I have a soft spot for Ballston because that’s where I first lived when I arrived in the area well over a decade ago. And, in tribute to my first residence, I wanted to dig up and share some etymological history.
John Ball and his brother Moses, cousins of George Washington, owned 257 acres of land in the area in the 1700s. In Colonial times, the intersection of what would become Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard (FYI, named for President Woodrow Wilson) was a crossroads of commercial traffic, heading south to Alexandria or east to Washington.
In 1774, one of the Ball descendants built constructed a two-story log tavern at the crossroads to serve farmers traveling the roads to take their goods to market. Ball’s Tavern grew to become the the center of the community, at times, serving as the social hub, a general store, post office and local voting precinct.
Ball’s Crossroads was established as a village in Arlington County in 1874, and a little over two decades later, in 1895, the official name was changed to Ballston, maintaining a permanent link to the Ball family.