Home News Vision Historically Speaking: Early settlers of Roswell — the Ballard family

Historically Speaking: Early settlers of Roswell — the Ballard family

Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives The caption reads, "Head of North Spring River and chuck wagons, around 1887. Identified are Pat F. Garrett (1), Charlie Perry (2), Charlie Ballard (3), Girtie Lea (4) and Birtie Ballard (5)."

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Janice Dunnahoo

Special to the Daily Record

Oftentimes we see our town’s street names, park names or business names with only a vague knowledge, if at all, of the who or why behind those names. Today, I would like to feature just one of those familiar family names, including one of the sons, and their history.

I will start with one of the many articles written about this family. The following story features one of their sons, Charley Ballard. Then I will share an archive story by Georgia Redfield about how Charley Ballard’s family came to be honored citizens of Roswell, and the history of how they got here.

“Roswell Daily Record

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“Jan. 24, 1905

“Charley Ballard

“The following story in regard to Charlie Ballard is taken from the Las Vegas Optic:

“A new story, the dramatis personae of which are President Roosevelt and Lieutenant Charles Ballard of Roswell, New Mexico, ex-Rough Rider officer and the only Democrat in the present New Mexico legislative council comes to light.

“Some five years after the Spanish-American war, Mr. Ballard reached New York on his way back to New Mexico from a Spanish-American business trip.

“Theodore Roosevelt had just succeeded to the presidential chair made vacant by the death of William McKinley. The president, who was spending a few days at Oyster Bay, noted in a New York paper the arrival of his former officers at one of the hotels of the metropolis.

“Mr. Roosevelt at once telephoned to Lieutenant Ballard to come out and visit him. ‘Gosh Mr. President,’ said Ballard, ‘I can’t come to visit you, I haven’t a darned dud that looks decent. I am making for the tall timbers of New Mexico as fast as possible.’

“‘Never mind about the clothes, Charley,’ was the reply, ‘I want you to come out to Oyster Bay.’

“So Lieutenant Ballard boarded a train for Oyster Bay. The president met him at the station and drove him to his home. On the way over, after some discussion of old times, the president said: ‘Look here Charley, how is it that you are the only Rough Rider in the whole outfit who hasn’t asked me for some kind of a job? If there is anything you want that I can give you, I’ll be glad to do it.’

“‘No Mr. President,’ said Ballard. ‘I appreciate your kindness but I am not ambitious. I am very well satisfied with present conditions and I am a Democrat. And I would rather remain a Democrat whose party loyalty can’t be impeached than accept the fattest job you could give me.’

“It is said, but whether upon good authority or not cannot be known, that President Roosevelt, mindful of Ballard‘s disinclination to accept any office from the president that could be construed as political, made an especial request of Governor Brodie, who was commissioned to name the members of the inaugural escort, that Lieutenant Ballard should be one of the two members of the staff from New Mexico. The other member is Colonel W. H. H. Llewellyn of Las Cruces.

“Mr. Ballard is well-known and popular in Las Vegas. He comes here every year to attend the meetings of the Cattle Sanitary Board of which he is a member.”

Georgia Redfield

Sept. 26, 1938

“A.J. Ballard

“Buffalo Hunter on Llano Estacado (Staked Plains), Roswell builder, agriculturist, and Father of First Anglo-American Boy Baby Born in Roswell Vicinity.

“In 1875 and 1876, Mr. A. J. Ballard hunted buffalo on the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains) hunting as far west as the Pecos River. He liked the country in which Roswell was built later and planned to return some day with his family and establish a home in the lower Pecos Valley.

“A.J. Ballard, born in Tennessee, his wife, Katherine (Redding) Ballard, born in Texas and their six older children came to New Mexico in 1869, traveling across the plains, in covered wagons, from Fort Griffin, Texas.

“Although there were many hardships encountered by the Ballard family during the long hard journey across the plains in the wagons, there was much of interest and beauty of scenery to enjoy in the new wild country that was so different from the Texas scenes around Fort Griffin.

“They expected Indian attacks daily, especially around watering places in which they made camp each night, but they were never molested by Indians.

“The buffalo that had roamed the plains in herds of thousands when Mr. Ballard had hunted them in previous years were fast disappearing, but hundreds were seen in bunches by the children, who had never seen them running free before.

“They speak of that covered wagon journey as being the most interesting experience of their lives.

“In New Mexico, they stopped first at Portales Springs where they found fresh cold water and camped all night, going on the next day to Fort Sumner, where — though they had not expected to establish their residence — they decided to remain. A few months after their arrival in Fort Sumner, their home was destroyed by an explosion caused by some man, a drunk, shooting into a keg of gun powder at a store on the plaza around which the houses were built. After the loss of their home in Fort Sumner, Mr. Ballard moved his family to Lincoln, New Mexico, where they were soon in the midst of the dangerous and exciting experiences of the Lincoln County War.

“(Mrs. Berta (Ballard) Manning, while living in Lincoln, was a child friend of Billy the Kid, whom she remembers as being quiet and gentlemanly and not at all like the two-gun-desperadoes of the present time.)

“Not desiring to raise his children, especially the boys, in the atmosphere of unrest, hostilities and outlawry that had taken possession of the town of Lincoln, Mr. Ballard in 1881, moved to Roswell, which then consisted of only two adobe buildings — a hotel and a store — built by Smith and Wilburn (partners) and two or three adobe huts built on the Hondo about a half-mile south of the hotel and store.

“Mr. Ballard, after coming to Roswell, established and improved what is now known as the Arthur Stevens farm three miles east of Roswell on East Second Street, where Robert L. Ballard, the first anglo boy baby of the Roswell vicinity, was born. Mrs. Ella Lea Dow, daughter of Captain Joseph C. Lea, was the first anglo baby girl, born in Roswell. Richard Ballard was a babe in arms when the Ballard family first came to New Mexico, Mrs. Berta (Ballard) Manning was ten years of age. Charlie and Will were old enough to lend a hand during the first hard years of cultivating and improving the Ballard farm.

“Mr. Ballard assisted financially in the expense of the first school constructed of adobe, that was built near his home, in 1881, on the southeast corner of school section of thirty-six, three miles east of Roswell, on East Second Street.

“The Ballard children attended this first school. Here they were taught by Asbury C. Rogers the first person to teach a school in what is now Chaves County.

“After improving the farm on East Second Street he desired for his children the advantages of schools and churches that were soon established in Roswell.

“He sold out and built a home on what is now the one hundredth block, South Pennsylvania Avenue. At this place the Ballard family lived for many years.

“His children grew into useful men and women citizens in the home their father planned for them.

“Mr. Ballard lived to see the town he assisted very materially in building, developed into a modern city of 10,000 population, before his death, which occurred at Roswell in 1914. Mrs. Ballard, his wife, died in 1926.

“Mrs. Manning, James C. and Robert L. Ballard, and Mrs. Ann Ballard Johnson live in Roswell. Charlie and Will Ballard live in Artesia. Dick Ballard and his wife Laura (Gayle) Ballard live in Phoenix, Arizona. Bert Ballard and Mrs. Laura (Ballard) Lodewick, children of Dick Ballard, live in Roswell.

“Members of Mr. Ballard’s large family (of which there are children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Roswell at the present time) have been identified with the upbuilding and improving of the Pecos Valley for the many years, over half a century of their long residence in the Valley, and have ever been leaders in church and club organizations and in the social life of the city of Roswell.”

Janice Dunnahoo of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives can be reached at 575-622-1176 or at jdunna@hotmail.com.

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