A Guest Post by Ralph Barnes Davidson, great grandson of Orpha Ballou Barnes
The story of Orpha Elvira Ballou, and her husband, Charles Ebenezer Barnes is well documented by two of their children – Mary and Jessie, who wrote a journal family memoir in 1941. The several quotes used below are from Mary’s and Jessie’s journal.
Orpha Elvira Ballou (Barnes) was born April 15, 1842 in Lombard, DuPage
County, Illinois (near Wheaton) to Levi Ballou and Mary Marble (Ballou). In
1836/37 Levi, Mary, their first child, and friends, made an arduous covered wagon trip from Oneida NY to Lombard IL.
“Grandpa Ballou was a carpenter by trade. When his first born was a mere babe, he and some of his neighbors packed all of their belongings into covered wagons and started for the new West. There were many hardships along the way, including almost impassable roads. One day, just at its close, they camped on swampy ground near a great lake ~ Michigan. It was the spot where a great city was to stand someday ~ the city of Chicago. In the morning grandpa Ballou drove on west to Lombard. Here, years later, April 15, 1842, our Mother [Orpha] was born. When she was a mere babe they moved to Wheaton just north of where the Wheaton college now stands”.
Orpha, along with 6 siblings, were raised in Wheaton, Illinois, where her father specialized in building caskets and new houses, but also did some farming. She “had happy childhood, seven children to romp and play together while they shared in the work of the home. Mother [Orpha] often said there was no play until each had completed his allotted task. It might be a hundred rounds of knitting on a stocking, it might be to husk so many bushels of corn.”
In the early 1860’s at age 20, Orpha met her future husband, Charles Ebenezer Barnes. He was an itinerant farmer who, in about 1851, had left his parents farm in Rutland, Vermont, to make a new life in DuPage County, IL, where his brothers had emigrated as educators. Orpha and Charles married on November 11, 1863 near Wheaton – Orpha was 21; Charles was 46. Age difference (25 years) was no matter.
They owned four farms – two in DuPage Co. and two in Whiteside Co. They were blessed with four children – Nellie (b 1864), Mary (b 1866), Jessie (b 1868) and Charles [Jr] (b 1876). The children were raised by Orpha and Charles with strong religious devotion, instilled with a strong work ethic, and raised with a high standard of ethics.
By the early 1900’s, when Charles had retired from farming, he and Orpha lived in Morrison Illinois. His health was declining. Orpha continued to farm in a small way – garden variety crops, raising chickens, and selling eggs. After her husband died in 1909, age 92, Orpha’s health started slowly declining and Mary and Jessie took care of her at the Morrison home. Orpha suffered a stroke in 1916 but lived until June 16, 1922, age 80. Both Charles and Orpha are buried at Grove Hill Cemetery in Morrison, Illinois.