John Ballance Family Story
by Ernestine Ballance Liverman
John Ballance was born in Currituck County, NC, Jan. 9, 1834, the son of the late Willoughby White Ballance, born April 3, 1787, and Charlotte Poyner, born in 1805. He married Mary Jane Ballance, one of twins born Feb. 24, 1835, to Wilson and Cynthia Ballance. Mary Jane was a Ballance and married a Ballance and her twin sister was named Ann.
John's Civil War record (taken from North Carolina Troops - 1861-1865) follows:
"John Ballance, private in Company A, 8th Regiment, North Carolina State Troops.
Born in Currituck County and resided in Pasquotank County where he was by occupation a mariner prior to enlisting in Pasquotank County at age 26, July 22, 1861, for the war.
Captured on Roanoke Island on February 8, 1862, and paroled at Elizabeth City on February 21, 1862. Exchanged at Aiken's Landing, James River, Virginia, November 10, 1862. Transferred to the Confederate States Navy on January 20, 1863. “ John Ballance was at the Battle of Shiloh, N, C., according to his granddaughter, Lula Ballance Lamb. He told her they were helping defend Elizabeth City from a Union army.
In his early life John often sailed to the West Indies and brought back pretty coral, rum, molasses and other products. After the war he farmed in Currituck County near Maple. He and Mary Jane had 13 children, three of whom died as babies or very young. Mary Jane died Aug. 18, 1876, at the age of 41 and friends and relatives took the children into their homes.
On Dec. 13, 1877, one year and four months after the death of Mary Jane, John Ballance married Elizabeth Frances Simmons of Elizabeth City, who was born Mar. 11, 1841. She was a widow, having been married to her cousin, Jerome Simmons, who died and left her with two children, Virginia Simmons, born in 1861, and William Edward Simmons, who died at an early age, March 26, 1883. The Simmons family was said to be well-to-do.
After John and Elizabeth were married, five of his and Jane's children came back home to live: Florence, James, John, Henry and Charley. In 1880, Carrie, then age 10, and Clayton, age 18, were still with the Wiley Mathias family (and Clayton was helping with the farm work. In 1879 a daughter, Sarah, was born to John and Elizabeth. Virginia Simmons, who was six when her Mother re-married, lived with the family until she met Elmer Walker and married him in 1881.
John and Elizabeth had another daughter, Columbia Ballance, who was born Feb. 27, 1882, and was named for Elizabeth's sister. Columbia Oregon Simmons, who married a sea captain, Capt. William Brown, went to Oregon to live. Columbia Ballance ("Lummie") married William Oscar Saunders on March 2, 1905. Mr. Saunders was a young newspaper man who had been mostly working for Norfolk papers. In 1908 he began publishing his own weekly newspaper in Elizabeth City called "The Independent," in which he was free, for the first time, to print all the news without fear of losing his job for printing a story he had been ordered not to. By that time they had two small children, who were born in Norfolk, Elizabeth and Billie. Their father had planned to name their first child for Elbert Hubbard, whose works he had so admired while growing up in Hertford, N. C. When the baby turned out to be a girl she was named Elizabeth Elberta Saunders. John and Elizabeth also had a son, George Albert Ballance, who married Rebecca Hubbard (Pat) Feb. 14, 1911, and they had three children, Alberta, George and June Frances.
The John Ballance family had moved from Currituck County to Elizabeth City around 1890 and John opened a grocery store which he ran for twenty some years before he became ill. Elizabeth was not able to look after him so he went to the home of his daughter, Florence Roberts, near Maple in Currituck County. Florence looked after him for several years until his death on Aug. 1, 1919. He was buried beside his first wife, Mary Jane.
Florence's husband, Isaac Wilson Roberts, was also going through a long period of illness during this time and he died Nov. 26, 1916.
Elizabeth lived alone not far from the Saunders family until she died in 1923 and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Elizabeth City.