AUGUSTA — Admirers of Martha Ballard want to deliver a monument to the pioneering midwife who delivered not only more than 800 babies but also, with her famous diary, a first-person account of late-1700s daily life and the region’s history.

They have a spot picked out in Augusta’s Mill Park, less than 1,000 feet from her home, overlooking the Kennebec River, which she crossed in all seasons to deliver babies and provide health care as well as death and burial preparations. And a monument design and artist have been picked out, with a proposed metal sculpture of a woman with flowers and herbs growing beneath her in a big garden, in recognition of Ballard being a medicinal horticulturist and healer.

City officials have signed off on the monument being installed in the city park.

So now advocates for the proposed monument need to finish raising the approximately $100,000 to build and install the tribute to the woman. Ballard’s 27-year diary, of more than 1,400 pages, detailed her daily life and, in doing so, provided a look at what life was like in what was then Hallowell, part of the state of Massachusetts, and is now Augusta, Maine. There are believed to be some 10,000 descendants from the babies Ballard helped deliver in the first 100 homes in early Hallowell in the late 1700s.

Longtime Augusta resident Larry Fleury, whose Water Street home sits near the proposed monument site and who is leading efforts for the monument, said paying tribute to Ballard came to him as an idea several years ago. At the time, he was working on a painting of a woman that he said looked like Martha Ballard preparing to cross the Kennebec River. That prompted him to wonder why there was pretty much nothing representing Martha Ballard in the city.

“Martha Ballard delivered,” he said, noting that now it was time for people to step forward, to deliver a tribute to her.


A mini mock-up of the proposed statute of Martha Ballard was on hand at a Wednesday event in Augusta, as an effort gets underway to create a metal monument surrounded by a border of granite and metal fencing in Mill Park. Photo courtesy of Dave Dostie

Fleury and several other speakers at a  Wednesday event meant to garner interest and funding for the project described Ballard’s substantial impact on the area, which later included the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Midwife’s Tale.”

A mini mock-up of the proposed statute of Ballard was on hand. The monument will be metal, and meant to rust as it ages. It will be surrounded by a border of granite, and metal fencing.

Design ideas for the monument site were provided by University of Maine at Augusta architectural student Ryan Lagasse, and UMA architecture professor Eric Stark said he hopes the architecture program will remain involved in the community project.

Fleury said the monument is meant to be earthy, like Ballard herself, and whimsical, to draw in children who could become curious to learn more about Ballard. It will include QR code displays on the site, so visitors can scan the code and go to for more information.

Descendants of Ballard attended and spoke at Wednesday’s event, including Glee Ballard, Martha Ballard’s sixth great-granddaughter, who noted at the time of Martha Ballard’s 1812 death a newspaper account described her only as the wife of Ephraim Ballard, with no mention of her substantial contributions to the region.

Nancy German, an actress, portrayed Ballard, in period clothing.


Joseph Owen, a board member of Kennebec Historical Society and member of the Mayor’s Committee for Martha Ballard, said many local residents have connections, both symbolic and literal, to Ballard, in their families, and said he hopes the monument will help ensure future generations will have no reason to not know who Martha Ballard was.

Earl Kingsbury, community services director for the city, said a master plan he came across for Mill Park from the 1990s already included plans for an interpretive installation to pay tribute to Martha Ballard.

Fleury said they’re nearly halfway to the goal of raising $100,000. He said they expect to be done fundraising by February and start building at the beginning of next summer, and have the memorial ready for unveiling by October of 2024.

The sculpture of Ballard will be done by South Carolina sculptor Stan Tupper, grandson of former Maine U.S. Rep. Stanley Tupper.

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