1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Ballou Family Papers

 Family, of Cumberland, R.I.

 Papers, 1683-1859

 Size: 0.5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 278

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, January 2001

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            These papers relate to five generations of the Ballou family of northeastern Rhode Island, as follows:

            James Ballou (1652-1741) was the son of the English immigrant Maturin Ballou, and lived in the part of Providence which is now Lincoln. By his wife Susannah Whitman, he had seven children, including Obadiah.

            Obadiah Ballou (1689-1768) had eleven children by his wives Damaris Bartlett and Sarah (Whipple) Salisbury. They resided in a part of Wrentham, Mass. which became Cumberland, R.I. in 1747. Their fourth child was Abner Ballou.

            Abner Ballou (1725-1806) married Beulah Thayer, and had seven children. He became the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Cumberland, and was generally known as Elder Ballou. Among his children was Abner Ballou Jr.

            Abner Ballou Jr. (1763-1851) married Henrietta Brown, and raised ten children in Cumberland, including Alexander Ballou.

            Alexander Ballou (1792-1869) married Fanny Sweetzer and their eight children were born in Cumberland. In 1848, the family moved to nearby Blackstone, Mass., and then to Providence in 1861. Alexander was officer of a variety of banks and manufacturing companies.


Ballou, Adin. An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America..., 22, 44, 90, 227, 568, 1160. Providence: E.L. Freeman, 1888.

Providence directory, 1923

Rhode Island Cemetery Database

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists largely of deeds, wills, and estate receipts. Also included is an original list of James Ballou's children and their birth dates, and two documents relating to William Earle dated 1788 and 1801.

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            The original title of the collection was apparently the F.M. Ballou Family Papers, and thus they probably passed through the hands of Alexander's son Frederick Milton Ballou (1818-1889), who was an avid genealogist. His only surviving child was William H. Ballou (1849-1915). The collection was donated in 1922 by Mrs. William Ballou, presumably his widow Lizzie B. (Broughton) Ballou (1847-1934). She was living at 125 George Street in Providence at the time, about one block away from the old R.I.H.S. headquarters at the Cabinet Building, making the gift extremely convenient for all concerned.

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Processing note:

            The collection was donated in scrapbook form with a complete typed list of contents. The papers were removed from the scrapbook circa 1975, and rehoused in acid-free folders. At that point, three folders of unrelated Ballou material from separate gifts were filed with the collection. This guide was compiled in 2001, and the three unrelated folders were refiled in the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.

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            Please see the original typed list for a full inventory.

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Ballou, Abner (1725-1806)

Ballou, Abner Jr. (1763-1851)

Ballou, Alexander (1792-1869)

Ballou, James (1652-1741)

Ballou, Obadiah (1689-1768)

Cumberland, R.I. - Social life and customs

Earle, William

Social Manufacturing Company (Woonsocket, R.I.)

Woonsocket, R.I. - Commerce

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