Having A Ball Starting The Ball Saga

There are many by the name of Ball in our area that stems from this man as well as others from his father’s family then of course brothers too. In fact, our progenitor of one of the Ball groups in Montgomery County is Dennis born in Frederick County, Virginia (some say Mercer County, PA – I’d go for either and probably tend more toward PA but need some proof) 7 May 1780 and passed away here 9 Nov 1839 buried in the Harlow Cemetery. He married Margaret Line (daughter of Solomon) born 14 Sept 1782 on September 12th just two days before her 17th birthday in Butler County, Ohio sealed by Rev. Gard. Just three weeks later Rev. Gard would officiate over Dennis’ brother, Abel when he married Mary Crooks.

Dennis is the son of (John Arnold) “Zopher” Ball and his wife, Sarah, his father quite an age (60ish) when Dennis and Abel were born and 72 when his youngest child arrived ( Zopher was born in 1724 and passed in 1803, having served as a Sgt in Capt. Joseph Mitchell’s Company of the southwest Virginia military (Frederick Co VA) and twice after in other companies. His tombstone in the Ball Cemetery (Delaware Township, Mercer County, PA) notes that he was a Revolutionary soldier 1775-1783, wrapping up with a company of his own. Dennis’ brother, Caleb was also a Revolutionary Soldier (1921 History of Rush County IN) and his brothers, Abel and Henry came to Parke County; Isaiah to the Waveland area and had a son Zopher who doctored there for quite a number of years. Definitely a wide ranged family. John Arnold Zopher Ball’s parents are said to be Joseph and Frances (Ravenscroft) but from the LDS site it seems rather odd that Joseph and Frances do not show-up in family names much if at all and he is supposed to be Joseph II. Family lore and early genealogies had this Ball family as close relation to George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball but recent DNA evidence proves not and that it goes back to “Edward Ball, one of the founders and first settlers of Newark, New Jersey.” ( John Arnold Zopher was twice married, and an affidavit in 1813 notes Dennis’ mother as Sarah, first wife was Elizabeth and neither last name is known and many trees have Elizabeth as his mother. She’s not! (johnstanley). In fact, many trees on Ancestry and other genealogy sites have many, many mistakes in the Ball family records, so do be careful if ya’ go there!

Speculating but I would say Dennis moved from his birthplace of Frederick Co VA to Butler County after his father’s death with his brother following along. He and Margaret’s children were mostly raised at the time of his death: Nathan; Martha; Joana; Abigail; Isaiah; James Samuel; Nancy and Salome. Thanks to Chris K who has done quite a bit of research on this family for the other two – Henry their first even and Sarah. You’ll read about most of these in upcoming Ball Saga entries.

Dennis served in the War of 1812 and received “a” land grant on 5 March 1825, but really purchasing a total of five, 80-acre land plots, being one of the first settlers of Wayne Township (Chapman History of Montgomery) – section 31 and 32. The trip from Ohio took thirteen days, but luckily most of his boys were big enough to help on the trip and for the first big task – clearing trees and building a log cabin for their home, the one I think son James Samuel later went to housekeeping in.

In January 1831, Montgomery’s small inefficient log court house had lost its pizzazz and it was a bit over a half-dozen years old. As one of the county commissioners (along with Dan Farley and James Sellar) Dennis listened to the people who were complaining wanting a bigger, better place to hold courts and such. After all, the population was up to 3,000 now. So, the commissioners in their session decided to take proposals for the building of a new court house. What was wanted was a two-story brick 40’ square (with a cupola even) and at the next commish meeting the contract was let out to John Hughes for $3,420. At the time it was finished it was likely the best in the state but seven years for the first and 40 years from 2-3 brought us yet another (3rd time’s the charm they say) which as you know recently had its cupola (a replica) returned in all its beauty.

Besides Dennis’ work on his farm, in his community, for his county, he appears in several of the old Guardian Dockets as guardian for several. On 8-12-1833 he is given guardianship for Hannah (18), Washington (20) and on a different page, Susan (12) children of Elihu Crane. He gave surety (basically putting up money to insure that …) for Solomon Ball as guardian for Zephaniah Crane (no age on him but he would have been about 15) another of Elihu’s children. Wish I knew the relationship to the Cranes – friends? Church? Relatives (usually but not always – sometimes a lawyer, a friend …) and on 11-9-1835 Dennis is appointed guardian for Charles Stewart’s heirs (might be one of his sister’s children but need to check farther) including Mary (14); Sarah J (12); Ann Maria (7); James A (5) and Harriet, 4. Certainly in court quite often but then again as one of the very first commissioners he was used to it!

Dennis passed away November 9, 1839 and likely didn’t need any guardians for his children, the oldest 26 and youngest 17. Margaret continued a widow for 25 years, spending her life with son James Samuel and his family. She died 30 July 1866 and she and her beloved husband are buried together in the Harlow-Ball cemetery near Waynetown, I believe on the land-granted Ball property. His original stone is about crumbled away but a descendant (Floyd Ball) recreated one that is very nice and set and photographed by our wonderful historian Kim Hancock) and Margaret’s is still nice, restored by Kim.

Thus, you have the opening Ball Saga which will likely run six following. Stay tuned. These are almost all new folks to me and I’m havin’ a Ball!!!

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. You can reach her at [email protected].