When I first started researching William Ballenger, I thought this would be an easy project. My mom and uncle helped me put together their side of the family when I did my pedigree chart for a junior high social studies project years ago . What they found among family papers was that William was born in 1821 in Maysville, Kentucky. He married Lucinda Cambell (or Campbell) and they had 12 children. There also was a picture of William and Lucinda taken in Boulder, Colorado which is where several other branches of the family also lived at one time.
What I most wanted to learn about William was:
1. Who his parents were.
2. Verify his birthplace. As you will see in future postings there is a big question mark on his birthplace.
3. Identify William and Lucinda Ballenger’s children and verify whether they had 12 children.
This is were easy ended. The first thing I discovered was there is no consistency, even within the family, as to how his name was spelled. I have seen Ballanger, Ballenger, Ballinger and many other variations. When I add in all of the potential spelling errors, I am ready to pull out my hair! Even one person would spell Ballenger differently over a period of time.
A logical next step was to check out the US Federal Censuses. Unfortunately, I have yet to find William in one single Federal Census over the course of his life. Through other research I have been able to put together a pretty extensive timeline of William's life. So I know pretty close, if not exactly, where he was living for the various federal censuses. What happened every year when the census taker came along? Did he and the family go into hiding? Did he come out and run the census taker off? Have I somehow missed this family every ten years due to spelling errors? I really believe the man had some "privacy" issues!
The good news is that William and his family are listed in 2 state censuses and this has turned out to be a huge help.
• 1856 - Black Oak, Mahaska County, Iowa he is listed with his wife Lucinda and their three children: Mary, Nancy and John.
• 1885 - Grand County, Colorado. William and Lucinda are listed with 6 of their children Stephen, S., Wm., M., Lewis and John. There were also two boarders in the house: John Gibbons and Henry McGuffey.
I keep holding out hope that William will eventually turn up in a federal census but I am not holding my breath. In the meantime, I keep looking for alternative sources to search and try not to let it drive me to madness.
I will be writing more on this family. I started out with a single photo of William and Lucinda, taken in Boulder, Colorado and the basic information I mentioned. From there I have been working to compile an extensive outline of the family. A photograph is a good home source to illustrate how you can take an item found in the family home (or that of another relative) and tie it in to your family history and come up with a more complete and interesting story.
Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum