My recent interest in learning more about my 6x-great grandfather Richard Ballou began with the arrival, in my inbox, of an 1838 map of Cumberland, Rhode Island. This was sent by genealogy blogger-buddy John Tew, of Filiopietism Prism. Link here for instructions on how to get a free copy of that map, electronically, which John has kindly offered. I highly recommend that to Cumberland researchers.
I knew quite a bit about Richard Ballou; his ancestry in the Ballou line is Richard5, John4, John3, John2, Maturin1. I am descended from him in the following way:
- Richard Ballou (1751 – 1824)
- Marcy Ballou (1778 – )
- Nancy Ann Aldrich (1800 – 1879)
- Ellis Aldrich Darling (1824 – 1883)
- Addison Parmenter Darling (1856 – 1933)
- Russell Earl Darling (1883 – 1959)
- Edna May Darling (1905 – 1999), my grandmother
But I knew very little about his life, and the map made me think I could at least find the spot where he lived.
Compiled sources – Ballou genealogy book
Richard Ballou was born around 1751 to John Ballou and Elizabeth Phillips in the Louisquisset section of Smithfield, Rhode Island. Richard’s life is described on page 116 of the well-respected Adin Ballou book:
Richard Ballou was a sturdy, industrious, frugal farmer. He sold out his inheritance in the old Smithfield, John Ballou homestead in 1777 to his bro. Benjamin, and settled in the extreme northeasterly section of Cumberland. There he and his wife spent their cunnubial days. Their home was near what was formerly known as Hathaway Mills.
He married Lucy Arnold of Smithfield. Their children Marcy, Arnold, Lydia, Augustin, Thomas, Richard, Lucy, Willard and Polly were recorded at Cumberland.
I found further information in Abigail Sprague’s manuscript of Notes on a History of Cumberland, Rhode Island. A copy of this manuscript is available at the Rhode Island Historical Society. You can see an extensive Finding Aid here. This was the third time I’ve looked at some of the folders. Now that I know more about the families involved I realize it is possible, sometimes, to tell where she is getting the information in her notes. In the case of the Ballous, she is using the Adin Ballou book and Richardson’s History of Woonsocket.
I looked at her folder of notes on Hathaway Mills. Mrs. Sprague had a letter in there explaining the location of the corn and saw mills. At last, I realized the spot on the 1838 map marked “Corn & Saw” mills was the Hathaway Mills.
- 1777 Military Census (see Chamberlin, below), page 93.
- 1790 Federal Census for Cumberland, R.I. Richard appears on page 256 between John Darling, Job Whipple, Sylvanus Hathaway, Stacy Bosworth, and Nathaniel Gould, William Follett, Simon Bishop. These were the same people he buys and sells land from.
- 1800 Federal Census for Cumberland, R.I. Richard appears between Aaron Grant, Nathan Whipple, Asa Aldrich, and Gideon Ray, Job Hathaway.
- 1810 Federal Census for Cumberland, R.I. Richard appears between Job Hathaway and Arnold Ballou, John Darling, Job Fuller. This record is dark and not indexed properly, I went page by page.
- 1820 Federal Census for Cumberland, R.I. Entries are alphabetized so not useful for finding neighbors. Not indexed properly; Ballou appears as “Ballon”.
Ballou, Richard 1 poll; house, 3 horned cattle, 5 sheep 1 goat, 2 swine, 6 acres pasture to keep 2 cows, 2 acres tillage, 30 bushels grain; 5 acres mowing; 3 tons English hay, 17 acres wood & waste land, total acres 30; 2 pounds debt; 14.10 pounds personal estate; 100 pounds real estate; rateable value 114.10 pounds.
I spent another afternoon recording his property records. I found many more records than I really expected to, and I probably did not capture all deeds with Richard Ballou’s name on them. I realized for the first time how many of my ancestors also lived in northern Cumberland. The trail of deeds for Richard Ballou seemed to end around 1810.
What I learned from the deeds: at some point Richard may have had a second small house. I wonder if Marcy lived there after the divorce in 1803. I learned names of neighbors, to check on the 1838 map, in case any of them remained.
When I was at the Allen County Public Library recently, I was able to peruse, in book form, supplements 1 & 2 of the Adin Ballou book. I had previously viewed these online, but having the book in hand made me pay a little more attention to a claim Supplement 1 made about Richard Ballou, in the “Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War” section, p. 179.
Ballou, R. (Barlow, Richard) On a pay abstract of Dan’l Mowry’s 4th Co. Col Peck’s reg’t., on the alarm July and August 1780; Joined July 29; days in service 11; days billeted 8; also on same list, same Co., July 1781, dismissed. List not dated. (note: dismissed ye 31st July 1780).
Ballou, R. Private, Capt. Mowry’s Co., Col. Pecks reg’t; Alarm of July and Aug. 1780.
Ballou, Richard. Private – Smithfield to Cumberland Rangers May 1776.
I had seen this reference a while ago but didn’t know what to think of it. Sources were claimed but not given. Further research turned up nothing. I can find nothing about the Cumberland Rangers.
So I went to the Rhode Island Historical Society and looked at the catalog of Rhode Island Revolutionary War Soldiers. There was a card for Richard Ballou. The librarian helped me understand what the card was saying:
2 records marked “MP” for “Military Papers.” She looked that up in the Manuscript Finding Aid binders. I need Manuscript MSS 673 Subgroup 2.
- Revolutionary War Papers Box 3 folder 88 List of Men, Aug 9, 1780, George Peck / Daniel Mowry
- Revolutionary War Papers Box 3 folder 126 Company List, May, 1776, George Peck
It was too late in the day to submit a slip for the special collections retrieval and look at those two documents. And I would like to purchase a camera pass on the day that I see them. So I am feeling more confident about this possibility and can’t wait to see who else was serving with him. After all of this research I have a familiarity with the entire community.
- I knew that Richard Ballou was subject to a guardianship in the last couple year of his life (“want of his discretion in the management of his estate is likely to bring himself and his family to want”). I had found that in newspaper advertisements. Columbia Tingley was the first guardian. I never knew if the “David Aldrich” who was the second guardian was the brother of Richard’s ex son-in-law, Nathan Aldrich, or perhaps was someone else with the same name. I now can see, from the 1838 map, where David Aldrich lived, and he was a close neighbor. And the probate records show his wife, Jemima, witnessing a signature. So it was that David. It still surprises me.
- At his death in 1824 Richard owned a farm “containing about 60 acres with the buildings thereon” one other small tract of land containing about 4 acres, total value of real estate $1540. Total value $1652.
- Household property included:
- Old case drawers, table, chairs, candle stand, milk pail, chest
- Meat barrel, brass kettle, earthen milk pans
- pewter basin, one gallon bottle, cider funnel
- fat tub, churn, dry casks, earthen plates, 5 cider barrels, cheese tub, peck measure, tub, blanket
- shovel and iron wedge, drawing knife, wash tub, old pails, trays, wooden bowls, pewter platter
- pewter basin, lot of crockery, tin pans, tea pot, funnel, glass bottles, brass skimmer, tin skimmer
- 6 spoons, large iron pot, spider, bake kettle, pan kettle,disk kettle, tea kettle, i pair And Irons
- shovel and tongs, chopping knife, flat iron, tin lantern, earthen mug, large iron pot
- large iron kettle, skillet, ax, looking glass, grindstone, crank, candle sticks, old knives and forks
- Bed bedstead and cord, ditto, bedstead and cord
- After his death, his personal property included:
- Hat, “Fearnot”[?] Great Coat, old straight bodied coat, old waistcoat
- pr satinnette pantaloons, pair velvet, old pair stockings, linen shirt, flannel shirt, pair shoes
- Boots, three old tresses [?]
- cow, hay
- Ladder and hay poles, draft chain, grind stone frame and crank
- wagon pins, narrow hoe, old sythe, lyme hogsheads, corn bucket
- note of hand against Willard Ballou; note against Samuel Aldrich
- payout made to Thomas Barden as per note, $24.58
- He left, in his will dated 1822, to “my well beloved wife Lucy Ballou the improvements, profits and income of all my land and buildings scituate and lying in Cumberland or elsewhere during her natural life”, also “all my moveable estate to be and remain for her use at her own disposal …” “Item, I give and devise to my lawful heirs, after the decease of my said wife, all my lands and buildings… to be equally divided amongst them.”
- The heirs are not listed. I was looking for payments to be made, possibly to Marcy Ballou since I have no idea what happened to her after her divorce in 1803. Did not find that.
- I am guessing that one or more of his nearby sons was doing most of the farm work on his property since his farm equipment seems to be very limited.
- I can tell after further review that I only have part of the probate story; I need to know what happened to the land after wife Lucy’s death (date unknown). I did look while there, but I need to look again.
Seeing the spot
Knowing all along that he lived in the northeastern corner of Cumberland, I studied Google maps carefully and compared that to the 1838 map. I noticed, for the first time, that the Darling/Aldrich cemetery I have visited many times, on Burnt Swamp Road in Sheldonville, Wrentham, Massachusetts, was actually on the same road that ran through the area I was examining in Cumberland. Burnt Swamp Road continued from the northeastern corner of Rhode Island into Sheldonville, Mass. and ended beside the house, with a plaque, built in 1826 by my ggggg-grandfather Nathan Aldrich (first husband of Richard’s daughter Marcy Ballou). IT WAS THE SAME STREET.
How I missed this, in years of thinking and looking around on this question, I have no idea. I guess it’s easy, when crossing state lines, to imagine things are relatively far away and unconnected. Hope I don’t make that mistake again. I’m from the smallest state in the union, and I should be used to crossing state lines every half hour.
Without really knowing the spot for Richard Ballou’s house, I drove up to look things over and get a picture in my mind. I was surprised that Burnt Swamp Road is still remarkably rural, and there is a working farm at the corner with Sumner Brown Road. I drove up from Cumberland to the cemetery in Sheldonville – it might have been a mile.
Books about the area
While at the Allen County Public Library I studied the bibliography of the “Founders and Patriots” book cited below. I saw a reference to a book called North Cumberland, A History. I searched for that. Turns out this helpful little book was at the Rhode Island Historical Society, but I never noticed it before. Written in 1975, North Cumberland, A History attempts to detail the landscape of each neighborhood in northern Cumberland. It doesn’t mention Richard Ballou, of course, but armed with the hints I now have, it provided some answers by explaining about the Hathaway mills in the “Tingley District” section, page 9. I would advise anyone trying to pin down old Cumberland neighborhoods to consult this book.
To get back to the 1838 map, my question remained, where did Richard Ballou live?
Clues found thus far:
- From the Ballou book, 1888, “extreme northeasterly section of Cumberland” and “near what was formerly known as Hathaway Mills.” That Hathaway mills reference really sent me chasing an early cotton or woolen mill, many of which began popping up in Rhode Island as early as 1805. Turns out it was a grist mill and sawmill.
- The deeds tell me that a boundary of the land he sold to Job Fuller in 1795 ran over “Indian Meadow Brook“. I wonder if this is the same as “Indian Brook” which is on the 1900 map in the North Cumberland book, and on google maps. Given the history of Cumberland that I have studied now, I think that “Burnt Swamp”, “Indian Meadow” and “Indian Brook” are roughly referring to the same place, where a swamp inhabited by Native Americans shortly after King Phillip’s War in 1675 was burned during dry weather.
- The deeds also point to the names of neighbors Scott, Howard, Clark, Hathaway and Follett.
- Mrs. Spragues’ notes state that son Arnold Ballou married Abigail Trask and lived near his birthplace all his life. His home, after his death, became known as the “Nabby Ballou” place. There is a “Wd N. Ballou” house on the 1838 map.
- The Cumberland record of the children’s births is solid evidence for his children’s names and helps me know that only his son Arnold (his widow, actually) appears nearby on the 1838 map.
- The census of 1810 shows that neighbors are Job Hathaway, Arnold Ballou, John Darling, and Job Fuller. Of those, the spots for Arnold Ballou’s widow and the Hathaway mills are evident on the 1838 map.
- The probate records are clear on the fact that a 60 acre piece of property was left after Richard Ballou’s death – probably more prior to the sales to his son Arnold Ballou.
- At one point he divided an “Indian Meadow” which he owned jointly with 2 others into 3 separate pieces.
I have arrived at a conclusion, and look forward to checking out the area and continuing to learn more about Richard Ballou’s life.
Given the widow of Arnold Ballou’s location, and the Hathaway mills location (both marked with arrows), I assume Richard owned land within the blue circle, and his house must have been along one of the roads on either side.
Ballou, Adin. An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballou Family in America. Providence, R.I.: Press of E.L. Freeman, 1888.
- [supp. 1] The Ballous in America, an Addendum, comp. and ed. by Historical Records Survey, Div. of Women’s and Professional Projects, WPA. Boston: Ballou Family Association, 1937.
- [supp 2] The Ballous in America, an Addendum, comp. and ed. by Myrtle M. Jillson. Woonsocket, R.I.: The Ballou Family Association, 1942.
Cumberland Probate Records, Guardianship and Estate of Richard Ballou, v. 13 (1821-1823) p. 305, 334-336, v. 14 (1823-1826) p. 19, 124-127, 135, 319, 337, v. 15 (1826-1829) p. 1, 13
Chamberlain, Mildred M. The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985.
Newell, Nelson. Map of the Town of Cumberland, R.I. Boston: Published by Aaron White Jr, 1838.
Ray, Judith Jencks. Founders and Patriots of the Town of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1990.
Rhode Island Genealogical Register vol. 16 Index of Wills 1636-1850, Nellie M.C. Beman, editor. East Princeton, Mass: R.I. Families Association, 1992. Also. vol. 5, issue 1, Alden G. Beaman, ed., 1982.
Rhode Island Roots, journal of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society. “A List of the Polls and estates real and personal of the Proprietors and Inhabitants of the Town of Smithfield …” appeared serially in the following issues: March 1995 p. 17, June 1995 p. 57, Sept 1995 p. 90, March 1996 p. 25, June 1996 p. 54, Dec 1996 p. 120, March 1997 p. 21.
Richardson, Erastus. History of Woonsocket. Woonsocket: S.S. Foss, 1876.
Simpson, Robert V. North Cumberland, A History by Robert V. Simpson. Privately printed, 1975.
Sprague, Mrs. Abigail. Unpublished notes, History of Cumberland. c 1890-1906. Rhode Island Historical Society MSS 1023. Box 1, folder 43: Hathaway Mills neighborhood. Box 2, folder 32: Aldrich family. Box 2, folder 40: Ballou.
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