The Gene Pool: JTR's Colorful Family History

(b. 1817 New York • d. 1891 Oregon)

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John Ball was a Methodist Minister in Forest City, Iowa
according to my grandfather, Clifford Lackore.
Walter Lansing also wrote that John Ball was a pioneer
Methodist circuit rider, tall and gaunt, b. N.Y.

Photo of John Ball's tombstone take by JTR in 1994 at
the Damascus Pioneer Cemetery, Damascus, Oregon

The following family history was written in 1948 by Howard Ball,
a grandson of John and Nancy Ball. Please note that many
of the "facts" contained in this records still need to be verified.
Some have been proven incorrect.

  • Sometime about the year 1880, Grandfather bought a large Bible Analysis. In it there were extra pages for a family record. Being something new and out of the ordinary, my father wrote down very briefly the only written record of Grandfather's family that is known to exist. It would have been so easy to have written down the record as far back as Washington, at least. However, all records previous to the time of John Ball are legendary.
  • Nathaniel Ball is supposed to have been the father of John Ball (note from Joanne: I wonder where this story came from?! John's father WAS Amzi Lewis Ball). He, according to tradition, was an atheist, and was referred to as "That Wicked One." He is supposed to have been the mayor of Rochester, New York, sometime in the beginning of the last century. I believe there was a Nathaniel Ball who was mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He was probably a brother of John. Father once visited a first cousin, John Ball, in Newark. At two different times, I remember Grandfather making mention of eleven brothers, but he did not mention a sister. I never heard the name of John's mother. She was known, however, as one of God's saints. Her influence and prayers have been of untold value down through the years. The Bible considered as God's word has been highly regarded. I never met a Ball who used liquor of any kind, and with one exception, one who used tobacco. About seventy-five years ago there was a divorce.
  • John Ball was six feet two in height, large boned and muscular. He grew two inches after he was forty-five. He was County judge of Floyd County, Iowa, one term, and township justice many terms. He was local preacher of the Methodist Church and later of the Free Methodist Church. Some of the neighbors called him "Judge;" others called him "Elder". He had an extreme kindliness with optimism and generosity. He was always in debt, never took care of farm machinery, but left it out in the climate. However, the stock were well fed and well cared for. The house had a good coat of white paint, and the barn a coat of red.
  • He moved his family from Indiana out to Floyd County, Iowa, sometime before 1855, and bought 400 acres of land from the government at a price of about $2.25 per acre. The nearest neighbor was forty miles away, and it was seventy miles to the mill to get the wheat ground. I believe the trip took two or three weeks. John was a great reader. After the evening meal and the usual chores, he found time for this.
  • When the Civil War came along, Grandfather volunteered as a carpenter. Either during the war, or sometime after, his leg was broken, and due to faulty setting, he walked with a slight limp. John and Nancy had the idea that as the children were married it would be delightful if they would settle around the old home. And so, eighty acres of land was given to the first three or four new families. But the children had so much pioneer blood in their make up that they could not be satisfied until their farms were sold, and they were out on a homestead and liking it. Two of them went out to the heavy fir timber ten miles from Portland, Oregon. An uncle told me that it took three weeks to dig out a fir stump and burn it. When I was fourteen, John and Nancy sold the old farm and went to Oregon to be near the children. I saw Grandfather the last time when I was twelve.
  • In closing this brief account of John and Nancy, it is important to mention the devotional life of the old home. After morning and evening meals the large family Bible was taken from the shelf and Grandfather would read a chapter. He then selected a hymn and led in the singing in which all joined in the best they could. Then they all kneeled by their chairs, while he offered up his petition to the Heavenly Father for blessings on children and grandchildren. They always went to public worship whenever the services were within driving distance with a farm team and heavy wagon. The previous pages have been written to give a brief account of those early pioneers. There is very much more that might be of interest, but of no particular value except possibly to gratify family pride. It seems quite natural to claim relationship to G. Washington, Col. Glover, or some other noted personage and to forget that the only merit lies in the knowledge that one's name is recorded in God's "Who's Who."

Another family history was sent to Joanne Rabun by Iva Hubbard Cook in 1994.
This account was recorded in Lake County, Indiana:

  • At the age of fourteen, John moved with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Amzi Ball, to New Jersey, near Newark. Here he went to a carpenter's school to learn the trade. At the age of 16, his father sent him to Newark to work. In August 1835, in the company of his father, he moved to Michigan City, Indiana. John remained here for one year. During this time he met and married Nancy Glover. Nancy was born in Putnam City, Indiana Jan . 4, 1816. After their marriage on May 10, 1836, they moved to Winfield Township, Lake County, Indiana where seven of their eight children were born. They remained engaged in farming principally until 1853 when they immigrated to Ulster Township, Floyd County, Iowa being the first settlers of that township. They homesteaded a 400-acre farm.

The following history was found in the History of Floyd Co., Iowa:

Ulster Township was organized in the year 1858. The name Ulster was the name of a county in New York State from which many of the first settlers of this township emigrated.

Mr. John Ball was the first settler in this township, coming from Lake County, Indiana in December, 1853. Next to follow Mr. Ball were two brothers by the name of Daniel and Peter Beaver. They came in about January, 1854. In the spring of 1854, the first log cabins were constructed within the limits of what is now known as Ulster Township. These gentlemen were the first to leave the endearments of home in other lands, and penetrate into the wilds of what we now know as beautiful Flood Creek. The original occupants and owners had just vacated. Vestiges of their camping grounds were plainly visible, and their trails easily followed. The wild deer roamed at will unmolested by the chase of the white man, and the grandeur of nature was untouched by the hand of art.

The first sermons preached in the township were in the house of John Ball in the spring of 1854. According to a conversation with a well-known pioneer of that neighborhood: "Well do I know with what pertinacity Elder Ball clung to the good old Methodist hour, as he called it, of 11 o'clock for worship and how we used to walk a distance of two miles or more to meeting in the hot summer time and while we partook of the spiritual food which he dispensed to us in a sermon of an hour's length, how the natural man longed for that other food which was so ravenously devoured on arriving at home."

In 1856 John Ball and others applied for formation of the first school district in Ulster Township. He was the contractor and builder of the twenty-two feet square schoolhouse. The house was completed and paid for Nov. 10, 1858, the cost being $399. It was good work, as the condition of the house today testifies.John Ball was elected Treasurer of Ulster Township and Township Trustee in the first elections. In 1857, the first post office was established in John Ball's house, he was appointed Postmaster. He resigned his position in 1875, and the office was abandoned.

John Ball was born in Goshen, Orange County, New York, July 12, 1817. At the age of fourteen, Mr. Ball moved with is parents to New Jersey, near Newark. He learned the carpenter's trade with his father and at the age of sixteen went to Newark to work. In August, 1835, in company with his father, moved to Michigan City, Indiana, where he remained one year, when he married Nancy Glover, who was born in Putnam County, Indiana, January 4, 1816. After their marriage they moved to Lake County, Indiana. Here they remained engaged in farming principally till the year 1853, when they emigrated to Iowa and located in Ulster Township, Floyd County, being the first settlers of the township. Here they still reside, alone as they started, having raised a family of six children, who have grown up and are now out in the world tasting of its bitter and sweet, as they did forty years ago.

In the year 1855, Mr. Ball was elected County Judge and has many years filled its office of Justice of the Peace. Mr. Ball was elected on the first Board of Supervisors in 1860. Mr. and Mrs. Ball are both members of the Free Methodist Church. Mr. Ball has held the license of local preacher ever since coming into the state. In the years 1861-62 under the presiding eldership of John Gould, Mr. Ball traveled as a supply on the Forest City Circuit. Their family consisting of three sons and three daughters, are all enjoying the religion of the gospel. Mr. Ball has certainly been a marked character and a moving power upon the frontier. During the war, though well up in years, he was determined to enlist and help Uncle Sam do his threshing, but was refused the job on account of his age. In spite of this rebuff, he joined the Quartermaster's Department and remained for a time, when failing health caused him to return. Besides being a man of daring spirit, he is one of public spirit, and encourages ever enterprise tending to the good of humanity, and has furnished as valuable assistance in compiling this work. Mr. Ball settled on the northeast quarter of Section 10 consisting of 113 acres at present, formerly owned 480.

A sidenote: The 5 Ball Bros. of the Ball Masonry Jar Co. are 4C1R of John Ball.

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