Thomas Ballard and Catherine Provin
Thomas Ballard was born in Blandford, Connecticut in July 1770, son of John Valentine Ballard and Amanda Ballard. He came to Pa with his father. He lived in Troy until 1843. He moved to Mt Pisgah where he bought a large tract of land which was then an almost impenetrable forest, which by hard labor and indomitable spirits he cleared and converted to a large farm which was later divided into six farms. He was of pleasant and quiet manner and drew to him many friends and had no enemies. He died February 12, 1864. It was passed to Edward P Ballard that Thomas liked to imbibe the whiskey of the day which was the monetary exchange of pioneer days. When asked his name he would always respond "I, Thomas BeGad!"
Thomas and Catherine had ten children, Eliza, Orrin Provin, Ira, Samantha, Polly, John V, James, Minnie, Della, L J. Thomas was a hunter and trapper.
Picture and article from Edward P Ballard.
Thomas Ballard (SRGP 08123)
Catheirne Provin (SRGP 08124)
Polly BALLARD "Fellows"
|The news was received of the death of “Aunt Polly” Fellows, (SRGP 08122) at her home in Mainesburg yesterday morning about 4 o’clock, at the age of 97 years, who was probably the oldest person living in northern Pennsylvania. Deceased had been ill but a few days, her death being due to the effects of old age. Funeral services will be held at her late home on Friday afternoon at 1 o’clock. Deceased was the daughter of Thomas and Kate Ballard, natives of Massachusetts and pioneers of Burlington township, and was a sister of the late O P Ballard of Troy, and the late L P and John V Ballard of East Troy, her near descendants here being Mrs. J C Crawford, Mrs. Della Parke, Mrs. Minnie Ballard, L J Ballard and the late Frank Loomis. She was born in Burlington, this county (Bradford) August 24, 1806 and was married at the age of 22 to Dr James Fellows, who died in 1890. She had resided on the farm on which her son Fred resides, where occurred her death, for the past 74 years. Her son Fred and wife Lottie lived with her and worked the farm and took care of the house and Aunt Polly.|
“Aunt Polly” was a beloved character and widely known among inhabitants of this section. She was possessed of a highly Christian character and her many kindly acts endeared her to a host of acquaintances. “Aunt Polly” was notable an excellent physician, learning much from her husband, and up to within the time of her death, prepared medicines as accurately as any physician, being called on nearly everyday by someone for remedies for their families. “Aunt Polly’s Home Made Remedies” still enjoy their wide popularity, She was possessed of a marked thoughtfulness for the interests of her friends, and always inquired into their spiritual welfare, whenever she saw them. Since her 94th birthday she had read the New Testament through five times.
She used to tell many interesting tales of the olden times, one being of how afraid she used to be when a child during the war of 1812, while living with her parents on the Tom Jack creek in Burlington, of one night when the Indians attempted to burn their barn. She was a remarkable old lady, whom everybody honored and respected, and the example of her saintly life will be long held in the memory of those who knew her.
Photo and newspaper article from Edward P. Ballard
O. P. Ballard of Troy PA
|O P Ballard of Troy, Pa. (SRGP 45256)
His Lively Life & Times (with several comments)
By his Great-Grandson
Published & copyrighted 1958 by
There is an astonishing lack of real interest among the Johnny-come-latelys
in almost any small community’s background and history.
Early Troy had some wonderful people who created it and prepared it for later generations to conduct places of business, and to buy or build their homes.
I have long been trained to stay within the hairline of libel and slander in my prose, and if anyone has that rare sense of humor and perception that makes possible a reading between the lines, there might be a pint or two of pure glee in these pages for the reader.
Those who can barely read or write should find little to bother with in this book. We refuse to issue a comic-book edition just for their edification!
So, here we go. Watch the curves!
Chapter One-the following biography is copied verbatim from George F Case’s rare book, History of Bradford County, Press of J B Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, undated and without copyright notice.
Orin P Ballard
“The subject of this sketch was born February 22, 1798, in Green County, New York. His parents, Thomas and Catherine Ballard, were among the early settlers of the town of Burlington. His early life was spent upon his father’s farm, sharing the privations and hardships of a pioneer family.
“When seventeen years of age, O P Ballard engaged himself to Clement Paine of Athens, as clerk, with whom he remained five years. He then returned to Burlington, where for some time he worked on a farm; but finding this a slow road to fortune he went to Athens and proposed to Charles Hopkins of that place to establish a store in Troy. The proposition was accepted, Mr. Ballard selling the goods on commission.
“This was the first store in the borough. By business ability and honorable
dealing, O P Ballard soon found himself possessed of sufficient means to
purchase the stock, and commenced business for himself. For many years
he purchased his goods in Philadelphia, hauling them with teams over the
“For thirty years he was the most prominent business man in the western part of Bradford County. In connection with the mercantile business, he carried on various other enterprises for several years.”
For many years my father and mother made a careful research into the history of O P Ballard because he was worth it. He must have been a great old guy, and honest for a change.
Family lore, especially as relayed on chill winter evenings by my late father, with mother and me cozy by the fireside, has planted itself firmly in my memory. So I suppose inasmuch as I am approaching age sixty, and have retired and returned to a small lot surveyed from the vast acres of land once belonging to my great-grandfather, I can, as well as anyone living, put into print a condensation of the highlights of this old gent’s career, together with a few insights into what life was like when Troy was just beginning to be larger than a flyspeck on the Bradford County map. Also I shall include a few observations of my own.
George Case’s forebear, Reuben Case, was the first Troy settler in 1798. Then came, but not in this exact order-who cares about a couple of years here and there? -the Longs, the Paines, the Ballard’s (Troy branch-O P’s Burlington relatives had many children whose children’s children now live in the vicinity of that lovely village. Without actually adding up, maybe it’s their children’s children’s children’s children—anyway, they’re all fine folks)
The Redington’s were prominent in early Troy; and I forget which Pomeroy came first but eventually they banded together in the money-lending business.
Speaking of money lending, it was long supposed that I took heavily from my father’s bank account. In point of fact, I stopped dipping in his cash register directly after my freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania because the next year I was making more money with my jazz band in Philadelphia, and later in a coast-to-coast vaudeville tour, than my dear dad made in twice that time.
So hush, you uninformed gossipers!
Also, just for the record, during the depression in the lamentable ‘30‘s, when Pop’s stocks crashed, I loaned him money with the stipulation that he never pay it back. He never paid it back in money but his kindness to me all during my life was worth more, multiplied one million times, than the total deposits in the First National Bank of Troy, which I understand is a considerable amount. He was a man many people thought they knew quite well because he was gay, generous and out-going. But nobody ever knew and loved him as mother and I did. I resent anybody’s notion to the contrary.
Somebody once said, “you can buy flowers in a flower shop and candy in a candy shop, but NOWHERE CAN YOU BUY FRIENDS!” I have a few who proved themselves when I had no gloss of fame or sparkle of ready cash- and my list now is the same as it was then.
The Pomeroy Brothers and O P Ballard, family lore relates, didn’t like the looks of each others jibs, so old O P drove his buggy clear to an Elmira bank every time his cash box got too full for safe-keeping. I must have inherited his fascination for that great Southern Tier town because it turned out to be a wonderful, lush field for the sowing of my wild oats. And I don’t regret an oat of it! Thus I was prepared for the more perilous hazards of New York City, where before 1945, I labored, earned, and spent a considerable fortune. It was made entirely by the sweat of my brain (with the help of a cheap typewriter with a faded ribbon). Parts of this book may not be believed by some who read it and I couldn’t care less, to use a phrase a girl I once knew sprung on me when I told her I didn’t love her any more.
So, back to the ranch—I mean, O P.
The Masonic Boys in the early days were of a far-different ilk than todays, and were, it is said, violently anti-Roman Catholic. There is a well-known story about O P’s long feud with the Masons and his importing of some nuns from Scranton just to devil them. When the Bishop came to Troy and asked, “Let’ see, O P—do you belong to the Church? O P replied, “No, the Church belongs to me!”
At any rate, O P wasn’t a Roman catholic. H merely took up his ax to smash what he felt was the off-track ideas of the early Masons. His newspaper, the first one in Troy, was loaded with vitriol intended to melt the pants of “his enemies”. I found several bound volumes of his newspapers when I liquidated the stock of dad’s jewelry store and I presented them to the Bradford County Historical Society. They were pretty hot stuff!
Stanford White, the New York architect who was shot in Madison Square garden by Harry Thaw because he was fooling around with Thaw’s chorus girlfriend (Evelyn Nesbit) designed the Troy Presbyterian Church, according to historians. White also designed the beautiful New York Lambs Club (for artists, writers & actors) to which I proudly belong and which was heavily endowed by the late Winchell Smith. He married Troy’s Grace Spencer and made a million on a play she wrote to even up old Troy scores. The title was THE FORTUNE HUNTER. I saw it many times and always laughed at “Herman the Errand Boy” who was patterned after the late and beloved “Herm” Pierce. Other Troy people were also characterized I understand.
Of course Troy’s most distinguished “boy” was the late Harry P Davison. He ran away from home with my Uncle Kit. Mr. Davison landed, eventually, in a bank in Bridgeport and married the bank president’s daughter. Uncle Kit became Thomas Edison’s crack salesman for his new-fangled phonograph (which used cylinder records that sounded better, in my judgment, than today’s rock ‘n’ roll).
David Paine, Dan Pomeroy, the Canton Street Parsons boys, and oh so many others went to the Big City and Made Good. I did too but I have had a hell of a time getting anybody but my parents and six or seven good friends to believe it!
I am now married to about the nicest girl in the world. She was “Made In Germany.” And she believed in me long before “Mister Sandman” restored the family fortunes. She can have all my dough anytime she wants it.
Chapter Two- My father’s mother was Elizabeth Ward from Towanda, her father and his brother (Christopher L Ward) being early settlers in the County Seat. Christopher’s old home is now occupied by the Catholic nuns and his old library is their chapel. The Wards built, of course, the famed Ward house, recently torn down, and Christopher, after whom my grandmother named her oldest child (“Kit” Ballard), was an eminent lawyer and was president of the original Towanda Bank from 1838 to 1842.
My mother died in Towanda in 1953, where my wife and I cared for her in her declining last year. It was in our apartment there at 15 York Avenue that I wrote “Mister Sandman” which created over $8,000,000 worth of business, worldwide, and upon the royalties of which my wife and I expect to live for the rest of our days. Having no children, the residue is willed to my late cousin Esther’s five grandchildren who live in California with their widowed mother.
A brief resume of a few early Troy families follows:
MAJOR EZRA LONG came into the wilderness of Sugar Creek in 1812 and became proprietor of the gristmill, of happy memory. He was a Democrat but it is doubtful if he would have approved of F D Roosevelt.
ELI B PARSONS successfully passed an examination in the Supreme Court of New York State, and then established himself at Troy, becoming a distinguished lawyer and financier.
DANIEL F POMEROY first clerked at Gillett and Cone’s store, later forming a partnership with G F Redington. They sold produce and general merchandise-probably not on credit, the curse of today’s young-marrieds’ sagging budgets.
ISAAC POMEROY, Daniel’s father, ran “Conant’s Tavern” which he replaced in 1837 with the “Eagle Tavern”, where, one may surmise, a hot nip was available on a cold night.
ALFRED PARSONS M.D. was the father of the late John A Parsons, one of Troy’s most distinguished citizens and for many years President of Troy’s principal industry, famous for its universally known steam engine. His grandson is a swell guy who recently sold me a fine piece of land for my new home.
Many other distinguished early Trojans of course could be listed, but it is the author’s opinion that their near relatives should, if they wish a special record of their doings, write and publish a little book such as this on their own hook, printing costs being what they are!
Again quoting verbatim from the HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY, “O P Ballard for some time controlled to a considerable extent the trade of the place, and he owned a stage coach line between Troy and Elmira”. Now quoting from family lore, he also brought the first square piano in Troy overland from Philadelphia and built a large home on the site of Jack Parson’s present home. It burned to the ground. The fire was set; he seemed to believe, by “his enemies”.
O P’s store was a four-story block-long brick building on the present site of the Bank-Acme-Gas Company Store. It burned (his papers showed he also suspected “his enemies” of perpetrating this deed). The Elmira Fire Company was sent to Troy on railroad flat cars but couldn’t save the structure. Of course he built again- those pioneers were not easily bested! The original picture of this fire hangs in Budd and Florence Mitchell’s charming living room.
A great legend, completely lacking fact, but containing enough fantasy to have caused it to be handed down by many others, is that old O P turned his home into a nunnery. Also part of this pipe dream is that he built a tunnel from his creek (by golly, my lot boundary-line goes right down to it!) so his nuns could go up to the Catholic Church unmolested. Here is the inside dope: Like his great-grandson, O P disliked being quizzed about personal business. When he was thus quizzed he often made up out of the whole cloth (even as does this writer) some nonsensical tale to shut the questioner. O P’s leg-pulling explanation of the cistern he was digging even caused some nitwit to write after the identifying number on O P’s home (on the back of an old Troy panorama view now in the Troy Library). “O P Ballard’s Nunnery” I’ll bet a left shoe that the closest O P ever got to running a nunnery could well be compared to the closeness I ever got to hitting a home run on the old Elmira Street sandlot ball park. Both would be zero.
The real truth of the matter was that O P paid the ocean passage for many families from Ireland in order to acquire their services in building up Troy. They wanted a church and he saw to it that they got one- good business, y’know. Many of their daughters became house-workers in some of the early Troy mansions, and some married sons of early Troy’s first families.
O P’s land extended west on both sides of what is now West Main Street. He sold off lots to the father of the late and most genteel Mrs. George Holcombe, and to Horace Pomeroy (now Martha Lloyd’s School). O P gave my father’s father the home that is now a nationally known tourist rest, run beautifully by Mrs. Mae McGlenn (“Main Street Mae”) My dad was born in this house. Our home (now Larry Clark’s) was built in 1912 west of Herb Holcombe’s, and it originally was O P Ballard’s land. My grandfather Lucien Ballard built the home that was later sold to Howard Grosjean (now the Harrer home).
I was born in what now is the dining room of the present George F Case home, formerly owned by my father’s Aunt Helen Peck. George and Ann are about the best friends Hilda and I ever had.
I also inherited some of father’s Aunt Helen Peck’s talent for speaking the truth though it hurts, especially when pretense raises its head and spatters the air with plain bunk which could cause almost anybody, knowing the truth, to wince. At least it always caused Aunt Helen to blast off, and I’m afraid my blasting point is about as low as hers was even if some of my verbal blows aren’t quite as low. It’s said, when in a temper, she used to rattle off the names and birth-dates of the illegitimate children of her tormentors together with those of their nearest and dearest relatives! I don’t possess such information so everybody is safe on that score. However, I do possess considerable first-hand, eye witness knowledge of many of the townspeople’s past indiscretions, so it might be wise not to get too smart when talking to me about my own checkered past. While on this fascinating subject of morals, I only wish I’d been accused of the awful things I really did, instead of so many things, I never did.
Chapter Three-Not everybody can get away with a book containing only three chapters- but one can if one is paying the bill himself.
This book will soon be concluded. I hope the newcomers to Troy realize that they are lucky in being in a town so drenched in past distinction and once inhabited by so many worthy people who ever lived.
The late Mrs. Sarah Willett, for instance, can be compared only to the Rev. Hiram Rockwell Bennett, D D, in her vast wisdom and learning. My old arithmetic teacher, the late Grace Sayles, was simply wonderful but I never could divide, add, or subtract, so I just basked in her inspiring lectures.
Maude Lyon tried to hammer some English Grammar into my head, but I still can’t spell or properly construct a sentence although my writing has appeared in many national magazines and newspapers and at one time I was Contributing Editor of COLLEGE HUMOR, probably our grandma’s favorite jazzy-reading.
One year, during the depression, I made $1,500 a month writing stories for many entire issues of SNAPPY STORIES, under various female pseudonyms. One pseudonym I remember was “Eugenia Day”, because there was a cute little girl from up Corning way named Eugenia who wouldn’t let me get halfway to first base. So I felt compensated by adopting her charming first name as “authoress” for some of my zesty stories (which were read incidentally, by many of the country’s best people; the covers were first torn off and a GOOD HOUSKEEPING cover substituted). They were never read in Troy, of course.
People in Troy seldom read anything I wrote: but my mother and father did. And the first song I ever penned (in 1919) was a horrible little monster in the worst possible taste called LITTLE LILLY DRIVES THEM SILLY WITH HER CUCKO. Mother played it nice and slow on the organ on Sunday for an offertory- in lovely, genteel St Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Before his death, my father’s judgment became impaired and he appeared to be adversely influenced by others who seemed not to have his best interests at heart. Among other things, these people endeavored to turn his affections away from me. However, I later discovered to my eternal relief, that the night he died, he dictated a letter to me which mother transcribed and placed in her sewing machine drawer. After his death I found it miraculously, for she too was in the grip of advanced senility, and I thank God that in one of his last moments of clear perception he realized that I had not in any way contributed to the muddle his affairs were in. His deathbed note brought me and my wife the courage to go on and care for my mother for the next eight years, during which time her mind completely disintegrated. We saw her through, with love and tenderness.
And here is a random note on the subject of money. One of the oldest friends my wife and I have is a woman who inherited millions of dollars not so very long ago. She has been utterly miserable ever since her inheritance and I have noticed in many communities that the acquisition of money way beyond ones reasonable needs can create a strange exaggerated phobia ending in a “Power Complex” or a laughable practice of false economy.
It’s easy for some people to know the price of everything and the value of nothing! I always believed that money was invented as a medium of exchange.
While I think that spiritual values help all people, I never subscribe to a “Go to church Sunday and gyp your friends Monday” way of life. And I also believe that no one sect or denomination in organized religion has a patent on God, altho little sentences like this can start big arguments. Frankly I don’t care if they do. I never argue religion with anybody!
I was baptized in 1900. Incidentally, I was confirmed fifty years later in St John’s Episcopal Church, Tuckahoe, New York, which was, so Bishop Donnegan assured me, somewhat of a record for time lapsed between baptism and confirmation.
Recently, I have been attending the Quaker Church in Shunk with my very good friend Budd Mitchell, and I am terribly interested in the views of these fine people.
I think nine words about sums up my religion: “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God.”
Peace be with you all!
(Written September 11th in Room”A” of the Langwell Hotel and typed by
Miss Arlene Brown, T H S Class of ’47)