It was a regular hot July day of 2007…a day that changed my life.
A strange creature was perched on my desk. I timidly approached it…wondering, how do I tackle and subdue it? At my age should I take a chance?
I edged closer. It just sat there staring blankly back at me. Would it freeze up and die, or obey my commands? I slid into my chair, slowly put my hand out, touched the mouse and clicked.
With that click, I entered the technical age. I was on the internet!
It took awhile to overcome my fear of the unknown while searching for my ancestors. I kept repeating, “don’t be afraid, just do it”. I cautiously checked out Family Search and Ancestry along with others. Hey, I was catching on.
Then, in October, on Ancestry Message Boards, I found someone looking for “The Parents of Augusta Ballou”. The person inquiring was a Hubbard. Augusta’s two daughters married Hubbards. The answer came from a Ballou descendant. Really! Could this be my great, great grandmother, Augusta Ballou Davidson? I was also looking for her parents. Although the messages were from 2002, I boldly answered.
Bingo! I found Anne, the great, great granddaughter of Augustus, twin to my Augusta. Dear, dear Cousin Anne opened up an entire new family for me. I have been completely immersed in genealogy ever since that fateful October.
Ha!…Scary box, I conquered you!
This is our Happy 4th Anniversary, Cousin Anne. Thank you and the internet for expanding my world.
Below is the transcription of our first correspondence, taken from Ancestry.com
Posted: 13 Mar 2002 4:11PM GMT
Augusta Ballou married Welcome Davidson in 1870 at Du Page County, Illinois. The 1880 census shows the couple living in Iowa with children Lewis, Mattie, Mae, and Charles. The Wheaton Illinoian announced that Augusta died at the home of her sister ‘Mrs. Geer’ on November 16, 1886 at Wheaton, Illinois. Augusta had a twin brother ‘Augustus’. Does anyone have Augusta in their Ballou line?
Posted: 27 Apr 2002 1:43PM GMT
Hurray! I’ve finally found someone else looking for the DuPage Co. Ballou family! My great-great grandfather was Augustus “Gus” Marble Ballou, twin brother of your Augusta. Their parents were Levi and Mary Ballou. Levi was born in NY and is quite possibly the son of Stephen Ballou, brother of the infamous Hosea Ballou, founder of the Universalist Church. Levi purchased 80 acres in Milton Twp., DuPage Co. in 1845 for $1.25 an acre!! The family is shown as living there in the 1850 census – Augustus and Augusta were 5 years old.
Posted: 31 Oct 2007 1:35AM GMT
Augusta Ballou Davidson was my gggrandmother. According to my grandmother, Faye Augusta Hubbard Fredrickson, Augusta was a twin and French. I have a family tree by Mary Jane Switzer in 1959. Would like to exchange info.
Posted: 31 Oct 2007 1:29PM GMT
Augusta was the twin of my great-grandfather, Augustus “Gus” Marble Ballou. Gus was killed in a train accident a couple of months after my grandfather was born in 1892. My grandfather was Robert O. Ballou (1892-1977), a writer, publisher and editor-in-chief for Viking Press in NYC. His big “claim to fame” was publishing John Steinbeck’s first novel, “To a God Unknown”. (The book is worth over $10,000 now. Wish I had a copy!!)
I have much more as I have been focusing on this family for a long time and would be glad to exchange further information. Please contact me through this forum or via my email address below.
My mom, Arlene Fredrickson Neuhaus, (great granddaughter of Augusta Ballou Davidson, twin to Anne’s Augustus) had a strange sense of humor as did her brother-in-law, Barney. It was in 1971 that Barney challenged her to begin the Nebraska Turd Bird venture. His horse furnished the raw material.
While we have seen other turd birds, Arlene’s were special because they were made using as many Nebraska grown products as possible. The wooden base was cut in the shape of Nebraska. Of course, the body was a horse turd, legs were a chicken or turkey wishbone, toes and beak were wheat seeds, head was a cockle burr, dyed chicken feathers were the wings, tail and topknot.
Arlene showed her first bird to a Winnetoon native. He bought it and her unintended business was born. At first she enjoyed the challenge. But after a while working with horse manure became overwhelming. Arlene upped the price to stifle orders…still they poured in.
After quitting the business three times, in desperation she turned the birds over to her son, Bill Jr. He was just able to keep ahead of the demand. During this time over 2000 Winnetoon Turd Birds flew all over the USA, to South America and Czechoslovakia.
With the popularity of Nebraska’s football team, Bill developed a variation…the “Go Big Red Bird” complete with hat, football and goalpost.
Bill, too, got tired of the flock. He quit nesting and flew the coop to Nevada. The business reverted to “Granny T Bird”.
Arlene went back to assembling the birds. After she died in 1980, her daughter, Gayle, reluctantly took over. As the years passed, Gayle’s son, Jeff and daughters, Gina and Tarese became the bird makers. Then, the birds were passed down to the fourth generation, Tarese’s sons, Jonathon and Abraham. But these boys also flew the coop leaving their mother, Tarese, as the current “Turd Bird” maker.
So, I decided to make up my own “prompt” called, “Missing You Monday.” I’m glad I can do things like this…it’s my blog, after all!
Well, Saturday made four years since I got the dreaded phone call from my father’s wife saying, “Annie, your Daddy is dead.” I couldn’t, wouldn’t, didn’t want to believe it! She told me that she was trying to get Dad to get ready to go to the hospital. His lower leg looked bad (he was diabetic) and I think he was afraid of having to have it amputated.
Well, I have to give details here to tie in the story…sorry ’bout that. Anyway, Dad was in the bathroom that morning and he became extremely adamant about not going to the hospital. I guess his heart gave out and he died right there on the john. Poor Dad…
I was living in Rochester, NY at the time. My sister was at the ocean on vacation with her family and my poor brother was at work, in Baltimore, when I broke the news to him. Daddy was living in Lillian, Alabama (right over the line from Pensacola, Florida) and we had to decide how we would get there. We decided to rent a huge SUV and drive, each of us taking turns. We left just before midnight on the 6th from Maryland – my sister, my brother, his wife, my husband and me.
My brother drove for the first part of our journey. None of us said much to each other. We listened to some of Dad’s favorite music on the car’s CD player. Some of us dozed, some slept…we took turns driving. The trip was rather uneventful.
We reached Lillian late on the 7th. We got a motel and the next day, we picked up Dad’s wife and drove to the funeral home.
Such a sad day…our beloved Father gone. I will spare you these details.
We dropped off his wife at home; she needed a rest. The five of us went to dinner at one of Dad’s favorite restaurants. We sat down and breathed…finally. It was over. There was to be no funeral, nothing else. Just the five of us huddled together around a table at a restaurant near Lillian, Alabama. (It is here that I must interject a warning of sorts. You probably know of my sense of humor by some of my writings. I inherited it from Dad. So did my brother and sister. I have to tell you this so you won’t think we are unfeeling, odd or somehow evil. Well, you still might think we are, but I had to warn you just the same!)
The waitress took our orders. We sat and waited, not saying a whole lot. Finally, my brother says something to break the silence, “Well, Dad has a new hit song.” “What?” I shockingly said, “what are you talking about?” “Yeah, Dad has a new hit song,” he reiterated, “It’s My Potty & I’ll Die if I Want To,” he sang to the tune of “It’s My Party & I’ll Cry If I Want To!” We laughed our heads off til I thought we would fall out of our chairs…we didn’t care that the rest of the restaurant was staring at us…that laugh was just what we needed to bring ‘life’ back to us. I’m sure Dad was laughing, too!
In honor of my sister and brother’s birthday today…