To begin, the surname Ballem (or Ballum) was probably originally spelled Baum, which is German for tree. Correct pronunciation is indicated by the most common early spelling variation as Bollum. Since the name was changed from Baum to the contrived forms Ballem or Ballum by Peter Baum following his arrival in Prince Edward Island (PEI), it has been assumed in the past that all of that name are descended from him. While the name Ballem is relatively uncommon, there are some by that name who do not appear to be descended from our Peter. Massachusetts Vital Records contain a number of families with spellings Ballem, Ballum, and Ballam. Places of birth include Boston, Duxbury and Cambridge (MA), Arichat (NS), Ireland and Russia. In PEI the name has predominantly been spelled Ballem in Queens County, while two of Peter's sons, George Malcolm and John, relocated to western Prince County where John's descendants use the spelling Ballum.
As to the identity of Peter's father and his place of birth, family tradition has been as follows. Young Peter arrived in PEI with his mother and her new husband Nicholas Henckel in the 1780's. An October 1937 letter from Priscilla Jane (Ballem) Loring to her son Malcolm says that her father William Bishop Ballem, age 39 years when Peter died, "used to tell that his great grandfather's name was Charles Ballem, Captain of an American Army. His men all got in behind the wall, the gate was closed; he climbed the wall and was shot by a British sentry." In a December 1937 letter to Priscilla from George Wallace Ballem, age 8 years when Peter died, he said Peter's father was "William Ballem, born in Amsterdam, Holland, don't know his age, was shot in the Battle of Brandywine, 1777. He was a sharpshooter in that battle" during the American Revolution. The Battle of Brandywine was fought 11 September 1777 at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, about 40 km southwest of Philadelphia, and involved 18,000 British against 11,000 Americans. It has also been said that Peter’s father was Lt. Col. Friedrick Baum, who died at the Battle of Bennington on the New York/Vermont border in August 1777. Peter’s mother Elizabeth, maiden name unknown, was thought to have been born about 1747. She, young son Peter, and a daughter possibly named Mary, were said to have sailed from Amsterdam to New York to join him, but upon arrival found that he had recently been killed in battle. She reportedly took out a land grant, available to those who were loyal to the Crown, and arrived at the Island of St. John (now PEI) to settle about 1777. The daughter is believed to have been sent back to Germany to live with relatives as nothing more is known about her.
From these conflicting stories based on family tradition, we turn next to German and American Revolutionary War source documents. The possibility that Peter's father was the Hessian officer Lt. Colonel Samuel Frederick Baum who died as a result of the Battle of Bennington in August 1777 has been dismissed by Mrs. Beryl (MacDonald) Barrett, a Certified Genealogist. Research in Germany has found that Lt. Col. Baum had both wife and mistress who, along with his daughters, vigorously contested his will in Germany for many years. This resulted in many public documents, none of which establishes any link with either a son Peter or a wife Elizabeth. Also, except for Lt. Col. Baum, there were no others of that name at the Battle of Bennington. However, records list a Lt. (later Captain) Jacob Baum, a Sergeant Bernhard Baum, a Grenadier Johannes Baum, and a Private Henrich Baum. Not enough is known about any of them at this time, but this gives us possible leads for future research. There has yet to be found any mention of a Charles or William Baum which might provide a link with those names mentioned in family tradition.
The possibility exists that Elizabeth’s first husband, Peter’s father, had arrived in America prior to 1776 and the beginning of the Revolution. He could have been among the German settlers of Pennsylvania or New York. However, to date no record of marriage or birth to provide a link to our Peter has been found. A book titled Descendants of Frederick Baum of New York State by Mrs. Clayton C. Baum of Cortland, NY says this Frederick Baum was born 24 October 1758 in Oppenhein, Montgomery County, NY and died there 16 October 1843. A Phillipp Baum, born in Holland and believed to be Frederick's brother, arrived in the United States aboard the ship Hampshire on 7 September 1748 and settled near what is now Canajoharie, Montgomery County. L. Frank Baum, born in the same area and a descendant of Phillipp, was the author of Wizard of Oz and other books. This indicates there were others by the name Baum living in New York state before, during and after the American Revolution.
Can anyone help add to this? It is a great puzzle which has not yet been solved.