Betty Bullard takes the gold for restoration|[04/23/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 23, 2007

Betty Bullard now has something gold to match the distinctive silver of her hair.

For restoring the house on Main Street that was Vicksburg’s largest until the city’s chartering in 1825, she has received special recognition from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

The group awarded its prestigious DAR Historic Preservation Medal for saving the home of George Washington Ball, believed to be a kinsman of the father of the nation.

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&#8220I’ve never won much before,” Bullard said with her customary aplomb. &#8220I got a Sunday school medal once.”

Ball was the maiden name of George Washington’s mother and of his second wife.

Bullard’s recognition came during a gathering of the local Ashmead DAR chapter, which installed new officers for three-year terms.

The 50-year Vicksburg resident whose late husband, Nat, served as mayor and chancery judge, purchased the home at 921 Main in 2004.

It was facing the wrecking ball after the previous owner requested its demolition. Bullard was living nearby and was intrigued by the home, which had been divided into apartments and become time-worn through the years. Its history was not widely known.

Barely a year later, the home was featured on Vicksburg’s Spring Pilgrimage, showing off its mixture of the Greek Revival and Federal styles of architecture along with intricate detailings that showed the innovations of life nearly 200 years ago. Generations of &#8220add-on” materials in the home, once removed, revealed skilled carpentry and originality.

George Washington Ball was the son of Joseph Ball, prominent in the Presbyterian and Episcopal communities who also owned the Vicksburg Hotel, which then stood near the current site of Vicksburg Auditorium.

Bullard told fellow Ashmead chapter members she still plans to move into the house as her residence.

Vicksburg was born as a settlement on hills safe from Mississippi River flooding. Mississippi was created as a state in 1817 and the town’s first lots were platted by the Rev. Newit Vick before the Legislature chartered the city to operate in 1825.

Mary Jane Cain, incoming chapter librarian and chair of the chapter’s American Heritage Committee, said letters in support of the chapter’s nomination of Bullard for the medal were numerous, including those from Vicksburg Main Street, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and individuals such as Mayor Laurence Leyens, Harry Sharp and Charles Riles.

Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 and incorporated by Congress in 1896. The volunteer women’s service organization strives to promote patriotism and preserve American history through numerous educational and fund-raising efforts.

Incoming Ashmead chapter officers are Linda Davis, regent; Dr. Clarissa Davis, vice regent; Caroline Posey, chaplain; Helen Price, recording secretary; Mary Bradway, corresponding secretary; Dr. Mary Landin, treasurer and registrar; Josephine Gilliland, Historian; and Mary Jane Cain, librarian.