Uncle Eck Dunford lived in a small cabin on Ballard Branch. He earned a decent living playing fiddle for Earnest Stoneman and his Dixie Mountaineers and competing at fidder's conventions. In 1932, when Stoneman left Galax, Uncle Eck refused to leave his beloved Ballard Branch and joined forces with the Ward family.
Crockett Ward and His Boys were a popular string band in the Galax area. The band consisted of Crockett on fiddle, his son Fields played guitar and sang, and his brother Wade Ward played banjo. The Ward's family doctor, Dr. W.P. Davis, was the band's manager and sometimes played autoharp with the Boys. When Uncle Eck joined their ranks it was the good doctor who suggested a name for the new band in reference to the mud on the rough road to the Ward's cabin.
From 1937 until 1942, the Ballard Branch Bogtrotters delighted audiences in southwest Virginia, and through their records, all across the country. Uncle Eck was a regular at the Old Fiddlers Convention from 1935 until his death just weeks before the 1953 Convention. All participants and the audience observed a moment of silence in Uncle Eck’s memory. His cabin still remains on Ballard Branch.