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JOHN MCDOWELL BALLARD

 

Probably the earliest serious attempt to collect data on the Bandy family was by John McDowell Ballard of Newton, NC.  Beginning as early as 1902, he began writing to every Bandy he could find, asking them to tell him all they knew of the Bandy family.  His intention was to put together all that he received and publish a history of the Bandy family.  Most of this correspondence took place from 1909 through 1912, although some continued through 1947.

 

"Mac" Ballard was born about 1862, the great-grandson of George and Christina Slinkard Bandy - the ancestors of a large group of Bandys, primarily in the Carolinas.  The genealogy of George and Christina's descendents is well documented in The History of the Bandy Clan, by Dr. Allen H. Bandy, Sr..  It is almost certain that Mac Ballard deserves much of the credit for stimulating Dr. Bandy to put together that history.

 

There still exist today, over 160 letters that Mac Ballard received from about 60 correspondents.  It is uncertain what portion of the total correspondence these represent.  Dr. Bandy is the current possessor of these old letters and he graciously allowed us to go through them.

 

Our first reaction upon reading these letters, was to be very impressed with Mr. Ballard's tenacity.  For example, with not much tongue in cheek, we paraphrase a large number of these letters to say, "I am sorry to have waited so long before writing.  I don't know anything about my family, but I sure would like to have a copy of your book when it is finished.  Please write again soon."  Even with replies like this he kept going!

 

Our next impression was to pity Mr. Ballard for the contradictions which his correspondents wrote him.  When writing of their grandparents or earlier generations, there were many contradictions between what different family members wrote - often one writer would even contradict himself.  Information on parents, siblings, and children generally seems more reliable. 

 

We relate these shortcomings, not to be critical of his writers, but to point out the strength of Mac's perseverance.  Even with little data and much of that conflicting, he still kept going with the intention of putting together a history of the Bandy family.

 

When the letters are considered as a whole and in detail, there are a lot of bits and pieces and even some sizable chunks of valuable data.  There were many instances in which we had "islands" of information which could be connected through data contained in the letters Mr. Ballard received - and vice versa.

 

In his effort, Mac was joined by a cousin, William Spencer Bandy, a  minister from Greenville, TN.  We do not know how much of a role "Spence" played.  We do know that they jointly put out a flyer asking for Bandy information.  In the letters Mac received are a number from his cousin, which for the most part said: "We must get together soon, put down all the information we have and publish our book." 

 

In the chapter on "Family Traditions" we will point out that these letters received by Mac Ballard are almost certainly the source of the traditions.  Also, that to us, the letters still existing seem rather meager in suggesting the traditions - much less substantiating them.

 

Mac died April 12, 1957, never having reached his goal of publishing the data he had collected.  However, we feel greatly indebted to him for inspiring Allen Bandy to write his book and for much information which augmented that which we have accumulated.  There is also a good lesson here for all of us who collect data and intend to put it on paper "when we have time."

 


 

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