Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stories from Bovina Cemeteries - The Ballantine Family Drownings

In the spring of 1839, two members of the same family met their ends by drowning, one by accident and the other, apparently, by design. On April 13, as later reported in the Delaware Gazette, “David Ballantine, an aged and respectable inhabitant of the town of Bovina, was drowned while attempting to cross the Delaware at the lower part of [Delhi].” He was with his son Robert and with James Hastings, heading to Delhi to get a load of lumber. The wagon on which they were riding had no box or seat so they sat on a single board laid on the axle. They were approaching a bridge where the road was several feet under water and the water was flowing rapidly. Horses, passengers and wagon were all pitched into the water. Robert and James were able to get to the shore, but David and the horses were carried downstream and died. The bodies of the horses were recovered the same day, but it was about ten days before the body of David was located, a mile and a half away from where the accident took place. The body of David Ballantine was taken to Bovina and buried in the Reformed Presbyterian Church cemetery. David, a native of Roxburghshire, Scotland, was 70 years old. He had been widowed in 1833. He and his wife, the former Anna Grant, had 10 children.

Grave of David Ballantine. Photo by Richard Davidson

A few weeks later, on June 10, 1839, Mr. Ballantine’s son Allen met a similar fate, though this time it was in a well and was believed to be suicide. As later reported in the Delaware Gazette, the body of Allen Ballantine “was found drowned in a well on a place adjoining the farm on which the family lived.” The paper went on to note that since the well “had been covered for some time, it is supposed he had removed the covering for the purpose of drowning himself.” He was found in the well face first. The paper ended the brief article by noting that “we understand [he] had been deranged for several years.” He, too, was buried in the Reformed Presbyterian Church cemetery. Allan was 30 years old and had spent his whole life in Bovina.

Grave of Allan Ballantine. Photo by Richard Davidson

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