- From Ballous in America by Hawley 1937: Merideth Ballou spent his adult life in two several sections of Ashe Co., N. C. He was a man of distinction -- wealthy in lands, mines, negroes and all the concomitants of an old fashioned Southern planter -- an influential magistrate of his County -- and an eminent member of the Regular Baptist denomination. Mrs. Mary, the wife of his youth, a pious Baptist, and the mother of the above named chn., d. June 12, 1831, a. 51 yrs. 1 mo. and 9 ds. At the age of 70, Merideth3 m. his 2d wife, but had no further issue. He d. Mar. 17, 1847, a. 80 yrs. 5 mos. and 18 ds. He left a large estate to his chn. He owned, at one time, 10,000 acres of land, rich in mineral ores.
- source: http://www.danielprophecy.com/Meredith_Ballou.html
Owen Meredith Ballou
"Pioneer Iron Man"
1766 - 1847
One of the more distinguished ancestors of Grover and Harrison Shepherd was their great grandfather Owen Meredith Ballou. Meredith was an entrepeneur who amassed large land holdings and mineral rights, established the forging of iron in Ashe County, and contributed significantly to the industrialization and development of the County during its earliest formative years.
Meredith was born September 29, 1766 in the James River Valley of Amherst County, Virginia as the third son of Leonard Ballou and Ms. Boliew (first name unknown).
He was the first of the Virginia Ballous to come to Ashe County. At the time Meredith arrived, Ashe County had not yet been formed. Ashe County was established in 1799. Prior to that, it was part of Wilkes County. Most sources list Meredith Ballou as coming to Ashe County in 1800. This is based on the first Ashe County census of 1800. Eleanor Baker Reeves, a Ballou researcher, author and historian, feels there is ?ample evidence that Meredith came some time between 1790 and 1795, the latter date having been the year of his marriage.? 
Meredith?s name appears regularly in works concerning early Ashe County history. He served various terms as county surveyor and many times as a member of the County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions.
The following biography of Meredith Ballou appears in An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America by Adin Ballou:
?Merideth Ballou spent his adult life in two several sections of Ashe Co., N.C. He was a man of distinction-wealthy in lands, mines, negroes and all the concomitants of an old fashioned Southern planter-an influential magistrate of his County-and an eminent member of the Regular Baptist denomination. Mrs. Mary, the wife of his youth, a pious Baptist, and the mother of the above named chn., d. June 12, 1831, a. 51 yrs. 1 mo. And 9ds. At the age of 70, Merideth m. his 2d wife, but had no further issue. He d. Mar. 17, 1847, a. 80 yrs. 5 mos. And 18ds. He left a large estate to his chn. He owned, at one time, 10,000 acres of land, rich in mineral ores.? (sic) 
Arthur Fletcher in his Ashe County: A History, provides a list of men who were developing all parts of Ashe County in the early days. He pays tribute particularly to Henry Poe, Martin Gambill, Thomas Sutherland, Timothy Perkins, John Cox, Henry Hardin, Canada Richardson, James Douglas, Daniel Dickerson, Elijah Calloway, Meredith Ballou, and Thomas Harbard. 
Married Mary (Polly )Baker
Meredith Ballou married Mary (Polly) Baker, a local resident of Wilkes County (later Ashe). She was the daughter of Morris Baker, one of the leading men responsible for the formation of the County of Ashe, and the granddaughter of James Baker, the first man to hold title to land in this area.
In regards to early setters of Ashe County, Fletcher said,
?The question, ?Who came first?? to Ashe County will probably never be answered to the satisfaction of anybody. Bill Sharpe in his Geography of Ashe notes that Bishop Spangenberg and his explorers were there in 1752, but he also states that history records that Peter Jefferson and his surveying party, engaged in establishing the line between North Carolina and Virginia, were on Pond Mountain in 1749. Sharpe says that so far as his research goes, the first white man to acquire title to land in Ashe County was James Baker, in 1773.? 
This makes James Baker a great, great, great grandfather of Grover and Harrison Shepherd. A quick view of this line follows. The direct descendent of the previous generation is in bold:
Mary (Polly) Baker married Meredith Ballou
John Rice Ballou married Sarah Porter
Sarah Ballou married John Calvin Shepherd
Sons: Grover and Harrison Shepherd
Acquired Much Land
Meredith Ballou came from a mining family and embarked on Ashe County in search of iron ore. He found outcroppings of iron ore in the areas of the North Fork New River and Big Helton Creek. Meredith built a spacious home on the banks of the North Fork about 1/4 mile north of the current Crumpler Post Office and set about building his fortune. Through state land grants and purchases from individuals, Meredith eventually acquired about 10,000 acres of land in Ashe County. Fletcher includes Meredith Ballou in a list of about 30 men who could be considered ?big real estate men? in Ashe County between 1799 and 1820. 
Mining and Iron Forging
Aside from his other accomplishments, Meredith?s legacy is in iron. His acquistion of mineral rights, mining, and subsequent forging of iron earned him the designation of ?pioneer iron man.?
For about 80 years, the manufacture of iron was an important industry in Ashe, and was one of the cornerstones of the Industrial Revolution. As the county developed, there was great need for iron products such as plows, hoes, wagon wheels, axes, mattocks, scythe-blades, shovels, and other tools and equipment.
With Helton Creek as its iron-making center, Ashe County?s six or seven forges turned out sufficient iron for local needs and provided a surplus to ship by wagon to Fayetteville and other points in eastern North Carolina, and to Charleston, South Carolina.
To encourage ironmaking in North Carolina, a legislative act of 1788 offered to everyone who erected a set of ironworks and produced 5,000 pounds of iron, a bounty grant of 3,000 acres of vacant land certified by the county court as unfit for cultivation.
One person to receive such a grant was Daniel Dougherty, who later sold 2,725 of his 3,000-acre grant to Meredith in 1814. Others to receive these grants were Thomas Calloway, a close business associate of Meredith Ballou, and Jesse Ray. Fletcher says,
?That there were similar grants to Meredith Ballou, William Harbard, and others is certain, but the only grant appearing in the County Court records was to Jesse Ray?? 
Ballou?s Iron Forges
The first iron forge to operate in Ashe County was the Harbard Bloomery Forge, built about ¼ mile up from the mouth of Big Helton Creek in 1807 by William Harbard. The Harbard Bloomery Forge was sold to Meredith Ballou in 1813. It washed away in 1817.
Meredith Ballou set up his second forge in 1817. It was called ?Ballou?s Bloomery Forge?, and was situated 12 miles northeast of Jefferson at the falls of North Fork of the New River. It was washed away by an ice feshet in 1832.
After Meredith?s death in 1847, his son John Rice Ballou (grandfather of brothers Grover and Harrison Shepherd) set up a forge near the mouth of Big Helton Creek in 1848. This forge was reported to have been rebuilt in 1871 by Jefferson Pasley, and later abandoned. The reason this forge had to be rebuilt is not known. It could have also suffered from flood waters, or it could have possibly been destroyed by Union Raiders during the Civil War. The site of this forge would later be the site of Ballou?s Grist Mill.
Ore Knob Copper Mine
Among the many land purchases of Meredith Ballou was about 300 acres that later came to be known as Ore Knob. Meredith was in search of iron, but found that this site ?was so badly adulterated with copper that it was useless.?
Meredith and his sons neglected this tract of land and never paid the taxes due. Eventually, the sheriff sold the tract for taxes in 1848. It brought enough to pay the taxes and cost of sale, leaving a balance of $11, which was divided among Meredith's heirs. Later, the Ore Knob Copper Mine was opened and became successful.
In James Larkin Ballou Physician and Surgeon, Reeves records some interesting diary entries about Meredith Ballou by Rev. Elisha Mitchell, D.D. bearing the date of July 1828. Dr. Mitchell, for whom Mount Mitchell, the highest point East of the Mississippi is named, spent some time with Meredith Ballou and recorded the following:
?Mounted my horse and rode to the North of Helton ten miles and fording the stream thirty-two times in the distance and then down North Fork to Col. Meredith Ballou?s.?
?Col. Meredith Ballou, at whose house I put up on Thursday, is of French extraction, a native of Amherst County, Virginia. He owns a forge, is a busy active little man still, though sixty-one years of age and the father of eleven sons and two daughters, but a wife thirteen years younger than himself and looks as if she might bear a number of children more. Between the ages of his oldest and youngest daughters there is a difference of thirty years.?
?He tells me that the first forge in this county was built on Helton Creek a little above where he lives, about twenty years ago by one Harbert. Shortly after another was built a little higher up the same creek, fourteen years ago; that on Little River, four or six years ago.?
?----- After dinner Ballou rode with us two or three miles to see his ore banks, which are numerous and rich. Indeed, I judge the range of greios heretofore spoken of to be full of ore.? 
1. Eleanor Baker Reeves, James Larkin Ballou Physician and Surgeon, 1969, page 81. Return
2. Adin Ballou, An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America, (Proprietary Publishers, 1888), page 1225. Return
3. Arthur L. Fletcher, Ashe County: A History, (Jefferson NC., Ashe County Research Association, Inc. 1963), page 116. Return
4. Arthur L. Fletcher, Ashe County: A History, (Jefferson NC., Ashe County Research Association, Inc. 1963), page 39. Return
5. Arthur L. Fletcher, Ashe County: A History, (Jefferson NC., Ashe County Research Association, Inc. 1963), page 48. Return
6. Arthur L. Fletcher, Ashe County: A History, (Jefferson NC., Ashe County Research Association, Inc. 1963), page 86. Return
7. Eleanor Baker Reeves, James Larkin Ballou Physician and Surgeon, 1969, pages 87, 88 Return
8. Lists comprising the children of Merdith and Mary Ballou list the aforementioned 11 children. Other sources report 13 children, but names of the other two children are not given. Return
9. Eleanor Baker Reeves, James Larkin Ballou Physician and Surgeon, 1969, page 84. Return
- Diary of a Geological Tour by Dr. Elisha Mitchell in 1827 and 1828 with Introduction and Notes by Dr. Kemp P. Battle, LL.D.
Published as James Sprunt Historical Monograph No. 6, by the University of North Carolina, 1905
45. Meredith Ballou, a Frenchman, came to Ashe about A.D. 1800, and died in 1847, bought nearly all the available iron ore in the county. He was an influential man, surveyor of note, and was for a while County Surveyor. He left sons and daughters, all of whom had families. Among his sons was Napoleon Ballou to whom he deeded all his mineral interests a year before he died and Napoleon endeavored by will to entail his property, but the will was broken. There was also litigation over the purchase of his interests at a Sheriff's sale. Many prominent lawyers were employed on one side or the other of the various Ballou suits, including two concerning the will of Meredith Ballou. It is said that Napoleon once refused $50,000 cash for his interests. The old forge is not worked now and has not been for years. A grandson of the old Frenchman, Albert Lucien Ballou, was a law student of the University of N.C. in 1902.