Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Henry S. Ball is one of the prominent men of Monterey County; a man who has encountered more than the usual number of obstacles which beset life's pathway, and has surmounted them all; who has arisen from the humble walks of life to positions of honor and trust, and has done much directly and indirectly to develop the resources of the county.

He was born in Chautauqua County, New York, March 4, 1830, and received a meager education in the public schools of his native State. When sixteen years old his parents moved to Wisconsin, and four years later he crossed the plains to California, arriving in Hangtown, September 5, 1S50. During his first year's residence in the State he mined a little, but was sick most of the time. He was at Mud Springs and Downieville, and at the latter place saw the hanging of a woman after she had been convicted of murder, according to the laws of the mining camp. He was in Sacramento at the time the cholera was raging. After meeting with poor success in the mines, he engaged in teaming to Shasta, and teamed and staged for five years.

December 10, 1857, Mr. Ball was married to Miss Kate Lean. He settled on a piece of land, and built a ferry on the Sacramento River, five miles below Redding. Here he lived eleven years, improving his property and trading with emigrants. In 1867 he moved to San Jose, and the following year went to Salinas. The town had just been surveyed, and the town site was an immense mustard patch. He commenced life in Monterey County as a farmer, and the first two years lost nearly all of his small possessions. The third year, with four horses, he put in two hundred acres of grain, and cleared $3,500. During the next three years he made about $16,000 farming. In 1874 he bought Salinas City property, and in partnership with Chris Franks, now United States Marshal for California, he built a livery stable. In the same year he went into the wheat business with Isaac Friedlanler, "The Wheat King," furnishing bags, making advances on grain, etc. In the same year he built the Chualar and Gonzales warehouses, and also conducted the Castroville and Salinas warehouses. During the first two years with Mr. Friedlander his business amounted to $2,000,000, and he sold one and one-half tons of sack twine in one year.

After Friedlander's death Mr. Ball purchased the Salinas warehouse, and made it seven hundred and fifty feet longer, which makes it probably the longest warehouse in the State away from a water front. Two years ago the Salinas, Chualar, Gonzales, and Soledad warehouses were consolidated, and are now owned by the Salinas Valley Warehouse Association, of which Mr. Ball is Secretary and Treasurer, and one of the principal stockholders. He also farms eight hundred acres of land near Salinas, which he owns, and is a member of a syndicate which owns six hundred acres near town. He says that farming is the most profitable business he has ever followed. He has the crop statistics of the county, and has kept a careful estimate of the profits of his farm. He says that the cost of producing one thousand pounds of wheat to the acre will not exceed $5 00. He has raised wheat and put it in the warehouse for 40 cents a cental. A representative of the German Government, who was gathering statistics on agriculture, informed him that Monterey County had made the best showing of maximum production at minimum cost, of any section he had visited.

Mr. Ball resides on his ranch during the winter months and lives in Salinas in the summer. He is still in the grain and bag business.

Mr. Ball was mayor of Salinas for eleven consecutive years. He is a life member, and was for seven years a Director of the Monterey District Agricultural Association. He is a prominent member of the Masonic Order, a Director of the Salinas City Board of Trade, and is foremost in all enterprises to promote the welfare of the county.

Source: Monterey County : its general features, resources, attractions, and inducements to investors and home seekers. Salinas, Calif.: E.S. Harrison, 1889, 89 pgs.