did in Henry County was help found a small Regular Baptist Church in his neighborhood. He was usually the clerk at their business meetings, and his record book survives. A half acre was deeded to the church for purposes of a burial ground, and that is where Aaron and Nancy Ballard are buried.

His neighbors described him as a kind, compassionate man who would willingly help others, either on their farm or taking people in. I found out that he carried his discharge papers from the War of 1812 with him until they were worn out so when he applied for his pension he had to request new papers. Unfortunately, on the 3-mile walk to town, he lost those papers. He was 78 at the time!

Regarding his first wife and child, it’s not up to me to speculate what happened then or why. What I do know is the man who came to Henry County, IN, was a hardworking, caring man who loved his family.

His children with Nancy Pearson Ballard were:

Elizabeth Mary, b: March 1833, m: Peter Coble

Harriett Salome, b: Nov 1834, m: Malachi Brothers

Thomas Pearson, b: 1838, m: Susannah Cripe

Amos Benton, b: 24 Feb 1840, m: 1) Hester Ann Cripe; 2) Olive Carver; 3) Hannah Katherine Hanby

Catherine Ann, b: 1843, m: George Garman

Peyton Everett, b: 24 Feb 1845, m: Jane Spell


On another note, I’ve been working hard on getting documentation together for my DAR application and my apps for the Indiana Civil War lineage society, to get them turned in by the end of this year. Possible trip to Sullivan County, IN, this week!

Aaron Ballard~Part One

Time for a new ancestor! Aaron Ballard is my 3rd-great-grandfather on my mother’s paternal side. I start with him because I know the lineage from him to me and have proven it. Before he came to live in Indiana, he lived in the southwestern Virginia/northwestern North Carolina area in the late 18th century/early 19th century. I know little about him during his childhood years. I do know that his mother, Elizabeth Feazell (many different spellings of her surname, I usually stick with Feazell), died 8 days after giving birth to him. He was then raised by his “Aunt Patsy Pheasell” and the help of a black woman. The Feazells, I know, lived in/around Bedford County, VA. My assumption is that Aaron’s father, Amos, left his son with his late wife’s family. “Aunt Patsy Pheasell” I believe is Martha Sinkler/Sinclair who married Elizabeth Feazell’s brother Aaron in 1802. Piecing all this together, I wonder if Amos Ballard met Elizabeth Feazell through her brother Aaron. Aaron Ballard was born 1 January 1796, possibly in North Carolina. From that time until he enlisted as a private in the War of 1812 I don’t know what his life entailed…my guess living on the homestead of Elizabeth Feazell Ballard’s father, Jacob.

He enlisted as a private in the War of 1812 on 1 August 1814 at Grayson County Courthouse in Virginia, serving in the 7th Regiment of the Virginia Militia Brigade under Captain John Trimble, honorably discharged on 22 February 1815, never seeing battle. All of this information, and more, is available on the War of 1812 pension records, which is why I support getting all of these records digitized and available. From his discharge, I’m not sure where Aaron went. He is not enumerated on either the 1820 or 1830 census that I can tell, at least not under his name.

I’ve talked about family stories before (here), and this is the family story I first found when beginning my research on Aaron Ballard. He had been married before to a woman by the last name DeWitt in Logan County, KY, but his wife had died in the first few months of their marriage. I took that at face value until I decided to find out more about his first wife. A quick search of the 1820 census shows no DeWitts in Logan County, KY, in 1820.


However, on 21 December 1822 in Logan County, KY, Aaron Ballard married Elizabeth Witt. I found she was most likely the daughter of Robert Witt, and that the Witts had originally been in Bedford, VA, through a family group sheet online created by a descendant of the Witts. This family group sheet also noted that Elizabeth had not only been married to Aaron Ballard but also to John Jefferson Young! I did some more searching and found that marriage bond, as well, also in Logan County, KY.


Several questions began forming: Was this Elizabeth Ballard who married Young the same Elizabeth Witt who had been married to Aaron Ballard? Why did Aaron call himself a widower if Elizabeth hadn’t died? Was Aaron Ballard the father of Caroline, born 1 October 1823 in Logan County, KY? I followed Elizabeth on the censuses and, after her second husband’s death in 1833, found her living with her father in 1840 and then she herself as head of household along with a Caroline Desper, age 26, in 1850. The deeper I got into this, the more complicated it was. I’ve found marriage licenses for a Caroline W. Ballard marrying a John Desper (in 1841) and then a Caroline Desper marrying a Thomas Beasley (in 1852) in Todd County, KY,  that I need to get my hands on. Paring this all down, it appears Aaron married Elizabeth, had a daughter, and disappeared until 1832.

Until I found this document:


There is more to it than that. On a whim, I checked the equity cases at the Logan County Archives under the surname Ballard and found court documents where Aaron is named as defendant and Elizabeth as plaintiff. Got copies of all of it! Apparently, Aaron left in February/March 1825 and was never seen again in that county.

Another thing happened at the Jail Archives. When I told the ladies I was doing research on some Witts, they told me that someone had been in just a few days prior also doing some Witt research and Feazell research (see above). I’m going to contact this person to see if there is any relation between their Feazells and my Feazells. Later, when going through deed books, I did note some transactions between Robert Witt and a Henry Frizzell so I’ll pass that info along.

That day in the Jail Archives in Logan County, KY, made me feel truly like a genealogist.

More to come on Aaron Ballard!

Two Months

I’ve just returned from a 1-day symposium in Cave City, Kentucky. I heard about this symposium, and where it was located and the price made it irresistible! For $40, there were 4 sessions plus lunch with a speaker! Also, it is located in an area of Kentucky where I desperately needed to do some hands-on research. So, after work ended on Thursday, the husband and I headed southward to Bowling Green, KY. We stopped at a soup restaurant in Indianapolis on our way out of state and when we reached the Ohio River, we pulled off the interstate and found a spot for a picnic supper. Very nice! Except it took us about 15 minutes to figure out how to get back on the interstate! Ha!

The next day, we woke up and headed off toward Logan County, KY, where I needed to do some hands-on research. This research involved my 3rd-great-grandfather, Aaron Ballard, and his first wife Elizabeth Witt. My husband and I first stopped at The Jail Archives in Logan County. And yes, the records are housed in the old-time jail vault!


The first thing I found was they had terrific copies of the marriage licenses that I had found on microfilm, one for Aaron and Elizabeth in 1822 and one for when Elizabeth remarried a man named John Jefferson Young in 1831. Then, since they kindly have some indices online, I already knew what equity case I wanted to view. The ladies working there were beyond friendly and very knowledgeable about Logan County. I checked a couple family files and then checked the card catalog for the equity cases, looking under Ballard. Eureka! Finally, an answer to what happened between Aaron and Elizabeth! It deserves its own post, though, and I am still processing the information I found.

We took a quick tour of the old jail cells (2 stories! They stacked the inmates!) and then it was off to the clerk’s office for more research. I was most curious about the daughter of Elizabeth. Her name was Caroline, and she was born 1 October 1823, roughly 9 months after Aaron and Elizabeth married. I was looking for anything that stated maybe Elizabeth’s father gave her his last name or maybe Mr. Young did, but that search came up short. I know that Elizabeth and Caroline were living with Elizabeth’s father, Robert Witt, in 1830 as they are all enumerated together. The man Elizabeth remarried, John Jefferson Young, died an early death in 1833, so on the 1840 census, Elizabeth and Caroline are again living with Robert Witt. Caroline Ballard was married twice, first to John Desper who must’ve died young and then to Thomas Beasley. However, those events did not take place in Logan County and I didn’t have time to explore Todd and Butler counties, unfortunately. I must say, Logan County’s records are a wonderful source and go back to the end of the 18th century, and very well indexed!

It was an extremely productive day!

The next day was the symposium in Cave City. Again, we met the friendliest people! It was a small event, maybe 60 or so people, but that’s perfect! The sessions are small, you can easily ask the speaker questions, just a more laid-back atmosphere. My first session was perfectly tailored for me and my ancestral study…pioneers from Virginia to south-central Kentucky after the War of 1812. The lecturer was Mr. Glen Conner, and he really had us thinking of what it was like to make that trek through the Cumberland Gap and on the Wilderness Road. I then sat in for a DNA lecture (one can never hear too many of those to get it straight in your mind!) and then a session on spreadsheets and the magic they can do with your data. We had a nice lunch with a presentation about headstones…very fascinating!


Mr. Conner and a very helpful map.

After lunch, we decided to head back to Indiana since I had to work in the morning. It was a good thing we left when we did as we encountered horrific thunderstorms with heavy rainfall…makes for white-knuckle driving on I65!

One thing I have learned since really delving into searching family history is it can’t all be done from the computer; you have to visit places of your ancestors. And that, I feel, is a big part of going some place…to walk where they once walked.


Small World

Background: I’m part of an NGSQ discussion group (National Genelogical Society Quarterly). The article to discuss in July 2014 is titled “Finding the Father of Henry Pratt of Southeastern Kentucky” written by Warren C. Pratt, Ph.D., in the June 2012 issue.

Imagine my surprise while reading the article that a familiar surname pops out, in the location and time period that is of some interest to me. The surname is Witt, the place is Bedford County, VA, and the time period late 18th century to early 19th century.

Aaron Ballard, my 3rd-great-GF, born 1796, married a woman by the name of Elizabeth Witt, born in Bedford County, VA, in 1804, in Logan County, KY, in 1822. The story he told my 3rd-great-GM was the first wife died soon after they wed in 1822 and had no children. He married my 3rd-great-GM in 1832. I wanted to know more about the first wife and was a bit shocked at what I discovered. More about this story in the future!