Monday, February 15, 2010

Madness Monday - Elusive Mary Ann Ballenger

This Ballenger daughter has been a bit on the elusive side. If it wasn't for the Boulder Genealogical Society website, Colorado Historical Newspapers and, I would have absolutely no information on Mary Ann. She is a great illustration of how a little piece of information here and another bit there can get you started in researching an individual. So I want to talk about some of these sources and the methodology you can use to get going on a project.

The Boulder Genealogical Society, among the many ambitious projects they have taken on over the years, has published abstracts from the local newspapers in their Quarterly. This has proven to be a goldmine of information on my various Boulder families. While the abstract itself is usually immensely helpful, I like to get a copy of the entire article.

What I have done is searched the BGS Quarterly's annual surname index for the names I am interested in. That takes me to the appropriate article or abstract in the BGS Quarterly. My local Family History Library has the Quarterlies on microfiche. You can also check local libraries with genealogical collections for items like these.

The Colorado Historical Newspapers has been the next stop in my searches. Once I find an abstract, the first place I check is this website. They don't always have the article I want but it's worth a try since it's quick and I don't have to physically go anywhere. I have also spent quite a bit of time searching and browsing for my Boulder families on this site with great results.

Remember too there are numerous commercial websites with digitized newspapers such as, and

Another option would be to request a copy of an article through interlibrary loan which I have also done successfully.

The next stop has been onsite searching of newspapers at the Boulder Public Library and the University of Colorado Archives. Even though I don't live in Colorado, I have been fortunate enough to be in the Boulder area in recent years and have taken advantage of their resources on my trips. This has been particularly helpful since some of the newspaper articles I was interested in, I was unable to get economically through interlibrary loan.

A basic timeline outlines what little I know about Mary Ann Ballenger:

Circa 1855 - Mary Ann is born - see 1856.

1856 - Mary Ann Ballenger is living with her parents William and Lucinda and siblings Nancy and John in Black Oak, Mahaska County, Iowa. She is one year old and listed as residing in Iowa for 0 years. Go figure. (Iowa State Census 1856 -

November 1866-February 1867 - She is listed as attending Central School in Boulder, Colorado with her sister Nancy Ballenger ("Items About Boulder's Early Schools," Boulder Genealogical Society Quarterly, February 1975).

Circa late 1870s - Mary Ann moves to the southern part of Colorado. One wonders why? (Boulder Daily Camera, 7 December 1893, front page).

December 1893 - Mrs. Milton Y. Woods and her 3 children visit her sister, Mrs. Dan (Nancy Ballenger) Robinson, in Boulder. The article states that Mrs. Woods in her "girlhood" was known as Mary Ballinger. (Boulder Daily Camera, 7 December 1893, front page).

So from these 3 tidbits I have been able to link Mary Ann to her parents William and Lucinda and 2 siblings, Nancy and John via a census record. And have linked her to Boulder (the home of the Ballenger family in the 1860's, 70's and possibly early 1880's) and again to her sister Nancy through two newspaper articles.

So, even though I haven't "proven" anything, I do have a very basic outline and lots of questions:

Where in southern Colorado did the Milton Y. Woods family live?
Who were the 3 children that visited Boulder with their mother in 1893?
When and where did Mary Ballenger marry Milton Y. Woods.
When and where did they die?
The list goes on.

Next week we'll look into this case a little deeper.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

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