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This is the obituary for my great grandfather, who got a patent for a toy he made.
V C Balding, Retired Telegrapher, Dies.

Victor C Balding, aged 70, retired telegrapher for the Missouri Pacific Lines, died at his home at 217 Denison street at 8 Tuesday night. He had been employed by the railroad for 38 years and retired three years ago. He was a member of the Second Presbyterian church and Albert Pike Lodge No. 714 Masons. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Hattie C Balding of Little Rock; three sons, Lt. Eugene V Balding of Camp Maxey, Tex.; R Ellington Balding of Alice, Tex., and Sgt. Marvin P Balding of Fort Leonard Wood, MO; four daughters, Mrs. W N Brandon, Mrs. Joe D Williams and Mrs. John H Fox of Little Rock and Miss Vera Balding of Spokane, Wash., and four grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Ruebel & Company.

Published on Wednesday, 10 Jan 1945, in the Arkansas Gazette
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My direct lines are in blue.

First Generation

1. Henry Balding was born on 22 Sep 1797 in New York, USA. He died in 1843 in Terre Haute, Vigo Co., IN.

Henry married (1) Margaret Johnston in 1822. Margaret was born about 1794 in Randolph, Charlotte Co., VA. She died before 1832.

They had the following children:

2 F i. Eliza Balding was born in 1825 in Monroe Co., OH.
Eliza married Ames .

3 M ii. William Balding was born in 1827 in Portage Co., OH.

4 F iii. Mary Balding was born in 1830 in Monroe Co., OH.

Henry married (2) Hannah Morrell daughter of Noah Morrell and Sarah "Sally" Prescott on 8 Aug 1832 in Sunbury, Monroe County, Ohio. Hannah was born in 1802 in Maine. She died on 28 Nov 1856 in Des Arc, Prarie Co., AR.

They had the following children:

5 M iv. Lewis Balding was born in 1833 in Ohio.

6 F v. Jenneatte Balding was born in 1835 in Ohio.

7 M vi. William Balding was born in 1836 in Ohio.

+ 8 M vii. James Henry Balding was born on 11 Jul 1841. He died on 21 May 1917.

Second Generation

8. James Henry Balding (Henry) was born on 11 Jul 1841 in Sunfish, Pike County, Ohio. He died on 21 May 1917 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He was buried on 24 May 1917 in National Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

James married (1) Ann Elizabeth "Bettie" Booth daughter of David C Booth and Amelia J MNU on 26 May 1868 in Prairie Co, AR. Ann was born in 1848 in Tennessee. She died in 1871 in DeValls Bluff, Prairie Co., AR.

They had the following children:

9 F i. Hannah Amelia Balding was born on 9 Jun 1869 in Des Arc, Prairie Co.,

AR. She died in 1870 in Des Arc, Prairie Co., AR.

10 F ii. Amelia Balding was born on 26 May 1871 in DeValls Bluff, Prairie Co., AR. She died in 1879 in Newport, Jackson County, AR.

James married (2) Laura Isabella Cunningham daughter of Calvin Bradley Cunningham and Louisa Humphreys on 27 Nov 1873 in Prairie Co, AR. Laura was born on 27 Feb 1847 in Friars Point, Coahoma, Mississippi. She died on 16 Jun 1910 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She was buried in Oakland Cemetery Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

They had the following children:

+ 11 M iii. Victor Claude Balding was born on 9 Mar 1874. He died on 9 Jan 1945.

+ 12 F iv. Nelly Ione Balding was born on 5 Jan 1876. She died on 25 Jan 1954.

13 M v. James Ernest Balding was born on 2 Mar 1878 in Walnut Ridge, Lawrence County, Arkansas. He died on 2 Feb 1944 in Los Angeles, CA.
James married Dora A Enderlin daughter of Unknown and Unk Enderlin. The marriage ended in divorce.Dora was born on 17 Nov 1887 in CA. She died on 23 Mar 1964 in Los Angeles, CA.

14 F vi. Ethel Clare Balding was born on 16 May 1881 in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas. She died on 11 Oct 1890 in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas.

Third Generation

11. Victor Claude Balding (James Henry, Henry) was born on 9 Mar 1874 in De Valls Bluff, Prarie County, Arkansas. He died on 9 Jan 1945 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

Victor married Hattie Belle Chapin daughter of Frederick Chapin and Eada Belle Parrish on 25 Sep 1901 in Pulaski Co., AR. Hattie was born on 26 May 1887 in Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., KS. She died on 18 Jan 1976 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

They had the following children:

15 F i. Ruth Lucille Balding was born on 9 May 1903 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She died on 20 Dec 1959 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. The cause of death was suicide. She was buried on 1 Jan 1960 in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.
Ruth married Walter Nathan Brandon in 1932. Walter was born on 14 Jan 1875 in Tennessee. He died on 9 May 1948 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery, Little Rock, Ar.

16 M ii. Eugene Victor Balding was born on 2 Apr 1905 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He died on 30 Oct 1980 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.
Eugene married Lucille T MNU . Lucille was born on 4 Aug 1906. She died on 3 Feb 1993 in Oklahoma City, OK.

17 F iii. Doris Geneva Balding was born on 9 Jul 1907 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She died on 18 Jan 1998 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She was buried on 21 Jan 1998 in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.
Doris married Jo Duffie Williams son of Jo Desha Williams and Maxie Leah Meek on 31 Oct 1926 in Saline Co., AR. Jo was born on 11 Jun 1903 in Arkansas. He died on 3 Jul 1970 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

18 F iv. Vera Virginia Balding was born on 14 Jun 1910. She died on 25 Oct 1999 in Maricopa Co., AZ.
Vera married (1) Allan Robert King . Allan died on 19 Jun 1961 in Sarasota Co., FL.
Vera married (2) Julian Harold King . Julian was born on 22 Jul 1899. He died in Jun 1983 in Sun City, Maricopa Co., AZ.

19 F v. Marion "Murnie" Chapin Balding was born on 2 Jul 1912 in Pulaski Co., AR. She died on 23 Feb 2006 in San Diego Co., CA.
Marion married John Harper Fox . John was born on 2 Sep 1911.

20 M vi. Marvin Parrish Sr Balding was born on 26 Jul 1915. He died on 4 Nov 1991 in Richmond, VA.
Marvin married (1) Mary Imogene Carroll .
Marvin married (2) Miriam Roots Parke . Miriam was born on 13 Jun 1928.

21 M vii. Russell Ellington Balding was born on 11 May 1917 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He died on 24 May 2004 in Canon City, Fremont Co., CO. He was buried in Ula Cemetery, Westcliffe, Custer Co., CO.
Russell married Sarah Ivie . Sarah was born on 25 Feb 1923.

12. Nelly Ione Balding (James Henry, Henry) was born on 5 Jan 1876 in Beebe, White County, Arkansas. She died on 25 Jan 1954 in Clarinda, Page Co., IA.

Nelly married (1) Charles Edwin Seaman on 23 Aug 1903 in Lonoke Co., AR. The marriage ended in divorce.Charles was born in 1869 in Amboy, Lee Co., IL. He died on 8 Dec 1910 in El Paso Co., TX.

They had the following children:

22 M i. Charles Edwin Seaman was born in 1902. He died in 1910.

23 M ii. Victor Claude Seaman was born on 21 Jan 1904 in Arkansas. He died on

18 Mar 1983 in Okaloosa Co., Florida. He was buried in Sunset Cemetery, Valparaiso, Okaloosa Co., FL.
Victor married Marie P True on 17 Oct 1923 in Missouri. Marie was born on 1 Dec 1898 in Missouri. She died on 20 Jul 1981 in Okaloosa Co., Florida. She was buried in Sunset Cemetery, Valparaiso, Okaloosa Co., FL.

24 F iii. Ethel Ione Seaman was born in 1906. She died in 1976.

Nelly married (2) Arthur W Sisson in 1912. Arthur was born in 1872 in Tennessee.

They had the following children:

25 M iv. Arthur Robert Sisson was born on 25 Feb 1914 in Cleburne, Johnson Co., TX. He died on 11 Feb 2000 in Santa Rosa Beach, FL.
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Sadly, none of these folks are still living, with the possible exception of the unidentified one.

Left to right: Ruth Lucille (Balding) Brandon, Eugene Victor Balding, son Larry Eugene Balding, wife Lucille Balding, unidentified, Hattie Belle (Chapin) Balding
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I was really suprised to be able to pull up a patent on any of my ancestors.

Victor C. Balding was my maternal great-grandfather. This patent was granted before his marriage to my great-grandmother, Hattie Chapin.








SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 676,297, dated June 11, 1901.
Application filed November 15, 1900. Serial No. 36,587. (No model.)

To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that we, VICTER C. BALDING, PERCY M. BAINBRIDGE, AND JOHN NUSBECK, citizens of the United States, residing at Little Rock, in the county of Pulaski and State of Arkansas, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Toys; and we do declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description of the invention, such as will enable others skilled in the art to which it appertains to make and use the same.

The invention relates to a toy of the nature of a magic ball, within which is inclosed a motor designed for rolling the ball when it is placed upon the floor or other level surface, thus mystifying those unacquainted with the construction of the ball and causing a great amount of amusement.

One object of the invention is to provide a toy of this character which shall be simple of construction, durable in use, and comparatively inexpensive of production.

With this and other objects in view the invention consists of certain features of construction and combination of parts, which will be hereinafter fully set forth.

In the accompanying drawings, Figure 1 is a perspective view of our complete toy. Fig. 2 is a similar view, on an enlarged scale, of one section of the ball, showing the manner of mounting the motor therein; and Fig. 3 is an end view of the frame, showing the different adjustments of the weight.

In the drawings, 1 denotes the body of the toy, which preferably consists of a hollow sphere composed of sections a b, secured together in any suitable manner, but preferably by a thin strengthening-band d. Inclosed within the spherical body thus produced is a spring-motor comprising an adjustable winding-shaft 2, having mounted therein a spring 3 and gear 4, which meshes with a pinion 5, secured to a shaft 6, carrying a gear 7, which in turn meshes with a fixed pnion 8, secured to a shaft 9, which may be provided with a fly-wheel 10. These gears are all mounted within the frame 11, which is preferably hung eccentrically loosely upon the shaft 9 and is retained in this position by a weight 12, attached to the frame. The shaft 9 has its ends fixedly secured at diametrically opposite points to the interior of the wall of the section a of the speherical body.

The gist of the invention is to mount the motor within the hollow body in such a manner as to overcome the force of the spring and thereby prevent it from rotating in the rolling movement of the hollow body. If the weight 12 is secured to the frame at one side of the hollow body, which may be done by inserting a key through a curved elongated keyhole-slot c, the hollow body will roll around in a circle. By changing the position of the weight centrally between the side pieces of the frame the body will roll in a straight course.

A toy thus constructed will prove to be very amusing and will greatly mystify those unfamiliar with its construction.

We wish it to be understood that we attach importance to the securing of the shaft 9, with its rigid pinion 8 thereon, to the sides of the section, as shown, the gear-wheel 7 being connected with said pinion 8, whereby to rotate the ball. This action is accomplished by means of the spring 3 on the winding shaft 2 and the counterbalancing-weight 12, the frame carrying the operating mechanism being capable of having vertically-vibrating endwise movement by means of its being loosely mounted on the shaft 9. The weight 12 is capable of being removed from its present position in connection with one of the side members of the frame, as shown, and adjusted centrally at 21 between the walls of said frame, as shown in Fig. 3, by any suitable means, thereby prescribing the direction of the sphere when the motor acts on teh drive-shaft.

From the foregoing description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, the construction, operation, and advantages of our invention will be readily understood without requiring an extended explanation. The device is exceedingly useful for the purpose for which it was designed and may be placed upon the market at a comparatively small cost.

Various changes in the form, proportion, and the minor details of construction may be [Page 2] resorted to without departing from the principle or sacrificing any of the advantages of this invention.

Having thus fully described our invention, what we clain as new, and desire to secure by Letters Patent is -
The combination of sections to form a hollow ball, a drive-shaft rigidly secured to one of said sections, a pinion rigidly mounted upon said shaft, a frame pivotally suspended from said shaft, a moor supported by said frame, a train of gears actuated by said motor, one of said gears engaging the pinion on the drive-shaft, a weight attached to said frame, means whereby said weight may be adjusted relatively to the center of said frame, thereby prescribing the direction of motion of the sphere when the motor acts on the drive-shaft, substantially as specified.

In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our hands in the presence of two subscribing witnesses.



Now I have questions...

Where is the prototype? You know each of them must have had one... Was someone going through boxes in later years, hauled out the toy, looked at it and said, What is this? What did they do with it?

Was the toy ever manufactured and marketed? Did they sell their patent?

And who were Percy M Bainbridge and John Nusbeck, and how did they know Pop Balding?
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About 20 years ago, I fell in love with the work of local artist, Richard DeSpain, and bought several of his prints of Little Rock and other areas of Arkansas.

This one was my grandmother's favorite.


After I had it framed and showed it to her, I told her the store where I bought it said it was DeSpain's interpretation of a photo of Main Street taken in the 1920's.

Oh no, she decisively corrected me. That was in the teens. I remember going with Mama on the streetcar to pay the light bill, and that's exactly the way they had the turn marked.

In the 20's they moved the power company office, and you had to go farther down the street.

Missing you, Grandma.
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Twenty years ago (or maybe a tad more), before I started tracking my ancestors in any serious way, I got a phone call from my second cousin.

He was one of my Balding cousins, the only son of one of my grandmother's brothers.

His father died in 1980, and his mom couldn't live by herself any more. Larry was packing up her house to move her to Tulsa where he lived and could keep an eye on her.

The call was to let me know he had finished the packing and there were some leftovers in the house - bits of furniture and memorabilia, and he wondered if my sisters and I might want some of it.

I said sure, and we made a date for the next afternoon. I called my sisters to let them know.
I can't even remember now if my sisters accompanied me.

But I will never forget what I saw when I pulled into my aunt's driveway.

This portrait, leaning against the garbage cans on the curb.

Fred Chapin, 1858-1938

I grabbed it up as I went in the carport door. I gave it to Larry when I went in.

He looked at me. I told him I found it out by the trash. That's Grampa Chapin.

What he said just floored me.

Dee, that frame isn't worth anything. That's why it's out with the trash.

I may not know much about the monetary value of old portrait frames, but there's one thing I did know.

At that time, that portrait was 100 years old. Larry, we're not putting Grampa out with the trash.
Grampa Fred Chapin's portrait has hung in whatever humble abode I have occupied ever since then.

I had a very interesting text conversation with my nephew today.

It's his 24th birthday and I texted him to wish him a happy one. We kidded back and forth about where his envelope full of cash was, and I told him I'd remember him in my will.

What he said just floored me.

When I die, he wants this portrait of his great-grandmother, Doris Geneva Balding, Fred Chapin's granddaughter.

Doris Geneva Balding Williams, 1907-1998

I think Grampa may have a new home...

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
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I finally took my camera and went in search of four homes where my Baldings, Chapins, and Williamses lived in Little Rock.

The first one - the address listed on the World War I draft registration card of my great grandfather, Victor Claude Balding - was at 223 Rice Street. He signed his draft registration card on 12 Sep 1918.

The house is still there - although I'm sure it looks a bit different today than it did 93 years ago.

Next, I went in search of the houses at 213 and 217 Dennison.

They are next door to each other.

My maternal grandparents, Joe Duffie Williams and Doris Geneva Balding, lived at 213. I found them at that address in city directories from 1940 to 1949.


A whole bunch of people lived at 217 for many years - including my grandother's parents and siblings, as well as her maternal grandmother, Eada Belle (Parrish) Chapin after the death of Fred Chapin right after Christmas in 1938.

According to Polk's Little Rock/North Little Rock City Directories, Fred and Eada lived at 913 North Valmar, and Eada was listed at that address in the 1939 City Directory. (I'll have to make another photo journaling trip to see if that one is still standing.)

But by 1940, Eada made her home with her daughter, Hattie Belle and son-in-law, Victor, at 217 Dennison.


In 1940, the house at 217 Dennison must have been full to overflowing, with Victor and Hattie Balding, Hattie's mother, Eada Chapin, and adult children, Ellington (Linky), daughter Marion (Murney), Marvin and Vera. All the children were employed except Linky, who was the youngest.
Across town, my grandfather's parents, Jo Desha Williams and Maxie Leah Meek, lived at 2310 South Ringo Street.


That was the home to which my grandfather, Joe Duffie Williams, took his bride Doris after they married on Halloween in 1926. They were still there when the census was taken in 1930.
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I've been married and divorced five times.

Twice to the same guy, but hey, I did the time, so it counts.

Today, I may have found the origin of that trait...

Meet Tolbert G Balding, my third cousin, twice removed...
Tolbert moved faster than I did, collecting his four wives in nine years.

It took me 23 years to marry five times.

I wondered if he had just applied for that many licenses and then got cold feet on some of them, but nope...all were returned and filed.

Wife #1 was Evelyn Parks. She was 8 years younger than he. This seems to be the only marriage performed by a minister of the gospel. They were married on 8 Oct 1934.


Number 2 was Zorene Plummer, nine years his junior. They were married on 21 Sep 1936 in Lonoke County.


Third up was Pauline Cochran, 14 years younger than Tolbert. They were married on 16 Feb 1942.


Tolbert's last wife was Miss Elvie Lea Sowell, whom he wed on 29 Jan 1943.


She was three years younger than he. Maybe that's why they lived long enough together to share a gravestone at Apple Hill Cemetery, in Ward, Lonoke Co., AR.

They were married for 42 years before Elvie's death on 9 May 1985.

Tolbert died on 24 Apr 2005.
Don't know yet whether there were any children of any of these marriages, or if any of the first three ended in death rather than divorce.

Just one more reason I'm waiting so impatiently for the release of the 1940 census next year...
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Because I am working on Anson's descendants, his second marriage certificate, to Ruth Woodrow, is the featured historic document today.


No 279
License Issued Aug 2d 1849

Anson Balding to Ruth Woodrow

I certify that on the 2d. August 1849 I joined in marriage Anson Balding and Ruth Woodrow.

Gilbert E Winters
Mayor of Mt. Gilead

Mt. Gilead is a town in Morrow County, OH.

I think this is the first relative I've run into whose marriage was performed by the town mayor.

Anson was my first cousin, five times removed. He and Ruth both died in Arkansas, probably Pulaski County, where I live now.

I have yet to find their graves.

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I've been puzzling over this little tidbit in the 24 Feb 1877 edition of the Southern Standard, which has been published continuously in Clark County, AR since at least 1869.


Mr. John J Morrell will soon start a paper at Carlisle, Prairie county, Ark., having secured the press and material on which the "Prairie Flower" was formerly published. Don't do it, John, if you know whot is good for yourself.

That sounds ominous.

I have more than passing interest in John J Morrell.

He was the nephew of Hannah J Morrell, who was my third great grandmother.

The Morrells had been in the newspaper business for many years before coming to Arkansas from Maine (by way of Tennessee) after the 1843 death of Hannah Morrell's husband, Henry Balding.

Hannah's youngest son, James Henry Balding, lived with her brother John Clement Morrell (and his son, John J, the subject of the warning) in Prairie County after Hannah died in 1856.

James Henry Balding helped his uncle get the paper out until he went off to war. John Clement Morrell's paper was the Des Arc Citizen, and John Morrell started publishing it as a weekly in 1854.

When James Henry Balding came back from the war (where he was a musician, of all things), he stayed in the newspaper business for a number of years afterward and was a member of the Arkansas Press Association until at least 1876.

It seems only natural that John J Morrell would follow in his daddy's footsteps and publish a newspaper. It sounds like news ink ran in the veins of the Morrell clan.

Seems like 26 year old John J Morrell was just following family tradition.

So what's up with the warning?

I did a Google search for the Prairie Flower, and ran across this...

...Some of the earlier settlers of Carlisle in addition to the above mentioned were J.W. Cook, Charles W. Turrentine, O.T. Muzzy, A. Emonson, W.J.D. Alexander, Alfred Osborn and Opie Read.

Opie Read published the first newspaper, The Prairie Flower. He also owned one of the first business buildings on Front Street, a two-story structure housing several stores and a doctor's office. Mr. Read boarded at the Turrentine Hotel, built where Jay's Supermarket is now located. Unable to pay his board, Mr. Read moved into an old empty railroad car sitting on the side track. Legend further states that one night a train hooked to the car and pulled it to DeValls Bluff with Mr. Read in it, thus ending The Prairie Flower in Carlisle.
(Source: website of the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce)

The website goes on to say that shortly after the demise of The Prairie Flower, A. Emonson published a newspaper called The New Departure.

Just gets curiouser and curiouser...
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Doris Williams was my maternal grandmother.


Doris Balding Williams, born July 9, 1907 to Victor and Hattie C Balding in Little Rock, Ark., passed from this life on Jan. 18, 1998. She was preceded in death by her husband, Joe. D. Williams and her son, Joe C. Williams. She was a lifelong member of Second Presbyterian Church.

Survivors are a daughter, Judith Williams Neumann and son-in-law, Edward W. Neumann of North Little Rock; a daughter-in-law, Sue K. Williams of Houston, Texas; two sisters, Vera B. King, Peoria, Ariz. and Marian B. Fox, Fallbrook, Calif.; and one brother, Russell E. Balding, Sun City, Ariz.; six granddaughters, Ruth W. Toda, Long Island, N.Y., Leah W. Lipshultz, Los Angeles, Calif., Desha W. Hardin, Corpus Christi, Texas, Dee L. Sharp, Mabelvale, Ark. and Victoria B. Hill and Lorraine Burris both of Alexander, Ark.; 10 great-grandchildren, three nieces and three nephews; four step-grandchildren; three step-great granchildren.

She was an excellent seamstress, beginning at age six with an old lace curtain. She was also an avid gardener. She loved anything to do with needlework and enjoyed giving her friends things she had made. She was admired by many and will be missed greatly.

The family will receive visitors at her home, #5 Lombardy Lane, Little Rock, today, Jan. 20, from 4 to 6 p.m. Graveside funeral services by Ruebel Funeral Home will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1998 at Roselawn Memorial Park, Dr. Karen Akin officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to your favorite charity.
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I have two pieces of "handwork" done by my great-grandmother, Hattie Belle Chapin. (We called her Mema.)

They were framed by my grandmother, Hattie's daughter, Doris Balding.

Hattie instilled a sense of reverence and respect in handwork in all her daughters.

In some way, a woman's handwork was for them a measure of her worth.

This was Mema's favorite type of decorative handwork - crewel embroidery.



On the paper cover of the back of each frame in her flourishing script, my grandmother wrote:

Done by Hattie Chapin Balding, 1970, in her 83rd year.

I hope to save them for my granddaughters when they reach an age where they can appreciate them.
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I hauled out my big honking plastic file box tonight to get into my Balding/Chapin/Parrish hard file.

I needed to make sure I had scanned all the prints sent to me by another Parrish researcher and cousin who discovered my family tree on Rootsweb in 2009.

I had, and they will be in the next post.

But while I was in it, I found a document of dates of death for Baldings/Chapins/Parrishes written by my grandmother, Doris Balding Williams, probably shortly after the death of her brother, Gene, in 1980. She may have been transcribing her own mother's entries in her Bible.


That was unusual for her. Pretty much everything I've seen written by Grandma was in her careful (and always legible) longhand.

What was not unusual was the editorial comment she made in her list of family members and dates of their deaths.


Now, she had to know someone would find this.

And keep it.

And look at it, and laugh out loud...

See you on the other side, Grandma...
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My grandfather, Jo Duffie Williams, died on 5 Jul 1970. I was a young adult when my grandmother, Doris Geneva Balding, decided to marry again.

It must have been the late 1970s or early 1980s.

It caught the entire family by surprise. Grandma had not indicated she was interested in a man, let alone contemplating marriage.

Regretfully, I do not recall the man's name. He was a widower who lived across the street from my grandmother.

I expect his descendants are glad I've forgotten his name. It's not often that a marriage is destroyed by toilet tissue.

He moved into her house after the quickie marriage.

Things started going south almost immediately.

She had her routine - he was disrupting it by being underfoot.

He questioned her judgement in just about everything. It was very frustrating to her, as she had been the queen for quite a while.

But then, he dared to question her choice of toilet tissue. Why on earth was she spending good money on Northern toilet tissue?

Even today, I can hear the indignation in her voice...

How dare he? She had been using tissue from Northern Paper Mills ever since she had been in charge of running a household. The next thing we knew, he'd probably have a problem with snack and soda crackers from the National Biscuit Company. (Grandma always referred to products with an accompanying credit to the company that manufactured them - and none of that Nabsico twaddle for her...)

There was only one solution.



She phoned her attorney and the deed was done.

And as I had seen her do with every other piece of luck life handed her, she squared her shoulders, and soldiered on...

Of course, when we started to tease her about the marriage destroyed by toilet paper, she always reminded us that an annulment means it never was.

Missing you, Grandma...
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Whatever could they have been thinking - Fred and Eada Belle - when they let their only daughter marry at the tender age of 14?

 photo HattieBelleChapinBaldingcrop.jpg
Hattie Belle Chapin, around the time of her marriage in 1901

Hattie Belle Chapin married Victor Claude Balding in Little Rock, AR on 25 Sep 1901. She was 14. He was 27.

She called him Mr. Balding - all her life.

They were my maternal great grandparents.

Their kids called her Mama and him, Pop. The grandkids called them Mema and Pop.

We great grandkids called her Mema, and not too many of us ever met Pop. He died in 1945, just a month after her mother's death.


Victor and Hattie Balding, undated photo

Everyone who knew them said they were head over heels in love with each other.

And Pop's Hattie Belle never let the romance end. She remained a widow until her death in 1976.

Life was hard for the Baldings. Pop worked for the railroad as a telegrapher. There were many mouths to feed.

By the time Hattie was 20, she had three children (my grandmother was the youngest at the time). By 1917, their family was complete, with seven children in all.

My grandmother talked about how the home was run. Every evening when it was almost time for Pop to come home, her mother would go to the kitchen, put on her apron and begin to get supper ready.

Even though times were hard, Victor and Hattie were aware that they were harder still for others. Every holiday, Pop would bring home various and sundry people who had nowhere else to go. Everyone made room at the table.

Pop coached a boys' baseball team when his own sons were young. Mema made their uniforms, and those of their teammates.

Mema loved family gatherings. She seemed content to show up and take her place as a matriarch. And she was good to pose for photos.

She is on the far left in this one, taken in my grandmother's backyard in 1967.


Shortly after that photo was taken, Mema's mental faculties started to decline. At first, it was just a little forgetfulness.

But soon, the forgetfulness became apparent, even to her great grandchildren. I remember going to see her. I'd go into the den to talk to her, and I'd have to introduce myself. If I left the room, and came back, we had to start all over again.

My name didn't seem to register with her any more. So I started saying I was Doris' granddaughter.

She beamed at me. That made sense.

We carried on.

One day when my grandmother and mother took me to see her, something strange happened.

We were sitting and having a nice chat when all of a sudden, Mema got up and left the room.

My grandmother found her in her bedroom, getting ready to curl her long hair and put it back up again. She used one of those skinny little metal curling irons that heated up in its own electrified holder. And real hairpins.

I followed my grandmother in. She asked Mema what she was doing.

I have to get ready. Mr. Balding will be home soon. He likes for his women to look pretty.

It was one of the only times I had seen my grandmother at a loss for words. She helped Mema curl her hair and put it back up again.

Mema headed for the kitchen. Pots and pans started clattering. She was going to make supper.

Grandma tried to stop her - to explain that Mr. Balding wasn't coming home.

Mema shushed her. Couldn't she hear the baby was crying? She needed to tend to the baby and get supper ready before Mr. Balding came home...

My grandma turned away from me, but not before I saw the tears in her eyes.

The decline was rapid toward the end. She was diagnosed with Altzheimers, and the family found a female companion to live in with her.

Mema lived in a world decades past. We humored her.

Her doctor said she was not aware that she had developed breast cancer, and at her age and overall medical condition, there was no point in surgical intervention. He would make sure she stayed comfortable.

Hattie Belle Chapin Balding died on 18 Jan 1976.

And finally re-joined Mr. Balding.
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When my mother died a few years ago, I inherited a multiple leaf dining table from her. It had been my grandma's table and had been in her dining room as long as I could remember.

Grandma and I had a shared love of plants and gardening. When she died, my mother, my sisters and I, and our cousins gathered at her house to divide up the things that had not already been promised to a specific person. I asked for, and was gladly given, her gardening hand tools. Everyone else looked at me like I had lost what was left of my mind - after all, there were Oriental rugs, solid silver flatware, gold rimmed china, and solid wood pieces of furniture, ornately carved, still up for grabs. Why would I pick a bunch of hand trowels, shears and those weird looking wire hands when I could choose my share of that other stuff? (The wire hands are just neater than snuff - they have a crook at the end of each of them for hanging on your clothesline after you've stretched your wet gloves to dry over their wire fingers.)

My mother took the table, and for several years afterward, she dropped both end leaves, stored the two center leaves, and used the table as a sort of telephone desk in a corner of her dining room. She already had a large table with matching chairs in there.

And now I have the table. In Grandma's house, I remember it always being covered with a tablecloth, and candlebra in the middle of it. Around here, that would last as long as it took for me to leave the room. Four cats would make hash of that. So at my house, the table sits nude in the kitchen, with the end leaves dropped and the center leaves in.

At Grandma's house, you knew you had "arrived," and had stepped over the threshold from child to young adult when you were allowed to eat your meal at the table in the dining room, instead of the kids' table in the kitchen.

I was talking the other night with a woman who knew my mother and was friends with her since they both had been in their early teens. I asked her if she remembered the table. She did.

She said one of the first times she recalled eating at the table was at my mother's 14th birthday dinner in 1951. She was pretty sure Grandma had gotten the table for her brand new dining room in her brand new home in 1949.

Over the years, it has acquired some scars. Some are deeper than others, and I can feel them through the soft cloth I use to apply lemon oil to it every couple of weeks. Grandma probably would wince slightly at some of them, but I think overall, she knew that the journey through life brings with it the scars of experience.

Here in my own kitchen, I sit at the table and contemplate the journey as I suspect my grandmother also did on occasion. There is a feeling of groundedness in that old wood that provides a sense of connection, not only with Grandma, but with an ancient life force and spirit that imparts wisdom along the way.
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What a pleasant surprise to wake and find that Jenny had given my blog the Ancestor Approved award.


Thank you, Jenny.

The award comes with a couple of requests:
1. List ten things that you have learned about your ancestors that surprised, humbled, or enlightened you.
2. Pass the award to ten other genealogy bloggers.

What I've learned:
1. My Burrises did not move from Arkansas county to county in the 1840s and 1850s, as I thought they did - the county lines moved. Lesson: the rotating census maps are my friend.
2. One of my paternal great-great grandfathers had a second family about a half mile down the road from the family compound in Pope County, AR.
3. Corollary to #2 - you almost never have the whole story with the "official" family oral history. Be open to those contacts and questions from other people seeking their roots.
4. My Callaways are *not* descendants of Daniel Boone. Not.
5. The story about great Grandma Maxie (Meek) Williams beating the Yankee solider over the head with a buggy whip as she was taking the cotton to market is not true. Grandma Maxie wasn't even a gleam in her daddy's eye during the Civil War, and she didn't grow up on a cotton farm, or marry into one. And my cotton growing ancestors did not take the cotton to market in buggies - they didn't even own buggies as far as I can tell.
6. The probable cause of Cedric Hazen Williams' reputation as a misfit and ne'er-do-well was most likely due to a brain injury he suffered as an 11 year old boy, when a wagon rolled over his head.
7. My branch of the Chapins, although descended from Deacon Samuel Chapin, did not remain in Massachusetts, and were not wealthy all their lives. They were, however, highly skilled wood workers who made fine cabinetry.
8. Great-great Grandma Mary (Dunn) Callaway Williams was Indian, as we had been told by my grandmother. DNA testing recently sought by one of my aunts has confirmed that. We do not know what tribe Mary's mother came from.
9. The Burrises did not own slaves, as I would have expected. The Callaways did, and increased the number of slaves they owned when Jonathan Owsley Callaway married Emily Hemphill, whose father, John brought many slaves with him to Clark Co., AR from South Carolina about 1818.
10. The innate curiosity of "reporting" runs in my family, and comes to me from my Baldings.

I'd like to present the Ancestor Approved award to these bloggers:
My Ancestors and Me
Nolichucky Roots
Our Georgia Roots
Little Bytes of Life
The Turning of Generations
Slowly Bring Driven Mad by the Ancestors
AncesTree Sprite
Hanging from the Family Tree
Tangled Trees
From Little Acorns
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Born on 9 Jul 1907, in Pulaski County, AR to Victor Claude and Hattie Belle (Chapin) Balding, the third of seven children, she lived in Little Rock all her life. She died here on 18 Jan 1998, and refused to go until her last grandchild arrived by plane from New York.

She was my maternal grandmother.

Grandma Dee, we called her.

She loved making things with her hands. She began to sew as a young girl, and added gardening to her crafting. She had a green thumb that just didn't quit, although as she aged and hired a gardener to do the heavy lifting, she had to content herself with following him around, and in later years, sitting on the terrace or a chair in the front driveway, giving instruction in the way only she could.

Grandma married Jo Duffie Williams on Halloween in 1926. They eloped.

That's why it was so funny to find this among her papers after her death. It's the *official* Marriage Service of the Presbyterian Church.


Look closely. They eloped.


That's why Rev Hay Watson Smith penned the word not into the text...were not united by me in the bonds of marriage...

I had to laugh.

That juxtaposition of what you were supposed to do as opposed to what you wanted to do was so like her, and made her so unique.

Grandma was a young bride during the Great Depression. Those years shaped her financial world view for the rest of her life. She was an economist in every sense of the word. But when she cut loose with some money, she bought quality.

She and my grandfather lived in a small rental home not far from her parents while they saved money to build their home in central Little Rock. They moved into it in 1949, when my mother, their youngest child, was 12.

They built it for cash. It never had a mortgage on it as long as my grandmother lived there. When my grandfather died, he left her financially secure, and she enlisted the help of her banker to stay that way.

When I was grown, and moved back to Arkansas, I'd go to see her.

Arkansas summers can be brutal. Grandma would rise in the morning, get her bath and dress and go downstairs where she stayed for the rest of the day, with the windows open. She rarely ran the air conditioning until the summer drought crashed into the brutal and unrelenting heat of August. She kept the windows open and fans going.

I teased her about that - she could well afford to run her AC. "How do you think," she would ask me indignantly, "that we made it through the Great Depression?"

She said the same thing about the paper towels. I'd go into the kitchen and see a paper towel spread out to dry on the counter next to the sink. When I reminded her paper towels were about 79 cents a roll, she'd roll her eyes and tell me there was nothing wrong with that one, she had dried her hands on it. It wasn't soiled, it was damp.

It was perfectly suitable for continued use.

Grandma had more than her fair share of health problems all her life. She had tuberculosis when my mother was about 4 years old, and spent time in the TB sanitorium at Booneville in Logan County. Once she told me the smell of cooked cabbage reminded her of Booneville for the rest of her life.

Later, she had a thyroidectomy. As was the custom in the 1950s and 60s, she had a complete hysterectomy.

It wasn't until after my grandfather died in 1970 that she began to have heart problems. Before she died, she had two major heart surgeries - by-passes each time.

Those took a lot out of her, but I never heard her complain about them, or the radical mastectomies she had exactly one year apart when she was in her 70s.

She even managed to joke about that. She called herself the titless wonder.

One Saturday morning, I was putzing around the cottage when she called.

Are you doing anything special today?

Not particularly, why? Do you need me to take you somewhere?

Well, yes. I'd like to go to Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions.

Now, I was intrigued. What did my 87 year-old grandmother need from a lingerie shop?


She explained.

Her breast prostheses were heavy and hot. But more than that, these are 20 year old titties, they are too perky, and they look ridiculous on an 80 year old body. I need something with some sag in it.

The socks she had been rolling up to put in her bra when she went out in public weren't cutting it, and the Barbara Graves saleswoman said she could fix her right up.

So off we went. After we purchased her new titties, we went to her favorite place for lunch.

Wendy's. She always had the same thing, with a Frosty for dessert.

And then surreptiously raked all the unused condiment packets off the table into her purse before we left.

How do you think we made it through the Great Depression?

After she died, my sisters, cousins and I gathered at her home to divide the household furnishings and personal contents not covered by her will, and pack the house up for sale.

We divided up the rooms and got to work.

I had her bedroom, one of three on the second floor. We had devised a loose system of organization, and it was working well for me until I opened the bottom drawer of one of her bureaus.

Stacked neatly inside were probably at least a dozen Russell Stover candy boxes. At first, I thought they were probably empties she couldn't bear to part with (remember the Great Depression...), but when I picked a couple of them up, they were heavy.

Holy shit, I much chocolate could one old woman eat? I took the top off.

And discovered her music cassette tapes. Each box contained a different genre of music.

All these years, we had wracked our brains on her birthday and Christmas, trying to figure out what to get the woman who had everything.

And she was storing her music tapes in Russell Stover candy boxes.

One category of "things" that started stacking up real fast in those three days was papers. All kinds of papers. We designated a place in the den to locate those. Stuff like battered shoeboxes and dog-eared, coffee stained manila envelopes full of papers, some handwritten and some typed on what you can tell was one of the original manual typewriters. Loose photos, wedding invitations, baptismal announcements, and obituaries and funeral notices. Newspaper articles, touting the feats and accomplishments of various ones of my forebears. None with the name of the newspaper or the date, though - we were not so famous as to rate headlines where that information might have survived the shears.

Other than for historic purposes, we collectively did not figure anyone would have interest in the warranty and operating instructions for the first electric percolator Papa bought for Grandma, and which had long since bit the dust.

It was easy to cull through all that - but not quick. At times, there'd be four or five of us, sitting cross legged on the floor in the den, looking through all that and we would find ourselves reading those instructions - out loud, to each other.

And at the end, we consolidated quite a bit of it.

I don't remember who first asked, "So what are we going to do with this stuff?"

All heads swiveled in my direction.

I adopted my best rendition of the left-eyebrow-arched-oh-no-you-don't look, and said, "I don't think so."

The cottage has the least amount of space of any of our dwellings. And I am not the oldest grandchild, I am third. Why me?

The out of state cousins immediately began to talk about shipping costs. They had all flown in for the funeral and the week after, and had no way to wag packing boxes back with them on the plane(s) - at least not without considerable expense.

Everyone turned and looked at me.

So I got all of that - and the family photo album and dictionary.

Yeah, a family dictionary. (We couldn't find a family Bible, but it didn't tear any of us up.) But we had a family dictionary - a Webster's unabridged with a ribbon marker from decades ago that sat on a little lectern in the den. Papa kept it there along with a little magnifying glass. A kid had to stand on a stool so Papa could show her the dictionary.

And there was a lot of family information in all those papers.

And so began my journey into my family's past.

I believe Grandma would approve.


Doris B Williams in her garden, 1972

See you on the other side, Grandma.
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Doris (Balding) Williams, 1907-1998 and her sister, Vera (Balding)King, 1910-1999
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Left to right: Hattie (Chapin) Balding, Jo Carleton "Buddy" Williams, Sue (Keene) Williams, Russell Ellington "Linky" Balding, Judith Ann (Williams) Burris Neumann, Jo Duffie Williams, Lucille Balding.

Sadly, only one of those folks is still alive.


dee_burris: (Default)
Dee Burris Blakley

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