Biography of David E. Ballard

David E. Ballard is living retired at Washington, Kansas, at the age of eighty-one. Most of his active contemporaries in the strenuous achievements of his earlier years have long since passed away. Mr. Ballard is one of the few survivors of the prominent Kansans who actually laid the foundation of the state. His name is especially associated with the organization of Washington County and the establishment of Washington as its county seat. It was only a few years ago that he disposed of many of his extensive interests, and is now devoting his life to rest and travel. He had taken a permanent home at Miami, Florida, and just recently he returned from a visit to relatives at Lansing, Michigan, and Jamaica Plains, near Boston.

Mr. Ballard inherits the splendid qualities of the New England type. He is descended from William and Grace Ballard, who came from England and settled at Andover, Massachusetts, in 1635. His father, Appleton Ballard, was born in New Hampshire in 1808, went to Vermont at the age of twenty-one, married there and became a farmer, and in 1837 located at Sparta, Ohio. There he worked at the trade of shoemaker, built a store, and in 1846 removed to the newly established town of Lansing, Michigan, where the capital of the state had just been located. He kept a store until it was burned, and after that he did market gardening near the capital city until his death in 1884. He was identified with the old whig party and the abolitionist cause and subsequently became a republican. His church affiliation was with the Methodist. Appleton Ballard married Epathenia Ellinwood, who was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1810, and died at Lansing, Michigan, in 1890. The oldest of their children was Allen, who went into the Union army with a Michigan regiment and was killed at the battle of the Wilderness, his body lying in an unknown grave. Sendina, the second child, died at DeWitt, Michigan, where her husband, Dr. George W. Topping, also deceased, was a physician and surgeon. The third in the family is David E. Henry served through the Civil war as a member of that famous organization known as Berdan’s Sharp Shooters and is now a retired farmer living at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Eunice, who died at St. Johns, Michigan, was the wife of Mr. Bowker, deceased, a school teacher. Alonzo died January 1, 1917, at Barnes, Kansas, where he was a retired merchant. Dr. L. Anna, unmarried, is a graduate of the medical school of the University of Michigan, with the M. D. degree, and is now in practice at 312 Capital Avenue in Lansing, Michigan. Sarah married William West and they live on a farm four miles from Lansing. Alice is the wife of Professor W. O. Crosby, their home being at No. 9 Park Lane, Jamaica Plains, near Boston, Massachusetts. Professor Crosby formerly held the Chair of Geology in the Boston School of Technology, and was one of the experts employed in that notable piece of engineering by which a siphon water tunnel was sunk beneath the Hudson River to a denth of 1,100 feet to carry the city water supply of New York City from the Ashokan Reservoir.

David E. Ballard is himself a New Englander by birth, having been born at Franklin, Vermont, March 20, 1836. He grew up at Sparta, Ohio, and Lansing, Michigan, attending the common schools of both places, but his education was called finished at the age of fourteen. He then helped his father support the large family, clerked for a time in his uncle’s store at Toledo, Iowa, and at Iowa City sold goods for W. B. Daniels & Company.

Colonel Ballard arrived in Kansas in April, 1857. Kansas was then in the turmoil of the great free state fight and young Ballard was not without active participation in the movement. After a short stay at Lawrence he went to Brown County, took a claim of 160 acres and in the following winter taught school. He then became associated with George G. Pierce in laying out a townsite in Nemaha County known as Pacific City. It was their intention to get Pacific City established as the county seat, but they failed in that purpose. Mr. Ballard then came to Washington County. Only two families were then living here. He and Mr. Pierce undertook an energetic campaign to bring in settlers and had the county attached to Marshall County for judicial purposes. Mr. Pierce was a member of the county board and Mr. Ballard was township clerk. They began agitating the matter of organizing the county and in 1859-60 they laid out the Town of Washington, which in 1860, upon the organization of the county, was declared the county seat and had ever since enjoyed that honor. In December, 1859, Mr. Ballard was elected to represent Washington, Marshall and Nemaha counties in the first State Legislature, which convened in the winter of 1860-61. In 1860 he was elected county clerk, filling that office until November, 1861, when he was appointed a deputy county official. On November 14, 1861, Mr. Ballard enlisted in the Second Kansas Regiment of Volunteer Infantry. This afterwards became the Second Kansas Cavalry. The history of this notable Kansas organization in the war is given in detail on other pages. Mr. Ballard was commissioned lieutenant January 10, 1862, and was in service until he resigned February 15, 1865, to accept a quartermaster generalship under Governor Crawford. He held that post in the state military organization for one year. During his active service as a soldier he fought in the battles of Prairie Grove, where he was especially mentioned for his performance of duty, and also in the battles of Cane Hill and Fort Wayne.

For two years after the war Mr. Ballard was land agent for the Kansas Pacific Railway at Manhattan. He then returned to his farm ten miles east of Washington on the Little Blue River, and was steadily engaged in his agricultural and stock raising enterprise until 1901. In that year his country home was burned and he moved to the City of Washington.

A number of years ago Colonel Ballard bought the Springs ranch in Meade County, Kansas. He owned 15,000 acres there, but had since sold part of it and divided the rest among his children. His two sons, Chauncey and Mark, were given 8,000 acres as their share of the estate and as their remuneration for fifteen years of efficient work for their father. Mr. Ballard still holds 1,172 acres of the ranch in trust for the children of his son Frank, now deceased. His home in Washington Colonel Ballard gave to his unmarried daughter, Stella.

It is possible to comment only briefly upon the many active associations Mr. Ballard had had with Kansas during the sixty years he had lived in the state. For many years he gave active allegiance to the republican party, but for the past fifteen years had been largely independent. In 1879 he was again elected a member of the Legislature, and during that session he was instrumental in securing the passage of the penitentiary coal shaft bill. The chief object of this measure was to afford the convicts of the penitentiary work in the coal mines nearby rather than at the trades of harness making and other employment where they were in active competition with skilled free labor and business interests. Mr. Ballard is a past commander of Barnes Post No. 363, Grand Army of the Republic, and had attended most of the state encampments. In the fall of 1865 he joined Topeka Lodge No. 17, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and is now a member of Frontier Lodge No. 104, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. He is also a member of Washington Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, and Hiawatha Commandery, Knights Templar. He was formerly a director in the Washington National Bank.

On December 25, 1865, at Leavenworth, Kansas, he married Miss Louise Bowen. She was born at Brandon, Vermont, and died in October, 1916. Colonel Ballard had a family of ten children. Ernest F., the oldest, had for a number of years been a farmer on the Little Blue River; Louise, the second child died in infancy; Mabel is the wife of Samuel P. Fairbanks, a fruit grower at North Yakima, Washington; Frank died in 1909, at the age of thirty-six, on his father’s old farm; Miriam is the wife of Frank Damitz, a Presbyterian minister now located at Tinmuth, Colorado; Chauncey, who sold his share in the ranch property above mention in 1917, is now living on a farm twenty miles south of Kansas City. Winifred married Albert J. McFarland, a farmer and contractor at Austin, Minnesota. Alice is the wife of Harry Bellamy and they live on the 1,100 acres, the share of the ranch given her by Mr. Ballard. Mark, who had also sold his share of the ranch property, is now assisting his brother-in-law, Mr. Bellamy. The youngest of the family is Stella, who is devoting herself to the interests of her father’s home.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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