Rev. Timothy Horton Ball, historian, missionary and teacher, has been quoted in Lake County history stories for many years, for it was this frail little gentleman who took the time to record the early beginnings of our area, writing many books on the subject.
During World War II in the early part of 1945, a U.S. soldier stationed in Hawaii after a year on a task force in the South Pacific was surprised to find a book written by T.H. Ball in a Honolulu bookstore. It was entitled "History of Lake County, 1834-1872," printed in Chicago in 1873 with a map of Lake County dated that same year. The book is probably one of the first written by him and is prized by that former U.S. soldier, the writer of this column.
I would like to tell more about our Lake County historian, Rev. Ball, who said this about his 1873 book: "I am sure there will be some appreciation of the work accomplished by this unpretending volume, in treasuring up many facts that would otherwise have been buried in oblivion."
His ancestors were Francis Ball, who came from England in 1640; Jonathan Ball, born 1645; Benjamin Ball, born 1689; Charles Ball, born 1725; Charles Ball II, born 1760; and Hervey Ball, the father of Rev. Ball.
Timothy Horton Ball was born in 1826 at Agawam, formerly the old town of West Springfield, Mass. at the home of his grandfather Dr. Timothy Horton, a descendant of Thomas Horton, a settler of 1638.
The lineage of the Horton Ball family is a most interesting one, presumably going back to John Ball, an English rebel preacher who died in 1381.
Timothy's father was a lawyer near Augusta, Ga., at the time Timothy was born. His mother, Jane Ayrault (pronounced A-ro) Horton Ball, was a descendant of excellent old English stock, the only daughter of Dr. Timothy Horton, and was educated in fine schools in Hartford, Conn.
As early as 1838 she began to teach neighborhood children at their pioneer home at the Lake of the Red Cedars (Cedar Lake) in Lake County, Indiana. By 1840 she started a boarding school, the first in the county, which she continued for many years. Jane Ball School at Cedar Lake was named in her memory. She also acted as doctor and dentist to the early settlers.
From these ancestors Timothy H. Ball is said to have obtained his great endurance, his religious faith, and his bulldog tenacity of purpose.
His father, Hervey Ball, 1794-1868, was born in the old town of West Springfield, Mass., and was a graduate of Middlebury College, Vt., then studied law and moved to Columbia County, Georgia, where he practiced law until 1834. He was for a time a colonel of a cavalry company of the Georgia State Militia, and owned fine horses.
Hervey came to City West in Porter County, Indiana in 1836, where he worked as a surveyor laying out lots for a company proposing to build a city, a project which ceased in 1839.
Hervey Ball brought his family to City West in the spring of 1837, at the age of 43, but in July of that year be bought a claim on the northwest side of the Lake of Red Cedars in Lake County, Indiana, and by the end of the year the Ball family was fully settled. The land was first claimed by Thomas Brown in 1834, and was purchased by David Horner in 1835.
Though trained in law, Hervey gave much attention to farming, but also served as county surveyor, probate judge, justice of the peace, clerk of the Cedar Lake Baptist Church, Sabbath School superintendent, moderator and clerk of the Northern Indiana Baptist Assn., and as a trustee of Franklin College. The home became a center for religious, educational, literary and social meetings, and contained a large library.
Timothy came to City West with his family in 1837 when 11 years of age and learned some of the pleasures and the hardships of pioneer life there, before coming to Lake County later that same year.
He described his brothers as "manly and kind," and they were: Heman, born 1832, Charles, 1834, and James 1836. His "affectionate and cultivated" sisters were: Elisabeth H., born 1829, Mary Jane, 1839 and Henrietta, 1841.
The Lake of the Red Cedars was his home until 1863, when he moved to Crown Point, where he lived until a few years before his death in 1913.
Timothy began attending school in West Springfield, Mass. when eight years of age, his father having given him his training up to that time. He began the study of Greek and Latin when he was only nine years old and continued with the languages until he had them mastered. In 1848 he entered Franklin College in College in Indiana and was graduated in 1850, after which he commenced teaching at the Hendricks County Seminary in Danville, Ind.
In 1851, he became principal of the Grove Hill Male and Female Academy at Clarke County, Ala., and as a teacher applied himself diligently to his studies and received a master's degree in 1853. In 1860, he entered as a student at the Newton Theological Institution near Boston, Mass., and was graduated in 1863. He was licensed to preach at Danville in 1851, and was ordained at Crown Point in 1855.
Timothy became pastor at Crown Point in 1863, and in 1865 established the Crown Point Institute, erected a fine building and educated several hundred students who became teachers, lawyers, doctors, businessmen and farmers, later locating throughout all the Central States and the far West.
In 1871, he sold the building and the land to the Town of Crown Point to be used for public school purposes, for the sum of $3,600. During the years of the Institute this was his guideline for those interested in teaching: 1. Prepare yourselves for usefulness. 2. Prepare yourselves for happiness 3. Do what you can to fit others or usefulness and happiness.
In 1855 Timothy Ball was married to Martha Caroline Creighton, daughter of Rev. Hiram Creighton of Clarke County, Ala. They were blessed with a son, Herbert, born in 1856, and a daughter, Georgietta Ethberta. Herbert was graduated from the Bennett Medicine College of Chicago in 1884. Georgietta married I.W. Martin, and lived in Alabama.
Martha Caroline Creighton Ball was born in Alabama, the daughter of Elder Hiram Creighton, a well-known pastor in Clarke County. She was a kindhearted, cultivated southern bred lady who assisted her husband in building the Crown Point Institute, and was an excellent Sunday school teacher. She died in February, 1912, at the home of her daughter in Alabama, and burial was there in the land of her birth.
Ball wrote over 15 books, both historical and religious publications, and was the editor of three different papers: 'The Castalian,' 'The Prairie Voice,' and 'Our Banner,' the latter being the official paper of the Indiana State Sunday School Society. In his early years he contributed to several religious publications.
He was a missionary preacher for several years, a forceful talker, and it has been said of him that he carried the gospel to more people in Lake County than any other minister ever did or ever would.
During his later years in Lake County, he gave much of his time to historical writings, and for several years was historical secretary of the Lake County Old Settlers Society (now the Lake County Historical Assn.), even sending reports after he moved to Alabama.
Timothy Ball was a frequent visitor of the sick, a source of practical help for the poor, and a comforting speaker at the graves of the dead. He rode horseback on all the trails and roads in southern Lake County, visiting homes and staying overnight many times He traveled the roads of all the southern townships writing stories of the early families in those areas, as well as those in the townships further north. One family told about how their grandfather, an early farmer, would complain because "that danged minister always shows up here at mealtime."
A few years before his death he fell and broke his hip, the effects of which kept him in the house most of the time, but he continued to write and to take an interest in current events.
Timothy Ball passed away at the home of his daughter in Alabama, and was buried in Alabama. He was nearly 88 years of age. A memorial stone was placed in the Creston, Indiana, cemetery in his honor.
This is on the back page of one of his books: "It may be of value to place on the printed page such records as we have, for we have been making history; we have taken from the wilds what we expect to leave as heritages to our children; we have laid the foundation for homes and burial places and monuments and churches; and towers, per chance, that may in future years become moss covered and ivy manteled; that may at least become venerable with age in the centuries of the future, when the later generations of mankind shall travel upon the dust of the present."