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Nov112014

The Ball family descended from Daniel & Phoebe

The Ball family descended from Daniel & Phoebe Ball

Again this is very much a first draft adding to information I have given in the website previously and in the two Ringstead People books. I have given a possible ancestor for Daniel and his brother John (my direct ancestor) but this is unproven. Daniel's family were one of the most adventurous and widely spread of all the Ringstead families so do let me know of any mistakes or extra information that you can add. (david@warboys.com)

 

John Ball (abt1752 – 1824) and Anne Wood (abt1753 – 1826)

Much of the impetus for the two Ringstead People books came from trying to find the ancestors of John Ball (my ggggrandfather) who was killed in a barn fire in Denford in 1821 aged 38. He had married Sarah Burkett and had a young family. I have provisionally put that John was the son of John (abt1752 – November1824 Ringstead) and Anne – nee Woods (abt1753 – March 1826 Ringstead). They had married on 6th July 1777 in Ringstead. John was buried on November 8th 1824 and Anne, aged 73 on March 12th 1826, both in Ringstead churchyard. There is no proof for this family link, only the balance of probabilities.

[Note: there was another John Ball of similar age who married an Elizabeth]

John and Anne Ball possibly had the following children:

James Ball (abt1778 - 1795).

At his baptism in Ringstead on 14th September 1778 in Ringstead he was recorded as the son of John and Ann. [Note: On the same date Henry Forscutt, son of William was also baptised. William Forscutt was a witness at John and Ann’s marriage.] He was buried on March 5th 1795 in Ringstead Churchyard.

Elizabeth Ball (abt1779 - ?)

Baptised at Ringstead Church as daughter of “Jno and Ann” on 13th September 1779

Samuel Ball (? – 1795)

There are no other baptisms for any children of John and Anne but the burial of Samuel Ball, son of John and Ann was recorded in the Ringstead Register on March 5th 1795

*  *  *

The couple had not had Samuel baptised and if they are the parents of John (born about 1783 from burial) and Daniel (born about 1792 from burial) they did not baptise them in Ringstead Parish Church. This means that without further proof we cannot be sure that they are the parents although I am now fairly sure that John and Daniel were brothers. I had hoped that establishing this fact might enable me to find the parents of John via his brother Daniel but this I have failed to do yet. My reasoning for thinking they are brothers is below:

In the 1891 Census Elisha (son of Daniel and Phoebe) and (Sarah) Elizabeth Ball have recently returned from Canada. An Elizabeth Sykes aged 9 is living with them and described as Elisha’s niece. I believe that she is the daughter of Rachel Ball who married Henry Sykes on 13th November 1873. Rachel was the daughter of Thomas and Ann Ball and Thomas was the son of John and Sarah Ball. Thus Rachel would actually be the first cousin twice removed of Elisha but you can see how she could appear a great niece to Elisha. Thus John and Daniel would be brothers!

Of course it is not a complete proof but I think that it may be correct

  John Ball born abt1783   -  brothers? -      Daniel Ball born abt1792

                    l                                                             l

Thomas Ball born abt1818                            Elisha Ball born abt1836

                    l                                                                            

Rachel Sykes (Ball) born abt1850

                   l

Elizabeth Sykes born abt1882

 

John Ball (Abt1783 – 1821) Not proven to be son of John and Anne.

This is my direct ancestor who I have dealt with in a separate piece

 

Daniel Ball (Abt 1792 - 1863) Not proven to be son of John and Anne.

As we have seen above, Daniel was possibly the son of John and Ann Ball and born in about 1792. I have not found a baptism. He married Phoebe Whittering, daughter of William and Sarah Whittering on the 7th August 1817 in Ringstead Church. Phoebe was born in Denford in about 1796 and baptised there (“Phebe”) on 9th October of the same year.

The couple then had 11 baptisms and one burial in the 18 years up to 1836. Daniel was a shepherd and we learn from the Northampton Mercury of 11th August 1849 that Phoebe was no shrinking violet. She shows something of the feisty nature that would have been an essential survival tool in such a large household in those tough times:

Elizabeth Jacques, who failed to appear to a summons, was brought up under a warrant charged with assaulting Phoebe Ball. Both of these amiable ladies are natives of Ringstead, and appear to have a knowledge of the stronger terms of the English language. After a few preparatory shots, the war of words thickened something after the manner of the Railway Overture. You're a fussick, [troublemaker] said Phoebe calmly. You're a liar retorted Bess, sharply. You, a blowed up strollegar! said Phoebe sharper still. After a few more puffs, both of the human engines were fairly off, and all that could be distinguished was - Oh you nasty - don't say so - dirty drab - fat cat - penny-bustle - splay-foot - red-nose - beer-gin - brandy - Oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! and then they softened down as though they had reached a station, to Oh Phoebe, for shame! Oh Bess, you may say so! - did you ever? - no never! - well, I declare! and then they stood and gazed at each other like exhausted first-class engines. After this process the case was heard, and Elizabeth fined 5s. and costs, which were increased on account of her refusing to appear to the summons, and in default she was committed for three weeks.

Unfortunately, although we know that Bess was summoned for assault we have no idea why, how or where the assault took place. The reporter was too pleased with himself to bother with such questions.

Daniel and Phoebe remained in the area all their lives but most of their children disappeared to the four corners of the world.  Daniel was buried in Ringstead churchyard on April 20th 1863 aged 73 and Phoebe followed him on 17th September 1868 aged 79.

The Children of Daniel and Phoebe

 

1 George Ball (1818 - ?)

George was born in about 1818 and baptised in Ringstead on 19th February 1818. Although I was not aware of it initially, it was George, the eldest child who left Ringstead first, to join the Royal Marines, and perhaps set the pattern for a number of his younger siblings.

National Archive Records (ADM157/32/47: C641519) show that George enrolled at Huntingdon on the 10th September 1839 He joined the 53rd Company of the Marines. George was 20 years 9 months old and was shown as being born in Ringstead. He was not married and was a labourer. He had not been in the Militia and had enlisted for “unlimited service” for the bounty of three pounds. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He received the “King’s shilling” on being attested which in this case was two shillings and sixpence. He was given a clean bill of health and the attestation was signed off by the Colonel Commandant, Elias Lawrence, on 5th October 1839.

The main role of the Marines at this time was to act as a buffer between the crew of a ship and the captain and officers. Before George was attested he was read article 3, 4 and 5 of the Articles of War  which related to joining in a mutiny, not doing ones utmost to suppress any mutiny, or in any way disobeying an officers command which would be punishable by death or what a court martial deemed fit. The Marines would also take part in sea battles, often as riflemen but as there were fewer sea battles in the second half of the century they became skirmishers going ashore ahead of the main party.

Unfortunately the Record of Service for George has not been completed but in the1841 Census there appears to be a name which could be George Ball (Bales) aged 20 (rounded age) who is living in the Chatham Barracks in Kent. By 1851 the Census (which again is difficult to decipher, has a George Ball (the forename not transcribed on Ancestry) who is 34 years old and born in Ringstead in Northamptonshire. He is an unmarried private in the Marines and still living in the Chatham Barracks. Then the trail goes cold.

There is one further document at the National Archives which is a “Declaration of a Marine enlisted before 1st August 1847, claiming Good Conduct Pay for the First Time”. George put his mark, relinquishing all claim to additional pay for length of service in order to be entitled to “Good Conduct Pay”. It was signed at Chatham on 1st April 1851 (It could be 1857).

There is, in the 1861 Census, of the “Tenders to Victory” in Portsmouth Harbour a George Ball, aged 41, who is a Carpenter’s mate and married. He is shown, however, as being born in Chatham so unless this is a mistake he is not our man. I have not found him after that. Could he have been killed in the Crimean War? We may never know.

2 Elizabeth Ball (Abt1820 – 1840). There are other Elizabeth Balls born locally around this time. 

Elizabeth was baptised in Ringstead Church on 10th September 1820. I believe that she died aged 20 years and was buried on December 15th 1840 in Ringstead churchyard.

3 Ann(e) Ball (Abt1822 – 1891 R) Not to be confused with Anne, daughter of John & Sarah born 1820

Anne was born in about 1822 and was baptised on May 26th 1826 in Ringstead Church. In the 1841 Census for Ringstead, she is 19 years old and a female (or farm/) servant living at Vicarage House or Farm. Next door is Thomas Lee the baker and his family. I wonder if this was the house of the curate who was away at the time of the Census. It can only be a possibility.

On the 14th November 1842 Ann gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth. She could only sign  the certificate with her mark and it only describes the birth place as Ringstead. On the 14th October 1844 she married George May(e)s a son of  William and Mary Mayes In Ringstead Church. George had married Elizabeth Bugby in 1840 and they had had two children, William, soon after their marriage, and Daniel who was baptised on 28th July 1843, on the same day as his mother was buried. Daniel died too four months later.

George and Anne then had a further ten children, of whom four were baptised as Wesleyans.

Elizabeth Ball Mayes was baptised as a 7 year-old with her brother George on June 2nd 1850.In the 1851 Census George (30) and Ann (27) Mayes have Sarah (6), Thomas (4) – who was baptised with Elizabeth, George (2) and Phoebe (2 months) still at home. I believe, although there are a number of Elizabeth Balls, that she may be the 8 year-old Elizabeth Ball living with her grandparent Daniel and Phoebe even though she should be Mayes and in 1861 aged 18 and still Elizabeth Ball she is with Daniel and Phoebe and shown as their granddaughter. Was George not prepared to bring up Ann’s child once his own family grew large? By 1861 George and Ann have living at home: Thomas (14), Sarah (16), George (12), Phebe (10), Eliza (8), Emma (4), Isabel (2) and Joseph (4 months).

By 1881 George, aged 65, had become a Navigation Labourer (on shore).

George probably died in June – Sept 1888 and Ann in Jan – Mar 1891 both in the Thrapston District.

4 John Ball (1826 – 1826)

John was baptised on the 1st January 1826 and buried on the 26th May of the same year, in Ringstead churchyard

5 Sarah Ball (Abt 1827 - ?)

6 Daniel Ball (Abt 1827 - ?)

7 John Ball (Abt 1830 - ?)

I have written about these three siblings together as they emigrated as a group. It is almost entirely based on my chapter on the trio in the Ringstead People book.

Sarah, Daniel and a second John seem to have formed a particular bond and took the leap together into the unknown.

Chart to show where the three siblings of our story sat in family tree

Daniel Ball …………………..Phebe Whittering

----------------------------------------------------------------------l----------------------------------------------------------------------------

       l                        l                       I                     l              l                l              l                 l                   l                     l                 l     

George       Elizabeth           Anne           John       l             l                l         James        Thomas      Samuel      Elisha        b 1818       b 1820-40          b 1822      1826-6     l             l                l         b1831      b 1834         1836-43       b 1839

Sarah     Daniel      John

                                                                              b 1827   b 1827/8   b 1830

 

All birth dates are approximate (and vary through the Censuses in most cases).

I have noted the dates of those who died very early and have also highlighted George, Thomas and Elisha who also left the area (although Elisha returned). 

 

Of all Daniel and Phoebe’s children, by 1861, only Ann (now Mays) and James were still alive and living locally. Why this scattering of the family? We can only speculate but we do know that in 1841 Ringstead was finally ‘Enclosed’. It was a very late Parliamentary Enclosure but it had much the same effect as the earlier ones. Small farmers were bought out, cottagers and those with rights on the common land lost them. The labourers lost the perks of the crops, the grazing and firewood that were part of their lives and became totally dependent on paid employment.

 

Mechanisation also reduced the need for labourers and the new industrial towns and cities drew them in. High prices and low wages were bringing many families to the breadline and the New World, a place of opportunity and goldmines, with cheap passages advertised in the local papers must have been an exciting if fearful prospect.

We know that, in the 1851 Census, Daniel and Phoebe were living in Ringstead with their children; Daniel, the son, is 22 and an agricultural labourer; Mary (24) is Daniel’s new wife and a lacemaker; John (21) is an under gardener; Thomas (17), an agricultural labourer and Elisha, the youngest, is a scholar. We also know that Sarah (26) has married Thomas Nobles and is also living in Ringstead. She is an ‘Ag Lab’s wife’ with her daughter Phoebe who is two years old. Thomas is away, possibly with his parents in Pilton.

By 1861 only Elisha is living with his parents and, apart from those we have mentioned, the others have died or flown the nest.

On 28th June 1852 the packet-ship Jacob A Westervelt arrived in New York from Liverpool. It had been built in 1849 and was a wooden hulled sailing ship named after the firm of its builder. It was part of the American Black Star Line and had first put into Liverpool on 10thJanuary 1850. She was a large three-decker, able to take 900 passengers, and was well equipped with a surgeon’s room, bath rooms and separate hospitals for men and women. We know that in 1852 it did its fastest run from New York to Liverpool of 14 days 12 hours but that was with the prevailing westerly winds. Journeys to the United States could be much longer.

The sailing packets, unlike most passenger ships, ran to a timetable, whatever the weather, and had three, rather than the usual two, crossings a year. These fast times, in sailing terms, meant that as much sail as possible was maintained in all weathers. This did result, sometimes, in crossings that could be rough and fraught with danger.

In the previous year, on 31stMay 1851, the ship, with 800 passengers on board, bound for New York, grounded on the Old South Shoal within sight of Sankaty,(where a lighthouse had begun operation just a year earlier) in Nantucket. Luckily, the steamboat Massachusetts managed to put a pilot on board and she was guided to safety. In the year following their voyage, in December 1853, the Jacob A Westervelt foundered on the coast of Newfoundland but all 700 passengers survived. Later, on 12th April 1860, the New York Times reported on a fire, which had happened the day before on the ship while it was in the harbour, which it thought had probably destroyed it. In fact, it appears that in 1862 it was sold to the Black Bull Line and renamed Southern Empire and used on the long England to Australia emigrant route.

Incidentally, this report of the New York Times reveals something of the times, both the fear of new technology and the violence of the new cities. It, tells of one of the members of a fire service going to the blazing ship.

A brutal assault was made upon JOHN ROSS, a member of Manhattan Company No. 8 and a clerk in the General Post Office, who was running through Chatham-street to overtake his Company. When near the corner of Pearl street, his uniform attracted the attention of a gang of ‘Dead Rabbits’, who are hangars-on of an Engine Company who entertain sentiments of envy toward the steam-engines and one of the scoundrels dealt him a blow from behind with a heavy club, that laid him prostrate on the walk . . .

Those that disembarked from that 1852 voyage were, therefore, lucky that they had arrived without serious incident. It still would have been an unpleasant and frightening journey for passengers, many of whom had probably not seen the sea before they reached Liverpool. There were conmen in Liverpool, known as the Forty Thieves, who preyed particularly on the Irish families that were escaping from the ‘Famine’. They worked for crooked shopkeepers, money changers (for dollars) and landlords who tried to take what little money the emigrants had. The vast exodus of the Irish famine victims was beginning to wane and regulation was starting to improve the conditions for the waiting emigrants as well as the resident population. Liverpool, however, still had vast slums and cholera and typhus were rife. The emigrants had to keep their wits about them if they were not to lose their health and their money before they embarked on their journey.

Even the boarding of the ship could be a frightening experience, for some captains made sure the cargo was stored and the cabin passengers installed before they allowed the steerage passengers on board. The captain would also, by then, be making ready to cast off and there was often a mad scramble up the gangplank by the poor passengers, carrying their few boxes and possessions. Some did ‘miss the boat’ and some were drowned in the dock.

The crossing was planned to take between sixteen and thirty days according to the weather conditions. The’ Saloon’ or ‘First Cabin’ of the Jacob A. Westervelt was lined with satinwood, zebrawood and rosewood, with brilliant pier-glasses, and painted white and gold. These fortunate passengers would be provided with meals and all services. The steerage passengers, on the other hand, were only provided with ‘coals, water and bread stuff’ for their £5 ticket. They were crammed together in the lower decks with fourteen square feet of space allowed per passenger (half that for children and nothing for infants). They had to cook their own meals in the few places provided on deck and generally fend for themselves. The New York Daily Times of 13 December 1891, comparing the new steamships with the old sail packets, describes the earlier accommodation:

The steerage occupied the whole of the 'tween decks. Single and double and upper and lower berths were arranged all around the sides of the ship. As far as possible families were placed together and the women passengers given all the privacy possible in the limited space available. The steerage was reached by ladders at the fore and main hatches which were always open except in bad weather, and ventilators through the deck and a windsail or two [a sail designed to funnel air to the lower decks] furnished the fresh air of the steerage. Should weather become stormy and the sea heavy the hatches were closed and the poor emigrant had to make the best of his surroundings until the weather moderated.

It was a harsh world where crew and stowaways could be flogged and beaten but certainly the Irish passengers were known to try to make the best of it, and help the time to pass, with music and dancing.

When they finally arrived, the emigrants would have looked at the new city with awe and, one would guess, with fear. It too had people trying to rob and cheat them but, by 1848, the State of New York had established immigrant reception centres and licensed boarding houses and in 1852 Emigrants’ Homes, made from converted warehouses, were offering reasonable, clean temporary accommodation.

Among the passengers shuffling off that ship in June 1852 were a group of young country men and women who were noted briefly on the Passenger List. (it is not always clear to whom the ‘Labourer’ description applies.)

John Ball                             22                           Male                     Labourer 

Eliza Ball                             21                           Female                 Labourer 

Mary Ball                             22                          Female                 Labourer 

Daniel Ball                          25                           Male                     Labourer 

George Ball                 infant                          Male                     5 months old 

Thomas Noble                  24                           Male                     Labourer

Sarah Noble                        24                          Female           

Phoebe Noble                     2                            Female

 

As we have seen, Sarah Ball had married Thomas Nobles (13thJune 1849) so here we have the siblings and their spouses together in the port of New York. There is only one problem. Who is Eliza Ball, aged 21? Unfortunately the list does not include the marital status so we do not know if Eliza is a wife or a relation. We know that Daniel’s wife was Mary, born in Warmington, from the 1851 English Census but we can find no sign of a marriage for John. He had a sister, Elizabeth, who was baptised in 1820, so she would have been some ten years older and we also believe that she is the Elizabeth Ball who was buried on 15thDecember 1840 aged 20. The Register does not give parents but she does seem to be the only Elizabeth Ball of this age in the parish. There is an Eliza Ball, daughter of Edward Ball, born and living in Denford in 1851. She may be a cousin, although we have not proved this. Could she have gone with the Balls and Nobles? We must look to America, to see if it provides any answers.

As Eliza is an enigma at the moment we will look at the three siblings first, to see if we can find their progress in their new land. So far, their movements in those first eight years, has not been established. Had they made plans before they left? Did they stay together at first until they could decide what to do?

We first find Daniel and Mary in the 1860 Federal Census living in Schroeppel, Oswego, New York State. Mary is 30 which is what we would expect but Daniel is 43 which is some ten years too old. With them is George, now 8, and shown, like his parents, as born in England. There are now two further children, Mary, 6, and James, 4, both born in New York State. Daniel is a described as a farmer.

The 1870 Census confirms our suspicion that the 1860 Census gives the wrong age, because he is now 44. Mary is 44 too, which is also the age we would be expect from the 1851 English Census. George is 19 and his occupation is still ‘Farming’, Mary is 17, with no occupation shown, but James, aged 13, is also in farming. There are also Clara 7 and William 5 who are both at school. The family are living in the town of Palermo in the county of Oswego.

It seems that Daniel and Mary had found their home. In 1880 he is still farming in Palermo and all the children are still at home. George is at home in farming and his younger brother James is a labourer. Mary is a servant and the two youngest children Clara and William aged 16 and 13 are still at school. There is only one obvious cloud in that, beside George now aged 27, is the word ‘Insane’. It could be that he just had learning difficulties but we cannot be sure.

The 1890 USA Federal Census is largely lost, burnt in a fire, but in 1900 Daniel and Mary, both 73 years old, continue to live in Palermo Township. He is still a farmer and William, now 31, is a labourer and living at home. I have not found George. The Census records that Daniel cannot read or write but both Mary and William can. Daniel also has not naturalised but as the couple come up to their golden wedding anniversary it seems that the family is now American. 

*

Let us now look at Daniel’s brother, John. It seems certain, because of the evidence of his age and companions that John Ball did go to New York with his siblings. After his arrival the position is a little less certain than with Daniel and, at present, we have a lot of detailed fragments and like shards dug up from the past they could turn out to be from different pots. Gradually, however, the shape of a single human being seems to be emerging.

We will start with his early life. We first saw John at his baptism in Ringstead in 1830 when he was ten months old. The other details of the date of the christening are omitted. By the 1841 Census he is aged 12 and living with his parents and siblings, a few doors from the Vicarage, before the great dispersal of the family begins. He, like his older brother has followed his father as a shepherd. At first, Enclosure along the Nene valley had the effect of creating more pastoral land but sheep farming was not so labour intensive as arable in that time, still, mainly dependent on horsepower and limited but increasing mechanisation.

By 1851 he is aged 21 and an ‘Under Gardener’. His older brother, Daniel, is married but he and his new wife are still living with the family. Only James has left to seek his living I believe - by a process of elimination - that he is wrongly put as John Ball, aged 19, born in Ringstead, a shepherd at Wold Lodges in Tansor which is downstream on the Nene, on the other side of Oundle. James moves first to Titchmarsh and then back to Ringstead by 1871.

John, on the other hand seems to disappear from all the Censuses. There is no sign of a burial either.

In desperation I began to scan the websites for news, however belated. Finally I came on a site, which had digitised a book called, A memorial and biographical history of the counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura, California. It was published in1891 and in it I found the following short passage.

JOHN BALL, whose fine ranch borders the Santa Ynez River, was born in Northamptonshire, England in 1831.

His father, Daniel Ball, was a farmer, and subject lived at home until 1850, when he came to the United States and first settled at Lockport, New York, where for three years he was servant in a hotel. Then, in 1853, he went to Oswego County and farmed up to 1856, when he came to California, by way of Panama.

He then went to the mines in Nevada County and mined for three years with good success, but on account of failing health he was obliged to leave; so went to Monterey County where he rented from 200 to 400 acres and raised grain for sixteen years. In 1876 he came to Lompoc, and bought eighty acres of land, paying $35 per acre. The land was covered with brush and timber, but is now cleared and highly improved. He carried on general farming up to 1885, but since then has been an extensive breeder of hogs, of the Poland-China, Essex and Berkshire breeds, keeping about 150 head and fattening for market. He is about reducing his stock, to return to the cultivation of beans and mustard, and thus change his farming. Mr. Ball was married at Castorville [sic], Monterey County, in 1863, to Miss Elizabeth Staley, a native of Missouri. They have but one child living, Charles Ball, who was born July 6 1869, and he still lives at home. They lost their two daughters in 1879, with diphtheria, dying within four days of each other.

On the balance of evidence it seems this is our John. The date of birth is a couple of years wrong and he emigrated not in 1850 but in 1852 as we have seen. On the other hand, his father was Daniel Ball from Northamptonshire. It says Daniel was a farmer but that is an understandable upgrade. We cannot be certain, but looking at the lives at some of his siblings, it does seem very possible.

His brother, Daniel was in Oswego County as a farmer, where John’s biography says he also farmed. It looks as if the two brothers were together at the start but either they fell out or John decided to try his luck in California. In the biography it also states that he had been mining in Nevada County, California. It seems likely that he went to seek his fortune in the gold mines that were in the county. At this time, the use of water to separate and find the gold had begun, with devastating effects, as this extract from a University of California website makes clear:

The Gold Rush, positive for California in so many ways, had a devastating effect on the state’s environment. Many of these problems were directly related to gold-mining technology. The process of hydraulic mining which became popular in the 1850’s caused irreparable environmental destruction….. California’s largest hydraulic mine {was} Malakoff Diggings in Nevada County.

Dams (such as the English Dam in Nevada County) . . . which were constructed to help supply water to the mines during the dry summer months, changed the course of rivers. The sediment washed away by hydraulic mining clogged river-beds and lakes, threatening agriculture throughout the Central Valley. Conflicts arose between mining and farming interests. Hydraulic mining essentially came to an end in 1884 .  .  .

Checking the American Censuses, I have not yet found John in 1860 but, according to the biography he married Elizabeth Staley in Castroville in 1863 and, in 1868, in Monterey County, he became a naturalized United States citizen. In 1870, we find the family in Castroville Township, in the county of Monterey. There is Elizabeth aged 39, with the children, Mary 6, Narcissa 4 and Charles 1. John is away but all around are farmers and farm labourers. It states that Elizabeth was born in Kentucky but this is possible, although it does introduce some uncertainty. There is also the possibility that this Elizabeth is John's second wife although, as yet, we have no evidence except his late marriage and the enigma of the Eliza Ball who was on the Jacob A. Westervelt with him.

We know, from the biography, that John moved to Lompoc in 1876. It seems that Lompoc was only founded in 1874 when the Lompoc Land Company bought and sold 43,000 acres to establish a temperance colony. The Lompoc History site reports that:

A land rush ensued with fierce bidding forcing land prices to skyrocket in just one day. The temperance colony flourished, despite being located on the stage line midway between the ‘wicked’ cities of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Liquor inevitably found its way into the town via passing stagecoaches. Local druggists were also known to stock alcohol ‘for medicinal purposes’. The city of Lompoc was incorporated on August 13th 1888. At that time the courts ruled that the temperance clause included in all deeds to that time was unenforceable, since there was no reversion clause. The lands could not revert to the Lompoc Valley Land Colony, since it was disbanded years earlier. Temperance, therefore, ended with the incorporation of the City.

The biography tells us that in 1876 he bought land near the Santa Ynez River which he cleared and farmed there. The farm was on the river edge, west of Lompoc, and had a river crossing which is still called Ball's Crossing. By good fortune Armilda Carter Douglass also moved to Lompoc in 1876 and she has left her memories of that time. She tells of the droughts when, ‘During that winter [1876-7] not enough rain fell at any one time to lay the dust’. and the floods that meant the early farmers lived, in those early years, on the edge of starvation. She also tells of the farmers' inexperience that caused them great hardship:

When first beans were planted in the valley, no one knew just how ripe pods had to be before they should be picked. Consequently, the farmers waited until the pods were so dry that the beans would pop out if any effort to pick them was made during the day time. In order to gather the crop, pickers waited until night fogs moistened the pods and crawled down the furrows on their hands and knees in the dark picking beans all night long.

She also tells, however, of people helping each other in times of trouble and sharing surpluses during those early years of famine.

In 1879 we know, from the biography, that John and Elizabeth's two girls died of diphtheria, which was during an epidemic which took the lives of other Lompoc children, and in the 1880 Census, Charley aged 10 is now on his own. We find him with his parents in Santa Barbara County, California. Elizabeth is 49 and born in Kentucky and John, now returned, is aged 50 and is a farmer. The Census was taken on 4th June 1880 so John must have been born between June 5th1829 and June 4th 1830. This would mean that his birth comes within the time span we would expect from his baptism in Ringstead rather than the one quoted in the book. It is a small point but it does show that many dates in family histories are not facts but best guesses.

There is at least one further twist in the story of John Ball. Myra Manfrina has informed me, from the Lompoc Local History resources, that Elizabeth divorced John in 1892 and took back her maiden name. On September 28th 1895 the Santa Maria Times of Santa Barbara reported:

MARRIED Mr John Ball of Lompoc and Mrs. Della Gale of Santa Maria, September 25th 1895 at the residence of Rev. Jas. M. Smith.

The Santa Barbara County marriage register 1887-1897 has been transcribed and digitised and it shows that John was 64, which is about the age that we would expect, and Della was 49.

In the 1900 Census a John Ball, aged 70, born in England in March 1830 is a widower and living by himself in Township 3, Santa Barbara, California. His marriage to Della was not a long one. The Census also records that he had come to the USA in 1850 and was now a teamster. His son Charles married Alice Brookshire in about 1890 and they had two sons and brought up their family in the Santa Barbara area. His first wife, Elizabeth, is buried in the same plot as her two daughters.

John died on March 9th 1905 and the Morning Press newspaper on the following day was a brief statement:

OLD RESIDENT DEAD

John Ball, an old resident of this county passed away yesterday afternoon at the county hospital at the age of 75 years. He was a native of England but had lived in this locality for many years. He has been confined in the hospital for two years, the cause of his death being the natural decline of old age. He leaves a widow in Lompoc and a son in Santa Maria.

I think that the assertion of a widow may be an error and may refer to Elizabeth. Two John Balls half a world apart who between them have crossed the Atlantic and then sailed around the USA through the Panama Canal to California. They have married and had the tragedy of the death of their two girls. It seems almost certain, with the evidence of the crossing with his brother and sister, the stated coming from Oswego County in New York State and his father being a Daniel Ball from Northamptonshire, that the two are in fact the same person.

*

Let us finally look at Sarah and her husband Thomas Nobles (or Noble). In 1860 Sara aged 39, the age that we would expect from the 1851 Ringstead Census, was living in Lysander in Onondaga County in New York State. Thomas (34) is a Farmer and Phebe (13) has two siblings, William (6) and Elizabeth (6). By 1870 they are living in Avon, Livingston, in New York State. Thomas is still a farmer, Sarah is ‘keeping house’ and the two younger children, William T (14) and Elizabeth (13) are at home, both born in New York State.

In 1880 they are at Henrietta, in the county of Monroe, still in New York State and Thomas is 53 and Sarah 58. William, their son, is 24 and a farmer, presumably with his father and Elizabeth is a dressmaker. Sarah is still keeping house. We next see Sarah aged 74, now a widow, living with William, and his wife and children, in Rush also in Monroe county. Thomas had died on July 13th 1892 in the Halineramin Hospital in Rochester. William, like his father, is a farmer and his son Elwin is a ‘farm labourer’. Perhaps surprisingly, considering the hard life that she must have had that is not our last sighting of her in the Federal Censuses. In 1910, aged 87, she is living with her eldest daughter Phoebe (60) and her husband Mathew Flowerday apparently some ten years her senior (although only 6 years older in earlier Censuses), in Brighton, Monroe County, New York State. None of them are working and let us hope that they were able to live comfortably in the land they had played a small part in making. Matthew and Phebe have been married 40 years but have had no children.

*

We cannot be completely certain, but it appears that the three siblings, Daniel, John and Sarah all stayed in the United States and made their lives there in farming. The younger brother, Elisha, who came a decade later, went first to Elmira in New York State and then on to Canada. For some reason, he and his family returned to Ringstead. Perhaps, as we have speculated in his biography, he came too late to get the land and the life that he wanted.

There is another important fact that we have so far not mentioned. The American Civil War raged from 12th April 1861 to April 1865. The War claimed some 620,000 lives, which is more than the combined American dead from all other wars between 1775 and 1975. New York State was not in the area of conflict between the Union and Confederate forces but volunteers were recruited from the area and many died in the vicious battles that characterised the war. As the History of Oswego County, written in 1877, states:

No portion of the Empire State exhibited more patriotism or responded with greater alacrity to the president’s call for Volunteers than the county of Oswego.

Many families in the area, as also in California, where John and his family were living, would have lost sons. The same book also reports on the boom years after the war and the great financial crisis which began in the autumn of 1873, and from which America was just emerging in 1877.

We cannot be sure how all this affected the Ringstead emigrants but certainly it would have been difficult times and any success in the New World would have been hard won. One wonders how their children and grandchildren fared but that is another story in another country and in another century. We must leave it there.

 8 James Ball (Abt1831 – 1901)

James, Thomas, Samuel and Elisha were all baptised together in Ringstead Church on September 12th 1841. He is aged 9 in the Census which preceded the baptism by a few months so he was born in about 1831/2. He left home early and I believe that he might be wrongly entered as John Ball, aged 19, born in Ringstead, a shepherd living in at Wold Lodges in Tansor which is downstream on the Nene, on the other side of Oundle.

On 17th October 1855 James married Emma Storks, daughter of James Storks) in Ringstead Church. I have not found an Emma Storks in Riseley but there is a James Stock (45) , his wife Unice (30) and children Marry (18), “Emerler” (Emily or Emma?) (7) and John (4) living in Riseley in the 1841 Census. In 1851 James and Eunice are still living in Riseley with son John and another daughter Sarah (8). An Emily Stock who is 18 and born in Riseley is a servant for baker and farmer James Rootham in High Street, Rushden. This might be Emma.

 In the 1861 Census for Titchmarsh High Street James is a shepherd aged 29 with his wife Emma (27) from Riseley and their two children Phoebe (4) and John (2) both born in Denford. Only two of the couple’s children seem to have had Methodist baptisms: Phoebe born 19th October 1856 in Denford and baptised on 30th December of the same year and, later, Thomas born in Ringstead on 29th December 1865 and baptised on 6th May 1866. By 1871 the family are back in Ringstead in Shop [High] Street, together with additions to the family, Thomas aged 5 and George who is just 6 months old (all the children, including the older ones are now shown as being born in Ringstead..

By 1881 James and Emma are living in High Street, Ringstead. James, now 50, is a shepherd and John (22) is an iron ore labourer, Samuel [Thomas?] (16) is a farm labourer and George (10) and Elizabeth (5) are both scholars. The Northampton Mercury of 20th May 1882 reports on “Sheep Shearing at Thrapston” where there were various contests with prizes given by the Northamptonshire Chamber of Agriculture. In Class 3, the prize for which appears to have been given by the inhabitants of Daventry, but open to all England, was for “the shearer who has been in the employ of the person recommending him who shall shear in the best manner three sheep and wind the wool, within one hour and a half. The first three prizes were for £3, £2 and £1 but the fourth prize, a pair of shears, was won by a J. Ball of Ringstead in the employ of Mr. G Agutter. Although he was about 51 I think this was probably James. There were some dozen competitors in all.

 In 1891, still living in High Street, James, now 62 is just a “farm labourer” and Emma (57) a charwoman. With them is daughter Sarah [Elizabeth?] who is 15 and a boot closer. They live a few doors from the old Post Office kept by John and Mary Green.

James died on 15th December 1900 aged 69 and was buried in Ringstead Cemetery two days later. The 1901 Census find Emma, a widow aged 67 living in Abbots Yard in Ringstead. She died just eight months later, aged 67, on 28th August 1901. She was also buried in the Cemetery in a separate grave. They had nonconformist ministers to give the burial service. I do not think there is a gravestone for either of them.

 

9 Thomas Ball (Abt1834 – 1886)

We first find Thomas Ball in 1841 aged seven living in Ringstead, with his parents Daniel, a shepherd, and Phoebe and his brothers, ‘Daniel, John, James, Samuel and Elisher’. On 12 September of the same year he is baptised at Ringstead Parish Church with three of his brothers. Perhaps there was a reduction for a job lot. In 1851 he is still living with his parents but at seventeen he is now an agricultural labourer.

Then, like his siblings George, Daniel, Sarah and John and his younger brother Elisha, he disappears from the Censuses. Most have gone to the New World but George and Thomas prove more elusive to trace although fragments of George’s and Thomas's life appear. Unlike Elisha, Thomas does not reappear again in Ringstead with children whose birth places tell of his travels.

There is one possible sighting. On a Stray Marriages site I found the following:

BALL Thomas of Raunds, age 21 bachelor, father Daniel, shepherd Sarah GALE otp age 21, spinster, father Henry, carpenter 18 Oct 1855 Pertenhall BDF {Bedfordshire}.

It does give his home parish as Raunds rather than Ringstead but it seems too much of a coincidence: same name, same age, same father, and with same occupation! Also I cannot find any siting of another Thomas Ball in later Censuses to fit this same description.  Assuming that this is the correct marriage there is more confusion because some five years later, in the 1861 Census Sarah is still living with her parents, Henry and Mary, in Pertenhall, and is surnamed Gale, not Ball. It appears to show her as married and certainly there is a marriage certificate. By 1871 she has disappeared and I have been unable to trace her. In 1881 her mother, Mary Gale, now aged 79 and a widow is visiting George Pearson, a labourer, living in ‘The Bear’, St. Mary's Street, St Neots in Huntingdonshire. George's wife is Sarah, aged 45 and born in Pertenhall. Could this be Sarah Gale? I have not yet traced any marriage. In 1891 George, now a gardener and Sarah are living in Yaxley in Huntingdonshire.

Of course this may all be a false trail but Thomas's story is one of alleyways and cul-de-sacs. If we have the right person, the fact that she is put as Sarah Gale and not Ball is a strong indicator that something has gone wrong. There is no sign of Thomas either in 1861 or 1871.

In the 1881 Census, thirty years after his last appearance, we find a Thomas Ball living at 1 London Wharf, High Street, Chatham, Kent. This Thomas is only 37 (not 47 as we would expect) but it does show his birthplace as Ringstead, Northants. His wife is Emily J Ball aged 31 and born in Cathrington, Hampshire. They have a son Edgar J aged two months old and born in Chatham, Kent. Thomas is also shown as a Chelsea Pensioner so we know that he had been in the army. Although the Census describes them as married, I have been unable to find a record of the wedding.

Looking at the birth certificate for Edgar John Peter Ball we see that Emily’s maiden name was Ellis. Emily too is something of a mystery and she variously is shown in the Censuses as coming from Cathrington, Chichester and Frogmore. It also shows Thomas as a labourer so he is still trying to earn a living. A Pensioner was allowed to work for a living, for his pension would not have been enough to live on. The great majority of Chelsea Pensioners received outpayments and did not lodge in Chelsea and wear the familiar red uniform.

With this lead we turn to the British Army Records for Chelsea Pensioners in the National Archives of the Public Record Office in Kew (and now increasingly online). Suddenly those missing years are filled in. Here is one of a number of Ringstead farm labourers who has left the security, and insecurity, of a Northamptonshire village for a world full of excitement and danger but one which gave him the chance of earning a living.

What we see are his discharge papers recording his service and his entitlement to a pension. It also tells us a little about the man. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, of fresh complexion with grey eyes and brown hair. His only scar is from a cut on the end of the forefinger of his left hand. Few coming out of the army would have got away so lightly.

It also confirms that he was born in Ringstead and was a labourer before signing up. He ‘attested’ for the 48th, The Northamptonshire Regiment of Foot, at Northampton on 28th September 1857, at the age of 21 years 10 months which means that he was born in November 1835. Was his enlistment connected to his 'marriage' to Sarah, some two years earlier?

He had been in the army for 21 years so where had Private 2548, Thomas Ball, been up to his final discharge on 8th October 1878? We are told that for the first 7 years 14 days he had been a private in the 48th but that on 11th October 1864 he transferred to the 3rd Rifle Brigade with which he remained until his discharge. It is also recorded that he served abroad for 13 years 77 days of which 28 days were in Gibraltar and 13 years 49 days in India.

The Northamptonshire Regiment of Foot had fought in the Crimean War with distinction and when that conflict had finished moved first to Malta and then Gibraltar for about a year.  The Northamptonshire Militia Regiment had re-embodied (re-formed) in 1857 when news came of the Indian Mutiny. It assembled on 27th October 1857 and proceeded by rail to Plymouth on 4th December. The militia remained in Plymouth until May 1858 when it received orders to return to Northampton to be disembodied. Did Thomas travel down with the Militia and then sail out to join the regular Northamptonshire Regiment in Gibraltar, perhaps as one of the replacements for the losses suffered in the Crimea? He was only there for a month when orders were received from London and the regiment embarked for India. Apparently, the 48th had behaved well in Gibraltar and they were given a hearty send-off by crowds of local people as they marched to the docks behind various regimental bands.

It was the 15th September 1858 when the regiment left Gibraltar on the steam transport ship Jura and a week later landed in Alexandria in Egypt. It was transported by rail to the terminus but from there travelled by donkey across the desert to Suez. Thomas and the other soldiers would have seen the construction of the great canal in progress but it would be another 11 years before it was opened for shipping. At Suez they boarded the P & O Steamer Hindostan and after an unpleasant overcrowded voyage, (there were only enough bunks for half the men), arrived in Calcutta on 20th October.  They had been at sea for a month and must have been grateful to get their own bunks in the barracks at Barrackpore. It was on the Barrackpore (Barrackpur) parade ground that a single sepoy had first refused to use the alleged ‘cow and pig fat’ bullets, the action that had triggered the rising.

The regiment had just missed the vicious fighting of the Indian Mutiny and it seems that its time in India was comparatively uneventful. They were stationed, over the next seven years, at Allahabad, Calpee, Cawnpore, Lucknow and Calcutta. These had had been places where the rising had been at its most ferocious. It is not for us here to allot guilt but, certainly, terrible massacres were carried out by both sides. Although armed hostilities were over it must have been a tense time both between British and Indian soldiers in the army but also between the army and the civilian population. It was because of the Mutiny that India came directly under the rule of the Crown rather than the East India Company.

On 1st January 1865 the Northamptonshire Regiment of Foot sailed for home on the S.S. Patrician but Private Thomas Ball was not with them. Nearly three months earlier, on 11th October 1864, he had transferred to the Third Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. We can only speculate as to his reasons for this move. What seems certain is that he realised that this would prolong his time in India. Perhaps he enjoyed the life in the sub-continent and he seems to have been a model soldier. Although he was never promoted, he was never court-martialled and gained five good conduct badges and one good conduct medal in his career. There is also the possibility that we are right in our unproved theory that something had gone very wrong in his marriage and he wanted to keep out of England. The records we have do not help and give no details of his marital status or children.

The Rifle Brigade was a famous fighting force with its colonel being Field Marshall H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. Its title usually had ‘Prince Consort's Own’ in brackets after the brigade name. It had been formed in 1800 to make use of the new more accurate ‘Baker’ rifles in the Napoleonic Wars and was famous for having a green, rather than the usual red, uniform. It is difficult to work out if the two forces were stationed close to each other at the time of Thomas's transfer, but it does not seem likely with the 48th in the east near Calcutta and the Third Battalion of the Rifle Brigade in the west around Rawal Pindee (Rawalpindi). Perhaps Thomas, and others who elected to stay, travelled partly by the Indian railway system which was one of the legacies that the British left. 

The 3rd battalion moved around the North-West area in what is now Pakistan: from the headquarters at Rawal Pindee to Peshawar and Nowshera. In 1866 and 1867 they worked on a road from Murree to Abbottabad. Thomas was probably one of these road-makers because on 26th April 1867 he was re-engaged at Rawal Pindee.

On January 10th 1869 the 3rd Battalion left Rawal Pindee and marched to Moradabad and Seetapore. From there they travelled by rail to Allahabad and on to Bombay. The tour of duty was over and on 21st November 1870 the brigade embarked on H.M. Troopship Euphrates. This time Thomas was on board.

On the way home they stopped at Aden for a week before leaving on December 7th on the final lap of their journey on the Troopship Seraphis . The brigade finally arrived in Portsmouth harbour on 30th December 1871. Even though they had spent much of the time in the cooler highlands of north-west India an English winter must have come as something of a shock. They occupied the Clarence barracks and were joined by the Depot companies from Chatham. Over the next six years the Battalion moved between Exeter, Dartmoor, Plymouth and Winchester before moving to its permanent barracks in Chatham. Each year there would be manoeuvres but Thomas would have no more active service. By luck he had missed both the terrible European and Indian conflicts.

One can only speculate as to Thomas's state of mind on returning home. There is no sign that he went to see his relatives and old friends in Ringstead but this type of evidence would rarely exist. Was he pleased to see his home shores after so many years or was he worried about just what awaited him in England.

Thomas left the army with a £5 gratuity and a good conduct medal for his years of service. He had a small ‘Chelsea Pension’ based on his years of ‘good’ service but, as we have said, he would also have to work as a labourer to make ends meet. It is probably about this time that he met a woman called Emily Ellis. The Censuses variously give her birthplace at different places in Hampshire so it is possible that they met while Thomas was stationed or on manoeuvres in the south west. They may have married abroad or it is possible that they never married because Thomas was never divorced from Sarah Gale. When he had first married, in 1855, divorce was not an option for most people because of the costs and procedures involved. The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 had begun the process of making it more accessible and a little fairer to women, but it was still not affordable for ordinary working class people.

 On his discharge form, in September 1878, he gives his intended place of residence as No. 4 Lower Church Path, New Brompton, Chatham.  As we have seen, in 1881, his residence is given as 1 London Wharf, High Street, Chatham and his son Edgar is just two months old so Emily and Thomas  met , if not before he left the army, at least shortly after. It must have been something of a change for an army man in his forties, used to barracks and army discipline, to find himself with a wife and a young family. It is possible that his labouring work was in one of Chatham's military establishments so perhaps he did find an environment with which he was familiar.

Unfortunately for Thomas he was not long to enjoy his new life. After many years of living in the tropics and enduring the tough dangerous life of a soldier, on the 11th April 1886 at Old Luton Road, Chatham, he died, a civilian in England, aged just forty nine. His death certificate records that he is an army pensioner. It also records that he died of Phthisis Pulmonaris an old name for Tuberculosis (TB), a feared disease in the nineteenth century and one that is still a killer in the world today. It was rife in England at this time and much of the milk was contaminated with it.

For Emily his death also meant that she would have to struggle to bring up her young family. The 1891 Census shows Emily Ball, as a widow, aged 41, with her sons Edgar aged 9 and Charles aged 7, both of whom were born in Chatham. She now lives at Church Path, Chatham. Emily is a laundress, one of the occupations resorted to by women who feared the workhouse. This is the address (or close to it) given by Thomas at his discharge. Perhaps it was a friend or relative of his or Emily's which they stayed in for a time after he came out of the army and which she either rented or inherited some time after his death.

In 1901 Emily, now 50, is living with her two sons, Edgar (20) and Charles (19) at 10 Britton Farm  Street, Gillingham. She also has a boarder, Jesse Woods, a sixty-five year old house painter from Leeds. It does not show Emily as working but the two sons are both Assistant Corn Factors. By 1911 Emily is aged 68 and shown as coming from Frogmore in Hampshire. She is living at 17 Albany Road Gillingham, still with her two sons, now 30 and 28 and unmarried. Edgar is a carter for the District Council and Charles a General Labourer at the Government Shipyard. For the first time, in 1911, the residents filled in the Census forms themselves. In this case it was Edgar, and we must presume that her age is correct and that she was born in about 1842, rather than the 1850 that we might expect.

Could Edgar have been wrong or had she lied about her age all these years? I believe that Edgar married Olive Trice in 1915 in the Medway District and that Emily died in 1920. Did Thomas tell Emily and his sons of those times in India and have they become part of a family tradition or has Thomas's life, like most, been lost to his future family?

10 Samuel Ball (Abt1836 – 1843)

Samuel was born in about 1836 in Ringstead and baptised with three of his brothers on 12th September 1841. He was buried in the churchyard on November 9th 1843 aged 7.

11 Elisha Ball (Abt 1839 – 1908)

This is based almost entirely on a chapter in my Ringstead People book

Elisha Ball is one of the those nineteenth Ringstead people whose lives caution us not to think that all the villagers were born, lived and died in one small corner of Northamptonshire. It is by following the Censuses through the years, that we begin to discover a little of the truth about his years away from everything and everyone that he had grown up with and come to expect.

He was baptised in Ringstead Parish Church on 12 September 1841. Often a baptism is a good indication of a birth date but in this case he was baptised in a, not uncommon, 'job lot' together with his brothers, James, Thomas and Samuel so we must look elsewhere for a more accurate estimate of his coming into the small village world.

In the1841 Census, Elisha is two years old and living in Ringstead with his parents, and his siblings, John, James, Thomas and Samuel. Already the older children, George, Elizabeth, Anne, Sarah and Daniel have left home. By 1851 Elisha is eleven years old and at this comparatively advanced age still a scholar.

In the 1861 Census Elisha is 21 years old, still living with his parents. Daniel senior is 71 years old but still a shepherd while Elisha is a humble agricultural labourer. All the rest of the family have left home as we have seen.

Farming was constantly going through difficult years with the New World imports causing falling grain prices. In 1841 the common land around Ringstead, had been enclosed, as had already happened in the neighbouring Parishes, destituting many cottager families. The better wages in the towns were also attracting the young labourers and throughout Victoria’s reign there was a rapid drift away from the countryside into the new industrial towns and cities.

Elisha also had personal reasons for changing his life. His father, Daniel aged 73 was buried on 20th April 1863 and a few months later Elisha had married Elizabeth (or sometimes Sarah Elizabeth) Childs. His mother Phoebe also died at the good age of 79 years in 1868. Perhaps these events, together with his uncertain prospects caused him to make the great leap into the unknown. At first all we know is that Elisha and his new wife disappear from the Ringstead Censuses and parish registers.

Elisha does not appear in the 1871 and 1881 Censuses and it is only in 1891 that he suddenly reappears and some of the mystery of the missing years is solved. The1891 Census finds the family in Carlow Street in Ringstead with their children Ida and Samuel. It is when we scan along the Census sheet to the children’s places of birth that we realise that something quite momentous has happened. Samuel, aged 20 is a shoemaker and was born in New York State, United States. Ida aged 12 was born in Upper Canada. The world is changing and, even in small villages like Ringstead, people are seeking their fortunes far from home, although it seems that Elisha did not find his.

Perhaps we also ought to record that Ringstead had had, from the very start people, who left its tight little community and ventured into the unknown. William Tuttle was born on 26 December 1607 in Ringstead and, on a ship called the ‘Planter’, he and his family, including three children also born in Ringstead, reached Boston, America in April 1635. They settled in Connecticut and never returned. If you Google 'Ringstead' you will find people from the New World tracing their ancestors back to this small Northamptonshire village.

Shoemakers have always been known for their radical tendencies and to 'infect' the communities in which they worked, so perhaps it was the democracy of the New World that beckoned. For some early settlers the reasons may have been religious.  In the nineteenth century it is more likely that it was the same cause that drove village people into the slums of London and other big cities; the poverty and uncertainty of being an agricultural labourer in those changing times.

With Elisha, there is one more factor that we have discovered since we first wrote his and Sarah's story. Three of his older siblings had emigrated in 1852 and two of them, Daniel and Sarah (Nobles), had remained in New York State. One imagines that Elisha and his family may have stayed with one of them when they first arrived in that vast unknown country.

We now have to find out where the family had been in those missing years by looking at the 1870 American Census for the 3rd Ward of the City of Elmira in the County of Chemung in the State of New York. There we find Elisha Ball aged 30, born in England, with his wife, Sarah E., 26, and children, George, 7 and Samuel 3. George travelled with his parents to America but Samuel was born in New York State. Elisha seems to be a C Laborer or could it be G(eneral) Laborer. The ages do not quite match up but this is not unusual and this is undoubtedly our family.

Elisha’s neighbours were mainly from New York or New Jersey with a few born in Ireland. Of the forty people on their Census page only Elisha, Sarah and George are born in England. There are labourers like Elisha but also painters and carpenters and a stone mason. George, who is seven years old, is shown as having attended school that year.

Mark Twain, who wrote many of his most famous books in Quarry Farm, overlooking the Chemung River valley, was often seen roaming the streets of Elmira looking for a billiards game or someone to chat to. Did the Balls stroll, unaware, past Elmira’s most famous resident? Perhaps, they even passed the time of day.

Elmira City itself was a fast growing settlement. In the Hamilton Childs Gazetteer and Business Directory for Chemung and Schuler Counties for 1868 it tells us that Elmira City had four banks, two daily and two weekly papers, a book and printing office, 12 churches, a synagogue, a female college and a water cure establishment. It also had a number of public schools It had changed its name from Newtown in 1828 and by 1870 there was a population of 20,538 the vast majority of whom lived in timber-framed houses.

Chemung County was still mainly rural with a vast range of crops and animal products from honey and maple syrup to corn, wool and from wheat, barley and oats to milk and butter and cheese. It also grew tobacco and made wine and cider. The county did have 346 factories including 32 saw mills, 17 flouring mills, 13 copper shops, 26 carriage and wagon manufacturers, 9 tanneries, 4 boot and shoe establishments and 4 woollen factories. There was also a rolling mill in Elmira.

It must have been a shock to Elisha and Elizabeth after Ringstead. At the moment we can only speculate as to why Elisha and his family ended up in Elmira which is some distance from the coast. It was a railway centre so perhaps this was the reason. It is also possible that he knew someone from the Ringstead area who had moved there, perhaps in the boot and shoe industry. It may be that it was always just a stopping off point, a place to gain funds and become acclimatised before the next part of their journey to a new life.

Whatever the reason, by 1881 we find that Elisha and his family have left the United States and he is now described as a 'farmer' in Southampton, on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario (Upper Canada). This is a journey of some four hundred miles, not a huge distance by American standards but we do not know how he and his family made the journey. Did they travel overland to Buffalo and then by boat through the Great Lakes to Bruce or was it all by land, perhaps via the railroad which had been built to Southampton in 1872? We can only guess. It may be they were helped by the Canadian government for the emigration to Canada had slowed and it increasingly advertising for farmers and labourers, especially to the western states.  The Census records that both Ida (now aged two) and Samuel were both born in Ontario but one would expect the 1891 English Census to be right. Why would Elisha bother to give two birth places for his children if it was not correct? His eldest son, George who was born in England just before they left, and is now 16 years old, is also recorded as a farmer.

The Bruce Peninsular was a territory controlled until the middle of the nineteenth century by the Saugeen Ojibway Nations which included the Chippewas who had defeated the Iroquois. Like many other Native American tribes they were pushed into signing away their land rights to the Peninsular in the period from 1836 onwards. The lands were divided up by the Indian Department and sold, with the interest from the sale going to the local tribes. The Saugeen Peninsula was ceded in 1854 with the ‘Indians’ retaining certain Reservation areas. The Chippewas believed that the white men would look after their lands. Settlers then poured in, attracted by the rich fisheries and the lush forests, both of which were destroyed over the next 70 years.

It may be that Elisha was granted a piece of land and set up a homestead there with his family. The Canadian County Atlas Project only records two E. Balls, one in 1876 in Norwich South in the County of Oxford, and one in 1878 in Clarke in the County of Durham. It seems unlikely that either is Elisha because the Gazetteer and Directory of Bruce County published in 1880 has Elisha in the village of Southampton as a ‘labourer’. This lists over 200 people and as it only gives heads of families, unless a person also held land, it must have had some 800 inhabitants. Certainly the 1881 Census records 1,141 people in the village. (Ringstead had some 950 inhabitants at this time).

We see included in the list, ‘laborers’, fishermen, (and a fish inspector), farmers machinists, carpenters, coopers, tailors, teamsters; brakesmen, a station master and track inspector; a harbour master and agent for the Inman ocean steamers, a customs officer; a crown land agent, a postmaster, a meteorological station manager and a barrister; a brickmaker, a miller a printer, a weaver, butchers, confectioners, a grocer, two hoteliers, a cabinet maker and photographer. It also lists the land that people own. Elisha has none. It may be this was before he managed to acquire some but possibly he came too late to stake his claim.

Southampton had originally been called Saugeen and in 1848 the Crown Lands Department decided to lay out a town at the head of the Saugeen River. It was surveyed in 1851 and by the end of the year it was a small village of some dozen or more families. A storm on Lake Huron sunk the supply ship and it was a difficult first winter in the cold with the heavy snow falls of an Ontario winter. Nevertheless it grew rapidly and by 1871 it had a school and churches as well as banks and shops. The real pioneer days were over and land was not available as once it had been.

Under the advert for ‘Strong’s Lung Syrup which cures lung diseases’, D. Cascaden advertises as an agent for the ‘North-West Transportation Co. and the Inman and White Star Line of Ocean Steamships’. He states that ‘intending Emigrants for the North-West will find it advantageous to write for information which will be cheerfully given’. Already the movement is further away from the well established states into the newer, unclaimed areas. Certainly the Northampton Mercury was still continually advertising the opportunities for free farms in Western Canada in the early 1900s.

Whatever the truth, for some reason, it did not work out for the Ball family. Perhaps they were homesick for Ringstead or perhaps they could not make a living and they struggled in poverty away from their friends and family. Farming was not easy in Bruce County and it was mainly in logging and fishing that people made good money. It would be interesting to know when Elisha and his family left Southampton because on November 4th 1886, fanned by high winds, a disastrous fire broke out which destroyed fifty buildings and left over thirty families homeless. There was a collection made to help the victims but, for Elisha, was this the end of his dream?

We know that, by 1891, the family were back in Ringstead and Elisha is a farm labourer, Samuel is a shoemaker and Ida a scholar. There is also a niece (probably great niece), Elizabeth Sykes aged 9, living with them. She is the daughter of Rachel (nee Ball) and the great granddaughter of John Ball, Elisha’s uncle. It seems almost certain that Daniel and John were brothers as we thought.

One wonders how the family managed to return home and how they told friends and neighbours of their experiences of the strange peoples and places that they had encountered. Did they bring postcards back of the places they had been? Did they have their own photographs taken, before they left Southampton, by Thomas Davis, cabinet maker and photographer? Perhaps life seemed a little humdrum after the wonders of the New World.

By 1901 the whole family, including George, were living in 6 Barritt’s Yard in Ringstead. Elisha and George are ‘Ordinary Farm Labourers’, Samuel is a shoemaker and Ida a boot closer. Living with them were two boarders, William Wyman and Henry French. Henry, at twenty-four, was two years older than Ida. He was a Railway Bridge labourer, born in Paulerspury near Towcester, who moved to Blisworth as a young child. Ringstead was on the railway line from Blisworth to Peterborough. Obviously the stranger appealed to Ida and they were married within weeks of the Census.

Elisha died, aged 72, on 3 September 1908 and his son, Samuel, aged 39, died just two years later on 6th April 1910. A newspaper report in the Rushden Echo for 12th August 1910 (transcribed on the Rushdenheritage website) states that Elisah was killed by lightning - but seems to indicate this was in 1901. Both are buried in Ringstead Cemetery. Sarah Elizabeth, Elisha's wife, has been somewhat overlooked in this account. It is often difficult to find details of women's lives through official documents. Luckily her great granddaughter, Rachel Henderson, was told a little about her by her own father. She was known as ‘Air Granny’ and, by his account, she was one of those women that people send for in time of trouble. One can surmise that her time in Canada would have increased her natural hardiness and resilience. I will set down the tragic story, which is one example of how Sarah had to show this character, in Rachel's own words.

It wasn't until I was in my forties that [my father] told me of one instance [of being sent for in a time of trouble]. It was during WW1, that there was a man in Ringstead whose wife had recently died, leaving him with two small boys and a baby girl. In the midst of all this trouble, his call-up papers came. I think that at that time Ringstead was a singularly hard place to live; people were very poor, and the 'local gentry', such as they were, obviously were indifferent to his plight (he would have qualified for exemption). The night before his departure, his daughter was being looked after by relatives. He waited until his sons were asleep before cutting their throats and then his own. (All this is quite true!) Dad accompanied his granny to the house where she helped to wash the bodies and lay them out before taking the sheets home to launder.

The same newspaper report which told of the death od her husband reported that Sarah had been struck by klightning also in August 1910 and had been unconscious for 5 hours.Nevertheless, and likemany women who have had hard lives, Sarah Elizabeth lived to a good age and was 85 when she died, on 17th September 1930. She was buried three days later in Ringstead Cemetery with a Wesleyan funeral.  I have not  found a headstone.

The connection with Canada was not entirely lost because Henry French also went to work in Canada although it is not thought that Ida went with him. They also called their daughter Veve, a French name, perhaps recalling Ida’s birth in Ontario. Could it have been a hidden pun? Long live the French!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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