<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Contraband Historical Society-Hampton Roads, VA

Contraband Historical Society - Hampton, Virginia 501 c (3) Non-Profit Organization


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Wreath Laying Ceremony
Honoring USCT Nelson Ballard



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Nelson Ballard Memorial

Nelson Ballard
Company I, 1st U.S.C. Cav.
1st United States Colored Cavalry
Mustered in at Camp Hamilton, December 22, 1863

Wreath Laying Ceremony (2002) Honoring
USCT Nelson Ballard

In 2002, our society planned a wreath-laying ceremony honoring USCT Nelson Ballard. Actor Robert Earl Jones bestowed the honors to Mr. Ballard. Members of the 7th New York Cavalry and the 54th Massachusetts presented arms. Vincent Aquino placed an American flag on Nelson Ballard’s grave.

Nelson Ballard’s grave site is located in Hampton, Virginia behind Sentara Careplex in an overgrown area. 50 other graves have been identified by the Archaeology Department of William and Mary College. Nelson Ballard represents one of many United States Colored Cavalrymen, or United States Colored Troops, buried here in Hampton.

The USCC and USCT were outstanding men of great courage who fought to preserve the Union while liberating themselves from the iron yoke of slavery.
Nelson Ballard was a native of Nansemond County, Virginia. At the age of 25, he was mustered into military service at Camp Hamilton on December 22, 1863 as a private in Company I, 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry, Union Army.

Camp Hamilton was located on the mainland opposite Fort Monroe (where the downtown section of Phoebus is today). His regiment was mustered out in Brazos Santiago, Texas, February 4, 1866. Nelson Ballard came back to Virginia and settled in Hampton. He died on March 26, 1882. He was buried with military honors by Post No. 9, Grand Army of the Republic.

During the Civil War, the United States government enlisted a total of 180,000 black soldiers. These officially became known as the U.S. Colored Troops. Over 29,000 more are stated to have been enlisted in the United States Navy (25% of all Navy enlistment at that time).


Discovering Slave Cemetery

Living Legend Award Winner 2004
Kenneth Quinn

Mr. Quinn discovered a slave cemetery on the old Downey Plantation more than sixty years ago, locating a lone tombstone which marked the cemetery. The tombstone was that of Nelson Ballard. On December 23, 1984, Mr. Quinn single-handedly prevented the city of Hampton from constructing a road that would have destroyed the slave cemetery. Hugh S. Watson documented Mr. Quinn’s story in the Daily Press newspaper. Since the article was published it has become widely known that the Downey Farm possessed a slave burial ground. Mr. Quinn is a champion for right and truth. May God continue to bless and protect him.

...I once lived at 137 Westbrook Dr, in Hampton. This was between the years of 1958 and 1964 and I was quite familiar and intrigued by Mr. Nelson Ballard’s headstone. The land on which it sits was once part of Selden’s Dairy Farm. I have carried the memories of that grave site around with me for close to five decades and many, many times wondered if it was still there.

I have searched data bases on the 1st USC Cavalry and genealogy websites looking for information on Mr. Ballard. I even looked for a re-interment record through the National Cemetery system. I never thought to simply type his name and regiment into a search engine. I thought that the grave marker had probably disappeared or had been knocked over and covered up with virtually all memory of it lost to history. I just recently found your website and want to thank everyone involved in the saving and honoring Mr. Ballard’s final resting place.

I have often longed to return to Hampton in the last twenty years or so to search for it but never had the opportunity as I had been living in Southern California for the last thirty years until our recent move to Nevada. What I never knew of course was that the spot Mr. Ballard is buried on was also a slave cemetery. I always thought it a an old home site that belonged the Ballard family, as I use to find pieces of what appeared to be farm equipment, by then old and rusting, scattered around near the grave. As I have not seen it for some forty-six years I was wondering if I might be able to get a photo of it ( I took some of it back in 1963 with my Brownie camera, but they have long since disappeared somewhere along the line )... Thank you.

J. R. Kebelman

Hampton Apple Tree Club House, Inc., a 501 c (3) Non-Profit Organization

Email: info@contrabandhistoricalsociety.org
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