1848: Joseph Ball to Hiram H. Ball & Freelon Q. Ball

What Joseph Ball might have looked like

This letter was written by Joseph Ball (1790-1862), the son of Samuel Ball (1763-1839) and Hannah Ranger (1764-1853). Joseph Ball was married to Betsey Hayward (1794-1828) in 1818. [Betsey’s death date must be wrong or Joseph remarried.]  Joseph Ball was born in Alstead, New Hampshire, but spent his life in Acworth whence he became very influential, and at different times held all the town offices. He was a justice of the peace, and a deacon of the Congregational church and took an active part in all affairs of the community until his death at the age of seventy-two years.

Joseph wrote the letter from his home in Acworth, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, to his two sons, Hiram Harvey Ball (1821-1877) and Freelon Quincy Ball (1826-1904) who were working in Baldwinville (near Templeton), Worcester County, Massachusetts, at the time this letter was written in 1848. Hiram remained in manufacturing and became a foreman in a chair factory in Gardner, Massachusetts. Carlos Ball — another brother mentioned in this letter — also worked at the same factory. Two sisters, Laura Ball and Hannah Ball, were working as school teachers in 1848. Laura died unmarried; Hannah married Levi Stevens. Freelon Q. Ball eventually went West to Charlotte, Clinton county, Iowa, where he became a prosperous farmer and remained until 1896, when he returned to Massachusetts, making his home with his son in Monson until his death, eight years later in 1904.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Hiram or Freelon Ball, Baldwinville, Templeton, Massachusetts

Acworth [Sullivan County, New Hampshire]
January 2, 1848

Dear Sons,

I have to inform you that my health is good as usual and has so been since Hiram left Acworth. Your mother’s health is better and has been since you left than it has been for 2 or 3 years. Laura’s health is better than usual. I have not heard of her complaining of her throat but little this winter. She closed her school in the 10th District a week ago Saturday and commenced on the next Monday, Monday last, in the 7th District (Lynn District) for three months. She has I believe $10.00 per month. Hannah is well. She commences school teaching tomorrow again in the 10th District — a private school.

Carlos is well and wants to see Freelon very much and have a spree with him. I much expected to see Freelon at home at Thanksgiving and was disappointed in not seeing you. It may be said to be a general time of health here. I know of none that are sick in the vicinity.

It was with much satisfaction that I received your letter and learned then that both you were well and doing well. William Ball was here soon after he left Baldwinville and from him I learned your welfare. You must come home and make us a visit and no more as soon as convenient.

I conclude that you would like to be informed of what I am doing and how I get along with my business. I have got along with my worth this fall very well. I have hired Mr. Nye one month. We got our harvesting done in good season. My corn was very good and a good crop potatoes very ___. I had not half a good crop. I had about 400 bushels better than I anticipated when Hiram left but I have but little reason to complain when compared with most of others. Some did not get more than 30 or 40 bushels to the acre of good potatoes and but few got to the amount 100. Generally speaking, as much as one half were rotten. Mine some pieces the Red were not more than 1 bushel in 10 were rotten and not more than a quarter part in any. I have got my fall work as well done up as I ever had it. I got my thrashing done about six weeks ago. Mr. Archer did it with his machine in a day and a half. My garden turned out quite as well as I expected.

The girls — as they are often a writing —  I suppose write you of all that is going on here, so I need not write you of them. But perhaps you would like to [see] a full sheet so I will fill it up with the passing events. In the first place, I would mention that a railroad has of late engrossed the attention of the public very much. I believe it is pretty much an established opinion that we are to have a railroad here in the valley of Cold River. The railroad starts from Nashua [and] will go through Wilton, Linesborough, Greenfield, Hancock, Stoddard, Marlow, Aeworth, and Langdon, and intersect with Rutland, Vermont Railroad at the mouth of Williams River near Charleston Lower Meadows and with the Sullivan at Ingerson’s. It has been surveyed up to Russell’s Mills on the Ashuclit above South Marlow and the setting in of the cold weather prevented a further survey but has been looked through the place. When looked out, is just in front of the sawmill and factory and bears along on the side hill and comes about where the road is above the Stebbing Brook. [It] crosses the brook a little above the bridge and a little above where the road is and will cross the river if they can get down low enough near the mouth of the Thayer Brook and down on the side of the river to a little above the Walker’s. [It will] then cross the river to I. Dinsmore’s and by the Watt’s farm, through that vale, to its terminus.

The Acworth Cemetery was purchased from the Robinson Farm and laid out “in the most modern stile.”

Soon after, and I don’t know but before Hiram left, the town purchased a new burying ground on the Robinson farm — a little south and adjoining Dr. Parker’s. It has been laid out in the most modern style and the people have been busily engaged in moving those buried in the burying ground in the village to the new cemetery. Nearly 100 have been moved and the rest will probably be soon as all, with one or two exceptions, are much pleased with the movement.

I have to say to Hiram that the plan for fixing up the school house and painting it &c., worked admirable well. All went on with unity and much spirit. I bid off the job, the District turned out and did it. I then, as a committee, took the money with a little addition, which was promptly done by subscription. We got a fine-looking house, the wood house clapboarded, schoolhouse repaired, and both painted up in good style, raised 15 inches, and underpinned with stone from Mr. Osgood’s. We have the first rate school this winter taught by Emeline Baily. Our common School Association went off in the best style; address by Col. Shoden on the utility of common schools; address on the right principles to be implanted into youthful mind by Rev. Mr. Right [Wright?]; Report of school by teacher and of Seventh District by their teachers, which were present. The scholars sung three set pieces composed by them which went off in style. Great interest is got up as to our Common Schools Association have been held in all the south districts in town and have gone off with interest.

I wish you to write what oats are worth and what corn is worth and if I can get pay for it, I should like to fetch down a load or more. Oats here are worth 45 cts and corn 80 and hard at that.

Write soon. — Joseph Ball

There is quite a reformation in the middle of the town among mostly the young. Some 17 were to join the church today — among them are Homer Murdough, Martha Brigham, Mary Mitchell, Florena Mitchell, and several have joined before.

Julia A. Nurse is to be married this week to Mr. Samuel Edds of Newport — the only son and child of Lawyer Edds, Newport, a respectable, wealthy man.

Mr. Thomas Prentis of Papermill Village returned from his trip to the West in November. He visited those parts that we proposed to visit and made quite a stay there to peddle patient supporters. He is more taken up with the country than most anyone I have seen and thinks of going there to live. I regret that we did not go to the West as the fall has been and see those fields of which Mr. Prentis speaks of in so high terms that are, as he says, a mile square.

I had a very agreeable trip to Concord at the State Convention and took a look at the State House, State Prison, and Insane Asylum, &c.


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