Family Stories

Ezra Budd Ball – Spanish American War Veteran

Good morning!  We will take a trip to Wiborg, Kentucky, today.  Just in case you are not familiar, Wiborg is a small town in McCreary County in Eastern Kentucky.  If you travel south on US27 from Pulaski County, you will find the small towns of Wiborg and Flat Rock just south of the intersection of US27 and Hwy 90.  Turn left onto Hwy 1045 and very shortly make a right on Roberts Cemetery Road – a rocky road that leads you up a bit in elevation.  The cemetery sits on a small knoll at the top, just a short walk from where you park.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the lush moss is absolutely beautiful. 

Budd Ball, CO E, 4 KY Inf, Spanish American War, Roberts Cemetery #2, McCreary County, Kentucky.

Today I want to share information I found on Budd Ball.  I chose this particular stone first because it was a military marker; secondly because there are no dates on the stone.  Just the information that Budd Ball was a member of Co E, 4th Kentucky Infantry during the Spanish American War.  I never know where the search process will take me so started this hunt with newspapers, hoping to find an obituary.  Since the Spanish American War was fought April 21-August 13, 1898, I guessed at Budd being about 18 years of age when he entered the service – born about 1880.  With a general age span of 70 years, I looked for information on him in between 1880 and 1950.  Surprisingly I hit the jackpot.  In The Courier Journal of Louisville, August 15, 1948, a simple one line notice beginning with – ‘There died:  Budd Ball, 72, Flat Rock.’  Our search had begun.

With the above information I started research at Ancestry. 

Have you noticed that death certificates are slightly different throughout the years?  When Budd Ball died in 1948, box #30 said, if veteran, name war.  I can’t say I’ve noticed that before, but this was of the day when many WWI and WWII veterans might be passing on.  In that box on Budd Ball’s death certificate was listed Spanish American War.  We know we have the correct man.  He was born August 20, 1876, in Whitley County, Kentucky, his usual occupation was miner.  His parents were Amos Ball, born in Alabama, and Nancy Davenport of Whitley County.  His wife was Mary Shelton Ball.  He lived in Flat Rock.  He died August 6, 1948, of heart failure.  He was buried August 8th

Amos M. Ball and Nancy Davenport were married October 16, 1875, by Andrew Patrick, Minister of the Gospel, at his home. Stephen Davenport and Emily Steely were witnesses.  Amos was 22 years old, a farmer, born in Conecuh County, Alabama; his father born in North Carolina, his mother in South Carolina.  Nancy was 24 years old, born in Whitley County.  Her parents’ birthplace was listed as unknown.

The 1876 birth records for Whitley County are difficult to read – the copy made is not great.  But it does show Ezra Ball, born August 1876.  He is listed as female (that was the mistake of the person writing down the information), born to Amos Ball and Nancy Davenport.  This is where it gets tricky since it lists his father as born in Whitley County, and his mother born in Conecuh County, Alabama.  It was his father that was born in Alabama, as listed on Budd’s death certificate and several census records.  A good reason to have more than one source!

In the 1880 census for Whitley County we find Amos Ball, 27, farmer; wife Nancy, 20; and sons Ezra, 3; and William M., 1.  I find it interesting that in the first portion of his life Ezra Budd Ball went by Ezra, and later, Budd.  All family members are listed as born in Kentucky. 

In 1900 Nancy is listed as head of household, aged 46, married 26 years, six children born, six living, all born in Kentucky.  Amos must have passed away at some point in the last 20 years.  The following children live with her:

  • Ezra, 22, Aug 1877, day laborer on railroad
  • William, 19, May 1881, day laborer
  • Henry C, 13, June 1886, day laborer
  • Green B., 12, February 1888, at school
  • Serecta, daughter, 9, May 1891, at school

One year later Budd Ball married Mary Bell Shelton in Scott County, Tennessee.  Wouldn’t you love to know how they met?  Scott County, Tennessee is on the southern border of McCreary County, Kentucky, not impossible to meet, but I’d still like to hear the story!

To Any Regular Minister of the Gospel having the care of Souls, or any Judge or Justice of the Peace for said County – Greeting:

I, H. Reed, Clerk of the County Court for the County of Scott aforesaid, by the power in me invested by law, do license you or either of you, to celebrate the rites of matrimony between Budd Ball and Mary Bell Shelton.

Given at office in Huntsville the 8th day of February, 1901.

H. Reed.

I solemnized the Rites of Matrimony between the above named parties on the 8th day of February, 1901.

Felix G. Smith, M. G.

That we, Budd Ball and Scott Keeton, are held and firmly bound unto the State of Tennessee, in the sum of twelve hundred and fifty dollars, to be void on condition that there be no lawful cause to prevent a Marriage from being solemnized in the County of Scott between Budd Ball and M. B. Shelton, witness our hands and seals, the 8th day of February, 1901.

Budd Ball, Scott Keeton

I must say $1,250 dollars as a penal sum is the highest I’ve ever seen.  In the very early years of the country, it was $50, or pounds before our money became dollars.  In the 1870’s I’ve seen $100, but nothing close to $1,000!

In the 1910 census for Pulaski County, we find Budd (listed as Ezra) 23, married ten years, a coal miner.  Mary B. was 27, had given birth to four children, four children still living.  Their children were as follows:

  • James M., 7
  • Hershel A., 6
  • Robert L., 4
  • Annie W (Juanita), 1 ½

September 12, 1918, Budd Ball registered for the draft for World War I.  At the age of 42 years, it was highly unlikely he would be called into service.  His permanent address was listed as Wiborg, McCreary County.  His occupation was listed as coal miner, employed by the United States Coal Mining Company in Wiborg.  Budd is described as short, medium build, with brown eyes and hair.

In 1920 the family were still living in McCreary County.  Budd was 43, a coal miner, his father was born in Alabama.  Mary was 37.  In addition to the above four children were Clarence R., 9; Charlie R., 3 ½, Edith J., ½.

In 1930 the family lived in Pike County.  Son Robert, 24, was also a coal miner.  He and the four younger children lived with their parents, Clarence, 20; Charlie, 14; Edith, 10; and Fred, 8.

April 27, 1942, Bud Ball registered for the draft for World War II.  This is a first for me to see a man registered for three different wars.  His address is Wiborg in McCreary County.  At this time Budd is listed as unemployed.  Of course, he was 64 years old, but it could also be he was just between jobs.  He was listed as 5’6” in height and weight of 140 pounds.  Brown Eyes and black hair.

This obituary is from Find A Grave for Budd Ball.  I could not find this online, was probably from a local paper.

Night Watchman Found Dead

Mr. Budd Ball, night watchman for the Mathews Lumber Company, of Flat Rock, was found dead in the lumber shed by one of the day crew.  An inquest was held and cause of death was determined as a heart attack.  Mr. Ball had recently suffered a heart attack, and had been off duty for several weeks.

Funeral services for Budd Hall, age 72 years, 11 months and 17 days, were held on Sunday, August 8 at 2 P.M. at the Flat Rock Church.  Mr. Ball was one of the few surviving Spanish-American War Vets of the county.  He was a member of the Flat Rock Church and was a friend to his fellow man and neighbor.  He had spent most of his life in the mines, beginning at the age of 13 years.

Elder Andrew Guy officiated as minister.  Military honors were given at the grave side by the Kinne-Slaven Post, 115, with Chaplain R. E. Connely, officiating.

Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Mary Shelton Ball, six sons, James A. Ball, Cincinnati, Ohio; Hershel Ball of Baltimore, Maryland; Robert Ball of Wayland, Kentucky; Clarence Ball of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Charles Ball of Cincinnati, Ohio; and Fred Ball of Flat Rock; Kentucky, two daughters, Edith Stockman, Cincinnati, Ohio; and Juanita Witt of Cincinnati, Ohio; three brothers, Green Ball of Alpine, Kentucky; Billie Ball of Worley, Kentucky; and Henry Ball of Revelo, Kentucky; 22 grandchildren and a host of friends.  Interment was in the Roberts Cemetery at Wiborg, Kentucky.

Flower girls were Sue Ritchie, Mary Ann Powell, Bessie Dick, Retha Bowling, Mrs. Mitt Taylor, Mrs. Clarence Ball.

Pall bearers were four sons and two sons-in-law, Hershel, Robert, Charles and Clarence Ball, Virgil Witt and Lester Stockman.

I had not heard of flower girls for a funeral!

Mary Belle Shelton Ball lived another fifteen years after Budd’s death.  If you notice from the obituary above, son Clarence lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  In the 1960 directory of that city, I found Clarence living at 124 Travis NE, with wife Althea L., a factory worker for Stow and Davis Furniture.  Also in the directory was Mary B (wid of Budd) who lived at 540 Martha SW.  I googled the addresses and the houses were about five miles apart.  I assume this is Mary Belle Shelton Ball who decided to live close to son Clarence.  She didn’t die in Michigan, but in Wiborg where the family lived so many years. She evidently moved back to Kentucky before 1963.

From The Courier Journal of Louisville on Sunday, January 20, 1963 – ‘Mrs. Mary Belle Ball, 80’

This obituary was also taken from Find A Grave.


Mrs. Mary Belle Ball, 80, died January 17th at her home at Wiborg, terminating a long illness.

Mrs. Ball was born in Tennessee April 16, 1882, the daughter of Robert and Ella Ann Ferrule Shelton.  She lived in McCreary County for most of her lifetime and was a member of the Flat Rock Baptist Church.

The deceased is survived by six sons, James M. Ball, Cincinnati, Hershel A. Ball, Baltimore, Maryland; Robert L., Clarence R. and Charles H. Ball, Wiborg; Fred E. Ball, Grand Rapids, Michigan; two daughter, Mrs. Juanita Witt, Hillsboro, Ohio; and Mrs. Edith Stockman, Cincinnati; two sisters, Mrs. Nane Rhodes, Cincinnati; and Mrs. Sally Childers, Wiborg.  Thirty-seven grandchildren also survive.

Funeral services were held Monday, January 14th, at Flat Rock Baptist Church with Rev. Charlie Keith in charge.  Burial was in the Roberts Cemetery at Wiborg.

There is no headstone for Mary Belle Ball.  But I am sure she is buried at her husband’s side. 

3 replies »

  1. That was a very interesting read. I never heard of flower girls at a funeral either. He worked in the mines since 13. That part made me sad. A little boy really.Having grandchildren myself I can’t imagine one going into a mine to work at 13 years of age. Thank you Phyliss. I love finding your posts in the morning.

  2. All of these family names are within my family. With your permission, I would like to save this article for further family study. When I first saw the name Bell, I thought perhaps she had been married and was a widow. Upon seeing the name Belle, I realized Belle(Bell) was her middle name. I too have seen many, many misspellings through the years. Thank you for the lovely article.

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