Monadnock Moments No. 15: Eliza Ballou of Richmond
The Ballou family was among the earliest settlers of the town of Richmond at the southern border of Cheshire County. Twelve year old James Ballou came to Richmond in 1773 with his parents and several brothers and sisters. James grew up in Richmond, married Mehitable Ingalls, the town clerk’s daughter, and built a home and farm near his father’s home. In 1803 he moved to a house near the Richmond Four Corners where he opened a store. James attained considerable local prominence for his ability to foretell the future and locate missing property.
James and Mehitable’s sixth child Elizabeth, better known as Eliza, was born in September of 1801. Eliza spent her early childhood years in Richmond. James Ballou died in 1808 and Mehitable took her children and went to join her father who was now living in Worcester, New York. Eliza passed the remainder of her youth there.
She later married Abram Garfield and they settled on the Ohio frontier in 1830. Abram had barely made a beginning for the family in Ohio when he died following a sudden illness. Eliza was left with four small children, the youngest of whom was an infant son. She brought up the children unaided in the poverty of her isolated log cabin. It was the youngest son who accompanied his mother on a visit to her childhood home in Richmond many years later. This youngest son of Eliza Ballou Garfield of Richmond, New Hampshire was James A. Garfield, Civil War general and 20th president of the United States.