Monday, 17 December 2012

Seeking closure for William Henry Ball

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


William Henry Ball has been my man of mystery for sometime now. Recently, I've been scouring UK death registrations in the hopes of finding him sometime between 1932 and 1947, when his wife, Matilda Kate Bowcher, remarried. This is, of course, assuming that he did, in fact, die before her 1947 marriage to Bertram Cox.

Based on what I have learned from a family member, William may have met a tragic end involving a jump from a railway bridge, at an early age. However, finding evidence of that tragedy has been difficult. Initially, I had thought that his demise may have tied to some involvement in the Great War or military service, but I could not find any evidence showing his enrollment, discharge or death. After learning that he was married in 1921 and still alive in December 1931 when his father died, I decided to throw the net a bit wider and further. Could William have died tragically outside of Penarth or Cardiff?

Searching several death registration indexes for the UK, I did find one that matched his birth year and age. The certificate was indexed with the name "William H. Ball", so I was not sure if I would find a William Herbert or Horace listed. With some trepidation, I ordered the certificate in late November. It arrived this past Friday.

Much to my delight, the full name on he certificate shows "William Henry Ball". Of great interest, the place of death is listed as Ealing Broadway railway station. Sadly, the cause of death are injuries sustained due to a fall in front of a train - confirmed by a coroner's inquest. Is this my William Henry? What was he doing in Ealing in 1941? Could this have been a suicide? An accident? I cannot say at this point. I've started the process of tracking down an obituary and news stories of the event and will post once I have more information.

Stay tuned...

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Wedding of William James Ball and Mary Shepherd - 1879-1880

One of the best things about writing this blog is that I get to meet (in the virtual sense) many kind and generous people. One such person is Vivienne. She had seen my posts about William James Ball and his stay in the Glamorgan Asylum. As a former Reynoldston resident, she contacted me and shared her childhoood memories of seeing William and Mary's former home on St. George's Terrace and the Ball burial plot in the local cemetery.

Vivienne also sent me a reference to a blog entitled "Dear George" written by Frances Bevan, which examines the correspondence between George Bevan, who left home at age 15 to begin an apprenticeship in his uncle’s ironmonger’s shop in Llandudno, and his family in Gower. Their correspondence carried on for over 50 years.

Vivienne pointed out that the marriage of William James Ball and Mary Shepherd was mentioned in the letters of late 1879 and early 1880. The first reference to the couple can be found in a letter dated 15 Dec 1879 The second reference to William and Mary's wedding is found in a letter dated 26 Oct 1880.

I was really excited to see the references and want thank Vivienne for all of her insight and memories of Reynoldston and Gower.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 3 December 2012

John and Ruth (Thomas) Ball - Headstone

I've been caught up the past few weeks doing some research on my Dad's baseball and university career and have regrettably have been away from the blog, but I hope to remedy that by getting back into the swing of things.

I wanted to update the burial information for John and Ruth (Thomas) Ball at St. Andrew's in Dinas Powys. John was an older brother to my great-grandfather, Thomas Huxtable Ball.

John is buried with wife, Ruth Thomas, and their children, Nelson and Gwendoline. The headstone at St. Andrews Major Church reads as follows:

In loving memory of JOHN BALL died May 4th 1928 aged 68 years
And his dear wife RUTH BALL died December 28th 1959 in her hundredth year.
Also their son NELSON BALL, beloved husband of Linda, died June 2nd 1963 aged 60 years.
Also their daughter GWENDOLINE CHARLOTTE died September 19th 1986 aged 85 years, beloved wife of Captain BOBS THOMAS.

The blog post about their final resting place can be found here.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Advice from the National Archives (UK) on those census-shy relatives

I saw this National Archives blog post today about ancestors missing from the census and it really has given me thought and bit of chuckle.

I searched high and low for the William Huxtable Ball family in the 1871 Wales Census and even went back to the England Census, thinking that they may have returned to Devon. It wasn't until I read the source notes to the census file in Ancestry that I learned that some of the 1871 census returns for Glamorgan were missing. It means that I'll need to follow up to check their residency in some other record - like a directory, church register or tax record.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

BC Vital Event information - Update

Back in 2011, I mentioned that the BC Archives vital event indexes were a great resource to use for researching British Columbia ancestors. Well, this resource has recently been updated in September 2012 and now features digitized microfilm for many (but not yet all) of its vital event registrations. I've been happily rediscovering entries for my Ball, McPhee, and Turner family lines in the vital event indexes. What a treat to see a digitized image of birth, marriage or death registration with a click of the mouse!

Cheers, K.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Visions of family sporting glory... shortlived

Well.. my hope that Swansea football star, Billy Ball, was one of my elusive Ball cousins has been dashed... Based on inquiries that I made to the Local Studies Department of the Swansea Central Library and the 100 Years of Swansea City FC Project at Swansea University I can safely presume that Billy Ball, was not one of my William Ball cousins, born 1892 and 1893 in Glamorgan.

Philip Bethell, Project Officer from the Department of History and Classics from Swansea University indicated that Billy Ball, of Swansea FC fame, had been transferred to Swansea Town in 1912 from Stoke, and had played for Swansea until 1920. Ball remained in Swansea until his death in November 1960, at the age of 72 (estimated birth year late 1887 or 1888). My William Spickett Ball died in 1982 and William Henry died sometime before July 1947.

Local Studies Librarian, Gwilym Games, Swansea Central Library, confirmed the above information, and noted that the Swansea Club recruited established players from all over the UK to ensure that the club got off to a good start. It is possible that Billy was the same Billy Ball from West Derby, who played for Manchester United in 1904-1906, and was born in 1886.

Many thanks to Gwilym and Philip for all of their help! One mystery laid to rest, but always another one around the corner...

Cheers, K.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A bit of a flutter about Billy Ball

A couple of weeks back, one of my distant Welsh cousins sent me a scan of a brief history tidbit which noted that the "aptly named Billy Ball" had scored the first goal for the Swansea City football (otherwise known as 'soccer' to those of us in North America) team in their opening match on 7 Sep 1912 against Cardiff (game ended in a 1-1 tie).

While it was a very long shot, I started on the hunt for Billy Ball - knowing that we had two cousins in the family, both named William Ball (one Wm Henry and the other Wm Spickett), who were born in 1892 and 1893 respectively, which would have put them around age 19-20, when the match was played. According to the 1911 census, they were both working in a Cardiff bakery, operated by the Evans family, who were related to the mother of William Henry. After 1911, the trail went cold, but I found them later in life.

My father always talked about my great-grandfather, Thomas Ball, having played rugby for Wales. I grew up thinking that there was some great sporting legacy in the family. However, since starting this journey, I haven't been able to place Thomas in any rugby league or on any team. There are a couple of years in his late teens for which I have no information. In the back of my mind, the lost sporting glory may be lurking in these shadows... but without any proof, I remain open to the possibility that the story may be fiction or misunderstood by Dad. When the news of Billy Ball came to light, I thought that maybe this was the sports legacy retold so many times by my father.

So what of Billy Ball? The newspaper site, WalesOnline, carried an article mentioning Billy Ball. I was able to find a wonderful online archive of Swansea City FC on the 100 Years of Swansea City FC blog. I was also able to find a photograph of him on the Swansea University Flickr site. I've made a few inquiries about him and will let you know what I can find out.

Cheers, K.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Food for thought about North Devon emigration

A few weeks a ago, the August 2012 edition of the Devon Family Historian landed in my mailbox - always a welcomed event and interesting read. Published by the Devon Family History Society, the journal is a fascinating glimpse into the research of other Devon family researchers and a record of the Society's events and activities.

I found this edition particularly interesting as the lead article, Faith, Fish, Farm or Family: Motivations for Emigration from North Devon, 1830-1900, by Janet Few, challenged readers to rethink their preconceptions about the reasons why our ancestors might have left their Devon homes. Few outlined clues to consider when evaluating why a family member moved - including date of migration, conditions at new/old locations, life stage, migration companions, occupations in old/new locations, and religion. She also lists reasons for emigration, ranging from economic, educational, familial, religious, political and social. Few then recounts her family's migration story to Canada. Their end destinations, Mariposa (near Peterborough)and Toronto, are well known to me (I grew up in the west end of Toronto). According to the research quoted by Few, 434,806 people left via a Devon port between 1840-1900. Nationally, 75% of Victorian emigrants moved to America, but Devonians headed for Australiasia, but in the case of those from North Devon, their destination was Canada.

Few's article has gotten me thinking about why William Huxtable Ball left Devon in the late 1858-1860. Was it for economic reasons? Were there other Ball family members who lived in the Gower area? Were there religious tensions? What was happening in North/South Molton and in the Gower which might have contributed to a push or pull out of Devon?

Always something to think about and more research to do!

Cheers, K.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Matilda Ball's Second Marriage and the elusive William Henry Ball

Tracking down the elusive William Henry Ball has frustrating, but I am beginning to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I took a chance and ordered a marriage certificate for Matilda K. Ball that appeared in the 1947 England/Wales marriage index.

Much to my delight - the certificate arrived and confirmed my suspicion... that Matilda had remarried in 1947. On 30 July 1947, Matilda Kate Ball married Bertram Cox in the Church of St. Mary in the parish of Cadoxton Juxta Barry, Glamorgan, Wales. Bertram was 54 years old, a widower, whose occupation was given as "Engineer". His father, John Cox (deceased), was also listed as an engineer. Matilda is listed as a widower, with no occupation. Her father, Charles Thomas Bowcher (deceased) is noted as a tipper. Bertram and Matilda were married by banns. Their witnesses were Grace M. Houd and Arthur W. Bowcher. Arthur, Matilda's brother, had witnessed her 1921 wedding to William Henry Ball.

Matilda and Bertram were noted as living at 17 and 19 Guthrie Street, Barry Dock. This is a map of their neighbourhood:


View Larger Map

and a link to a street view of Guthrie Street.

With Matilda's marriage, it now means that William Henry likely died between 8 December 1931, when he appeared as the informant on his father's death certificate, and 30 July 1947, when Matilda remarries. At least, I now have only a 16 year window to search!

Cheers, K.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Obituary - William Huxtable Ball, 1971

I've been on bit of mission lately to track down details about my grandfather, William Huxtable Ball, and his siblings. One of the things that I realized is that I didn't have his obituary. Having grown up on the other side of the continent, we did not have a copy of his obit - so, I tracked down the microfilm and had a look.

This is a transcription of his obituary from the Victoria Times Colonist, 7 April 1971:

BALL - William Huxtable, a resident of Seacrest, R.R.#1, Nanoose Bay, passed away in the Nanaimo General Hospital, Tuesday April 6, at the age of 67 years. Born in Leeds, England. He came to Canada in 1906 and was district manager for the Shell Oil in many places in BC, including Victoria. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary, 2 sons - [name omitted] Kamloops, [name omitted] Toronto, 3 sisters, Mrs. John (Gwen) Hynds, White Rock, Mrs. A. (Evelyn) Nursey, Surrey and Mrs. Marjorie Sigismund, Coquitlam, 6 grandchildren also survive.

Funeral services on Thursday April 8, at 1 pm, from the Westwood Chapel of Flowers [illegible], Rev. W. Dormer officiating, cremation to follow. Kindly omit floral memorials. Donations in memory of Mr. Ball may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, P.O. 292, Victoria, BC.

In rediscovering the obituary, I was reminded of several things - that my grandparents had named their home "Seacrest" and the house was situated on Nanoose Bay. I remember the large balcony and picture window that over looked the backyard and waterfront.

This is a photo of their house from the back:



I am also reminded of the all to familiar mention of the Canadian Cancer Society in the obituary notices for my family - Granddad, Nana, Dad and my dear uncle - all has similar notations in their notices.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 20 August 2012

My mystery man - William Henry Ball

In going back over some research notes, I came across William Henry Ball, son of Henry Ball and Anne Evans. Given the propensity to hand down names in the Ball family (especially, the name 'William'), I was particularly flummoxed in my early days of research with sorting out which William was who. (I should be honest and say that the legacy of repeating names is not purely a Ball tradition. I am named after my mother's sister, who named one her daughters after my mother - my poor Grandma never got my name right on the first try - I learned to answer to both names - it just made life easier for her...)

William Henry Ball was born on 7 November 1892 in Newton, Brigend, Wales, in the area near Porthcawl:


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His father, Henry, was a dairyman. His mother was Ann Evans. Henry's address was given as 52 Windsor Road, Penarth and it is noted "as per Declaration dated 21 December 1892". William Henry's birth was registered on 28 December 1892, almost 2 months after his arrival in Newton.

Sorting out his identity from of his cousin, William Spickett Ball, was bit of a tangle as they both often appeared in the census as "William Ball". They appear to have worked together in the Evans (a relation to William Henry's mother, Ann, I suspect) bakery in Whitchurch, Cardiff in the 1911 census.

Family lore had it that William Henry had died in the Great War or by tragic circumstances, at a young age. He turned up as the informant of the death of his father, Henry, on 8 December 1931. There's a William Henry Ball listed in the 1937 Western Mail Directory for Cardiff, living at 8 Bridgend Street, Splott, one of the four inner city suburbs of Cardiff, born of the industrial revolution.

Recently, I came across a marriage registration for William Henry Ball, of 96 Plassey Street, Penarth, dated 26 Dec 1921. He was married to Matilda Kate Bowcher, who lived at 34 Plymouth Road, Penarth. The marriage took place in the Parish Church in Penarth. Interestlingly, the witnesses to the marriage were William Spickett Ball, Henry's cousin and Arthur William Bowcher, Matilda's older brother.

I have not yet been able to find a death for William Henry Ball - but now know that he had been married. My next steps are to trace down any possible children and Matilda's death or second marriage. I will be sure to let everyone know if anything turns up.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Rethinking next steps

It's been a while since I last posted (and I do feel guilty about not getting back into the blogging groove). Family, holidays and work seem to have taken over my time over the last while - and with the appearance of August on the calendar, I keep thinking about fall and the rush that it will bring with the start of another school year, sports, etc. I shouldn't be wishing away summer. It is altogether too short and fleeting. I do plan to spend more evenings on the deck, enjoying the sunset.

I've been rethinking how to best approach my next set of research tasks. I've realized that I have been darting off in all directions - chasing elusive Ball clan members without much focus and being tempted by the Turner side, which is another maze.

To get back on track, I think that I'll need to focus on a select group of 'problem' relatives and develop some plans on how to best fill the missing pieces. Organizing my files, notes to self, downloads, and printouts, etc., along with updating my family history program are my goals for the remainder of the year.

With these new goals, it does not mean that I won't be blogging - I fully intend to keep everyone updated on my finds and progress to date. Hopefully, on a much more frequent basis.

Cheers, K.

P.S. I should note that the tombstone photograph is not of a Ball gravesite - rather a photograph taken during a family reunion trip to Manitou, Manitoba with my Mom and Aunt Barb in July 2010. We were exploring the LaRiviere Cemetery, which sits alongside the Pembina River, when I came across this headstone and found it particularly appealing.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Summer, baseball and my father

As I am waiting on some genealogy information to arrive and trying to get caught up at work after holidays, I thought that I would deviate slightly in the Ball family narrative to talk about baseball. Not exactly the dead ancestor hunt, but something that is a continual reminder of my childhood and my Dad.

This weekend our local baseball associations are playing a 'vintage' baseball game, in honour of my community's cityhood centennial. As I was looking through our collection of baseball photos at work, I was reminded of my Dad and the game he loved.

Dad went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, on a sports scholarship in the early 1950's and played varsity baseball and basketball. After graduating, he was signed to the Boston Red Sox and played minor baseball in Lloydminster AB (and later Saskatoon, among other places on the Prairies) in the Western Canada Baseball League. He had dreams of making the major leagues until he developed bone deposits in his elbow, which effectively ended his career as a pitcher. He tried several times to come back, but the elbow never healed properly and he had to hang up the cleats and glove and start a new life.

While we lived in Montreal, Dad was the pitching coach of the Dorval Cougars, a team of young men in their late teens. I remember how he loved talking, playing and living baseball, always watching and encouraging the young players. He used to take us to practices and put my sister and I to work tracking down foul and stray baseballs, guarding the water and other tasks. I think that I learned a certain patience for watching the game and absorbed the language, movement and nuances of baseball. Dad managed to injure his elbow again while doing pitching demonstrations, but you could tell that he always wanted to get back out there and pitch again, no matter how much it hurt.

When I watch baseball, I feel like I'm closer to Dad - knowing that he loved the game. Baseball evokes a certain nostalgia for me - of clean-cut young men, seasoned coaches and the warm and sunny days of summer (although, I do remember a few cold and snowy season openers of the Toronto Blue Jays in their early days at Exhibition Place...). Summer always rekindles my love of the game and memories of Dad.

Cheers,
K.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Another update on Mabel Charlotte Ball (1882-1970)

Having recently returned from holidays, I was pleased to find Mabel's death certificate waiting for me in the post. As I suspected, she died in Wales. I had heard that she had been living in Bristol with husband Edward (Jack). It turns out that Mabel died on 15 October 1970 at the Energlyn Hospital in Caerphilly.

This is where Energlyn is located in Caerphilly:


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Caerphilly is about 17km north of Cardiff.

Mabel was age 88 at her death. Her occupation was given as "widow of Edward John Newton" and "personal secretary". It appears that her last address was "Brodawel" which was a care home in Energlyn, Caerphilly. Her death was registered by Charlotte Agnes Nicholas, cousin, who lived at 140 Plassey Street, Penarth, the former home of their grandfather, William Huxtable Ball.

The cause of death was given as "acute bronchopneumonia" and cerebral arteriosclerosis.

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Mabel Charlotte Ball - an update

My apologies for the sluggish pace of postings lately. It's conference season and I've been packing the archives for an upcoming move - which has not meant a lot of time for genealogy. And I do miss the research...

Nevertheless, in the past few weeks, I've been able to obtain the birth and marriage certificates for Mabel Charlotte Ball. Mabel was born on 19 February 1882 in Frog Moor, Reynoldston, Glamorgan


View Larger Map

Her parents were William James Ball and Mary Shepherd. William was the informant of the birth, which was registered 13 March 1882. His occupation was given as 'blacksmith". J. Gordon was the registrar.

Mabel was married on 9 April 1927 at the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel in Penarth to Edward John Newton, a widower, age 50. Edward was a commercial clerk, who resided at 177 Redland Road, Bristol. His father was Alfred John Newton, a retired foreman. Mabel was 45 years old at the time of her marriage and had been living at 140 Plassey Street in Penarth (home of her grandfather, William Huxtable Ball). Her father was listed as William James Ball, deceased. The witnesses to the marriage were Alice Mary Newton and R. Edward Gwyn Nicholas. Edward and Mabel were married by certificate the Plassey Street Baptist Chapel.

I'm told by a third cousin that Edward was known as "Jack". He was also blind. Jack and Mabel lived in Bristol after their marriage.

We're off on holidays the next two weeks, so I will wish everyone a healthy, happy and safe Canada Day (still 'Dominion Day' to me) long weekend.

Cheers, K.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

William James Ball - Statement of Death, 10 Jan 1922

William's struggle with his health, both physical and mental, ended on 10 January 1922, at 11:55am. Th details of his passing were recorded with succinct detail on the Statement of Death. It noted that William was 63 years old, male and a widower. His usual address was 2 St. George's Terrace, Reynoldston. The cause of death was Bright's Disease, of an unknown duration. The contributory cause of death was listed as "Mania". A post mortem ascertained the cause of death and no unusual circumstances, including injuries, surrounding his death were noted.

I often have thought about William and the long stretches that he spent at the asylum - how lonely and frightening it must have been. While visitors are not noted in his records, I hope that he was not forgotten by family and friends.

Many thanks go to the staff at the Glamorgan Archives in Cardiff for their permission to use William's photographs and their assistance with obtaining the records.

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum, 1921

On 22 October 1921, William James Ball was admitted to the Glamorgan Asylum at Angleton for a fifth and final time. His re-admission noted "Recent Mania" as the primary diagnosis. His daughter, Mabel (Charlotte) Ball, of 140 Plassey Street, Penarth, was listed as his closest relative. Mary, his wife, had passed away in 1919. His intake states that William was "talkative, restless, sleepless , violent at times, roams about night & day & is quite unable to care for himself." His most recent episode began a week prior to his admission. He had been reported as "alright" up until then. He was frail physically and doctors noted his laboured breathing.

The notes for 23 October 1921 mention that William's thinking continued to be deluded. He told his doctors "that he makes lots of money in his room, but won't divulge the secret." William is described as mischievous, "goes through a lot of antics". Staff note that he was fairly well, although suffering from bronchitis. His condition remains much the same through the notes dated up to 3 December 1921. His kidney functioning was noted as being abnormal and had been for some time.

On 4 January 1922, the doctor noted that William was steadily deteriorating, restless and fairly weak. William's suffering came to an end on 10 January 1922. The entry for that morning reads "He died this morning at 11-55". The following day, a post-morten examination was held. The last notation in the file reads "Died".

With his passing, William's anguish and unhappy life ended. It is difficult to believe that he was admitted a total of five times over twenty years and spent much time in care.

Regards, K.

Monday, 11 June 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum, 1914

On 21 December 1914, William James Ball was re-admitted to the Glamorgan Asylum for a fourth time, with the notation "Recent Mania". He had been living on St. George's Terrace, Reynoldston, Gower, with wife Mary. He was 56 years old and his most recent episode had lasted 2 weeks. His general health was noted as "fairly strong".

William's medical certificate notes that he was talkative, restless, and irritable. He had roamed about the country and did not sleep, tumbled furniture and utensils in his house, was somewhat incoherent in his conversation and unable to take care of himself. The doctor noted that William "kept alright" from his discharge in August 1911 until two weeks ago.

On 22 December 1914, the doctor noted that William was "restless, garrulous & incoherent; talks in an exalted manner, goes thru a lot of antics." William's restless seemed to slow for a brief period in February, but by 5 March 1915, he was noted as being "restless, noisy, garrulous & interfering". The notes on his condition continue in much the same fashion until July 1916.

On 18 Septemer 1916, the doctor noted that William had "apparently reached his normal mental level, he was to-day discharged on four weeks' trial.

On 16 October 1916, William was discharged as "Recovered".

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum, 1910 - Part 2

William's third stay in the Glamorgan Asylum was marked by a slow recovery. He made little progress by early May 1911. His condition was noted as being restless and talkative and he refused to do much work on the ward. By June, William started to show some improvement - he seemed "brighter" and had taken more interest in things and had done "a little ward work". In July, it was noted that his improvement was maintained. The notes of August 1, 1911 state that he was "quiet, rational, well conducted and appears to have reached his normal mental state; works in the stores".

On 12 August 1911, William was discharged. He had gained 14 lbs during his stay. He had been at the asylum since 12 September 1910 for a complete year. The last notation for this stay - "Recovered".

Cheers, K.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum 1910 - Part 1

On 12 September 1910, William James was admitted for a third time to the Glamorgan Asylum for "Recent Mania". He was still living at 2 St. George's Terrace, Reynoldston with his wife, Mary.

His physical health was noted as "fairly strong", but doctors noted an incomplete inguinual hernia. William told his doctor that he was very low and depressed. It was noted that William talked incessantly about placing a two hundred weight on his stomach and "he sees in the Echo [newspaper] that is wife is dead". However, Mary was very much alive. He also complained of the Post Office doing him out a large sum of money due to him and that people want to get rid of him to get his money.

The notes of 13 September 1910 indicated that William was "moderately nourished", his hair grey, irides light blue, pupils normal, breathing harsh and expiration prolonged. Again, it was noted that his knee jerked in an exaggerated fashion. His general state was described as restless, garrilous, and incoherent. He still maintained that people were out to get his money and land and he was going into parliament soon, along with exalted ideas of himself and his power.

To be continued...

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum, 1907

On 2 July 1907, William James Ball was re-admitted to the Glamorgan Asylum. Now aged 49, his readmission was labelled "chronic mania". William had continued to reside at 2 St. George's Terrace, Reynoldston, Gower, with wife, Mary.

The doctor noted that William talked incessantly, "rambling on about the salvation of the world, the devil, his departed friends, removing mountains in the sea, his own posessions of great wealth and property, his elevation to the Bench, and his taking Stouthall or Cyfarthfa Castle to reside in."

His physical exam revealed that he was "fairly nourished". His hair was grey, irises light blue, but the left pupil was larger than the right. Both eyes were regular and reacted normally. It was noted that William frequently mistook the attendant to be his cousin. He was restless and unable to sleep. He talked of how he was closely related to royalty, and how he would distribute his great wealth "for the good of widows and orphans."

His medical notes from mid July to mid October describe his unchanged state of restlessness and agitation. However, on 15 October 1907, it is noted that William is "considerably improved, quiet & makes himself useful, somewhat childish, irresponsible & doesn't seem to trouble much about his position." The entry for 1 Jan 1908 says that he "continues as at last note".

The last entry, dated 15 Feb 1908, states "Was today discharged as Recovered". Presumably, he went home to Reynoldston and his wife Mary.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 28 May 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum, 1902 - part 2

From the time of his admission to the Glamorgan Asylum on 18 November to late December 1902, William's condition showed little improvement. His medical notes throughout the period show him to be quiet, tearful and irritable. One entry notes his state as "peevish", and prone to thoughts of persecution. The doctor's late December entries noted that William felt that he had been systematically persecuted for 6 years by two men, and that his own brother "was wishful of murdering him". As for the episode with the horse prior to his arrival, William defended himself by telling doctors that he horse was his own property, and that he was going to take it to his home in Devon, just to show his people how well off he was and then return it.

The entry for 6 February 1903 states that William's mental and physical health was improving steadily. His feeling of persecution, while still present, were less firmly held. In the mornings, he suffered from cough and breathlessness.

The 4 Mar 1903 entry confirms his continued improvement, and loss of "deluded ideas". On 6 May 1903, the doctor noted that "the satisfactory progress has been fully maintained" and by 13 June 1903, William left the care of the hospital on a four week trial. On 11 July 1903, William James Ball was discharged as "Recovered".

I have always wondered about the conditions under which William was treated. He seems to have gained weight during his stay in the asylum, which would have been a result of his improved physical health.

I read with interest that William's height was 5'2". Dad had told me that his grandfather, Thomas was only 5' tall (Annie Amelia, affectionately known as "Budgie" in the family, was 4' 10"). I am 5' 2" and the shortest in my immediate family. Dad, Bill and Grandad were around 6' in height. Dad always said that I inherited my height from Thomas and Annie - may it was more of a family trait that we had known.

Cheers, K.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum, 1902 - part 1

On page 525 of the admission register for the Glamorgan Asylum, a photo of a tired man, weary from emotional and physical exhaustion, appears. Under the admission number 9007, with the notation "acute melancholia", the story of of William James Ball and his many stays at the asylum begins.

William was first admitted to care on 18 Nov 1902. His hometown was recorded as Gower, and his next of kin was listed as Mrs. Mary Ball, Reynoldstone, near Swansea. He was 45 years of age, a retired postman. This episode was noted as a "first attack", with a duration of 4 months, and "not under proper care & control".

The notes state that he was "rambling and incoherent in his talk occasionally; crying without obvious reason; says everyone is against him; that his father and brother wanted to kill him; and that his mother (who is dead), was here last night." He had been in the postal service in Swansea Valley for 30 years, and was known as a "steady man", but had not worked since July. There is a curious story about William leaving Reynoldston five days prior with a horse and his determination to go to Devon "to show the people what he could do". He apparently gave the horse to a Dr. Aurley in Newport, who saw him 3 days before his arrival at the asylum.

His father, William Huxtable Ball, and brother - possible Henry or John, heard of his "doings" and took him to Penarth and had him admitted to the Union, where he was very restless and could hear his mother talking to him. It is noted that he slept little.

William's notes go on to say that he was a native of North Devon and that he was the elder of 6, the rest alive and well. The doctors noted that he was poorly nourished and weak. He was 5' 2" in height and weighed 8 st and 6. His hair was grey, eyes light grey, with pupils equal and active. He appeared normal, except for a 'knee jerk in slight excess'. He was "depressed and emotional" and believed that two men in Gower were persecuting him for years, and that his brother wanted to murder him. His memory for recent events was noted as being not very good.

Photo courtesy of the Glamorgan Archives. Used with permission and many thanks.

To be continued...

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

William James Ball and the Glamorgan Asylum

A few weeks back I posted information about William James Ball, 1858-1922, eldest son of William Huxtable Ball and Charlotte Balment. His sad and tragic tale ended with his death on 10 January 1922, at the age of 63, in the Glamorgan Lunatic Asylum in Angleton.

With the assistance of the staff of the Glamorgan Archives, I have been able to obtain his asylum admission records. The records detail his 5 admissions to the facility between the years of 1902 and 1921. Photographs of William, taken upon his admission, accompany the medical notes and observations. The records are, needless to say, fascinating, compelling and disheartening as they chronicle the mental, emotional and physical deterioration of an ordinary man - likely no different than an ancestor, close relative, family member or anyone of us.

I will share William's story, but am very cognizant that early 20th century terminology, such as "lunatic" and "imbecile", reflected language and values of that time, not of our contemporary understanding of mental health and wellness. I will not use those terms to describe him personally, but will quote his records accurately as written. I hope that no one will take offence. It is obvious that William suffered from a debilitating mental health issue. What exactly was his modern diagnosis, I will not hazard a guess, as I am not qualified to make those judgements. I only hope that I can retell his story with compassion and sensitivity.

Cheers, K.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

It's a small world...

I've been busily working on the Ball family tree, but my side interest has veered down the Turner branch of the tree - specifically the families related to Annie Amelia Turner, 1878-1947 (wife of Thomas Huxtable Ball, 1875-1941). She immigrated to Canada, along with 3 of her 4 sisters: Sarah Elizabeth, Edith, and Eva. Older sister, Alice, and Edith's twin, William Henry, remained in Wales.

Lately, I've been researching Alice's family. She married a man named Edward Boyle in Cardiff. One of her children was named Alice Victoria Boyle. Alice Victoria married Vivian G. James and it looks like they had several children, including a set of twins, Kenneth and Joan, in 1926.

Recently, I found an obituary online for a January 2012 obituary for a Kenneth James, who was noted as being born in 1926 in Wales, had siblings, and had served in the RAF. He died in Regina, Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, his immediate family was not noted. In my mind, I am putting together all sorts of connections between the James family I am researching and this Kenneth James who lived in Canada. However, as his birthdate was noted in the obituary, I decided to order his birth certificate to compare before making any more assumptions.

The certificate finally arrived on Friday. Much to my disappointment, the birthdates do not match. However, much to my delight, I noted the address of his birth - 14 Plassey Square, Penarth.


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Plassey Square is just around the corner from where my Ball family relations lived on Plassey Street! Had the Ball family known the James or Boyle families? I do not know. What I do know is that it's a very small world.

It's a lovely, sunny and warm Victoria Day long weekend here in Waterloo. I hope everyone is enjoying a bit of the same, wherever you are.

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mabel Charlotte Ball, 1882-?

Mabel Charlotte Ball was born to William James Ball and Mary Shepherd in the first quarter of 1882 in Gower. Mary's age at the time of Mabel's birth would have been 37-39 years old, given the range of birthdates given for her in the censuses. Mabel was likely born in Reynoldston, where her father was a postman.


Roadside near Reynoldston

Image and copyright - Jeremy Bolwell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Mabel first appears in the 1891 census as a 9 year old scholar (or student), with her parents in Reynoldston, Glamorgan. In 1901, she appears as dressmaker, age 19, living with her parents.

Mabel next appears in the 1911 census, in Penarth, and is living with her grandfather, William Huxtable Ball, at 18 Railway Terrace. She was also living with her aunt Charlotte (Ball) Down, uncle (by marriage) William Down, and cousin, Charlotte Down in the same household. She is listed as dressmaker. At this same time, her father, William James Ball, was living in the Glamorgan Asylum at Angleton, Bridgend. I always wondered if she ever visited with her father in hospital or mother, who still lived in Reynoldston, on her own. What I do know is that Mabel was the informant on her father's death certificate in January 1922.

My research on Mabel Charlotte Ball, regrettably, ends here. I have a few leads to follow and will update the blog on my new findings.

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Charlotte (Ball) Down - Obituary 17 Apr 1947

There were two short death notices for Charlotte (Ball) Down, which appeared in the Penarth Times of 17 April 1947. The first one read:

DEATHS
DOWN - On 14th April, at 140 Plassey
Street, Penarth, Charlotte, beloved
wife of the late Wm. Down and much
loved mother of Sharley and Will.
Funeral, Friday, 2:30, for Penarth
Cemetery.

The second notice read:
OBITUARY
MRS. C. DOWN
The death occurred at her home,
140, Plassey Street, of Mrs. Charlotte
Down, at the age of 78. She had been
in ill health for many years, and was
the wife of the late Mr. William Down,
who was in the employ of the G.W.R.
one daughter, Mrs. Sharley Nichols, and
a son survive. The funeral takes place
on Friday.


The G.W.R. reference for William Down means that he had worked for the Great Western Railway.

I found it curious that William Spickett Ball ('Will' in the first notice), was not mentioned by name in the second notice. Had there been a falling out between brother and sister? Did one notice get put in by one sibling the second by another? I know that William was working as a caretaker at the Penarth Library by this time - so he was around. Or was the omission of his name in the second notice purely an oversight?

Always something to think about. What are your thoughts?

Cheers, K.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Death of Charlotte (Ball) Down in 1947

Charlotte and William Down continued to live in Penarth following the 1911 census. According to the death register of 1933 (second quarter), William Down passed away at age 67. He was survived by wife, Charlotte, step-son William and daughter, Charlotte.

On 14 April 1947, at 140 Plassey Street, Penarth, Charlotte (Ball) Down passed away, at the age of 78. Her death certificate lists Charlotte as the widow of William Down, formerly a railway painter. The cause of death is difficult to make out on the death certificate. It looks like "renalaria", but I haven't been able to locate an appropriate medical term. Given the "renal" prefix, it could possibly be kidney related. The next part of the cause of death reads "by arterior sclerosis", defined as "a chronic disease in which thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls result in impaired blood circulation. It develops with aging, and in hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and other conditions," (Antiquus Morbis). The cause of death was certified by Ernest F. Guy, M.D. LG Nicholas, son-in-law, present at death, 140 Plassey Street, Penarth, registered the death on 15 April 1947.

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Charlotte Ball, motherhood and the 1911 census

Charlotte and William Down welcomed the birth of a baby girl, Charlotte Agnes Down, in the third quarter of 1901. The birth was registered in the Cardiff district.

I've always wondered from where the name Agnes came - and have recently learned that it may have been related to Charlotte's paternal great-great-grandmother, Agnes (Painter) Ball, who died in 1844. However, more research will need to be done to confirm if this is a probable connection. There is also William's side of the family to investigate.

The 1911 census showed little change in the Down/Ball household at 18 Railway Terrace, Penarth. Willian Down had his occupation listed as "Workman", age 44, while William H. Ball, Charlotte's father, was shown as a "Milkman", age 74 and a widower. Charlotte was listed as age 42, married for 12 years. Young Charlotte was student, age 9. William Ball's granddaughter, Mabel C(harlotte) Ball, was living with the family. She was 29 years of age and a dressmaker.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Charlotte Ball and William Down

Following the birth of her son in 1892, the next sighting of Charlotte comes from her 1898 marriage, in the Cardiff registration district, to William Down. The marriage to William was registered in the last quarter of 1898 - which would place son, William, at about age 6 at the time of her nuptials.

William Down was born in Selworthy, Somerset in 1867. This is a Google map of Selsworthy, located cross the Bristol Channel from the south coast of Wales:


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This a link to: photos of Selworthy on Panaramio. It looks like quite an idyllic place.

William was born in Somerset and was living with his parents, William and Betsy Down, and sisters Mary and Ann and an unnamed newborn daughter in a cottage in Timberscombe, Somerset in 1871 according to the census. He was age 4 at the time. By the time of the 1881 census, William was living at Courts Cottage, Selworthy, Somerset, with farmer, John Court and his wife, Martha, as an indoor agricultural servant, along with John and James Court, sons of John and Martha, aged 33 and 27. The 1891 census shows William living with James and Ann Court, on Corss Lane Farm, Cross Lane, Selworthy, as an agricultural labourer, along with a younger labourer named Henry Baker. Sometime between 1891 and 1898, William made his way to Wales and eventually met Charlotte Ball.

Was William Down the father of William Spickett Ball? It's entirely possible. However, William's given middle name of Spickett is troubling (or a clever ruse by Charlotte to deflect suspicion away from someone - perhaps William Down). Young William was born 3 April 1892 and William Down was enumerated in Somerset almost a year prior on census day in 1891. Given the distances between their homes and William's occupation as a labourer, I am doubtful that William is the father, but won't discount any possibility.

By the time of the 1901 census, Charlotte and William were living at 18 Railway Terrace, Penarth, with Charlotte's father, William Huxtable Ball. William Down, age 34, was listed as a railway labourer. Charlotte's son William, age 8, was also living with them in the household.

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Charlotte Ball and the birth of her child, William Spickett Ball, 1892

Well, this is my 100th post to the Ball Bureau and, although not consciously planned, it is about breaking through a brickwall and exposing a few family secrets. As I mentioned at the end of my post yesterday, there always were stories about Charlotte having had a child out of wedlock. My great aunt Gwen had mentioned it in her family history note that got me going on this journey, but gave few details as to the child's identity or story. Other family members (my grandmother and my father's cousin) knew about the child, but they could not offer any more information. It always seemed as if this child was never really part of our family's story.

When the 1901 UK census was first released around 2002, I learned that Charlotte (now married) was living with her husband William Down, father William Huxtable Ball, and a child identified as William Ball, age 8. grandson at 18 Railway Terrace, Penarth, Wales. This was the first clue that William could have been the child out of wedlock, but the 1891 census kept throwing me off, with the misplaced Robert John Edwards, the mystery nephew living with Charlotte and her brothers John and Thomas. As time went on, I learned that older brother, Henry, also had a son named William, about the same age. So was this William in Penarth in 1901 - the child of Charlotte or Henry?

When I tracked down Henry, I found him in the 1901 census with his children, including young William Henry Ball, in Penarth. Luckily (or should I say, expensively...) for me, there were more than a few babies named William Ball who were born in Glamorgan between 1891 and 1895. After ordering a couple of wrong certificates, I finally received the birth certificate for William Henry, dated 1893 and was able to confirm the child as Henry's. But Charlotte's William still remained a mystery. A newly-found third cousin provided some more information - that 'Billy Ball' as he was known to his branch of the family was a longtime resident of Penarth and had worked as the caretaker of the Penarth Library.

I went back over the indexes and ordered the certificate that I had excluded previously - with the middle name of Spickett - as it seemed to have no family connection to the Ball family. When it arrived, I was delighted to learn that I had found Charlotte's out of wedlock child, William Spickett Ball.

Charlotte gave birth to a boy, named William Spickett Ball, on 3 Apr 1892, in the village of Wig Fach, near Porthcawl (Brigend), Glamorgan. This is map of the location of William's birth:


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And this is a Google street view of Wig Fach, inside the Happy Valley Campground, outside of Porthcawl:


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Baby William's birth certificate names no father. Charlotte's occupation is given as "housekeeper" and the informant was shown as "C. Ball" mother, Wig Fach, Merthyr Mawr. I have made the assumption that this was her mother Charlotte Ball. The birth was registered on 16 Apr 1892 and Thomas Jenkins was the Registrar. Charlotte's move to Wig Fach may have been related to her pregnancy and the birth of her child. Her mother may have come along to assist her. The year prior, Charlotte had been living with brothers John and Thomas on John's farm in Little Hill, St. Andrews.

Who was William's father? Could it have been Charlotte's husband William Down? I am not entirely sure. I think that the name Spickett is a clue to William's paternity, but I have been unable to make any definite conclusions. On the same page of the 1891 census for Little Hill, St. Andrews, there appears a family named Spickett. The members of the Spickett household are elderly, aged 70-76 - head of the household is Elizabeth, age 70, sister Mary, age 72 and brother-in-law, Robert, age 76 - all living on their own means. Could William's father been related to this family? Another mystery to solve...

Cheers, K.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Charlotte Ball - 1891 Wales Census

At the time of the 1891 Wales Census, Charlotte was living at Little Hill, St. Andrews, St. Andrews & Dinas Powis, on a farm with her brothers John and Thomas. Her age was given as 22 and her occupation was listed as 'housekeeper". The census taker recorded her birthplace as Swansea, but she was likely born in Scurlage, as was her younger brother Thomas. Elder brother, John, was a farmer and Thomas was an 'engine cleaner". The census lists Robert John Edwards, nephew, age 3, in the household, along with Samuel Williams, servant, age 14, from Cardiganshire.

It was long rumoured in our family that Charlotte had a child out of wedlock. But details were always scarce. Upon seeing Robert John Edwards in the household, my heart jumped - this must be Charlotte's child. However, I've since revised my assumptions based on information uncovered in the last few years... more to follow. I promise :)

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Charlotte Ball 1868-1947

Charlotte Ball was the fifth child and second daughter of William Huxtable Ball and Charlotte Balment. Charlotte's birth was registered in the second quarter of 1868 in Gower. Based on the family's location for the births of previous children and that of Thomas Huxtable, the youngest child, in 1875, Charlotte was likely born in Scurlage, Llanddewi, Glamorgan, Wales.

This is a map of Scurlage, located in the Gower Peninsula of South Wales:


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The "missing" 1871 census for this area precludes a description of the Ball family. However, in 1881, the family was living in Scurlage Castle, Llanddewi, in the Gower District, in Glamorganshire. Charlotte was 12 years old, a scholar (student) with a birth place shown as Llanddewi, Glamoranshire. She was living with her parents, William and Charlotte, elder brother Henry, age 17, rural messenger and younger brother, Thomas, age 5, also a "scholar".

Cheers, K.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Elizabeth Ann Ball - Obituary 3 Jul 1956

The announcement of Elizabeth Edwards' death appeared in the South Wales Echo in early July 1956. The headline of the news story read "FATAL BURNS Woman's Nightdress on Fire." According to the article, Elizabeth was found in the early hours of one morning by her son-in-law, Arthur Fear, with her nightdress in flames. Her death was ruled "accidental" by the coroner, Mr. Gerald Tudor. Arthur is quoted in the article as saying that his mother-in-law generally used a night light, but on this particular night, there was no night light in the room, only a box of matches. The article finished by stating that Mrs. Edwards died of shock due to extensive burns.

A later notice in the newspaper noted that Elizabeth died in hospital on 30 June 1956. She was the "beloved wife of the late Robert Edwards" and "dearly-loved mother of all her children and grandchildren".

Cheers, K.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Elizabeth Ann (Ball) Edwards - A Tragic End

After the changes to the Edwards household as shown in the 1911 census, I do not know what became of the family as a unit. I do know that Robert Edward's death was registered in the second quarter of 1939 in Cardiff.

Elizabeth Ann (nee Ball) Edwards died tragically on 30 June 1956. She had been living with her daughter Elsie and son-in-law Arthur Fear in their home at 50 Llantarnam Road, Cardiff. This is a map of where their home was located:



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Her death certificate stated that she died at Royal Cardiff Infirmary of "shock due to extensive burns accidentally sustained through her nightdress being set on fire by a lit match". It also indicated that no post-mortem was conducted. Elizabeth, noted as the widow of retired electrician Robert Edward Edwards, was age 90 at the time of her death. The death was registered by certificate from Gerald Tudor, Coroner for Cardiff, by J.W. Hill, Deputy. The inquest into her death was held on 3 July 1956.

Such a sad ending.

Take care, K.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Elizabeth Ball and Robert Edwards - 1911 and Separate Lives

The 1911 census revealed some very dramatic changes in the Edwards household. Robert was living with son Leonard, age 22, occupation "tram conductor", daughter Elsie, age 18, single, no occupation given, and son Harold, age 14, no occupation listed. Robert and the children were living at 19 Meteor Street, Cardiff:


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This is a street-view of their neighbourhood:


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Notably absent is Elizabeth from the family home. Curious as to her whereabouts, I searched for her in the 1911 census returns, thinking that she could have been visiting with family on the day the census was taken. Much to my surprise, I found her living as a boarder at 11 Newport Road, Cardiff:


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This is a street view of the area mapped by Google as 11 Newport Road, Cardiff. The area has obviously been redeveloped in the years since 1911:


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The rather telling detail on the census return is that Elizabeth was living with May Thomas, widow, age 40, whose occupation was given as "Head of British Womans [sic] Temperance Assn", and Elsie Williams, single, age 26, no occupation given. May and Elsie are shown as the head of household. The rest of the boarders are single women, ranging in age from 16 to 24, whose occupation is given as "general servant". There is one widow, May Sullivan, age 39. Elizabeth was listed as age 44, dressmaker, born in Gower. While the address is not in Cardiff's "Temperance Town", the presence of May Thomas and Elizabeth's status as a boarder raises the question 'Was there a problem with alcohol in the Edwards household?" Did Elizabeth leave the family home as a result of Robert's drinking? Was her departure from the family home more of a manifestation of her devotion to the temperance cause rather than an indication of a drink problem in the home? I don't have the answers and perhaps it will never be known.

I have tried doing some online research on May Thomas, but have not found any information on her. I will keep looking and will post if anything is found.

Many more questions to ponder...

Cheers, K.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cruel April

T.S. Eliot, in his 1922 poem, The Waste Land, begins:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers
...
In my family, April is cruellest month. It is tinged with sadness and memories of Dad's passing, twenty years ago, on 3 April 1992. A life cut too short, by cancer, at age 57. It's difficult to believe that he's been gone so long - so much has happened since - new spouses and partners, the birth of grandchildren, new homes and jobs. Another lifetime, really. But I still feel the pang of someone missing at every milestone that we encounter. I know that he's with us as we proceed on this journey, whispering words of encouragement, telling us not to take everything so seriously, and to cherish the moments that we have with one another. It's always hard to get through the day of his passing, but we do, because he would have wanted it that way.

We also remember his father and our grandfather, William Huxtable Ball, who passed away 6 April 1971. While my memories of Granddad are just glimpses of the past, Dad always talked of him, especially on the day of his passing. The fondness and reverence in which he held his father is deeply embedded in me - a gift from him that I will always cherish. Our time together is short - often cut shorter by cruel diseases like cancer, which has claimed too many in our family.

This year, April is particularly cruel, as we remember Dad's brother, Bill, who passed away 6 April 2011. Living on opposite sides of a country, we weren't there with my cousins and aunt in their hour of despair, but felt the pain and hurt as we marked Dad's passing, in the knowledge that cancer would quickly claim Bill too. My heart goes out to my dear cousins as they mark the first anniversary of the passing of their beloved father. Bill was the last link to Dad - his only sibling and surviving member of his immediate family. Now that Bill is gone, it feels like Dad has slipped away further - but will never be forgotten.

Fondly remembered...

Bill, Granddad and Dad, ca. 1949


Take care, K.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

More on the Robert J. Edwards Mystery

Well, I ordered the birth certificates for Robert JH Edwards and Robert J Edwards last week on the 20th of March and they arrived yesterday (28 Mar 2012) from the General Register Office in the UK. To have received them in 8 days in Canada is pretty awesome.

After reading them, I now know that Robert JH is Robert John Huxtable Edwards, son of Robert Edward Edwards and Elizabeth Ball, born on 30 July 1887 in Roath, Cardiff. Robert's father was listed as a telegraph line man. His birth place was given as 37 Crofts Street, Roath, Cardiff:


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This is a street view of his birthplace, which has obviously been redeveloped:


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The other Robert J was Robert John Edwards, son of Robert Edward, coalminer, and Priscilla Dugmore. Robert John was born on 2 May 1888 in Nelson, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, at 11 Long Row:


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Pontypridd is about 18kms from Cardiff. Looking at Robert J's parents, I am becoming more doubtful that he is the Robert Jno shown in the 1891 census with John, Thomas and Charlotte on the farm.

I doubt that Elizabeth's son could be in two places at once, but what if he is visiting with his aunt and uncles and accidently gets recorded as a resident of his home in Cardiff when the census taker comes around? His parents had two younger children at home, including a newborn, at the time of the 1891 census, and Robert may have been staying on the farm while his parents (more likely mother) coped with added responsibilities. I'll keep looking at the Edwards/Dugmore connection too. Any thoughts?

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Elizabeth Ann Ball and Robert Edwards - 1901

According to the 1901 census, Elizabeth and Robert Edwards were living at 158 Shathuairn Street, Roath, Cardiff. However, I haven't been able to trace this address and think that the transcription of the address may be wrong. They were show as living in the ecclesiastical district of Roath St. Martin. St. Martin's Church in Roath is located on Albany Street. One street behind this main thoroughfare in Roath is Strathnairn Street, which is likely what the census transcription should have shown. This a Google map of 158 Strathnairn Street:


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And this is a street view of their house:


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By 1901, the family had grown. Robert, now a "Foreman Electrician", and Elizabeth, age 35, had 5 children: Robert J H Edwards, age 13, Leonard E, age 12, Henry E (who may be the Ernest E Edwards in the 1891 census), age 10, daughter, Elsie E, age 8, and Harold, age 4. All of the children were born in Cardiff, with the exception of Robert who was born in Penarth.

I suspect that Henry was named Henry Ernest Edwards, but was noted as Ernest E in the last census. I was not able to find a birth registration for Ernest Edwards, but came across a registration for a Henry Ernest in Cardiff in 1891.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Elizabeth Ann Ball and Robert E Edwards - Family life and the mysterious Robert J.

By the time of the 1891 census, the family of Elizabeth Ann Ball and Robert Edwards had grown. Elizabeth is shown as "E. Edward", age 24, born on Gower, Glamorgan. Robert, age 27, born in 1864 is shown as an electrician, born in Welshpool, Montgomeryshire.

Along with Elizabeth and Robert were: Robert J., son, age 3, born 1888 in Penarth, Leonard, son, age 2, born 1889 in Cardiff and Ernest, son, age 3 months, born 1891 in Cardiff. C.B. Baily, age 30, single boarded with the family. Their occupation is noted as "Fancy Shop Assistant" - it rather sounds like someone couldn't remember C.B.'s place of work. However, I have found references to "toy and fancy shops" in the Cardiff directories so C.B. Baily could have worked in one of these.

The family was living at 124 Treharris Street, Roath, Cardiff. Roath is a district in the east/north-east of the city of Cardiff, capital of Wales. Writer, Peter Finch, calls it the "Real Cardiff". The family lived at 124 Treharris Street, Roath, Cardiff:


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And this is a street view of their address:


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So, why have I called Robert J. Edwards 'mysterious'? Well, I initially thought that that "Robt Jno Edwards,nephew", living with John, Thomas and Charlotte Ball on the farm in Little Hill, St. Andrews/Dinas Powys, was the illegitimate son of Charlotte Ball. There have been may stories, always vague, about great-grandfather Thomas' sister having had a child out of wedlock. However, when I discovered Elizabeth's existence, I immediately made the assumption that Robert was Elizabeth's son, hence "nephew" to John, Thomas and Charlotte Ball. Or so I thought...

Upon closer examination of the census entries, Robert J Edward looks to be living with his parents, Elizabeth and Robert, the night the census was taken. So, who was "Robt Jno Edwards" shown in the 1891 census entry for John Ball in St. Andrew/Dinas Powis on the farm on Little Hill? Could they be the same person recorded in two different locations on census day? Are they different Robert J. Edwards? What do you think? I did find two birth registrations - one for Robert John H. Edwards (1888 - Cardiff) and Robert John Edwards (1887- Pontypridd). I've broken down and ordered both birth certificates (this is one mystery that I would love to solve.) I will post once the certificates arrive. Hopefully, they will shed some light on who is who. Your thoughts, comments and suggestions on this or other mysteries are always welcome.

Cheers, K.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Baptist Marriages

After posting the information on Elizabeth's marriage, I was curious about the wording on the marriage certificate when it stated "by certificate". So here is what I have found out about Baptist marriages from the Archives Network Wales:

With the start of civil registration of marriage in the UK in 1837, Baptist marriages were legalised. A Baptist chapel could be used for marriage, if it was licensed for the purpose, and a Civil Registrar was present to complete the legal formalities, together with the minister who performed the marriage ceremony. In 1898, the requirement for the presence of a registar was changed. An authorised person, who need not be a minister, was allowed to act in place of the registar.

Cheers, K.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Elizabeth Ann Ball (1865-1956) - Marriage to Robert Edward Edwards in 1886

On 25 April 1886, Elizabeth Ann Ball married Robert Edward Edwards in the Plassey Street Baptist Tabernacle, Penarth. Elizabeth was 20 years old and had been living at 54 Windsor Road, Penarth with her parents. Her father, William Huxtable Ball, Milkman, was listed on the marriage certificate. The groom, Robert Edward Edwards, was age 24, a bachelor, whose occupation was given as Telegraph Engineer. His residence was shown as 31 Crofts Street, Roath. Robert's father, Edward Edwards, was shown as deceased, a former stone merchant. Elizabeth and Robert were married by certificate in the Chapel by WG (William Gershon) Davies , Baptist Minister. The ceremony was witnessed by Henry and Charlotte Ball, which I think referred to Elizabeth's older brother and mother.

From the little that I know about Robert Edwards from the censuses prior to his marriage, he was born in Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, Wales in 1862. This is a Google map showing Welshpool, near the Wales/England border (Shropshire is the neigbhouring English county):


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Information about Montgomeryshire can be found on GENUKI here.

I've been looking for Robert in the 1871 Census for England and Wales have not been able to find him. I did find him in the 1881 Wales census, living with Edward Edwards, stone merchant and his wife, Elizabeth, at 15 Raven Street, Middle Pool, Montgomeryshire, but Robert is shown as "Grandson" - making me wonder if the father shown on the marriage certificate was actually his grandfather.

More mysteries to solve....

Cheers, K.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Elizabeth Ann Ball (1865-1956)

Elizabeth Ann Ball, the eldest daughter of William Huxtable Ball and Charlotte Balment was a complete unknown to me until I received a copy of William's 1927 will which named her as a beneficiary. I had missed the first 62 years of her life by assuming that the census would show the complete family over time. Turns out, Elizabeth did not appear with her family in any of the censuses that included the Ball family. Needless to say, I've learned my lesson to never make 'assumptions'. Once I discovered her existence, I began the hunt to find her past...

Elizabeth Ann was born on 28 October 1865 in Scurlage Castle, Llanddewi, according to her birth certificate. Her father's occupation was shown as "black smith". William registered her birth on 5 December 1865 and J. Gordon was the Registrar.

The next reference that I could find to Elizabeth was on the 1881 census (1871 Wales census returns for Glamorgan which have survived do not include her or the rest of the Ball family). She appears to be living in Swansea as a "lodger" and working as a dressmaker apprentice. She was living with the family of William and Mary Taylor, along with their children, Florence, age 8, and Herbert, age 4 at 35 Westbury Street, Swansea. Also living in the house was Joseph J. Philpin, age 17, a post office letter carrier, from Rudabaxton, Pembrokeshire, Wales. This is a Google Map of their location in Swansea:


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And this is a Google Street view of Westbury Street, Swansea:


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More on Elizabeth to follow.

Cheers, K.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A lovely coincidence

After a few days away with my family for March Break, I returned to find the latest edition of the "Glamorgan Family History Society" journal in my mailbox. Much to my surprise, there was an article "Asylum Records at Glamorgan Archives" under the "News from the Glamorgan Archives" feature. Having recently posted information about William James Ball, 1858-1922, who died in the county asylum, I took this to be an omen that I should write away to see if I can find out more out his condition and stay. After my post about William James, I had made a mental note to do so sometime in the future, but something tells me that I should get onto it now.

I will keep you posted on developments....

Cheers, K.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Death of Henry Ball (1863-1931)

Sadly, Henry Ball passed away, at age 68. He died at his residence, 96 Plassey Street, Penarth, on 8 December 1931. His occupation was given as “Dairyman”. The cause of death was given as “Bronchial asthma” and “Exhaustion”. The notation “No Pm” indicated that no post mortem was conducted. His son, William Henry Ball, who resided at 18 Cumberland Street, Cardiff, attended the death and also was the informant. The death was registered on 8 December 1931 and H.G. Belton is noted as the Registrar.

Henry’s address may ring a bell as it was the same house where the family was living at the time of the 1891 census:


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As you may recall, Plassey Street played a large role in the lives of Henry and his father, William Huxtable Ball, while they lived in Penarth. I found this image of a sunset on Plassey Street on Paul Dyer's Flickr site and thought that it seemed to say it all…:



Cheers, K.