Memorial Day is one day out of 365 that we take the time to memorialize those soldiers that made the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedoms.  It doesn't matter whether this person was in the Revolutionary War or in the Iraq War, these brave men suffered the raining of bullets, inclement weather, homesickness, hostility even from their own Country they are defending just doing their part to make our great Country enjoy the freedoms we now have and continue to have.  War is ugly, evil and not something we want to do, but must in order to be free or to protect our homeland.  Sometimes we forget and take for granted for all the wonderful privileges we enjoy.

Clyde Everett May, Jr.

West Chicago, Illinois
September 24, 1898

Dear Mother

I will write a few lines to you. also to May. How do you feel now. do you have those awful paines in you sides. How is your cough is it as bad as before.  Is it as bad to take this medicine as the other was? 

Is there very many parks out and are you now near one.  It is pretty nice out here. Aunt Cora's throat is a little better and Dr. has given her some medicine which is very nice.  We have got lots of company-
now in our house. The company is Don and his mother Annie, and we think Rob and his wife will be up to.  Annie is very sick and I have to go to the drug store every little while.  I think this is all.

To May
I will write a few lines to you.  I am getting along alright.  Is it warm enough out there to go barefoot. If it is I will go barefoot nearly all of the time.  
When Aunt Cora was out I was in the front room with my big double bladed knive ready to spear them if they made a move at me.
Yes I wish I  was out there with everyone but I don't want to leave my playmates.
Do you ever see the donkies kick?  I did out here.  
This is all I can write.

From your Bro Willie

P.S. I will send you 10 cts
Good by.  Willie

Interestingly, the dime imprint is still visible on the letter. 

There is alot more than meets the eye as to the background and story behind this letter.  It's probably the saddest and most tragic story that I have encountered in my family research. 

Ellis Judson Ball was born 1855 in Kankakee, Illinois according to sources, which I demonstrated in my posting for Madness Monday regarding his father, Judson Ball as being my brickwall.  Ellis lost his father when he was about 12.  I supposed that his mother, Caroline struggled to make ends meet so Ellis was living with his married sister, Amelia and her family in the 1870 census where he went to school in Hopkins, Allegan County, Michigan.  Somehow he ended up in Manton, Wexford County, Michigan where he met and married Grace Randall in 1879 and they are listed together in the 1880 census with him working in a shingle mill.  Apparently Grace contracted tuberculosis and died August of 1880 just after the census was taken.  Sadly, Grace was such a distant memory that this was a surprise to family members as I had discovered her existance.  
One year later, in 1881, Ellis married Evora A. Hawkins in Grand Rapids.  Not sure why they went there to marry as the Hawkins family also resided 1880 in Manton.  In 1885, their son, William Edward was born and recorded at Wexford birth records with his sister, Celia May, born in 1887.  She was commonly known to the family as "May".  Other children followed:  Frank born 1889, Mary Frances, Fred and twin boys.  These children birth dates are quite sketchy.  During this time Evora herself became infected with TB as well.  
Ellis and Evora at some point moved on to Chicago with other members of Evora's Hawkins family.  Mary Frances was born in 1895 where I recently found her birth certificate. In 1897 Frank, "Frankie" died at about 8 years of age.  I have a picture of him with Willie.  Around this time frame, Mary Frances, Fred and twin boys where born and died.  I assume because of the infectious TB that Evora was suffering from.  
My speculation of this letter is that Ellis took Evora and May and they moved to a dryer and warmer climate for her health and maybe to get away from the tragedy of losing so many children in such rapid succession.  Aunt Cora would have been Evora's sister and she would have been about 25 years old probably living with another sibling where Willie could be taken care of and continuing with school without disruption.  I haven't yet learned who the other people in the letter are as of yet.  
Evora died 5 November 1898 supposedly in Las Vegas with her burial place still unknown.   Her parents in the meantime moved to El Paso, Texas where they are found in the 1900 census.  Cora is with them.  Ellis must have retrieved Willie at some point.  Ellis was in El Paso by 1901 where his picture was taken.  He went on to Oklahoma and secured a homestead with Willie and May.  The Hawkins family and Cora moved west to San Diego, California.  Cora passed away in July 1904 at the very young age of 30 and is buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery. Was she comsumptive?  
Ellis and his two married children ended up in Salem, Oregon and lived good, secure lives.               

William Edward Ball
ca 1938 Salem Statesman or Capitol Journal

I would love to know what prompted this promotion of Van-Tage by my great grandfather.  Giving out this kind of information these days, especially very public would definitely be considered as TMI (too much information).  Maybe because medical care wasn't on the level as it is now and people were trying any kind of remedy to relieve their annoying symptoms.  I wonder if he really becamed "cured" or was helping out his local neighborhood pharmacy.  I tried to research out this product, but was unable to locate any information on it. I stumbled onto this newspaper clipping in my mother's things and was quite amused by the exaggerating hawking of this not so glamourous product!

William Edward Ball was born in 1885 in Manton, Wexford County, Michigan.  He eventually worked his way with his father and sister to Ellis County, Oklahoma to secure homesteads.  He married Nora Ellen Baley there and sold their homestead where they headed with my grandmother, Zelma to Salem, Oregon in 1913.  He became a wall painter hanger and painting contractor until death took him away in 1943, just 5 years after this ad came out to a heart attack. 



Martha Ann (Alexander)Freeman, Emery Edwin Freeman and my grandfather, James Albert Claude Freeman at their ranch in Fallon, Nevada probably taken about 1915? 

Arcade Cemetery
North Plains, Washington County, Oregon

Willis Richard May was born June 4, 1867 in Story County, Iowa to parents James Monroe May and Susannah Arminta Ballard. He died October 31, 1954 in Banks, Washington County, Oregon.

Willis married:

Sarah Ellen Hutchison who was born March 22, 1871 in Boone County, Iowa to parents Daniel Hutchison, Jr. and Margaret McMillan Gilliland.

They married on April 11, 1889 in Washington County, Oregon and were the parents of 11 children with 10 of them surviving to adulthood.
Judson Ball was born ca 1820 and depending on whose census record you look at, he was born in either Ohio or Vermont.  This is the beginning of my frustration in researching the origins and family of whence he came. 

The earliest record I have is a deed where he purchased 40 acres of land from Abram J. Shaver and wife Polly in Van Buren County, Michigan during the month of September, 1839.  The 1840 census does not list him.  Possibly he was living with another family?  Maybe he was out of the area at the time.

In December of 1844 Judson marries Caroline Webber, daughter of John H. Webber and Levina Kimball in Van Buren and subsequently children are born to them:  Amelia, Sarah, Ellis Judson, Victoria and Emma Frances.  Amelia and Victoria marry German brothers; William and Augusta Kemeno and both families produced several children between them.  Sarah and Emma were married but did not give birth.  Ellis Judson who is my great, great grandfather, with his wife Evora had two children that survived to adulthood.  Their story will be a future post as it is a tragic one.

Judson is listed both in the 1850 and 1860 censuses and during these years also bought and sold land in Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties frequently and made profits.

By the time 1867 comes around, Judson takes sick with "congestion and chills" and dies, this event is recorded in the Kalamazoo County death register with no real clue to who he really is.

I have been to Salt Lake City and dug into the records, especially the deeds trying to find anyone that could be a family member with no real clue to of a relationship.  One idea I had: Ellis says over and over that he was born in Kankakee County, Illinois so I even took my research over there to try find out why Judson and Caroline would be over there in 1855.  Also all the BALL families have been looked at and ruled out for now.  One challenge is that he lived a short life, he was alone and young when he ventured out, he died and no tombstone can be found and he left no probate record.

I have exhausted any thoughts and avenues that I could possibly come up with!  I even checked the county in Ohio that Caroline Webber and her family came from.

There has to be a family living at that time that is missing a sibling!   Who is his family and where did he come from?   One thing I know for sure, I will need to make a field trip and go to this area of Michigan and dig.