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I think of them as my orphan relatives.

The ones who left no descendants - no one to tell their stories. The aunts and uncles who may or may not be remembered fondly - or at all.

As generations pass, those who knew the stories of the orphan relatives pass on also.

The stories are lost.

I'm going to try and piece together the story of my grand aunt, Ruth Lucille Balding. I'm getting some help from first cousins in California and New York, an aunt in Texas, my sister, and all the old familiar resources available to family historians.

I recognize that perspective is subjective. Ruth's siblings no doubt had their own perspectives on their family of origin, and passed those down to their descendants.

I hope I do Ruth justice in the telling of her story.
Ruth Lucille Balding was born in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR on 9 May 1903 to her 15 year old mother Hattie Belle Chapin, and her 29 year old father, Victor Claude Balding.

Ruth lived in Little Rock all her life.

I believe she was named for another Ruth, her mother's sister, who died when Hattie Chapin was about 5 years old. Three years after Ruth Chapin's death in 1892, Fred Chapin brought his wife Eada, and 8 year old daughter, Hattie, from Fort Scott to Little Rock.

I think her sister must have been on Hattie's mind when her first daughter was born.

Hattie and Victor had six other children after Ruth - Eugene Victor in 1905; Doris Geneva in 1907; Vera Virginia in 1910; Marion Chapin "Murnie" in 1912; Marvin Parrish in 1915; and Russell Ellington in 1917.

As was often the case in large families, Ruth became a surrogate mother to her younger siblings. She may have felt she lost her childhood, as evidenced by a conversation one of my cousins remembers being related to her by one of our relatives. Teen-aged Ruth stumbled upon her parents getting frisky, and told them to cut it out, because she wasn't going to raise any more of their children.

By 1920, Ruth was employed at the Brandon Stove Company (later The Brandon Company) as a stenographer. She was 17 years old, and with her father, provided the financial support for the family of nine in their home at 217 Dennison Street.

Until she married the owner of the Brandon Stove Company, Walter Nathan Brandon, Sr., in 1932, Ruth lived at home with her parents, contributing her income to the common good, including that of some of her teenaged and adult siblings.

But she did find some time for fun with her we'll see in Part 2.

Part 3
Part 4
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With much thanks to my cousin, we have some photos from a scrapbook Ruth kept of travels of the Balding clan to several states in the United States, beginning in the roaring 20s.

Before my cousin and I spoke by phone about my plan to write this series of blogposts about Ruth, I never knew the album existed or that the Balding family had taken these vacations.

Neither had my cousins, or my sister. None of us can recollect our grandmother, who went on many of these trips, saying a word about them.

The photos provide a rare glimpse of our Balding family taking pleasure in travel, and in each other's company.
One question I had was - how did the family afford to travel? My remembrances of discussions with my grandmother focused on how tight finances were for the Baldings. Ruth and her father supported the family with their jobs.

My theory about how they were able to travel is connected to Pop Balding's job. In 1904, Victor Balding began working for the railroad as a telegrapher. He advanced to chief telegrapher, and worked for the railroad for 38 years, until his retirement in 1942, just three years before his death.

I think it was likely that, as a perk of Victor's job, he and his family were able to travel by train either at greatly reduced fares, or perhaps, free.

Ruth, 1922. Photo was captioned, "Sweet 19."

Ruth (r) and her friend, Anita (l). Photo, 1922

Doris Geneva Balding. Photo circa 1923-1924.

Russell Ellington (Linky) and Marvin Parrish Balding. Photo circa 1923.

Hattie Chapin Balding.

Hattie playing in the ocean,. Photo circa 1925.

Harassing the wildlife. Photo circa early 1920s

Sombreros on Russell (Linky), Murnie and Vera.

Ruth, Santa Monica CA, July 1926

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
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On 21 May 1932, when she was 29 years old, Ruth married her boss, Walter Nathan Brandon, Sr. He was just a few months younger than Ruth's father. Ruth was Walter's third wife.

From a business standpoint, the match was an excellent one. Ruth was already the company bookkeeper, and the 1937 Polk's Directory for Little Rock/North Little Rock listed principals of the business as Benton D Brandon, President; Walter N Brandon, Vice President, and Ruth Brandon, Secretary/Treasurer.

According to the company's current website, ...the Brandon Co was founded in 1903, as a supplier of sundries, heaters, stoves, linoleum, and rugs to hardware and general stores throughout Arkansas. The company distributed products from several flooring manufacturers including Sandura, Rubberoid, Pabco, Armstrong, Mannigton Mills, and G.A.F. Brandon quickly gained a reputation for being the leading distributor in Arkansas for flooring, as well as stoves and hardware.

The Company was originally located at 610 East Markham Street in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the 1930's, Brandon Co. suffered a fire at its original location and moved next door to 608 East Markham Street. This is where Brandon Company called home for the next 60 years, until 1994 when Brandon Company expanded to its current location at 401 North Vine Street in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

By 1942, the principals in the Brandon Company were Walter and Ruth.
After their marriage, the Brandons lived in Walter's home at 1922 South Battery Street in Little Rock. For a period of time, Walter's son from his second marriage to Alma Mabel Spinner (who died in 1930), Walter Nathan Brandon, Jr., lived with them.

Photo taken 2 Jan 2012

It was from Walter Jr.'s young daughter that Ruth purchased cartons of Girl Scout cookies to ship to one of her nephews stationed overseas - an act of thoughtfulness that got her nephew teased by the men in his unit about which troop he belonged to.

That same nephew sought Ruth's career advice when he returned from his military service, and he was employed by the Brandon Company for several years.

Ruth and Walter Brandon, undated photo.

Although Ruth and Walter Brandon were married for sixteen years, they did not have any children together.

Several members of my family think it was possible Ruth had enough of raising children while she was growing up.

On her 45th birthday, 9 May 1948, Ruth's husband died. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Little Rock, in the Brandon family plot.

And the dynamics of Ruth's family began to change.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
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The end of Ruth's life is, unfortunately, the part for which the greatest amount of information survives, both in terms of family anecdotes and written documentation.

For years, all I knew of Aunt Ruth was what I as a young child had taken from snippets of adult conversation I overheard. In my mind's eye, I pictured a stern, no-nonsense woman in sensible shoes - one with a good head for business, but not much heart for people.

This photo, taken not long before her death in 1959, seemed to support that vision.


However, that's not what the evidence - sketchy as it may be - shows.
After her husband's death in 1948, Ruth's role in the Brandon Company changed, but she remained a vital part of the business until her death.

The 1949 Polk's Directory for Little Rock.North Little Rock shows the principals of the business as as Walter N Brandon (this was Walter Jr., Ruth's step-son) President, Mary P Brandon, Vice President (Walter Jr.'s wife) and Ruth B Brandon, Sec/Treasurer.
Two letters found among my grandmother's personal effects after her death in 1998 painted vastly different pictures of Ruth Balding.

The first was a letter from one of Ruth's sisters to another in 1957, relating the first sister's disgust with Ruth's behavior on a recent visit to her sister's home. In it, the sister said (among other things), "You've let her get by with everything just because of that disease she has and she's making herself obnoxious to everybody." She closed the letter with, "If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it."

The disease Ruth had was called lymphatic leukemia in the 1950s. Today, it is called lymphocytic leukemia, and given the amount of time between the 1957 letter and her death on 30 Dec 1959, I think it's possible she had chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Ruth executed a will on 12 March 1956, almost 18 months before the letter referenced above. Whether she decided to make a will because she found out she had incurable cancer (as it was considered then), or simply because she felt it was time, I don't know. Today, median survival of patients with this form of leukemia is 8–10 years, compared with 5–6 years in series reported in the 1970s.

In her will, Ruth directed that the stock she owned in the Brandon Company be sold, with her step-son, Walter N Brandon, Jr., having the first option to buy it. She also directed that her home, automobile and personal effects be sold, and with the proceeds from the sale of the stock, all net proceeds were to be divided - with one third going to her mother, and the remaining two-thirds divided equally among her siblings.

At her death, Ruth would continue to provide for the welfare of her family.
The second letter was from Ruth to the sister who authored the 1957 letter, and was written five months before her death, in July 1959.

I had the distinct impression as I read the letter that somehow Ruth found out that at least two of her sisters were talking about her behind her back, and one of them had a major axe to grind.

In the letter, Ruth related a story to her sister about one of their brothers who, in 1948 (the year Walter Brandon died and Ruth became a fairly wealthy widow), had borrowed several thousand dollars from Ruth - interest free - to start his own business. As of the date of Ruth's letter, her brother had yet to repay a penny to her, although his business was thriving, and he had purchased two new cars and a boat. He also borrowed money from their mother for his business, and Ruth had insisted that her brother pay their mother interest on that loan, due to Hattie Balding being on a fixed income.

I wondered why this letter was in my grandmother's personal effects at the time of her death. It was not addressed to her. It had been forwarded by the sister who received it to one of their brothers almost one month after Ruth's funeral in 1960.

My aunt was able to provide the explanation for that. Apparently my grandmother had advocated unsuccessfully for her brother (the subject of Ruth's letter to her sister in 1959), the executor of Ruth's estate, to forego taking the 6% of Ruth's estate as her executor, since he still owed the estate the entire debt described in the 1959 letter. Their mother's share of the estate would be reduced by his administrator's fee.

According to my aunt, my grandmother was the lone voice crying in the wilderness. Her brother was unmoved, and the rest of her siblings refused to back her up.

The family photo from which I cropped the picture of Ruth above now seemed to make more sense.


I had often looked at that photo and felt that Ruth was quite separated from her family. In fact, she seemed to me to be poised for flight in her very sensible shoes.
Not long before her death, Ruth fired her housekeeper.

But she couldn't get rid of her. The woman wouldn't leave Ruth's home. Not only that, but the former housekeeper threatened Ruth.

Ruth called one of her nephews to see if he would come over and make the woman leave. He did, by telling her she had two choices - to leave under her own steam or with police escort.

Afterward, Ruth was still fearful of the threat. She retrieved a revolver owned by her late husband, and asked her nephew to load it for her.

On 18 December 1959, Ruth went to see her personal physician. What they discussed is unknown, but I think it is reasonable to believe her illness would have been part of that discussion. That was the last time her doctor saw her alive. From my sister's recollection of conversations with our grandmother (Ruth's younger sister), Ruth was in extreme pain due to her illness for quite some time before her death.

Shortly before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 December 1959, Ruth Balding Brandon climbed the stairs to her bedroom in her home on South Battery Street, tied herself into her rocking chair, and shot herself in the left chest. Her nephew felt incredible guilt.

Ruth was the first born of her siblings, and the first to die. She was 56 years, 7 months, and 22 days old.

She was buried in the Balding family plot in Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock on 1 January 1960.

From the sermon preached at her funeral, I note the following:

...We thank Thee for her strong sense of duty, her strength of will
and the fidelity with which she performed the tasks of life.
We thank Thee that in the world of business she lost nothing
of her high ideals and made no compromise of her womanly character...
We thank Thee for the heart of compassion that was within her
and which overflowed with countless deeds of generous love and
thoughtfulness. We thank Thee that these qualities of character
were not intermittent or transitory but the expression of a
steadfast purpose, followed through a lifetime.

I wish I had known her.
I'll meet you on the other side, Aunt Ruth.

Feel free to leave virtual flowers at Ruth's Find a Grave memorial, by clicking here.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
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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 grandmother'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...
dee_burris: (Default)
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.
dee_burris: (Default)
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.
dee_burris: (Default)
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...
dee_burris: (Default)
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...
dee_burris: (Default)
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.
dee_burris: (Default)
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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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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