Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Book sheds light on family legacy

For years now I've been stuck in my search for my BALL family line. In a
BALL newsletter, I sent in a query wanting to locate anyone researching
the North Carolina Ball family.

Three people suggested I get the book, "Slaves in the Family" by Edward
Ball. This is an "Oprah" book, and the author had been on Oprah's show a
couple of times. The local public library has the book, and I've been
reading on it.

Ball is a common English name. Author Edward Ball aimed to learn of his
ancestry and spent years interviewing his kin--both white and black.
The Ball family became successful and wealthy beyond belief here in the
States, but their methods of attaining such wealth, while perfectly
legal in that day, sound barbaric now.

The first Ball relative arrived in 1670 on the ship Carolina, so they
called the land where they came ashore "Carolina." Within three months
of arrival, they began to import African slaves. Soon they enslaved
Native Americans and brought in indentured servants--usually poor
English or Irish whites.

By the time of the Carolina colony was founded, slavery was already
thousands of years old. Slavery was a kidnap-and-sale business by which
thousands of Africans were brought steadily into port. Also, raids were
made on the Indian population, and hundreds of them captured by white
"Indian traders." There was even a law that a white settler had a right
to 150 acres of land for each slave he had brought to Carolina.

In addition to buying slaves for themselves, several members of the Ball
family became dealers in the slave trade. The upshot of all this was the
Ball family owned thousands and thousands of acres of land, thousands
of slaves and untold wealth. It seemed most of the Balls had little
compunction about breaking up slave families and selling them to
distant plantations. One Ball father wanted to buy his twin babies an
unusual present, so he bought a set of twin slaves for each of his

Beating (or worse) was common punishment. Also, there were work houses
or jails, where disobedient slaves could be sent for further punishment.
Most of us are accustomed to thinking of slaves working in the cotton
fields. However, the early Carolina plantations were rice plantations.
Although no one has yet proven it, it is believed that the parents of
White County's early pioneer, Willis Hargrave, owned a rice plantation
in the Carolinas. The invention of the cotton gin became the downfall
of rice plantations, and cotton became "king" in the South.

Although this book provided lots of Ball genealogy, I didn't find any I
could latch on to. And I haven't found any relationship to Mary Ball
Washington (George's mother), so I'm still searching!

The Genealogy Library is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

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The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley

Copyright © 2000 by Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.