James Allen Ballard was born 1832 in Milton, Chittenden County, Vermont, the son of Appleton (1809-1885) and Epiphene (Ellenwood, (1804-1888).
Appleton was born in either Hanover, New Hampshire or Hartford, Windsor County, Vermont, but while still a young boy his family moved to Vermont and as a young man worked as a shoemaker. In October of 1830 he married Nova Scotia-born Epiphene Ellenwood in Vermont, probably in Chittenden County. In 1836 the family moved west, eventually settling in Sparta, Ohio where they remained until about 1848 when they moved to Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan. By 1850 James was working as a farmer with his father and living with his family on a farm in Meridian, Ingham County. James Allen was one of ten children.
(According to one source: Sindenia A. married Dr. G. W. Topping, of DeWitt, Clinton County, Mich.; David E. became a pioneer settler of Kansas. After seeing that State through its troubulous times he enlisted early in the war and was made Quartermaster-General of his regiment. He has continued a citizen of Kansas, being twice elected to the Legislature. For some years he has resided at Ballard's Falls, Washington County, owning there a magnificent farm of eighteen hundred acres, besides valuable property at the County seat. He has a family of nine children; Henry D. also enlisted in 1861, in the Second Regiment, Michigan Sharpshooters, in which he did faithful service until disabled by a bullet wound in the shoulder, when he was transferred to hospital service until the close of the war. He is engaged in gardening near Oshkosh, Wis.; Eunice, who was possessed of an adventurous spirit and missionary zeal, for some years taught Government Indian schools at Sault St. Marie, and at Mt. Pleasant. At the latter place she married Albert Bowker. After removing to a farm in Oliver, Clinton County, she died leaving a young child; Alonzo, who went to the war at the age of seventeen, in the First Regiment of Michigan Sharpshooters, has also adopted Kansas for his home and is a successful merchant in Barnes, Washington County. Everett, the youngest son, is still a resident of the old home place in Lansing; Dr. [Anna] Ballard is the next in order of age; Sarah M. married William E. West, and is living at Lansing; Alice, the youngest of the family, after graduating from the Lansing High School, took a select course in Boston University, and while there married her cousin, W.O. Crosby, professor of geology in the Massachusetts School of Technology. Their home is a few miles out of Boston.)
Appleton eventually became a merchant in the Lansing area and in later years spent a considerable amount of time on vegetable gardening. He also platted his 40 acre parcel in the northeastern section of the city into city lots -- what would become known as Ballard’s addition.
In 1860 Appleton and his family were living on a farm in Lansing’s First Ward, and although James was not listed as living with his family by the time the war broke out he was probably still living and working in Lansing’s First Ward where he was employed as a shoemaker.
James stood 5’10” with blue eyes, auburn hair and complexion, and was 30 years old when he enlisted in Company G on August 15, 1862, at Detroit or Lansing, crediting Lansing’s First Ward, and was mustered at Detroit. (Company G, formerly the “Williams’ Rifles”, was made up predominantly of men from the Lansing area and vicinity.) He joined the Regiment on September 2, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, and was absent sick in the general hospital from June 28, 1863, through September.
Whether on furlough to recover his health or for other reasons James apparently returned to Michigan when he married Sarah A. Pierce on September 7, 1863, in Lansing; they had no children. (She was probably the same Sarah A. Pierce, born around1829 in New York, living with the Jimmerson family in Lansing in 1860.)
He eventually rejoined the Regiment in Virginia but he may have not fully recovered his health and in February of 1864 he was detailed to Division headquarters, where he remained through March. He probably returned to the Regiment sometime before the spring campaign of 1864.
James died of sunstroke on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia.
According to the testimony of Dr. James Grove, who was Regimental Surgeon for the Third Michigan infantry from September of 1862 to June of 1864, Ballard “was on the sick list part of the time for a few months previous to his death, but not seriously ill and not supposed to be affected with any disease that permanently incapacitated him for military duty.” While Dr. Grove did not recall the specific details of Ballard’s case, “he believes it to have been nothing more than a debility caused by exposure and the lack of proper nourishment.” In any case, Grove reported that “the cause of [Ballard’s] death was unknown.”
According to Lieutenant J. R. Benson who was a member of Company G and eventually commanded the company after the consolidation of the Third and Michigan regiments in June of 1864, wrote that James “had been sick for several days and riding in an ambulance on [May 5] he was put out of the ambulance to make room for wounded men, and after walking about ten yards he fell down and expired soon after.” Benson further noted, however, that James “was not a sound man when he entered the service, and I do not think that he contracted the disease of which he died while in the service of the United States.”
Former Company G Lieutenant Joshua Benson wrote on January 12, 1865, that what happened was James “had been sick for several days and riding in an ambulance, on the day [he died] he was put out of the ambulance to make room for wounded men, and after walking about ten yards, he fell down and expired soon after. He was not a sound man when he entered the service, and I do not think that he contracted the disease while in the service. . . .” However, some years after the war, two other former members of Company G, Homer Thayer and Allen Shattuck, both claimed that James was of sound health upon entering the service, as did other individuals who knew Ballard before the war.
James was presumably buried among the unknown soldiers at the Wilderness.
In 1864 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 112,883), drawing $8.00 per month in 1868. (She may have been the same Sarah Ballard, born c. 1826 in New York, who was working as a dressmaker and living alone in Lansing’s fourth Ward in 1870.)