Powhatan Road Trip: The Ball Tavern

The marriage of Martha Ball and Richard A. Taylor (my 3rd great-grandparents) on March 5, 1825 in Powhatan County, Virginia was surely viewed with great favor by both families. Richard was the only son of Blagrave and Judith Anderson Taylor. His parents had already given him land and slaves, and on their deaths he would inherit all of their property. Martha was one of seven daughters of Isham Ball (my 4th great-grandfather), a prosperous tavernkeeper in Powhatan County and she probably brought a comfortable dowry to the marriage.

Isham Ball’s tavern is documented in the Virginia W.P.A. Historical Inventory project. View the record online at the Library of Virginia. When Louise C. Palmore visited on January 25, 1937 she wrote,

“Typical of the 1700 period. The yard has several huge box-woods and many old garden shrubs. There is a fence around the yard. There is a square Colonial porch in front with nine steps and square columns. Long benches on either side of the porch with slat-like seats. The house from the exterior seems to have from seven to nine rooms; there are at least three or four on the fist floor. There is a dormer upstairs and several front dormer windows. There is a large basement partially above ground with several half size windows. It is a very interesting old place. Isham Ball was the first postmaster and this was the first post office in Powhatan County.”

0181A photograph taken by Elizabeth A. Rust accompanies the report but the pictured dwelling does not match the tavern described in the report- there are no porch, columns or dormer windows. Perhaps this is the back of the tavern, or it could even be of an entirely different dwelling. In most cases, the photographer and report writer are the same, not different as in this case. I could not find a Mutual Assurance record for a Ball property in Powhatan County.

I have not located Isham Ball’s tavern; it was probably torn down years ago. Palmore’s 1937 report located the property in the town of Ballsville on the north side of Route 13. Both the town of Ballsville and Old Ballsville are shown on the 1864 Gilmer map of Powhatan County and the 1880 Laprade map. Take a drive on the Old Buckingham Road (Route 13) between Ballsville and Tobaccoville (formerly Old Ballsville) and enjoy the beautiful countryside named for Isham Ball.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 7.51.03 PM
Detail from 1880 Laprade map of Powhatan County located at the Library of Virginia.

 

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2 thoughts on “Powhatan Road Trip: The Ball Tavern

  1. This is so cool to have had a family member have a town named after him. I’m taking my grandkids home tomorrow. I think we will make a detour. The area you mention the tavern could be in is only about 30 minutes from our home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There where other houses going towards Rt.60 from Cumberland on Rt. 13. I know of several houses that may well fit better with a tavern. I actually know a girl that no longer lives in Virginia that was “redoing” an old tavern she said. That was also years ago, but may be in a better state than the one above now. I do know the place as her parents lived on Rt. 13. Ken’s lead player’s mom lives on Rt. 13 now, it is such a small world!

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