Roy Ballard

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Chesapeake Bay Watermen


The purpose of this project is to work to preserve the heritage of the commercial fishing industries in the Chesapeake Bay region by collecting and archiving oral histories of the men and women who are and were a part of this valuable history.  

Date of Interview

Fantastic Transcripts
Molly Graham

Biographical Sketch

Roy Ballard is a long-term inhabitant of the Eastern Shore with deep familial ties to the local seafood industry. His lineage is closely associated with the Ballard Fish and Oyster Company, a business that has been a significant part of his family's heritage. Ballard's personal history is interwoven with the maritime culture of the region, and he has spent a portion of his career working as a carpenter. His life story is not only a narrative of individual experience but also a reflection of the broader historical and economic context of the Eastern Shore, particularly its seafood sector. Ballard's connection to the water is both professional and personal, shaping his understanding of the region's past and his perspective on its future.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Roy Ballard offers an in-depth perspective on the seafood industry's history and its current state on the Eastern Shore, with a focus on the Ballard Fish and Oyster Company and the significance of Willis Wharf as a seafood hub. While the business has historically focused on various types of seafood, its specialty has been clams and oysters. The business is a very old one, and Willis Wharf was, at one time, a prominent seafood port facility on the seaside of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Ballard shares insights into the evolution of aquaculture and its prospects in the region. The conversation delves into the environmental challenges faced by the industry, highlighting the effects of pollution on the Chesapeake Bay's water quality and the seafood industry's role in environmental stewardship. The interview also explores the socio-economic changes on the Eastern Shore, including demographic shifts and the evolving participation of women in the workforce and society. Ballard's reflections on the interview's conclusion emphasize the collective responsibility of society to address environmental degradation and social issues, underscoring the interconnectedness of human actions and the health of the ecosystem. Mr. Ballard currently resides in Exmore, Virginia and is an avid Eastern Shore history enthusiast.


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