Make your own free website on

Historical Sites of Grand Rapids



John Ball
(Lot 21, Block 2)

John Ball is buried under this large boulder with his wife, Mary, along side him. Ball was born in 1794, the youngest of ten children. After studying law, Ball became an adventurer. He was shipwrecked on a boat trip to Georgia and barely escaped. In 1832 Ball joined an expedition across the continent becoming the first farmer in Oregon and also started the state’s first school. Ball traveled to Hawaii and Tahiti, and also, took a whaling vessel around Cape Horn, back to the East Coast. He returned to practice law for a few years, coming to Grand Rapids in 1836. Ball practiced law in Grand Rapids for the next 34 years.

Ball married Mary T. Webster (daughter of his former fiancée) in 1850. She was 24 and he was 56. The couple had 10 children. Ball died in 1884 at the age of 89. He donated the property that became John Ball Park Zoo.