Nathaniel Harrison Ballard Biography by Farris Cadle

Nathaniel Harrison Ballard

Two Documents Concerning Nathaniel Ballard’s Cadastral Map of Glynn County
Edited by Farris Cadle

Nathaniel Harrison Ballard was born in Campbell County (now part of Fulton County) on December 22, 1866.  He attended the University of Georgia, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1886, but soon went into public education and made that his life’s work. In 1897 he married Frieda Geissler in Greensboro, Georgia. Ballard successively taught in and was the principal of several secondary schools in Georgia and Alabama. He was active in fraternal organizations, notably as a 33d-degree Scottish Rite Mason, and, from 1915 to 1916, the Grand Master of the Free and Accepted Masons of Georgia. He was the superintendent of schools for Glynn County from 1901 to 1919, and state superintendent of schools from 1923 to 1927, after which he retired. He died in Jacksonville, Florida, on February 9, 1936. Ballard Elementary School in Brunswick and Ballard Park in Brunswick are named for him.

In 1910 the Glynn County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners of Roads and Revenue hired Ballard to survey and compile a cadastral map of the county. The earliest reference to the map that Ballard was to make is found in the Glynn County Commissioners' Minutes for May 3, 1910. On that day the commissioners voted to form a committee to study the matter. Four months later, on September 6, 1910, Ballard attended the commissioners' meeting. It was resolved that Ballard would supervise the project under a contract prepared by the county attorney and that the map was to be completed by January 1, 1912 for a sum of $5,000. Ballard was "to enter into good and sufficient bond conditioned for the faithful performance of his contract, the map or maps to show all land lines as they now exist, all streams, all public roads, all militia district lines, all railroads and their stations, all such tracts to show the acreage and by whom owned, the map or maps to show the elevation above sea level where land lines crosses [sic] public roads or streams." Two months later the contract was signed.

Ballard was unable to complete the work within the specified time and his contract was extended. On February 6, 1912 he presented a draft of the map to the county commissioners for examination and eight months later he presented the completed map. On May 6, 1913 the commissioners ordered "that the County map as now prepared by Prof. N.H. Ballard, in conjunction with a book now being prepared by him (which book shows a plat and gives a history of each tract of land separately in Glynn County) be accepted (when said book is completed) in full satisfaction of the contract between Glynn County and him."  On August 5, 1913 the final payment was made to Ballard for his work.

The project may have been inspired by a similar one that had been instigated by the commissioners of Chatham County a few years before. In that instance a cadastral map of Chatham County was compiled and published in 1906 by T.M. Chapman and W.F. Brown, civil engineers, and Victor G. Schreck, title abstractor. Schreck then made title abstracts for practically every parcel of land in the county.  The original abstracts, known as “Schreck’s Abstracts,” are in the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah, and bound, typed copies are in the office of clerk of superior court in the Chatham County courthouse.

Ballard’s map of Glynn County was not published, and the original is not known to exist today. Two versions of reduced copies of Ballard’s map do exist.  One is titled: Glynn County Georgia Reduced Facsimile of the Ballard Map of 1912 and U.S. Eng. Dept. Data Presented to Mrs. James E. Hays, Georgia State Historian Rhodes Memorial Hall, Atlanta by Carl G. Vretman Atlanta, Ga. Sept. 23, 1941.”

Copies of the above are in the Georgia Archives in Morrow, Georgia, and in the map drawer in the Special Collections in the Brunswick Public Library. The other reduced version, which varies somewhat, can be viewed online at The entire 1911 Ballard Map book can now be viewed online too!

It is not known if the book of title abstracts that Ballard was working on was completed, and there are no known copies of it.

The contract entered into with Ballard, and Ballard's report of the work submitted to the county commissioners, are of interest because they provide some details of how cadastral maps of the period were compiled.  Following is a verbatim transcript of the contract, followed by Ballard's report.

Georgia Glynn county.

This contract made and entered into in duplicate, on this _____ day of November 1910, by and between N.H. Ballard, of said county as the first party, and Glynn county, as a body corporate acting by and through the Commissioners of Roads & revenue of said County as the second party,

Witnesses [sic]

That whereas, there has been felt for many years the need of an accurate county map of said county; and

Whereas, said Commissioners of Roads & revenue believes that the making of such a map as is hereinafter described and contracted for will increase the taxable values of said county, to an appreciable extent and will in other ways greatly inure to the public benefit;

Now therefore, the said parties hereto have contracted and do hereby contract and agree the one with the other upon valuable considerations to be hereinafter paid as follows;

Said first party agrees to execute or to have executed and drawn a map or number of maps on which shall be shown accurately the boundary lines between said County and the adjoining Counties and also all militia district lines, land lines, public roads, railroads, and all streams. All such streams shall be accurately located where they become land lines and where they are used in describing or locating tracts or in ascertaining the number of acres in a tract.

The land lines shall follow the tracts as they now exist without regard to the original grants, whether colonial or state. All such tracts as they now exist shall be accurately shown and marked out and their acreage shown and the name shown by which each such tract is most commonly known, and each sub-division of each such tract shall be accurately shown and the name by which each such sub-division is commonly known shall be shown on each such sub-division.

In making the traversals of road and land lines the elevation above sea level of each station shall be found and all such elevations shall be shown and correctly delineated on at least one of the maps.

Said map or maps are to be completed and turned over to said Commissioners of Roads & Revenues by January 1st 1912, unless the first party shall be providentially prevented from doing the same by that date.

All notes of or upon the surveys made by the said party or any of his Assistants or employees shall be the property of the second party until the map or maps shall be completed and accepted by the said Commissioners. All the work of drafting said map or maps shall be likewise the property of said second party from the time the work commences and shall so continue until said map or maps shall be delivered to and accepted by said commissioners.

The second party shall pay for the necessary instruments to be used in making the surveys, which instruments shall be the property of the second party until the map or maps are completed and accepted by said Commissioners. The costs of the instruments shall be deducted from the sum hereinafter agreed to be paid by the second party to the first party as the compensation or price for such map or maps.

The first party shall make and execute a bond payable to the second party in the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2500.00) conditioned to pay that sum as liquidated damages to the second party in the event the first party shall fail to execute and deliver to the second party such map or maps within the time limit hereinbefore stated (unless the first party is providentially prevented from so doing) and in the event said map or maps when so delivered shall not be acceptable to the second party; Provided, that in case any dispute shall arise between the parties hereto in regard to the accuracy or correctness of the work to be done by the first party under this contract, then all such matters as may be in controversy in that respect shall be referred to the U.S. Engineer in charge of the U.S. Engineering office in the city of Brunswick, in said county, or if he refuses to act or there should cease to be any such officer at Brunswick, then any competent and disinterested Civil Engineer, and in either event the decision of such Engineer acting in the capacity of Referee shall be final, and the costs of such referee, if any, shall be paid by the second party hereto.

The notes and plats of the U.S. Geodetic survey and of the U.S. River and Harbor Surveys shall be used by the first party in making such maps or map without further survey and all salt marshes in said county shall be platted, in, that is, following the Co[a]st survey for outlines and the actual survey lines between highland and marsh, and the acreage of Marsh calculated from such plats.

The second party hereby agrees to pay said first party for such map or maps the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) with the cost of survey instruments deducted as hereinbefore set out. Such sum is to be paid in different payments from time to time during the progress of the work upon proper proof being made to said commissioners of Roads & Revenue that sufficient of the work has been done towards the completion of the map or maps as to justify the payment of the amount asked for at that time.

In witness whereof, the parties hereto have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals and delivered these presents this the day and year first hereinbefore written and mentioned; the second party acting by and through J.B. Wright, Chairman of the Commissioners of Roads & Revenue of Glynn County, who acts herein under and by virtue of a resolution of the said commissioners of Roads & Revenue duly adopted on the 1st day of November 1910.

Attest_____________________________(ls)             _____________________________(ls)

Clerk, of Commissioners of Roads & revenue of Glynn county, Georgia.

County of Glynn, Georgia

by ____________________, Chairman of the commissioners of Roads & revenue of Glynn county, Georgia

On ___________, N.H. Ballard entered into a contract with the Commissioners of Roads & Revenue of Glynn County to execute a map or maps on which should be shown the principal streams, roads, railroads, land lines, district lines, and county lines.

In making said map there was used information from the Coast & Geodetic Survey of the United States, which gave the outlines of the islands and the principal salt water streams. Also, the recent survey of the Altamaha River by the Army Engineers under Col. Dan Kingman. Also, the different surveys of lands made by various county surveyors and others. Most of the plats surveyed were made either by E.A. Penniman, who for more than thirty years has been County Surveyor of Glynn County, and George C. Myers, who served as County Surveyor for one term and during a period of forty years did a great deal of surveying in the County: also, James C. Postell, dealing mostly with St. Simons Island; Ben F. Houston; Col. Edmund C. Atkinson and Maj. Urbanus Dart. The surveys of Col. Edmund Atkinson all seemed to be so inaccurate that none are of any worth. Nearly all of the tracts in the county had been surveyed or re-surveyed by the first so mentioned, Penniman and Myers. Therefore, their surveys form the basis of most of the land lines indicated on the county map.

The first object in making the map was to obtain an accurate survey of the roads and railroads, which platted in would form the skeleton of the map. This was done by the use of one of Keuffel & Esser's best transits with stadia wires, gradient-er and solar attachment. The meridian was established in the Court House grounds by the use of the solar attachment, and, also, by observations on Polaris. This meridian shows a variation from the magnetic meridian of 29' 30" East. This meridian was used in the survey of all the roads and railroads of the county. At every turn in the road a hub was driven down and the azimuth of the line accurately determined by the lower plate. A good steel tape was used in the measurements and every effort used to see that it was accurately done. When the survey of the roads and railroads was completed, the latitude and departure of each line was determined, thereby giving the latitude and departure of every intersecting point. This became a check upon the accuracy of the survey. The center of the Court House was used as the point of beginning, and, from this, the different intersecting points, as determined by its latitude and longitude, was marked upon the map. Then the roads and railroads were platted in. The information from the Coast & Geodetic Survey and the Army Engineers was platted in and showed a remarkable agreement with the surveys made of the roads and railroads. An original survey was made of Satilla River, Blythe River, Turtle River, Buffalo and other creeks, beginning where the Geodetic survey stopped and continuing as far as tide water. In making the survey of the roads and railroads, all land lines were noted--their direction, and in most cases the distance to the nearest corner was determined; then, by the use of the surveys made by the various County Surveyors, were platted in. If they corresponded to the points as determined by the road survey, it was deemed sufficiently correct. If not, a re-survey was made to determine the error.

The greatest difficulty was experienced in obtaining the smaller divisions, owned mostly by negroes. In many instances no surveys had ever been made and no corners determined. They had no deeds; only receipts acknowledging the payment of a certain sum of money for a certain acreage of land.

It was especially stipulated in the contract that no attention need be paid to original grant lines, but to present ownership. However, a copy of all grants as recorded in the office of the Secretary of State, in Atlanta, was obtained for information. In dividing the County into tracts, it was found that in many instances the older lines had been obliterated and railroads, roads and streams had become land lines and it was deemed better in many instances to ignore original tract lines and arbitrarily make new tracts, having roads, railroads and streams for the boundaries. The old names as used for many years have been retained for the names of tracts, except in cases where no name was common to the tract, or else it was known by several names, a name has arbitrarily been given it, in most cases the name of the original grantee.

In retracing many old lines the average variation of the needle seems to be about 2-1/2' per year. The year 1810 has been taken for the extreme variation East and in determining the true magnetic bearing of a line to-day by an old grant made, for example, in 1770, the difference between 1770 and 1810 was added to 1810, which made 1850 and from that date to the present, variation was calculated at the rate of 1° in twenty-five years. All bearings upon the map are given in terms of the true meridian.

Boundary and Militia Districts

Up to 1777 Georgia was laid out into Parishes. The second parish to be established in the State was St. James, which included the islands of St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Hunting (now known as Rainbow), Long Island and Jekyl. After the acquisition of the territory south of the Altamaha by England, it was laid out in 1765 into parishes from the Altamaha to the St. Mary's. The first was St. David's Parish, which was bounded on the North by the south bank of the south branch of the Altamaha River, on the South by Buffalo Creek and the center of Buffalo Swamp, on the West by the Indian boundary line, and on the East by Frederica River. The next was St. Patrick's Parish, which was bounded on the North by Buffalo Creek and the center of Buffalo Swamp, on the South by the Little Satilla River and the center of the Little Satilla Swamp, on the West by the Indian boundary line, and on the East by Wallace Creek, now known as Jekyl Creek. In 1777, these three (3) parishes, viz: St. James, St. David, and St. Patrick, were formed into Glynn County, bounded on the North by the south bank of the south branch of the Altamaha River, on the South by the Little Satilla River and the center of the Little Satilla Swamp, on the West by the Indian boundary line, and on the East by the Atlantic Ocean. In 1805, the western part of the county was cut off to form Wayne County; the western boundary line becoming the Old Post Road leading from Ft. Barrington on the Altamaha River to a point where it crosses the Little Satilla Swamp in the direction of St. Mary's.  In 1819, the northeastern portion was cut off by line beginning on the Post Road at the northeastern corner of Tucker's two hundred (200) acre grant running due West to a point on the Barrington Road near the Little Clay Hole and from there to Clarks Bluff. In 1820 this line was changed to the present line, beginning at Reads Bluff and running S 28° E (Mag.) until it intersected the due West line from Tucker's corner made in 1819 at Kemp's Swamp field. This line was retraced as follows:

Beginning at a large pine on Read's Bluff on the Altamaha River just south of the mouth of Cree's Lake and near an old brick yard, running S 32° W
21.75 to edge river swamp
26.75 Old Barrington Road
30.75 to beginning prong river swamp
35.00 to end prong river swamp
105.00 edge of pond
107.00 end of pond and on Blue Ridge
123.00 beginning Big Bridge Branch
127.00 end Big Bridge Branch
129.75 to new Barrington Road
144.00 Gum pond on left and head of Rose Bush Branch on right
151.23 Aiken's R.R.
168.00 beginning swamp
172.00 end swamp
191.00 beginning swamp
197.00 to marked gum fore and aft seems to be land line running in general direction of county line
199.00 end swamp High Camp general direction N 70° E
217.00 pond
244.00 pond
264.75 beginning swamp
267.75 to cypress stump near Southern R.R. said to be on the County Line
281.05 public road
286.19 gum
289.05 cypress
303.55 red oak
310.65 old road
336.00 to county corner near edge of swamp and just where a tram crosses it and at old gate to Kemp's Hammock field marked by a stake and witnessed by several trees--oak southwest 20 feet, pine NE 13'

N 85-1/2° W
12.00 end branch
36.00 pond
44.00 beginning branch
54.00 end branch
75.00 beginning Bay
95.00 end Bay
111.00 to stake corner of Old Post Road being the northeast corner of Tucker's Grant and present corner of Robert and A.A. Arnett's land.

Beginning at the Tucker corner on the Post Road, the County Line follows this road N 28° E
7.57 Williams corner on right
36.20 Eight Mile Post
53.68 Wallace corner on right
60.49 Tucker and Green corner on left
71.35 to turn

Thence N 22-1/2° E 5.14 to Green headright left
40.17 Nine Mile Post
41.50 school house on left
45.30 to turn

Thence N 16° E 19.98 to Popwell & Arnett's corner on left

Thence 33.14 to the hurricane root on the right side of the road known as the beginning of the O.G. Keith County Line.  This line was cut off by O.G. Keith, County Surveyor of Wayne County, in 1859 and confirmed by an Act of the Legislature in 1860, directing that there shall be cut off from the County of Glynn the residences of James M. Bryan, Wm. J. Burney, J.F. Chapman, A.A. Burney, and Samuel Wright and line to follow St. Mary's road at post near Buffalo Swamp between the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Mile Posts and follow O.G. Keith's line and return to road between Ninth and Tenth Mile Posts.

This corner between the Ninth and Tenth Mile Posts is the hurricane root 13.16 ch. west of Popwell and A[r]nett's corner.  The Keith line beginning at this point goes direct to an oak in the rear of the house of George Popwell, originally the home of Samuel Wright. Thence, on a line passing through the corner of Bowling Green tract and intersecting a line drawn from the corner of the Popwell tract and a recent grant to Moses Floyd and passing just in the rear of the house of M.E. Popwell, originally Wm. J. Burney's, following an old road on the west edge of a branch and intersecting with the line first mentioned. From the Popwell and Moses Floyd headright corner it is a straight line to a pine tree said to have the markings made by Keith near the home of P.O. Nail, originally the home of A.A. Burney. It crosses the New Fish Hole Road at a branch in the rear of Wm. Chapman's house and running forty (40) feet to the rear of the house originally owned by J.F. Chapman.  From the pine tree, the line follows the land line between Nail and Arnett until it reaches the corner of a grant made in 1860 for four hundred twenty-eight (428) acres to James W. Stafford. It follows this grant line to the Post Road, intersecting the Post Road at a stake just south of a graveyard and being the Stafford corner on the Post Road. With the exception cut off in the northeastern corner of the County in 1820 and the part cut off in 1860 by the Keith line, the County's boundaries are as they were in 1805. Soon after the establishment of the County system in Georgia, the parishes became Militia Districts; St. James Parish becoming the 25th General Militia District, St. David's Parish becoming the 26th General Militia District, and St. Patrick's Parish becoming the 27th General Militia District. Aug 23, 1882 (Ex. Min. 1881-82, p. 163)  The 1356th G.M. District was cut from the 26th by the line of the Canal beginning on Turtle River at Burnett's Creek, following this until its intersection with the Canal and then following the Canal to the Altamaha River. Nov. 23, 1892 (Ex Min. 1892, p. 420)  The 1499th G.M. District was cut off from the 27th beginning at the intersection of Turtle and Buffalo River, following Turtle River and the center of Turtle River Swamp until it intersects the Post Road north of Coleridge Station on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

N.A. Ballard


Source Notes: The biographical information about Ballard is derived from: “Biographical Questionnaire for Nathaniel Harrison Ballard,” Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia; William Jonathan Northen, Men of Mark in Georgia, 7 volumes, Atlanta: A.B. Caldwell, 1907-1912, reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1974, volume 6, pages 41-43; and Savannah Morning News (Savannah, Ga.), February 10, 1936, pages 1 and 2. References to Ballard’s map are in "Minutes County Commissioners Volume 2 Glynn County," pages 212, 222, 224, 228-29, 241, 275, 286, 289, 296, 314, 321, 338, 346, 351, County Commissioners’ Office, Glynn County Courthouse, Brunswick, Georgia. An additional reference is in the "Minutes Board of Education Dec. 14, 1905-Dec. 7, 1932 ", page 70, Office of the Glynn County Board of Education, Brunswick, Georgia. The draft of the contract between Ballard and the county is in "Minutes County Commissioners Volume 2 Glynn County", pages 228-29, County Commissioners’ Office, Glynn County Courthouse, Brunswick, Georgia. Ballard's report of the survey is in a volume titled "Map of Glynn County 1911 By W.A. Ballard" in the Record Room of the office of clerk of superior court in the Glynn County courthouse. Ballard's first two initials are incorrectly stated in this title. The volume contains sketch maps that are undoubtedly preliminaries for or were made from the final map of the county.


1911 Ballard Map Book Ballard Map
overlaid with current highways


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