Monday, March 15, 2010

Madness Monday - John H. Ballinger

John was the oldest child of William and Lucinda Ballinger.  While he has turned out to be an immense source of information about the family, he is also a brick wall unto himself.  This week, I will discuss the dilemas surrounding John's birth.

1856 Census for Black Oak, Mahaska Co, Iowa lists the family as follows:

Given Name     Surname          Age     Est Birth Year     Years Resident in State     Birthplace

William H           Ballinger              35      Abt 1821                                  8                          Ohio
Lucinda              Ballinger              25      Abt 1831                                  8                           Ills
John H               Ballinger                8      Abt 1848                                  8                           Ills
Nancy A            Ballinger                7      Abt 1849                                  7                           Ills
Mary A              Ballinger                1      Abt 1855                                  0                           Iowa

John's discharge papers (dated 30 December 1864), for his service with the 3rd Colorady Cavalry, state he was 18 years old which puts his birth year at about 1846.

The Columbia Cemetery Burial Index (Boulder, Colorado) lists John's age when he died as 21 putting his birth year about 1850.

Complicating matters further is the fact that according to the copy of the marriage register that I have, William and Lucinda were married 29 October 1849.  You do the math.

It gets even more confusing when I start analyzing Nancy's birth year conflicts.  But that is another topic.

I have 2 pieces of information that say John was born in Illinois.  The 1856 Iowa census listed above and John's discharge papers.  Illinois appears to be a reasonable birthplace. 

As for John's birth year, my theory is that he lied about his age in order to be able to serve with the 3rd Colorado Calvary.  He was probably born in the 1848 - 1850 time period.  I suppose he could have been born before his parents were married.  I'm still looking for a chink in the brick wall.

© 2010, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Hi, Michelle! I was just re-reading this post and had a thought. Do you think it's possible that William H. Ballinger was married prior to marrying Lucinda, and that John H. could be the child of William and his first wife? The age gap between the first two children and the third child on the 1856 census is what initially made me think this, as well as the discrepancy in his birth year.

  2. Jennifer - thank you! I think anything is a possibility. If William was married prior to being married to Lucinda that would explain both issues you bring up. It's definitely something to keep in mind and be looking for as I proceed in this project. Thanks again.