Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Developments: Joseph K. Ballard - Elizabeth Burleson

The life of Joseph Kelsey Ballard has been one full of mysteries. Having died at an early age, he was known only by his nieces and nephew, all whom have passed away now. The basic information was easily obtainable; birth date, death date, burial location, etc. However, stories were told of his marriage to a woman, who later became Edith Hagadorn. I now have more information surrounding his marriage to "Edith" Hagadorn.

Above is the marriage certificate for Joseph K. Ballard, obtained through and their New York Counties Marriage Record Database. The record contains a variety of interesting information, including the birth locations for his mother and father. It has been accepted that his mother, Ella Jane Kilmer, was born in Natural Bridge, New York. However, this particular record lists her as having been born in Utica, New York. The most interesting piece of information is that of the birthplace of Joseph's father, Charles Ballard. His death certificate claims that Charles was born in Clarendon, New York but no record exists of that birth nor of his mother, Adeline Bates in the 1850 Fed. Census or the 1855 NYS Census. Instead, this record lists his place of birth as Rome, NY which would also explain where Adeline met her second husband, Mortimer Clark, who was born in Vermont.

This particular record points to several interesting pieces of information, including the Kilmer family's connection to the Hotchkin family of Niagara County, NY. "Edith" Hagadorn, as Aunt Doris remembered her as, was actually Elizabeth Burleson, daughter of Ward L. Burleson and Anne Benjamin. Aunt Doris recalled Edith, or Elizabeth, as having the last name Hagadorn after her second marriage to John W. Hagadorn of Hornell, NY. Joseph and Elizabeth were married on October 29, 1919 in Niagara Falls, New York, however their marriage would only last a few years when the couple divorced in 1926, filing their papers in Monroe County, New York.

Joseph Ballard's Grandfather, Joseph Kilmer, had first married Elizabeth Adner who bore him three children, Orville, Charles and Ella Jane. After her death in 1878, Joseph remained a single man until he remarried Alice Hotchkin on October 30, 1901 in Niagara County, New York.

Alice A. Hotchkin Kilmer

At the time of their marriage, Joseph was nearing 70 years of age, while Alice was 39. It's difficult to say why the marriage occured considering the ages of the two individuals, however in the 1900 census, Alice was a single woman living with her father still.

Alice had several siblings including two other sisters who married individuals connected to the Kilmer family. Her younger sister Julia Etta Hotchkin married Frederick Kilmer, the brother of Ella Jane Kilmer. Another sister, Luella Mae, was married to John W. Hagadorn, who later married the ex-wife of Joseph K. Ballard. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Disagreement Over "Traditional" Lands

I had the pleasure of having a brief discussion with a gentleman over the phrasing of a comment I made. The man was at a local family history fair to discuss and teach a class on German Genealogy, which the success of this talk could be discussed in another thread. I was present to teach two classes on Polish Genealogy, which the success (judged by those attending) was far less than stellar. Having some time to talk with this gentleman, he asked if I had any German ancestry that I had worked on. Of course I have plenty of ancestry from Germany;

My Kilmer ancestry is said to have originated in the Alsace-Lorraine region, which discussion on such a subject has the potential to quickly turn volatile when the right elements come into play.

My Traub and Sherwood ancestry has ties to Baden and Wurttemburg, although I haven't been able to make the jump from the United States and back into Germany.

And of course, my Polish family has some German background.

I apparently made the mistake of saying, "My Polish ancestors are from "Traditional Polish" lands in the German-Polish region of what is now Poland but West Prussia then. I am familiar with general Polish historical events and ideas however, I am not well versed in the medieval history of the nation or the commonwealth. If one was to engage me on the merits of traditional Polish lands versus Germanic lands, I would hear nothing of the sort. Many people wish to discuss the nation of Germany as if it always existed; vast numbers of Germanic tribes and numerous provinces and states independently operating amongst themselves until 1871 does not constitute an aged nation or even a strong nation at that, despite the military prowess of a bully-like nation.

I would have been happy to have heard stories of the Tar-tars or the Teutonic Knights that occupied the lands of medieval Poland in the exact towns and regions that my family originated. I was instead directed to stories of Pomeranians being of Kashubian descent (something that I have known for some time as anyone from Pomerania would destroy you for calling them German). I also heard tales of Brandenburg and East Prussia. The stories were entertaining but far from my own personal interest as little discussion resulted in essential information to my own family.

Unfortunately, the downfall of the Polish Commonwealth in the 1790s has made Polish genealogy a living hell. More importantly, it has had a profound effect on the nationalistic feelings of Polish-American descendants like myself. Such discussion over the stolen lands of Poland, controlled by Prussia, the Habsburg Austrians and Imperial Russians really kill the feeling of some sort of nationalistic appeal. Although the Poles have pushed numerous movements towards national identity, the old policies have forever scarred the image of Poland in the minds of researchers and descendants alike.

Growing up I was raised on what I was told were Polish traditions and in a Polish Catholic Church. However, I have now discovered through research, that many of my ancestors have ties to Germany more than Polish, but only suffered as Poles (more likely as Catholics) at the hands of Bismarck and the Kulturkampf.