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.               


BBurton said...

What a wonderful thing to have, even with the story behind it so sad. The letter gives so much information as to who to even look for.
With all the moving around, they could of taken Evora back to the family plot and buried her near her children. I have a relative who died in 1910 in Kansas and they buried him in Ohio next to his first wife, while they were buring him in Ohio his second wife died and the family trasported her body back to Kansas.

Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski said...

What a tragic story but how fortunate you are to have the story behind these letters. Understanding life from the families point of view makes the words much more poignant and takes everyone out of the realm of the two dimensional. Thank you for sharing, Delia.