The Gene Pool: JTR's Colorful Family History

By Joanne Todd, 1994

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About a year ago, I became interested in researching my family history. As the "disease" has progressed, I have found myself wandering through old cemeteries, reading military histories and even wondering what it would like to become a Quaker! But I guess that is another story. On Saturday, May 21, 1994 I decided to drive north 100 miles from my home in Eugene to photograph the tombstones of my Great-Great Grandparents, John and Nancy (Glover) Ball. This was the final documentation that I still needed to apply for an Early Settler of Oregon certificate from the Oregon Genealogical Society.

John and Nancy had come to Oregon around 1880 to be near two of their children. I had recently found out they lived ten miles east of Portland in Sunnyside and were buried in Damascus Pioneer Cemetery. Their son, Emmons, is also buried there. I hadn't been able to identify who the other child was that was the early Oregonian, but had it narrowed down to two of their daughters, one of them being Emily Ball who married Marvin Hubbard while they were still living in Forest City, Iowa.

A rather eery vision greeted me as I approached Damascus on Hwy. 212. A huge sign on the side of the road announced that John Ball was running for Congress! I did a long double-take and kept on driving.

Soon I reached a turn-off that boasted that it was only 3 miles to Sunnyside and Happy Valley! Well, who can resist that! I turned left and headed up the road. A beautiful valley lay in front of me and it was not hard to imagine what it must have looked like 100 years ago before urban sprawl started to intrude on the landscape. Rolling green hills, heavily timbered, spring flowers and a beautiful view of snow-covered Mount Hood to the east.

As I drove through the area, I came upon another sign that was significant to further happenings that day. This sign said "Hubbard Road". Well, I wasn't born yesterday!

The Damascus of 1994 is still a small, almost-rural farming community. I decided to head for the small library that I had noticed in the local grocery store. I thought there might be some books on local history or area maps that might help me in my search for the Hubbards and Balls. The librarian that day was a woman named Patty. She works at the library only once a month. It was a lucky thing for me she was on duty! When I started asking her questions about Hubbard Road, her eyes lit up and she announced that she used to have a neighbor who was a Hubbard, maybe there was a connection. I got out the family tree to show her how I thought the Hubbards and Balls might be related. She picked up the phone and gave her ex-neighbor, Cheryl Hubbard Hunker, a call and explained the situation. As Patty went through the list of names I could tell that I had located someone who might help me clear up the mystery of John and Nancy Ball!

Cheryl said that her dad, Vernon, would be able to answer many of my questions. In fact, today of all days, most of her family was up at the Sunnyside Pioneer Cemetery doing their pre-Memorial Day clean-up. Within ten minutes I was meeting a whole new branch of my family tree!

All-in-all it was quite an inspirational day. I am more determined than ever to discover if the family stories are true about being related to George Washington (through his mother Mary Ball) and Col. John Glover (who crossed the Delaware with Washington in the American Revolution). And is it true that our branch of the Ball family is the one that has representatives on the Mayflower? Cheryl's Aunt Iva, a genealogist in her own right, was able to add quite a bit of information to my knowledge of the family history. The Hubbard family has, for the most part, lived near one another in Sunnyside for many generations. The original settlers raised apples and owned many acres of land. Our time together was much too short. I look forward to attending the annual Hubbard family picnic this August!

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