Tarlatan received a valuable acquisition to its list of substantial, useful men, in the person of Dr. Otis Ballard. For whatever benefit his residence in their midst conferred upon the people of the village, and of Salt Creek township, there were indebted to one of those so-called accidents of fate, which, at the time of their occurrence, are regarded as unimportant vexations.
Dr. Ballard was born at Charlemont, Massachusetts, October 10, 1792, and there passed the years of his boyhood and early manhood. He studied medicine with Dr. Bryant, the father of the famous poet, William Cullen Bryant, and when twenty-one years of age, started for the great unknown west to find a place where he could establish himself in his profession. He left home in March, 1817, and upon the fourth of July, arrived at the place which he afterwards made his home. It had not been his intention to go so far west, but destiny had so decreed, or chance decided. He was unable to find his brother, whom he had expected to meet in New York State, and so pushed on into Ohio, then almost a wilderness. He intended to locate then in Zanesville, but, again, circumstances interfered. There was no opening there for a young physician. The only thing that remained for him to do, was to journey on until he found a place where his professional services were needed. Such a place was Tarlton. He immediately began there the practice of medicine. It was in a small way, to be sure; but it was a beginning, and as such, was welcomed. The professional services of the young pioneer physician were for sometime only called into requisition in a few families in the neighborhood, but as he became better acquainted, and favorable reports of his understanding and skill went forth, his ride became constantly larger, and his practice finally became as extensive as he could wish for; it fully occupied his time. This practice was continued unbroken by any extended absences until as late as 1842, when the doctor experienced a slight decline of health, which became gradually more severe, until he had violent hemorrhage of the lungs, which threatened to destroy his life. He recovered complete health, however, and retained it almost unimpaired until within a short time preceding his death.
Other occupations than the practice of medicine claimed Dr. Ballard's attention. He had a farm of two hundred and fifty acres in Tarlton, and a larger one in Fairfield, for grazing purposes, and engaged in various business projects of mercantile and other nature, having active partners, who attended to the details. He raised much fine stock, and carried on an extensive business in buying and selling. In his later years he was one of the directors of the hocking Valley bank of Lancaster. Beside his professional duties and the attention given to farming and business interests he--being a man of large public spirit--devoted much time and effort to the furtherance of such measures as were proposed from time to time for the moral or material advancement of the community. When Any project of improvement was advanced, he gave it warm support. He was one of the most zealous of those who endeavored to effect some means of railroad communication between Tarlton and neighboring centers of trade, that the farmers might have an advantageous outlet for the products of the soil always so well tilled.
Dr. Ballard was a devotedly religious man, and was one of the founders of the English Lutheran church, in Tarlton, of which he was, during the remainder of his life, a prominent member and liberal supporter.
Politically, he was a Whig, and then a Republican, and strong union man during the war. Although not a politician, he was a close observer of political action, and very positive in his convictions.
Dr. Ballard's strong characteristics were energy, the habit of doing with his might, and to his best ability, whatever he undertook, good judgment, strong common sense, strict integrity of purpose, and a generous disposition. He was not an educated man, in the commonly accepted meaning of that term, but he was a close observer, was well-read, and had a good knowledge of men and affairs.
Dr. Ballard died November 11, 1878, at the age of eighty-six years, on month and one day, and his death caused a general and wide-spread feeling of sorrow, and bereavement. His sickness was brief, and not excessively painful, and the end was approached in perfect peace, and in a manner fitting the character of the life that was closed.
In 1823, the doctor took as his wife Elizabeth, widow of John Shoemaker, formerly Miss Huy, of Berks county, Pennsylvania, and born in 1789. She died February 14, 1863, fifteen years before her husband. The only children of this pair were James and William H., both now living, and residing in Tarlton, upon the site of their father's home. James Ballard was born, June 12, 1826. His boyhood was passed at home, and when he arrived at the age at which he needed more advanced instruction than could be there had, his father sent him to Hudson to college. He remained there one year, and then went to Williams' college, at Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he graduated with the class of '50. His subsequent life has been passed in Tarlton, where he has been engaged in farming and other avocations. He married, August 28, 1860, Helen F. Dwinell, of Brattleboro, Vermont, by whom he has four children, viz.: Mary E., Helen E., James Otis and Edward S. Mr. Ballard's present residence was built in the Centennial year. His brother, William H. Ballard, was born June 25, 1829. His is a farmer by occupation.