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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • 'Ralls County' book tells county's history

  • “Ralls County” by K. Allen Ballard, a new book of photos showing the history of Ralls County, Mo., will be available Monday, Oct. 8.
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  • "Ralls County" by K. Allen Ballard, a new book of photos showing the history of Ralls County, Mo., will be available Monday, Oct. 8.
    Signed copies, at $21.99, may be purchased from Ballard on Facebook, speedeeprint@localnet.com or by leaving a phone message at (573) 221-1514.
    They also are available for $21.99 from Arcadia Publishing, arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665. "Ralls County" is among Arcadia's "Images of America" series.
    Among Ballard's favorite photos is a 1911 photo of the cornerstone laying ceremony at New London First Christian Church, the third building at its location. The photo includes a dog watching the proceedings. Dr. W.T. Waters was building chairman.
    Another favorite is on page 45, of Lucille Martin, 5, reading the Feb. 3, 1905, edition of the Ralls County Times. She was the daughter of George and Susie Jameson Martin. Lucy's uncle, John Porter Fisher, was co-editor of the Times and photographer of this picture. Ballard added that George Martin lived in Oklahoma and learned of a telegraph operator job in New London and walked to New London, where he got the job.
    And on page 75 is a photo of the Ralls County Courthouse in New London in 1912, with a crowd waiting to see the August primary election results posted on a blackboard. (This tradition is still being done by Ralls County Clerk Ernie Duckworth.)
    An historic photo of the second Ralls County sheriff, William W. Smith, also known as John W. Smith, is on page 12. After moving to Texas he became a scout and gained fame as the last man carrying messages out of the Alamo. He was also entrusted with Col. Davy Crockett's will and estate documents as legal administrator.
    Among the illustrations in the book is an 1812 map. Ballard explained that Northeast Missouri was all in Ralls County from 1820 to 1826.
    The book includes a large quantity of historical facts along with photos that bring history to life.
    Early historical photos included one of Nancy Jeffries, the first white child born in New London. She was born Aug. 6, 1818, to Robert and Elizabeth Jamison Jeffries. She married Washington Epperson in 1838, who built a log cabin near Madisonville.
    Valentine Tapley (1831-1910) is pictured with his long beard in about 1900. In 1860 he vowed to never shave again if Abraham Lincoln became president. His beard was reportedly 20 feet long when he died. When he walked around, he carried it in a silk waist pouch.
    Many Ralls County businesses are pictured with the operators. One is Ralls County Mercantile in Center, Mo., which had poultry and egg operations in Perry as well. Many of its products were frozen and taken by Short Line Railroad to be sold in New York City. In the photo are Nora Keithley, Jewell Buchanan, Susie Myers, Lurine Bailey, Bess Henderson and Florence Bailey.
    Page 2 of 3 - The "Old Ridge Runner" the Rev. Johnny Golden, and his mother are pictured in around 1930. Golden led five funerals during the week he died in 1959, Ballard reported.
    Recreation also is featured. One 1939 photo is of mortician Mike O'Donnell of Oakwood and his friends with 125 fish they had caught. Pictured with O'Donnell are young Pete Schambacher, policeman Ben Phillips, barber Pat Mabery, Deacon Burch, Ross Johnson and policeman Pete Schambacher.
    Another photo is of Paul Myers. After losing a leg, Myers made a living and raised five children. After dipping water from the New London Public Spring, he delivered it to customers without wells. In 1940, he charged 25 cents for a 50-gallon barrel of water, which he dipped out for each customer. Ballard said Myers' family still lives in the New London area.
    Dr. W.T. "Tom" and Olivia Waters are pictured in the 1940s. He delivered 1,000 babies. Now the Ballard family lives in the Queen Anne Victorian house in New London that Dr. Waters built in 1906.
    The book has many school classes, clubs and other group photos, including a 1948-49 picture of the five students at Huntington School No. 6. The school was taught by Betty Shulse. Students were John Bunn, Janice Ogle, Pat Schulse, Helen Watkins and Bernie Bunn.
    The Hannibal Rockets basketball team is are pictured in their wheelchairs at the Admiral Coontz Armory in the early 1950s. They were Gordon Shinn, Dean Snow, Bill DeLaporte, Bill Elsner, Bill Hohner, Del Willis, Verdan Harris and Bill Gingry. Gingry had lost his leg in Italy during World War II and later became Ralls County circuit clerk and recorder. Pictured with the team were Bill Broaddus, Archie Craig and George Dalton.
    'Ralls County' is
    Ballard's second history book
    In 2008 Ballard wrote and published his first book, "History of the New London-Center-Perry, Mo, Branch of the St. Louis & Hannibal Short Line Railroad." Since then he had begun another St. Louis and Hannibal railroad book which is about 80 percent completed.
    Ballard just began a new position as quality engineer for Continental Casting in Palmyra, Mo., and he reported that "35 years ago today (Oct. 3) I started working at that same location." His career has included working in the quality assurance field assisting numerous automotive plants, which involved traveling to other countries. He worked for Dura Automotive for many years.
    In 2004 he and his wife, Connie, bought Speedee Print in Hannibal and operated until recently. Their son, Ken, a recent Hannibal High School graduate, "helps me do microfilm research" for the book.
    Ballard eventually purchased the 50,000-piece photographic negative collection of John Hermann Herring Studios from Fred Deters.
    Always a student of history, Ballard is active in the Ralls County Historical Society of Perry, Mo., and the Mark Twain Postcard Club.
    Page 3 of 3 - The book's photos are from the Ralls County Historical Society and many individuals. "I really appreciate the people trusting me with their historic treasures," Ballard said. "Janie White loaned me five family scrapbooks of photos taken by Liz Gingry."
    One 1955 photo in the book is Janie riding local TV star "Cactus Jim" Richard "Dick" Moore's horse. Ballard reported he was on Cactus Jim's show twice as a child. Moore now lives in El Paso, Ill., and is on Facebook.
    Since 2002 Ballard has been a New London city alderman. He also enjoys music and plays guitar on the Worship Team at The Crossing in Hannibal. Ballard said he enjoys "serving God the best I can."
    Arcadia Publishing contacted Ballard about documenting Ralls County history before he put together the new book, which contains more than 200 photos. He hopes it brings "new images, personal recollections and stories to the surface for the enrichment of all."

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