Transcribed by Rae Wayne
March 31, 1949
* CAL’S COLUMN *
Pursuing our course on down Peyton’s Creek, we come to the old Ballou farm, later called the Kittrell farm. It lies at the junction of Big Peyton’s Creek and Little Peyton’s Creek. Here our great great grandfather on our Mother’s side, Leonard Ballow, bought a tract of 640 acres of land, the larger part of which was rolling hill land and the remainder in creek bottoms. Leonard Ballou was born in Bottetourt Co., Va., on Apr. 4, 1767. He married Miss Sarah Metcalf, born in Rutherford Co., N.C. on June 16, 1785. He had previously married Miss Mary Metcalf, a sister of Sarah. Leonard Ballou and other members of the family, including the Metcalfs, came to Sumner County in 1794, under guard of men in the employ of the government.
Later Leonard Ballou purchased a tract of land just above the present brick church house on Dixon’s Creek, embracing perhaps 640 acres of land. His brother in law, Elias Johns, who married Ballou’s sister, Esther, bought a tract of land south of the Ballou farm. We say bought. Perhaps it might be said that “they took up government land.” Later, Ballou about 1807, found that a comparatively small tract of land lying between their respective farms was unclaimed and that neither had any title to same. Ballou suggested that they go to Carthage, the county seat, and file on the tract and then divide it, Johns taking the south side or part lying next to his farm, and Ballou taking the north side or part lying next to the Ballou tract. To this, Johns readily agreed. Afterward, Johns slipped away to Carthage and filed on the entire tract, obtaining title to all of it and leaving Ballou “out in the cold.” This so injured Ballou’s feelings that he said: “I will not live by a man who would treat me this way.” So he sold his Dixon’s Creek farm, now known as the Ferryman place, and went to Peyton’s Creek and purchased the farm mentioned at the beginning of this article. The Johns farm was known in our boyhood as the Brooks farm and lies just below the brick church house on Doxon’s Creek.
One event that happened at the Ballou farm, perhaps not long after Ballou moved away, gave to Dog Branch, on the waters of Dixon’s Creek, its name which clings to that stream or branch until the present time. The owner of the farm went down to his log smokehouse one morning, to find that two large hams had been stolen during the night. He also discovered inside the smokehouse a dog evidently belonging to the meat rogue. The owner of the missing hams recognized the dog as belonging to a man named_____________ who lived on the stream that empties into Dixon’s Creek at the present Cato. He went to the owner of the dog, stating that two hams were missing that he had found the rogue’s dog in the smokehouse, and demanded remuneration. Whether the hams were returned or paid for, we do not know; but we do know that from that day to the present time, that stream is known as “Dog Branch.” Evidently the dog’s mater closed the door and left convincing evidence that the dog’s mater was a meat thief.
Ballou erected on his large Peyton’s Creek farm the first weather boarded house ever constructed on that historic stream, but we do not know the exact date of its erection. It was located in the upper part of the bottom that lies between the two streams mentioned above, and near a large, bold spring of fine, clear water. This fine water still rushes out of the high hill and runs into the creek a short distance away, but the only signs now of the old house are the pieces of cups, plates, and saucers and crockery that are to be found in the field just below the spring. Here members of the family lived in 1842 when the heaviest rain ever recorded in this part of the country fell. This was on May 19th, 107 years ago. Locust trees had been planted about this pioneer home. The creek rose higher and higher and it was finally decided that the house must be evacuated. Mules were procured and the family rode out in safety. One event of that escape has come down to us through all the years. In that day and time, women rode side saddles when they rode horseback or muleback. But it was no time for proprieties, and Mrs. L.D. Ballou, the mistress of the home, rode out “straddle” of a mule. The waters swirled around the home and it appeared doomed as the main course of the creek had left the old channel and cut across the field. However, a large log, perhaps three or four feet in diameter, came floating down and lodged against two of the locust trees in the yard. Splitting the main current and dividing it into two parts, one of which went on one side of the house and the other on the other side. In spite of this fact, the waters still rose to a depth of 18 inches in the house.
Leonard Ballou, the first of the family to live on Peyton’s Creek, died on August 4, 1840. He was a charter member of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church, which was established in 1836. Leonard’s son, Lorenzo Dow Ballow, became owner of the farm after his father’s death. Dow, as he was familiarly known, was born on Dec. 1, 1808, perhaps only a few months after the arrival of the family in its new home. Later Dow married Miss Mary R. Kittrell on November 5, 1829, by whom he had the following children: William A., James E., Leonidas W., Diogenes, Julia A., Anthony S., Margaret E., Mary B., Albert C., and Rufus C. Ballou.
Here in the old house, our own mother was born on February 19, 1868. Here she spent her early years attending the school known today as Kittrell’s and where our niece, Miss Lauretta Dickerson, is a present teacher. Many , many memories cluster around this old farm. Across the “big creek” from the old Ballou home was the first nursery of which we have any record in Smith County. It was the special joy and pride of William A Ballou whose right hand had been run over by a heavy cart wheel when he was a child and which accident prevented his doing a great deal of farm work. So he turned to the growing of fruit trees and sold such trees by the thousands. He was a lover of other trees and delighted in setting out shade trees in rows and symmetrical manner. Just above Dixon Springs, on the side of the highway, are some old trees that were planted under his supervision. They are growing old and will not be likely to stand many more years. They are of the maple variety.
One peculiarity of the Ballou family was that nearly all of its members were possessed of a remarkable memory. This peculiar mental trait was said to have come from their Metcalf ancestry. Perhaps the most remarkable memory possessed by any one of the family was that of Rufus Ballou, known as Ward Ballou. He had an impediment in his speech and was never sent to school. So unlike the other members of the family, he was unable to read or at most was able to read but little. Many remarkable instances of his powers of recollection have come down through the years. He knew the date of birth of practically every person born in that section. Our own father related this when the writer was only eleven years old. Mr. Ballou asked our father the question: “How old are you Dopher?” (The nickname by which our father was called.” Instead of telling him his age in years, he replied: “I was born January 4, 1862.” This was forty years before Mr. Ballou asked him his age. Instantly, this man with the unusual memory replied: “I remember the day. I hunted a sow and young pigs that day.” He went farther and told what kind of weather prevailed on that particular day. Numerous others have told us the same sort of answer, and the same, uncanny memory of long-gone days.
The old farm remains today with its good bottom fields and fine pastures of blue grass. But the old home is gone and so is every vestige of the stables or barns of that time, 140 years ago.
Transcribed by Pat Stubbs
Only one descendant of the original owner of the farm resides in that section. He owns part of the original farm and lives about 250 yards from the old home. He is Ray Kittrell the son of D. B. Kittrell, whose mother is Julia A. Ballou, born on July 4, 1836, the daughter of Lorenzo Dow and Mary R Ballou. On the hill above Mr. Kittrell's home are some of the graves of members of the family. One of those early members was Esther Ballou, the daughter of Leonary and Mary Metcalf, and a child of ten years when the family left Dixon's Creek. She was known as Betsy and married B. P. Lipscomb. They resided where John T. Dickerson and family now live, about two hundred yards from home of Ray Kittrell. This couple had no children. They managed by frugal living and practicing economy to gather together a considerable sum of money for that day and time. When both were old, robbers entered their home and forced them to part with some of their hard-earned money. This money was said to have been taken from an old cherry bureau, for many years in our family. Aunt Betsy suffered a knife cut in one hand as she refused to hurry to do the bidding of the robbers. These robbers were never apprehended and the exact amount they took was never disclosed as far as we learned.
A mile south of the old Ballou farm lies Pleasant Shade, a fine community in which we once lived. We moved to that section in 1913, to teach school at Kittrell's, the school above mentioned. Here we taught in the spring and fall of 1914, receiving $60.00 per month for our labors. Later we moved to Piper's School and taught two years. Then we began to carry the mail on Rural Route one out of Pleasant Shade until Mar 3, 1930, when we came to Lafayette and have resided her since.
In our next article, we hope to give some more items of interest in that section. Perhaps some do not like to read these accounts of things that happened long, long ago for the most part. However such mmreaders should know that others enjoy them and also they should think that unless somebody, who loves these old accounts of other days, records them they will soon be lost. We might inform the readers of this paper that two copies of this paper are sent each week to the State Library at Nashville, and that one of them is filed away for safe keeping, so that others may read them in the coming years and know of the events that will soon be completely forgotten if some efforts to preserve them are not made. It is a shame that so few people know anything of their ancestry. It is not infrequent that we meet people who do not recall who their grandfathers were. Most people can name their four grandparents, but some cannot. However, there are few who can name their eight great grandparents. Suppose you who read this try this out, name all eight of your great-grandparents.