John Ballard, who lived on the east side of the Shawsheen River, was the constable of Andover’s south end in 1692.
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As constable of the south end of Andover in 1692, John Ballard was responsible for arresting those accused of witchcraft and transporting them to Salem. Martha Carrier was the first to be accused in Andover, at the end of May. Ballard brought her to Salem Village for examination and, perhaps, shared stories with his brother Joseph of what he’d witnessed in Salem when he returned to Andover. John Ballard also arrested the Carrier children – the eldest Richard and Andrew, and later ten-year-old Thomas and seven-year-old Sarah – when they were subsequently accused. It is likely he was the arresting officer for other residents of the south end of Andover throughout the ordeal.
John Ballard was the brother-in-law of Samuel Wardwell, each man married to one of the Hooper sisters – Rebecca and Sarah, respectively. Samuel Wardwell expressed concern to Ballard that he [Wardwell] might be accused of witchcraft himself, as he was a known fortune-teller. Fortune-telling was a forbidden pastime in 17th century Puritan New England and Wardwell was right to worry. He was arrested on September 1, convicted, and eventually executed, on September 22, 1692. His wife Sarah was also arrested in September and convicted in early 1693, only to be reprieved by Governor William Phips.
It is possible that John Ballard’s experiences, arresting accused “witches” and witnessing the afflicted accusers’ behavior in Salem, helped to escalate the witch hysteria in Andover. His brother Joseph Ballard was worried about his own wife, Elizabeth (Phelps) Ballard, who had been ill all summer. He came to suspect witchcraft was behind her sickness. If John shared his observations of events, he may have encouraged his brother to take action. Joseph Ballard asked two of the afflicted girls of Salem Village (likely Ann Putnam Jr. and Mary Walcott) to come to Andover and verify if witches were active in their town. The afflicted girls confirmed his fears, in July of 1692, and the Andover witchcraft hysteria was under way. Sadly, Elizabeth Ballard died of her illness on July 27.
John Ballard was born in 1653, a son of William and Grace Ballard. He married Rebecca Hooper in 1681.
Andover town records for 1689 state, “Voted, that twenty acres of Land granted to a mill on Shawshin River shall be enjoyed by Joseph and John Ballard and their heirs soe long as they shall keep up a grist and fulling-mill for the good and benefit of the Town, and in case by the providence of god, said mills or dam should come to such casualtie as to be wholly spoyled, and they repair it not within three years after such casualty, then said land to Revert to the Towne.” [A fulling-mill cleaned cloth (particularly wool) to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities.]
According to Charlotte Helen Abbott’s Notes and Records of the Ballard Family, available at the Memorial Hall Library, “Rebecca [Ballard] died Dec. 1, 1715; an epidemic, possibly the grip, swept the family; and [daughter] Ruth was buried in the same grave with her mother. Daughters Elizabeth and Sarah died with their parents; John [Ballard] died December 18, 1715.”
Additional note: When Samuel and Sarah Wardwell were arrested and jailed, they left behind several small children at home who were unable to fend for themselves. Andover town selectmen petitioned the Ipswich court to temporarily place the Wardwell children in other homes. Samuel Wardwell Jr. was placed in the care of his aunt and uncle, John and Rebecca Ballard, for one year.
Additional note: John Ballard’s son Sherebiah, born in 1688, lived in a house at 88 Central Street, built in 1717, which still stands today.
According to the Plan of Andover of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Essex County, 1692, created by the Andover and North Andover Historical Societies in 1992, John Ballard lived on the east side of the Shawsheen River, south of Pomps Pond (called Ballard’s Pond in 1692), possibly near the intersection of Andover Street and the Shawsheen River.
View from the east side of the Shawsheen River, standing in the approximate location of John Ballard's property.
Looking across the Shawsheen River, from approximate location of Ballard property.
Heading west on Andover Street, toward the Shawsheen River.
Pomps Pond, called Ballard's Pond in 1692. John Ballard's home was south of the pond.
The Ballard family plot in the South Parish Burial Grounds.
Sherebiah Ballard House at 88 Central Street. Built in 1717. Private residence. Not open to the public.