Thursday, 29 September 2011

It all starts with William Huxtable Ball.....

So, the story begins.....

Granddad, William Huxtable Ball, was born on 18 August 1903 in New Wortley, Leeds, England. The address of his birth as 6-8th Avenue:

View Larger Map

His parents were Thomas Huxtable Ball and Annie Amelia Turner. His father was a journeyman plumber, who left for Canada in the spring of 1906. Granddad followed with his mother, leaving Liverpool aboard the ship, Dominion (Dominion Line), on 25 Apr 1907, bound for Montreal. They arrived on 7 May 1907. However, Granddad contacted pneumonia during the voyage and was forced to stay in hospital for a month in Montreal, before making the journey (likely by train) to Vancouver to join his father, Thomas. Granddad's family grew to include three sisters, Gwendolyn, Evelyn and Marjorie. He met his wife, Mary Meade McPhee, in the Royal Columbian Hospital, where she worked as nurse. They married on 4 June 1932 and raised two sons. He worked in the Shell Oil Refinery in Vancouver. His first job was in the warehouse, where he rolled barrels. He later took on sales positions with Shell and retired as a District Sales Manager. Nana and Granddad lived primarily in the Vancouver area and also spent time in the Okanagan while Dad and Bill were in high school.

Upon Granddad's retirement from Shell in 1960, he and Nana took an around-the-world cruise, sailing on a freighter from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, the Suez, to the UK, where they visited with Grandad's cousins in Penarth and Dinas Powys, Wales. They flew from London to Montreal, and visited with their sons, new granddaughter and future daughter-in-law. They moved to Nanoose Bay, outside of Parksville, on Vancouver Island, where they built a house overlooking the Strait of Georgia. Granddad died on 6 Apr 1971 of prostate cancer in Parksville, BC.

To be continued....

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Ground rules

As I start out on this journey, I wanted to lay a few ground rules for myself and those wishing to post comments:

1. Identities of living persons will not be posted in this blog, my posts and comment replies. Social media is wonderful, but I don't want to invade or disrespect the privacy of family and friends. We all live in a world where everything is 'out there', but it should be a personal choice. If you chose to self-identify, please refrain from naming others who may not want to be identified.

2. The story of the Ball family will start with my grandfather, William Huxtable Ball, and go back by generation. There will be the occasion where I might stray off the path (ie. to discuss other branches like the Turners, etc.), but I will try to keep the retelling as orderly as possible.

3. If I am wrong, please correct me. Genealogy is a continual work in progress. Revision, rethinking and retracing are all part of the game.

4. If you have a memory or story to share, please share it.  If you have additional information, please post, by all means.  It might be the clue that gets the research around the brick wall - and there are many. Your suggestions for possible avenues for research and investigation are most welcome.
5. Check back often. I will try to post regularly to keep the conversation going.


Monday, 26 September 2011

Secrets, lies and paper

If I had to chose a starting point, I would say that it was the receipt of a typewritten note on the history of the Ball family, composed by my great-aunt Gwen Hynds (sister to my grandfather, William Huxtable Ball). My Dad's mom,whom we called Nana, said not to take it too seriously as there were many errors (my great-grandmother died in 1947, not 1945). Nana sent it to us after Dad died and in some way it was a last tenuous link between us, Dad and the past. Mom and I dissected the note countless times, disagreed on the references and relationships noted, but it kept my interest piqued....

I won't post the whole note as there are references to living people and a dispute about money on my great-grandmother's (Turner) side - so you can see we are a very typical family... warts and all.
Like a great puzzle to solve, I felt compelled to sort fact from fiction.



Sunday, 25 September 2011

Why start doing your family history?

We all have many different reasons for starting out on the journey that is family history. For some, it is a matter of faith and duty. While for others, it is the challlenge and thrill of the hunt. 

In my case, our Ball family was precariously flung across a continent. My Dad came to Ontario to work and raise a family, while his only sibling and parents remained in British Columbia.  When Dad died, it was one less string that tied us together. The stories of his childhood and upbringing would no longer be heard.  I started this journey, as many of us do, too late to ask all the burning questions that trouble us now. I do this research to better understand who we are, to keep connected with my western cousins, to share our stories, and to pass along our history and stories to future generations.  While it is fun to collect name and dates to build the family tree, I am more interested in the stories behind the individuals.  What motivated them to stay or go, their lives and how they were connected to the places and events that surrounded them.

What are your reasons for doing family history?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

What's in a name?

Growing up with a name like "Ball" was never easy.... just think of all the variations that kids can come up with - Bald, Baldy - and the sports - football, baseball, basketball, broomball, and other inanimate objects, ball game, ballroom, ballpark.  I think that I might have heard them all over the years.  Dad always used to caution my sister and me to be careful of who you marry - the wrong choice of combined surnames could be troublesome.

So what's in a name? According to the Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames by Charles Wareing Bardsley (1967), Ball is a name was given to mean 'the son of Baldwin' from the nickname Bald.  The 'd' was eventually dropped because it suggested baldness. Henry Harrison wrote in Surnames of the United Kingdom, a Concise Etymologoical Dictionary (1912) that Ball is "(Teutonic) A diminutive form of Baldwin. (Origin Celtic) Bald. (French / Latin) With bay colored or chesnut chair. (Latin) nut-brown. (French Teutonic) The name Ball derived from the trade-sign of a Ball."   Bald and brown.....who knew?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Welcome to The Ball Bureau

Garry and Bill Ball, ca. 1941
Welcome to The Ball Bureau, a blog for the sharing of Ball family research.  I am currently tracing my Ball family history on my father's side and hope to connect with other Ball family historians and researchers.  My Ball connection comes from Devon, England and has reached into Glamorgan Wales. I haven't come across may researchers working on my line of ancestors, so I feel like I am breaking new ground.

This blog is dedicated to my Dad, Garry Ball, and his brother, Bill Ball, who shared a love of storytelling, laughter and family. Dad passed in 1992 and we lost Bill this past year.  They are in our hearts always.