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A Midwife's Tale

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A Midwife's Tale Timeline

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Martha Ballard icon

Martha Ballard

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Science and Health

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U.S. History

1607 - 1753 | 1754 - 1794 | 1795 - 1997



%Dec. 19: Martha Moore marries Ephraim Ballard.

Benjamin Pugh publishes his Treatise on Midwifery, in which the English physician discourages lying down during delivery.



Sept. 11: Cyrus Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim.


The French and Indian War (an offshoot of the Seven Year War in Europe) breaks out in North America.



Aug. 28: Lucy Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim.


September 13: British troops defeat France's American army at the Plains of Abraham outside Montreal, establishing British control of Canada.


October 5: George III assumes the English throne.

Elizabeth Nihell, an English midwife, publishes A Treatise on Midwifery, arguing sharply against the use of forceps and other instruments favored by male physicians attending childbirths.



%Apr. 17: Martha Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim. The younger Martha will die in the 1769 diphtheria epidemic.

Jonathan Moore (Martha's brother) graduates 27th in his class at Harvard.



Mar. 4: Jonathan Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim.

February 10: The Treaty of Paris ends the French and Indian War, opening up northern New England lands such as Maine to English settlement.

William Shippen teaches midwifery classes in America.


April 5: The Sugar Act passes British Parliament, lowering duties on sugar imports to the American colonies but mandating their enforcement. Boston lawyer James Otis denounces "taxation without representation" and urges the colonies to resist the new tax.



Mar. 26: Triphena Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim. She will die in the 1769 diphtheria epidemic.

May 15: The Quartering Act passes British Parliament, compelling colonists to quarter soldiers in their houses.



May 17: Dorothy Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim. Dorothy will die along with two older sisters in the 1769 epidemic.

The Townsend Acts pass British Parliament.



A diphtheria epidemic claims the lives of three Ballard children this summer: Triphena (June 17), Dorothy (July 1), and Martha (July 5).

August 6: Hannah Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim.


March 5: The Boston Massacre leaves 3 protestors dead and the colony inflamed against the British army, which is regarded increasingly as an occupying force.


Hallowell, Maine, is incorporated.



Sep. 2: Dorothy (Dolly) Ballard is born to Martha and Ephraim.

November 2: Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren of Boston establish the first of several "Committees of Correspondence" to circulate anti-British polemics.


December 16: The Boston Tea Party is staged to protest new laws governing tea importation. Boston men disguised as American Indians throw 242 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.

Charles White, an English surgeon, publishes his Treatise on the Management of Pregnant Women, in which he decries the forced bedrest that commonly followed delivery, advocating instead fresh air and cleanliness.


September 5: The first Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia.

William Hunter publishes his Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus.



Ephraim travels up the Kennebec River and leases property at Fort Halifax. Suspected of loyalist sympathies, Ephraim is soon driven out of Fort Halifax by the local Committee of Safety. It is unclear exactly why the Ballards left Oxford, Massachusetts.

Apr 19: The American Revolution begins at the Battle of Lexington and Concord.



Ephraim manages land and mills in Hallowell, Maine, owned by John Jones, a loyalist who was not welcome in the town. Later, Ephraim will become a surveyor and do much work for the Plymouth Proprietors, a group of investors who claimed land in Maine.

July 4: The Declaration of Independence is issued by the Continental Congress. Abigail Adams writes "remember the ladies" to her husband John as he and other statesmen work on a constitution for the 13 former colonies.



%Oct. 14: Martha Ballard joins Ephraim in Hallowell, after traveling from Oxford.

July 7: The battle of Tyconderoga is a discouraging defeat for the colonial militiamen.

Oct. 7: The Battle of Saratoga marks a turning point in the American Revolution, as colonial forces hand the British their first major defeat.



February: Lucy Ballard marries Ephraim Towne.

July: Martha Ballard midwives for the first time.

Nov. 1: Martha and Ephraim move to the Jones Mill at Bowman's Brook.

June 2: Molly Pitcher, a water carrier at the Battle of Monmouth, takes over her husband's cannon when he is overcome by heat.



Mar. 30: Ephraim Jr. is born to Martha and Ephraim. Ephraim Jr. is their last child.


Oct. 19: The British surrender at the Battle of Yorktown, ending the Revolutionary War.


The Treaty of Paris, signed by British and American negotiators, guarantees American sovereignty.



Ephraim Ballard becomes a selectman, a post he will hold in Hallowell until 1787. Unlike Martha Ballard, whose life passed unrecorded outside her diary, Ephraim Ballard figured prominently in Hallowell's town records.



%Jan. 1 Martha Ballard begins her diary. The diary is the only record we have of Martha Ballard's very active life as an individual and as a central participant in the healthcare and female economy of Hallowell.

The dollar becomes the official U.S. currency, as Congress adopts a decimal monetary system. Martha Ballard and her neighbors, as well as the rest of the country, often lack hard currency with which to carry on their daily trade.



Ephraim Ballard is elected Hallowell town moderator.

Daniel Shays leads an armed revolt by farmers in Western Massachusetts, closing local courts in an attempt to stop foreclosure on their farms.

Thomas Denman publishes An Essay on Natural Labours.



%Aug. 6: Ephraim's mill burns. Scarlet fever strikes Hallowell, and Martha nurses its victims. In her Aug. 7 entry, Martha shows rare sympathy for her patients, probably remembering the summer of 1769, when three of her own children died in a similar epidemic.


June 21: The U.S. Constitution is ratified by the ninth state, New Hampshire.


George Washington becomes the first U.S. president.



July 10: Judge Joseph North stands trial for rape.

Judith Sargent Murray publishes On the Equality of the Sexes.



April 21: The Ballards move from the Jones Mill to their own property, which they finally have cleared.

The Bill of Rights is added to the Constitution.



%Three Marriages:

Jan. 11: Jonathan Ballard marries Sally Pierce.

Oct. 28: Hannah Ballard marries Moses Pollard.

Nov. 18: Parthenia Barton marries Shubael Pitts.

Dec. 12: Moses and Hannah Pollard "go to housekeeping."

Mary Stone Wollstonecraft publishes Vindication of the Rights of Women, in which the Englishwoman argues for equality of opportunity for men and women.


%America's first cotton mill -- built by Samuel Slater -- opens in Rhode Island. Martha Ballard buys by the pound raw cotton brought up the Kennebec River by ship. The women of Hallowell and Augusta pick, comb, spin, and weave the cotton.


Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin.

The Jay Treaty, postpones -- but does not avert -- an Anglo-American war.

The Whiskey Rebellion pits Pennsylvania farmers against the U.S. Army.

1607 - 1753 | 1754 - 1794 | 1795 - 1997

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