Jonas T. BALL, whose sterling worth of character has won him political honors, while his business discernment and keen sagacity have gained him a goodly measure of success in his farming operations, is a native son of Marshall county. He was born at Lacon, February 6, 1853. His father, Jonas L. BALL, a native of Massachusetts, came from Hamilton, Ohio, to Marshall county, Illinois, making the journey on horseback. He settled here at a pioneer epoch in the history of the county, taking up his abode just west of Toluca, where G. W. THOMAS now resides on a part of the old homestead. Mr. BALL became a very extensive land owner, having at one time fifteen hundred acres, but he divided his property among his children, giving to each two hundred acres when they attained their majority. He ever utilized his opportunities to the best advantage, was quick to recognize a chance for good investment and moreover in his daily life displayed a spirit of industry and capable management that constituted the strongest elements in his success. His political views were in accord with the principles of democracy and he was one of the founders of the Antioch Christian church, which was afterward removed to Toluca. His land lay just west of Toluca about a half mile and extended into Belle Plain township. For four years he served as supervisor and his devotion to the public good stood as an unquestioned fact in his life. He contributed to the material, intellectual and moral progress of the community through his cooperation in affairs that had direct bearing upon the welfare of the county along those lines, and he passed away in 1888, respected and honored by all who knew him. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth C. FETTER, was born in Pennsylvania in 1823 and was a daughter of Dr. FETTER. She too held membership in the Christian church and was a most estimable lady. In the family of this worthy couple were seven children: Alice, who died in infancy; William L., also deceased; Charles, who died at the age of two years; Jonas T., of this review; John D.; Gertrude, the wife of Sain WELTY, a lawyer of Bloomington; and George L., who was drowned in Senachwine lake while in bathing on a pleasure trip at the age of thirty-three years. He left a wife and four children, the wife being now Mrs. Maria E. BALL, who is educating her children in Eureka.
No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of farm life for Jonas T. BALL in his boyhood days. He acquired his early education in the public schools and afterward had the privilege of attending Eureka College at Eureka, Illinois. He early became familiar with the task of tilling the soil and cultivating the crops and he began farming for himself in 1874 upon the place where he yet resides. He has extensive land interests and the fields are rich and productive, owing to the care and labor which he bestows upon them, his generous use of fertilizers and the rotation of crops. He has upon his place the latest improved farm machinery, together with good buildings and other modern accessories and equipments.
Mr. BALL was married in 1874 to Miss Mary E. BECKWITH, who was born in Magnolia, Illinois, in 1853, a daughter of Zera P. and Mary Ann (GAYLORD) BECKWITH, who lived upon a farm near Magnolia and afterward removed to Wenona, Illinois, where their last days were passed. Mrs. BALL is a member of the Christian church and is a lady of many excellent traits of heart and mind. The children of the household are: Edna G., now the wife of Snow VanNETTA, living at Chicago Heights; Gaylord, who has recently returned from a trip to Europe; Chauncey P., at home; Ralph T., who is attending school in Eureka, Illinois: and Rollo D., who is a student in the schools in Chicago Heights.
Mr. BALL votes with the democracy and is recognized as one of its local leaders, his opinions frequently proving decisive factors in the councils of the party. He has been assessor and supervisor and has also represented his district in the state legislature. Proving an able member of the house, he took an active part in constructive legislation and gave to each question which came up for settlement his earnest and thoughtful consideration. In the Masonic fraternity he has attained the Knight Templar degree and he is also connected with the Modern Woodmen of America. In manner Mr. BALL is entirely free from ostentation and display, but his fellow townsmen recognize his genuine worth and have delighted to honor him with political office, while in private life they entertain for him warm friendship.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.