Today, we’re highlighting Samuel Ballton, a popular name in the town of Huntington. Ballton was born enslaved in 1838 on a Virginia plantation. He worked in constructing the Virginia Central Railroad in his twenties but managed to escape captivity with his wife in the 1860s. Once in the North, he held several jobs throughout his life such as a cook in the Northern Regiment and a soldier in the Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War. Ballton moved to Greenlawn in 1873 where he took up farming and sharecropping. He managed to grow high numbers of cabbages and cucumbers throughout his life. In 1899, Ballton was given the title of the “Greenlawn Pickle King” thanks to his record-breaking numbers of 1.5 million cucumbers grown that season!
Although Ballton died in 1917, his legacy continues to be celebrated by the town of Huntington today. Besides farming, he built houses throughout Greenlawn that are still standing in the community today. Last year, a street in Greenlawn formerly known as Long Island Avenue was renamed Samuel Ballton Way. Come September, you can celebrate Ballton’s work by attending the Greenlawn Pickle Festival at John Gardiner Farm, the property where he grew many of his successful crops.
Samuel Ballton’s impact on the town of Huntington is felt everyday through his efforts to promote community and the health of our natural land. When you visit Greenlawn, be sure to visit his home or his grave in Huntington Rural Cemetery.
For more information about Samuel Ballton, visit https://maap.columbia.edu/place/65.html
Last updated February 8, 2022