Walter Ballou, one of the representative citizens and well-known jewelry manufacturers of North Attleboro, where for upward of a half century he has been a member of the jewelry manufacturing firm of R. Blackinton & Co., is a native of the State of Rhode Island, born in the town of Cumberland Feb. 20, 1835, son of Preston and Harriet M. (Brown) Ballou.
The Ballou family is among the oldest and most distinguished of Rhode Island. Of Norman-French origin, it is descended from Gunebored Ballou, who was probably a marshal in the army of William the Conqueror and took part in the memorable battle of Hastings, 1066. The founder of the family in New England was:
Maturin Ballou, who was a native of Devonshire, England, and of a good family. He came at an early age to the New World and his name first appears on recorded documents among the signatures of the twenty-eight coproprietors of Roger Williams, the Colonial founder of Rhode Island, as having obtained a grant of land of twenty- five acres – a part of the town of Providence. He subscribed his name as Mathurin (changed by his descendants to the simpler spelling of Maturin) Ballou. He married, between 1646 and 1649, Hannah Pike, daughter of Robert and Catharine Pike, and his children were:
- James Ballou
- Peter Ballou
- Hannah Ballou
- Nathaniel Ballou
- Samuel Ballou
He died between 1661 and 1663.
James Ballou, son of Maturin, born in the town of Providence, R. I., in 1652, married Susanna Whitman, born Feb. 28, 1658, daughter of Nathaniel and Mary Whitman (alias Wightman). Their children, all probably born in what is now Lincoln, R. I. (originally Providence), were:
- James Ballou, born Nov. 1, 1684
- Nathaniel Ballou, April 9, 1687
- Obadiah Ballou, Sept. 6, 1689
- Samuel Ballou, Jan. 23, 1692
- Susanna Ballou, Jan. 3, 1695
- Bathsheba Ballou, Feb. 15, 1698
- Jeremiah Ballou, Jan. 20, 1702.
The parents settled in Lincoln soon after their marriage, in the vicinity of Albion Factory village, on the Blackstone river. He died probably soon after 1741. His wife probably passed away during the year 1725. Mr. Ballou was a man of superior ability, energy, judgment, enterprise and moral integrity.
Nathaniel Ballou, son of James, born in Providence, R. I., April 9, 1687, married Dec. 7. 1716. Mary Lovett, born in the vicinity of Pawtucket, R. I., in 1696, daughter of James Lovett. Nathaniel Ballou made his home in the town of Cumberland, where he owned a farm near what was called Beacon Poll Hill. He was a member of the first town council of Cumberland, which office he was holding at the time of his death, Jan. 11, 1747-48, at the age of sixty years. His widow died Oct. 14, 1747, aged fifty-one years. Both are buried in the Ballou burial ground at Cumberland. They had the following children:
- Hannah Ballou, born Dec. 1, 1717, married Feb. 3, 1743, David Cook
- Ruth Ballou, born Jan. 3, 1720, married Dec. 11, 1740, Stephen Brown
- Amiriah Ballou was born Feb. 27, 1722
- Noah Ballou was born Aug. 31, 1728
- Stephen Ballou was born March 18, 1731
- Sarah Ballou married Feb. 2, 1759, Samuel Pickering
- Mary Ballou died unmarried
Noah Ballou, son of Nathaniel, born in what is now the town of Cumberland, R. I., Aug. 31, 1728, made farming his life occupation and had his home near his father’s homestead in the town of Cumberland. He was quite active in religious work, being a Bible reader, and a stanch member of the Baptist Church for thirty-nine years. A man well known, he was highly respected. He died at his home March 20, 1807, in his seventy-ninth year, and was interred in the Ballou burying ground. Mr. Ballou was twice married, the first time Oct. 17. 1750, to Abigail Razee, daughter of Joseph Razee, of Cumberland. She died Sept. 10, 1794, aged sixty-nine years, and he married (second) Mrs. Abigail (Blackmore) Cook on July 7, 1796; she was the widow of Daniel Cook, Jr., of West Wrentham. Noah Ballou had a family of eleven children, all born to the first marriage:
- Absalom Ballou, April 16, 1752
- Mercy Ballou, June 5, 1754 (married Silas Metcalf)
- David Ballou, March 21, 1756
- Keziah Ballou, Dec. 6, 1757 (married Joel Peck)
- Noah Ballou, July 29, 1759
- Silence and Abigail Ballou, twins, Sept. 7, 1761 (Silence died in infancy; Abigail married Royal Peck)
- Oliver Ballou, Nov. 4, 1763
- Ziba Ballou, Aug. 5, 1765
- Eliel Ballou, Feb. 20, 1767
- Amariah Ballou, Feb. 14, 1771
Eliel Ballou, son of Noah, born in the town of Cumberland Feb. 20, 1767, was a strong, able man, and was a contractor by occupation, doing much in the way of constructing wharves, factories, canals, wells, walls, etc. He made his home in Vermont for a period of years, locating first in Putney, later at Westminster. Returning to Rhode Island, he spent the remainder of his life in that section of the country, and died in the county of Worcester, Mass., Sept. 28, 1841, near Blackstone. We copy from the Ballou genealogy a statement made by Dr. Maria Louise Pitts, granddaughter of Eliel Ballou, who says:
“When his father and six brothers served in the Colonial army of the Revolution he (Eliel) was left at home, at the age of thirteen years, to care for affairs, and being the oldest boy in the neighborhood was charged with managing the famous beacon pole signal on the adjacent high land, called to this day Beacon Pole Hill, which had been previously manipulated by his father, Noah Ballou. The pole is said to have been some seventy feet high, with a large tar kettle suspended near the top. The army was at Newport, R. I., hovering near the British troops. One night signals came that the Colonial soldiers were in great want of food. Eliel lit the beacon and aroused all the women of the vicinage, who set themselves at once to cook all available provisions. At daybreak a stout ox team was heavily loaded with food. The boy of thirteen commanded the team, drove it to Providence, where he had never been before, receiving along his route many accessories to his stock, till finally he crossed the Bristol ferry and was welcomed by the relieved soldiers with shouts of joy.”
On Oct. 13, 1792, Eliel Ballou married Polly Moran, of Attleboro, Mass., and to them were born the following children:
- Preston Ballou, born Feb. 10, 1794
- Abida Ballou, born at Westminster, Vt., Aug. 20, 1795, who married Nelson Cowen
- Mary Ann Ballou, born at Cumberland, R. I., July 8, 1806, who married E. W. Bucklin and (second) A. W. Pitts
- Stephen Randolph Ballou, born in Cumberland March 17, 1808
- James Walter Ballou, born in Smithfield, Sept. 20, 1812
- Eliel Michael Larkin Ballou, born at Smithfield, Aug. 12, 1814.
Preston Ballou, eldest son of Eliel, born at Putney, Vt., Feb. 10, 1794, removed to Rhode Island with his parents and made his home in Cumberland. He followed the trade of mason, stone cutter and builder, and was known as a man of sterling honesty and high standards, in business and citizenship. He died in Cumberland May 6, 1838, aged forty-four years, two months, twenty-six days, and was laid to rest in the Ballou burying ground in the town of Cumberland, R. I. He married May 22, 1825, Harriet M. Brown, who was born Sept. 19, 1804, daughter of James and Abigail (Smith) Brown, granddaughter of Elihu Brown, and a descendant of John Brown. She died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Vose, at Manville, R. I., and was buried beside her husband. The children of this couple were:
- Frederick K. Ballou, born Aug. 29, 1826, married Louisa R. Cowswell and after her death (second), Ann M. Clapp
- Emily Ballou, born Feb. 10, 1829, married Homer Metcalf and (second) William Packard
- Henry Clay Ballou, born Dec. 29, 1831, died in 1832
- Caroline Ballou, born April 1, 1833, married Carlisle Vose and resides at Manville, R. I.
- Walter Ballou was born Feb. 20, 1835
- Irving Ballou, born Oct. 10, 1837, died in 1838
- Stephen B. Ballou, born in 1838, married Jane A. Woodman, and resides in North Attleboro
Walter Ballou, son of Preston, was quite young when his father died and was obliged to go to work in early boyhood. His opportunities for an education were limited to the advantages afforded at the common school. When quite young he worked in the cotton mill at Manville, R. I., and leaving home at the age of sixteen years came to the town of Attleboro, where he started to learn the jeweler’s trade in the old brick shop at Old Town, with W. Henry Robinson. He mastered all the details of the business and became an expert in his line, being known as one of the best jewelers in the Attleboros. He worked at the trade as a journeyman for some time and in 1862 formed a partnership, for the manufacture of jewelry, with Roswell Blackinton and T. S. Mann., under the firm name of R. Blackinton & Co. Their plant was located at the falls. In 1867 Mr. Mann sold out his interest in the business, which has been continued under the same firm name ever since. In 1873 it was moved to the Richards building and later to the F. G. Whitney factory, where it was carried on until the removal to the present factory in 1904. In 1906 Mr. R. Blackinton died, but the business has continued to be operated under the old name, the R. Blackinton estate, Walter Ballou, Roswell Blackinton, Jr., Walter B. Ballou and J. B. Morse, of New York, being the members of the firm. Mr. Ballou has been manager of the business since its establishment, and through his mechanical skill and knowledge, coupled with business ability, has become foremost in his line. His ingenious mind has produced quite a number of useful inventions, articles of jewelry, including bracelets, which have brought prosperity to the house. The firm of which he has so long been the business head stands among the foremost jewelry manufacturers of the country today. The product includes high-grade sterling silver novelties, toilet and table wares, and etched toilet wares and novelties, which have been widely known. Mr. Ballou has brought the business to high standing, and while he is still a member of the firm has relinquished the more arduous work to some extent, his son Walter Burnside Ballou being now general manager. He inherits much of his father’s business and mechanical ability. Mr. Ballou makes his home on Elm street, North Attleboro, and since the death of his wife has been cared for by his daughter, Mrs. Freeman, who is much devoted to him. He is highly respected as one of the self-made men of his adopted town, having worked hard from early boyhood, as he was deprived at a very tender age of his father’s care and support. He never forgot the lessons learned at the knee of his devoted mother, and he has – done his full duty through life as a father, husband and citizen. He is broad-minded and liberal in his views on all questions. He is a Republican in politics, but has never sought office. Fraternally he has held membership for more than forty years in Bristol Lodge of Masons.
On May 14, 1856, Mr. Ballou married Ann E. Briggs, who was born at Slatersville, R. I., daughter of Rufus and Nancy (Bounds) Briggs. Mrs. Ballou died at her home in North Attleboro May 13, 1909, after fifty-three years of happy married life. She was laid to rest in Mount Hope cemetery, North Attleboro. A devoted wife and mother, and a thorough Christian woman, she was an active member of the Universalist Church, and a member of the Woman’s Relief Corps connected with Prentiss M. Whiting Post, G. A. R. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Ballou:
- Myra A. Ballou, born Feb. 2, 1858, married Benjamin Stanley Freeman, son of Benjamin Stanley and Ann Elizabeth (Robinson) Freeman, Attleboro Falls, and had one child, Helen Gertrude Freeman, who died in infancy. Mr. Freeman is a jewelry manufacturer.
- Helen Gertrude Ballou, born Dec. 12, 1860, married Jan. 6, 1885, Frank Harris Cutler, son of Charles D. and Elizabeth C. (Moore) Cutler, and has two children, Lester Ballou Cutler, born Jan. 6, 1887, and Helen Cutler, born Nov. 12, 1890. Mr. Cutler is a manufacturing jeweler.
- Walter Burnside Ballou was born Feb. 19, 1862.
Walter Burnside Ballou received his literary education at the public school of North Attleboro and Mowry & Goff’s school at Providence, later attending the Bryant & Stratton commercial college at Providence. In 1879 he entered the employ of R. Blackinton & Co., of which firm his father was the head, and there learned the different branches of the business, being also a traveling salesman for the firm for some time. In 1893 he became business manager and in 1905 a member of the firm, of which he is now general manager. Mr. Ballou, like his father, is possessed of an inventive turn of mind, and he has patented a bracelet of his own invention. He is a Republican, and a member of the Republican town committee; has served as member of the school board six years, and is a member at the present of the board of commissioners of electric light and water (being secretary of the water board), and of the sinking fund.
He is a member of Bristol Lodge of Masons and also the chapter, and a charter member of the local lodge of the Royal Arcanum, where he has been through all the chairs. On March 10, 1885, he married Amy Frances Matthias, daughter of Frederick and Sarah (Metcalf) Matthias, and they have one child
- Howard Metcalf Ballou, born Oct. 25, 1887, who is now engaged with R. Blackinton & Co.
Briggs. The Briggs family, to which belonged the late Mrs. Walter Ballou and Mrs. John Makinson (mother of John F. Makinson, of Attleboro Falls), daughters of Rufus Briggs, is one of the oldest and best known families of southeastern Massachusetts. There were several of the name of Briggs who settled at an early date in New England. The founder of this branch of the family is supposed to have been Clement Briggs, who came from Southwark, England, to the Plymouth Colony in the ship “Fortune,” 1621, and later located at Weymouth, 1633. William Briggs, who is supposed to have been a son of Clement, married in 1666 Sarah Macomber, and their children were:
- William Briggs, born in 1668
- Thomas Briggs, born in 1669
- Sarah Briggs, twin of Thomas, born the next day
- Elizabeth Briggs, born in 1672
- Mary Briggs, born in 1674
- Matthew Briggs, born in 1677
- John Briggs, born in 1680.
John Briggs, son of William and Sarah (Macomber) Briggs, was born in 1680. He married Hannah Rocket, and settled in what is now the town of Norton, where he spent his life and where he died. His children on the Norton town records were:
- Rachel Briggs, born Aug. 21, 1713
- Bathsheba Briggs, Dec. 30, 1717
- John Briggs, July 15, 1720
- Jabez Briggs, June 29, 1723
John Briggs, son of John and Hannah (Rocket) Briggs, born in the town of Norton, there spent his life. He married there March 12, 1741, Lydia Tinney, born Oct. 1, 1722, in Norton, Mass., daughter of John and Mary (Cambel) Tinney, of Bristol. They had children born as follows:
- Nathaniel Briggs, Aug. 23, 1743
- John Briggs, June 3, 1747
- Rufus Briggs, April 14, 1749
- Rufus Briggs (2), Feb. 7, 1750
- Lydia Briggs, Aug. 30, 1753
- Chloe Briggs, Feb. 14, 1755
Rufus Briggs, son of John, born Feb. 7, 1750, made his home in Norton, Mass. He married Oct. 14, 1772, Margaret Wetherall, who was born June 7, 1750, daughter of Seth and Sarah Wetherall, and they had children:
- Margaret Briggs, born May 22, 1774
- Hannah Briggs, May 23, 1776
- Lucy Briggs, April 24, 1783
- Rufus Briggs, May 17, 1788
Rufus Briggs, son of Rufus and Margaret (Wetherall) Briggs, born in the town of Norton May 18, 1788, made his home in Attleboro and at Slatersville, R. I., where he worked in the cotton mills, later locating at what is now Attleboro Falls, where he died June 6, 1855. He married Nancy Rounds, who was a native of Attleboro, born March 23, 1791, daughter of Hezekiah and Mary (Wheeler) Rounds and granddaughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Bowen) Rounds, of Rehoboth and Swansea, Mass. Hezekiah Rounds was born in Rehoboth Dec. 20, 1752; he enlisted in the Revolutionary war, was sergeant of Capt. Stephen Bullock’s company, Col. Thomas Carpenter’s regiment, service to Dec. 23, 1776, sixteen days; company marched from Rehoboth to Bristol, R. I., on the alarm of Dec. 8, 1776. Mrs. Briggs died in Attleboro July 9, 1864, aged seventy-three years. She and her husband had the following children:
- Amy Rounds Briggs, born Jan. 1, 1811, in Attleboro, died Oct. 14, 1889; she was the wife of John Makinson
- Rufus Bradford Briggs, born July 19, 1812, died Dec. 26, 1906
- Nancy Caroline Briggs, born Dec. 12, 1815, died March 24, 1838
- Margaret Wetherell Briggs, born Dec. 25, 1817, married Charles Kingman, and died Jan. 10, 1856
- William Henry Briggs, born Aug. 6, 1820, died Sept. 1, 1895
- Emily Jane Briggs, born March 3, 1825, died July 13, 1826
- Catharine Jane Briggs, born June 26, 1827, married Felix G. Whitney, and died June 23, 1886
- Albert Frost Briggs, born Feb. 5, 1829, died Jan. 29, 1907
- Minerva Slater Briggs, born Aug. 19, 1831, married James A. Mason, and died Oct. 5, 1905
- Mary Elizabeth Briggs, born Sept. 8, 1833, married Robert Kingman, and died Feb. 8, 1886
- Ann Eliza Briggs, born May 2, 1835, married Walter Ballou and died May 13, 1909