From Niggerhead to Negrohead to Ballard, a Mountain Finally Gets A Decent Name



John Ballard


A Southern California mountain that was once named Niggerhead, then Negrohead has just been renamed Ballard Mountain in honor of its first African-American settler
, John Ballard.


The fight for the renaming of the controversially named mountain began back in 2005, when Morehouse College history professor Patricia Colman, who had worked for the National Park Service previously, began to research the mountain's history. Professor Colman discovered that Ballard came to Los Angeles in the 1850s and he and his family were the first and only African Americans to have lived in the mountain area during this time.

The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed Ballard, a former slave, to claim the undeveloped land. The 2,031-foot mountain and surrounding land near Mailbu became Niggerhead mountain, when white settlers named the land.


Ballard and his wife, Amanda, were pillars of the Black community in the 19th century and helped to build Los Angeles. Ballard was also a trustee and one of the founding members of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in L.A.

The mountain's name remained unchanged until the 1960s, when President Lyndon Johnson changed the racial slur to Negrohead.

The U.S. Geographical Survey approved the change last year, after a request from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.


Thanks to Professor Colman's push, the peak was formally dedicated this past Saturday at a ceremony in Agoura Hills, Calif. Guests included Ballard's descendants and the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Marcia McNutt.


Ryan Ballard, Reginald Ballard Sr.'s youngest child and the great-great-grandson of John Ballard, has not hiked up the mountain yet. "You know the plan is already underway," he said.



Ballard lived on his claim until his death in 1905.



Open link for video:

http://www.bvblackspin.com/201...22/ballard-mountain/
Original Post

Name change halts longtime racial slur

Ballard Mountain no longer called ‘Negrohead’
By Stephanie Bertholdo bertholdo@theacorn.com

NAME-CALLING—John Ballard as he appeared in the 1880s. NAME-CALLING—John Ballard as he appeared in the 1880s. A mountain peak in Lobo Canyon, listed on government documents as “Negrohead Mountain,” has been officially changed to Ballard Mountain in honor of John Ballard, who is said to have been the first African American to settle in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s proposal asking the U.S. Geological Survey to change all maps of the area to reflect the new name. Last month, the USGS Council of Geographic Names Authorities approved the request.

Radha Reyes, an African American musician who lives in Triunfo Canyon, was the first person to call attention to the derogatory epithet.

“I had heard (Ballard’s) name existed and went to the archives to look it up,” said Reyes regarding her research trip to the Agoura Library more than 10 years ago.

Reyes said while looking through historical records she found many typewritten documents that identified the hilltop near her home as either “Niggerhead” or “Negrohead” Mountain.

Reyes also learned that when President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office from 1963 to 1969, his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, had issued a mandate to change all documents using the “N” word.

“I have no idea why it wasn’t changed,” Reyes said.

News about the racial slur spread quickly.

Reyes shared the story with her neighbors, Paul and Leah Culberg, whose home sits in front of the peak, and Nick Noxon, whose property in Seminole Springs is part of Ballard’s original 1888 homestead.

Noxon attended a National Park Service talk about the history of the mountains and met speaker Patty Colman, a history professor at Moorpark College and editor of the Journal of Ventura County History .

Colman had been conducting research on the settlement patterns of the Santa Monica Mountains when her focus turned to the history of African American settlers there, specifically John Ballard. She discovered that the 1900 Calabasas census data identified Ballard’s race with the letter “N.”

While Colman knew that a black man named Ballard had settled in the area, the news that his homestead was called “Niggerhead” then “Negrohead” came as a surprise.

“I had no idea that the mountain was even called that,” Colman said. “As a historian I couldn’t make that leap with the Ballard family. I had to find a real connection. Sure enough, when I started digging, I found a newspaper article in 1908 (that) actually referred to it as Nigger/Ballard Hill.”

Meanwhile, Paul Culberg was conducting his own research and shared the Ballard story with Yaroslavsky while at a Christmas party in 2008. Culberg proposed renaming the mountain.

Former newspaper articles characterized Ballard as a deeply religious man who was among the initial investors in the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles.

How Ballard managed to purchase property at a time when people of African or Chinese descent and women were forbidden to do so remains a mystery, Culberg said.

“Patty identified that (Ballard) owned land prior to his homestead,” Culberg said.

One old story tells of Ballard’s attempt to save a man’s life from lockjaw. Ballard embarked on a full-day wagon journey to a hospital, but the man died before they arrived.

Ballard’s home in the Santa Monica Mountains was simple. He was a squatter, but by 1900 he had formalized a land deal and received his official homestead patent, Colman said. His property included a 16-by-16-foot house with a kitchen of equal size. The property also had a barn, chicken house, drinking well and fences.

On Oct. 25, the First AME Church in Los Angeles conducted a ceremony commemorating the Ballard Mountain name change. More that 20 Ballard descendants attended the ceremony.

Tracing Ballard’s lineage has been a daunting, but rewarding task for Colman, the Culbergs and Noxon. They found that Claudius Ballard, John Ballard’s grandson, was a Berkeley-trained physician who served in World War I. Claudius Ballard’s grandson, Reginald, was a Tuskegee Airman who attended President Obama’s inauguration, Culberg said. Yaroslavsky added that Reginald Ballard is a retired captain of the Los Angeles City Fire Department and was involved in a lawsuit against the city to desegregate the fire fighters.

“It’s meaningful to find out something about your ancestors,” said Yaroslavsky as Ballard’s descendants began to learn more about their patriarch.

“The notion of the land being named after the color of his skin rather than the man himself is insulting,” Yaroslavsky said. “We’ve eliminated the insult. We’ll find a spot nearby and build a pedestal with a plaque (that includes) the history of John Ballard.”

Colman said, “There are many injustices that have not been righted. In all the Santa Monica Mountains, so many of the early landowners are wealthy or are from Hollywood and are by and large white people. Streets and mountains are named after them. I would imagine this is the first landmark named after an African American.

“There is a lot more diversity in the mountains than we thought.”

It was incredible how little information I was able to find on this man.   When you think about how much of our history is lost/unknown/buried ... it really kinda just boggles the mind. 


Name change halts longtime racial slur

Ballard Mountain no longer called ‘Negrohead’
By Stephanie Bertholdo bertholdo@theacorn.com

NAME-CALLING—John Ballard as he appeared in the 1880s. NAME-CALLING—John Ballard as he appeared in the 1880s. A mountain peak in Lobo Canyon, listed on government documents as “Negrohead Mountain,” has been officially changed to Ballard Mountain in honor of John Ballard, who is said to have been the first African American to settle in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s proposal asking the U.S. Geological Survey to change all maps of the area to reflect the new name. Last month, the USGS Council of Geographic Names Authorities approved the request.

Radha Reyes, an African American musician who lives in Triunfo Canyon, was the first person to call attention to the derogatory epithet.

“I had heard (Ballard’s) name existed and went to the archives to look it up,” said Reyes regarding her research trip to the Agoura Library more than 10 years ago.

Reyes said while looking through historical records she found many typewritten documents that identified the hilltop near her home as either “Niggerhead” or “Negrohead” Mountain.

Reyes also learned that when President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office from 1963 to 1969, his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, had issued a mandate to change all documents using the “N” word.

“I have no idea why it wasn’t changed,” Reyes said.

News about the racial slur spread quickly.

Reyes shared the story with her neighbors, Paul and Leah Culberg, whose home sits in front of the peak, and Nick Noxon, whose property in Seminole Springs is part of Ballard’s original 1888 homestead.

Noxon attended a National Park Service talk about the history of the mountains and met speaker Patty Colman, a history professor at Moorpark College and editor of the Journal of Ventura County History .

Colman had been conducting research on the settlement patterns of the Santa Monica Mountains when her focus turned to the history of African American settlers there, specifically John Ballard. She discovered that the 1900 Calabasas census data identified Ballard’s race with the letter “N.”

While Colman knew that a black man named Ballard had settled in the area, the news that his homestead was called “Niggerhead” then “Negrohead” came as a surprise.

“I had no idea that the mountain was even called that,” Colman said. “As a historian I couldn’t make that leap with the Ballard family. I had to find a real connection. Sure enough, when I started digging, I found a newspaper article in 1908 (that) actually referred to it as Nigger/Ballard Hill.”

Meanwhile, Paul Culberg was conducting his own research and shared the Ballard story with Yaroslavsky while at a Christmas party in 2008. Culberg proposed renaming the mountain.

Former newspaper articles characterized Ballard as a deeply religious man who was among the initial investors in the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles.

How Ballard managed to purchase property at a time when people of African or Chinese descent and women were forbidden to do so remains a mystery, Culberg said.

“Patty identified that (Ballard) owned land prior to his homestead,” Culberg said.

One old story tells of Ballard’s attempt to save a man’s life from lockjaw. Ballard embarked on a full-day wagon journey to a hospital, but the man died before they arrived.

Ballard’s home in the Santa Monica Mountains was simple. He was a squatter, but by 1900 he had formalized a land deal and received his official homestead patent, Colman said. His property included a 16-by-16-foot house with a kitchen of equal size. The property also had a barn, chicken house, drinking well and fences.

On Oct. 25, the First AME Church in Los Angeles conducted a ceremony commemorating the Ballard Mountain name change. More that 20 Ballard descendants attended the ceremony.

Tracing Ballard’s lineage has been a daunting, but rewarding task for Colman, the Culbergs and Noxon. They found that Claudius Ballard, John Ballard’s grandson, was a Berkeley-trained physician who served in World War I. Claudius Ballard’s grandson, Reginald, was a Tuskegee Airman who attended President Obama’s inauguration, Culberg said. Yaroslavsky added that Reginald Ballard is a retired captain of the Los Angeles City Fire Department and was involved in a lawsuit against the city to desegregate the fire fighters.

“It’s meaningful to find out something about your ancestors,” said Yaroslavsky as Ballard’s descendants began to learn more about their patriarch.

“The notion of the land being named after the color of his skin rather than the man himself is insulting,” Yaroslavsky said. “We’ve eliminated the insult. We’ll find a spot nearby and build a pedestal with a plaque (that includes) the history of John Ballard.”

Colman said, “There are many injustices that have not been righted. In all the Santa Monica Mountains, so many of the early landowners are wealthy or are from Hollywood and are by and large white people. Streets and mountains are named after them. I would imagine this is the first landmark named after an African American.

“There is a lot more diversity in the mountains than we thought.”

You'd be surprised at how many great stories there are about our ancestors, especially from that time period, just waiting to be discovered, ER.  I've got a great-great-great grandfather, born a slave in 1797 on a plantation, whose name appears in a voting record from the late 1860s.  When I think about a man who spent most of his life as a slave, living to vote in an election, I would kill to learn about his life, and what was going on in his community at that time.  There are surely innumerable inspiring stories about our ancestors from the late 1800s that will never be told.
I still can't get past the fact that this was the 'official' name of a place, anywhere.  I guess it is just further proof of the lower base of racists in America.  I'm sure that if this place was officially named 'niggerhead' mountain, it is only one of MANY places of the kind in America.
Little-Known Black History Fact: Shameful Names

Date: Friday, February 26, 2010, 5:50 am
By: Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com



The "Little-Known Black History Fact" on Thursday’s "Tom Joyner Morning Show" featured the recently-renamed Ballard Mountain, named after a black pioneer who settled the area above Santa Monica, California in the 19th century. The mountain was once officially listed on California maps first as Negrohead Mountain.

In 1955, at the request of the NAACP, an area near Temecula, Calif., called “Nigger Grade” – named for Nate Harrison, an ex-slave and settler – was renamed “Nate Harrison Grade.”

As unsettling as that may be, a more intriguing "Little-Known Black History Fact" is that in 1967, the United States Board on Geographic Names changed the names of 143 places throughout the country from “nigger” to “Negro.”

The changes were slow in coming, even after the board in 1962 banned the use of the words “nigger” and “nip,” the latter a derogatory term for Japanese people, for official place names.

Hundreds of towns, streams and mountains had the N-word in their names before 1962, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. As of 2004, nearly 600 locations and geographical features had the word "Negro" as part of their names.

The federal government has said there no longer is any place in the U.S. with the word "nigger" in its name, but the Journal cited one East Texas town that managed to slip under the radar. Nigton, a small farming community, is an abbreviated version of “Nigger Town,” an area settled in 1873 by the families of former slaves.

According to the Texas Handbook Online, the town’s name was suggested by Jeff Carter, a former slave and civic leader during the early years of the settlement. By 2000, the town, which once had a population of 500 in its early years, was down to 87 residents.

The N-word is part of the name of numerous places worldwide, three of them as far away as Tasmania. Some have argued that changing the names is altering history, while others have said the places should honor the actual people for whom they were named, rather than a generic  - and, by today’s standards, offensive - title.

And even with the official name changes in the U.S., the original names are still on many local and state maps, including Nigger Jim Hammock Bridge in Hendry County, Florida.
There are locations bearing the name of the 'N-word' all over the nation.

For instance:  The famous Camptown Races were run in Wyoming County located in Northeas PENNSYLVANIA!!

I know.

Like me, you thought those ladies with the twirling umbrellas were 'southern belles'.

Wrong!!!!

And here's the 'kicker'.

Stephen Foster was a Pennsylvania native.

He was called 'The Pennsylvania Troubadour'.

And....guess what is 'right down the road??

'Negro Pond' changed from 'Nigger Pond' in the late 90s.

Pennsylvania maps labeled the body of water as 'Nigger Pond'....proudly.

Until I asked about it.

PEACE

Jim Chester

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