McDonough County, Illinois


Charles E Ballou


The passing away of Charles E Ballou just as the sun set on ther evening of Thursday, December 18, 1930 brought to a close the eventful career of a pioneer, a brave soldier, prominent business man, and esteemed citizen, whose life has been longer and more closely woven with the history of Blandinsville than any of its living citizens. He came of a family of pioneers and soldiers. More than 250 years ago one of his ancestors, Maturin Ballou, was with Roger Williams in the founding of the Providence plantations in Connecticut. His great-grandfather fought in the Revolutinary war; his grandfather in the War of 1812; his father in the Mormon war; and no braver soldier endured the hardships of the great Civil war than the subject of this sketch.

The history of his life is closely interwoven with the history of Blandinsville. His father, Hiram Ballou, came here when there were only four houses built in the little settlement and his daughter Sarah was the first white girl born in Blandinsville.

The son, Charles E Ballou, was born on the 22nd day of Feruary 1848, and would have been 83 years old on Washington's Birthday, Ferburary 22nd, next.

His boyhood was spent playing in the woods that were then in and around town, chopping and hauling wood, helping to make bricks, working on the farm and attending a little school in a cabin 24 feet square where Wolff's drug store now stands. He saw the woods cleared away, the streets laid out and every house now standing in Blandinsville being built. Every church has been erected, every business started, every organization founded during his citizenship here. He had a bright mind and read much and became interested in history and the stirring political events that preceded the Civil war.

One of his most cherished boyhood memories was of the time when Abraham Lincoln came to town. The boy, Charlie Ballou, and a companion went west on the La Harpe road nearly a mile to meet his carriage. When it came they waved their hats and shouted, and the Great Emancipator stopped and took them into the carriage with him and brought them to town. They guided him to the Hume house where he was to stay and Lincoln laid his kindly hand on Charlie's head and thanked him. It was a proud moment for the young republican.

The war came on and young Ballou, now 16 years old and thrilled with the patriotic blood of his ancestors, offered himself as a volunteer. He was five feet four inches tall, well grown for his age, looked like a man and was accepted.

In February, 1864, he enlisted and became a member of Caompany H, 2nd Illinois volunteer cavalry. Soldiers were needed, and a month later he was on the front around New Orleans and Baton Rouge, in the very thick of the fighting.

He was a cavalryman, and his days were spent in scouting for the enemy, avoiding and discovering ambuscades, raiding rebel stores, cutting off and capturing scouting parties, often fighting groups of enemy raiders with guns or at close quarters with swords and pistols. They lived off the country or went hungry, as baggage wagons could not follow them. They captured concealed horses, mules, ammunition and military stores of the enemy and often ran into a rebel hornet's nest where their lives were saved by fight. They rode through the dark cypress swamps hung with spanish moss, they drank the brown water of sloughs and ponds and slept on the wet grounds, sometimes in the rain. A scouting cavalryman cannot carry with him a tent and cooking utensils.

But the exposure, along with the water, the food and the climate, sapped his strength and started a disease that for several years made him an invalid. And when he was mustered out in January 1866, the stalwart young man who left two years before, came back a physical wreck, weighing only 90 pounds.

For two years he was a weakened sufferer, and then as he regained strength he helped his father on the farm and in the brick kiln, he chopped wood, he ran a meat market.

Then he married Miss Naomi Creel. He had $65.00 and rented a little two room shack that stood where the fine home of George B Huston now stands. He worked as a canvasser and then gradually got into the real estate business. He made money. He bought a farm. He bought the hotel on Main street, he bought the red brick hotel on Depot street and ran itsix years, he became a power in republican politics, was postmaster at Blandinsville under President Harrison, and later owned and edited the Star-Gazette for some years.

He then established the Ballou insureance agency which he conducted till loss of hearing and failing eyesight made business a burden and he retired with sufficient means to spend he few remaining years in comfort.

Two daughters came to bless their home, Lula and Minerva. Lula was married to R H Kleiser and passed away at her home in DeWitt, Arkansas in 1919. Minerva, now Mrs James Wakefield, lives in Blandinsville and has kept a home for her beloved father and nursed and cared for him with constant and tender solicitude since the death of Mrs Ballou, her revered mother who passed away July 29, 1916.

Besides his daughter and son-in-law he leaves to mourn for him five grandchildren:William Henton Tanner of Chicago, Charles H Kleiser, Max Kleiser, Mrs Reva Kleiser Quertermous and Mrs Robert Kleiser McCown, all of DeWitt, Arkansas;three great-grandchildren, as well as three sisters: Mrs M L McKibben, of LaHarpe; Mrs Fannie E Turner, of Los Angeles, California; and Mrs Josephine Sherman, of Keosaqua, Iowa.

In the loss of her oldest resident and esteemed citizen Blandinsville experiences a profound sorrow. He was one of the men who made Blandinsville, and in his active life was a leader in everything that made for the progress and prosperity of the community. He enjoyed as large an acquaintance and as wide a friendship as any man in this part of the country.

He was a constant reader for more than forty years and became one of the most widely read and best informed men of the community. In his old age the inability to hear and join in the conversation of his host of friends, or to read the things in which he was keenly interested was a heavy cross for him to bear, but he bore it with cheerful resignation and no complaint, or harsh word ever crossed his kindly lips.

He was a shrewd business man, upright and rigid in his honest integrity, generous to every worthy cause or needy call and his word was a guarantee to everyone who knew him in business or social life.

Owing to the infirmities of advanced age his physical faculties have been failing for some years, but his alert mind retained its vigor till a recent paralysis incapacitated him.

The Odd Fellows lodge of which he has been a member for the most of his life, and the American Legion participated in the funeral service. The services were held in the Christian church, of which he has been a member since early manhood. They were conducted by the pastor, Rev F W Leonard, at 2:00pm on Sunday December 21st, and the venerable citizen, soldier and patriot was laid beside his beloved wife in the beautiful Glade City cemetery.

Among the out of town people who were here to attend the funeral of C E Ballou were Ira Sheets and family, of Peoria; Henton Tanner and family, of Chicago; Doctor and Mrs Sherman of Keosagua, Iowa; W A and E D Grigsby of Macomb and many others. The Legion boys of Macomb were in attendance with our home boys, and they and the Odd Fellow Lodge participated in the ceremonies. It was a beautiful and impressive service and was largely attended.
[Blandinsville, McDonough County, Illinois, Thursday, Dec 25, 1930 -- Submitted by an Jan Ruffin Preiczer,]




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