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Autobiographies of Kenneth G Balls and Zina Edna Horsley Balls

(preface by Florence Balls Wilde, daughter)

Autobiographies of Kenneth G. Balls and Zina Edna Horsley Balls
(preface by Florence Balls Wilde, daughter)

Following are life stories written by two valiant souls who dedicated their lives to serving their Heavenly Father, their family, and those in need. Starting from a humble beginning with little except youth, hope, courage and ambition, they have built a life worthy of emulation. It seems one of their chief aims in life was to provide a comfortable home for their children and for their education, musical development and missions. Every Christmas and birthday was remembered and a bill was usually tucked in with the gift. I'm sure Clarence and Lucille still remember when they hurriedly unwrapped a sack of nuts one Christmas morning before they left for the holiday and the fifty dollar bill went to the garbage with the wrapping never to be recovered. If each of the grandchildren had saved all the silver dollars given them on their birthdays, they would have a small savings.
Today their posterity numbers over one hundred. Twenty-four of that posterity have served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints -- seven in the United States, three in Canada, two in England, one in Scotland, two in Switzerland, one in Norway, two in Italy, two in South America, two in Australia, one in New Zealand and one in Korea. Although Father didn't have the opportunity to serve a mission, he has contributed financial support for hundreds.
With all our modern conveniences today, think with me for a moment of hauling all the drinking water and melting snow for washing clothes in the winter on a stove with wood cut and hauled from the canyon for a family of six children under eleven years of age. But, with all this, they found time for work in the church and community and helping those less fortunate.
In her latter years, Mother found joy in writing letters to friends and family. She learned to use the typewriter very efficiently after age sixty-five. Just before her ninetieth birthday her health began to fail. She greeted friends and family all day on her birthday and received stacks of cards, which brought her much joy in the days that followed. Some of her visitors were little neighborhood friends eight years of age and under. A number of her cards were from young people she taught in Junior Sunday School when past seventy years of age. One young lady wrote, "I just want you to know how 'special' you are to me. I remember the fun times we had as a Sunday School class, with you as a teacher. You have always been such a wonderful example -- an example that every L.D.S. woman would like to follow." From another young woman -- "To a very special lady who exemplifies the perfect wife, mother and friend. Your many deeds of kindness and your beautiful sweet spirit radiate the perfect example. When I think of President and Sister McKay I always think of you." After one week in the hospital the first week of June, with what the doctors thought was pneumonia, Mother was at home and seemed to be recovering and was again cooking and caring for Father. While Father was at the ranch early, as was his practice over the years, Mother quietly slipped away between seven and eight o'clock the morning of June 24, 1980 just six days before her sixty-fifth wedding anniversary.
Being the one left behind is hard for Father as he still has his endless ambition but a worn out body. However, he is doing a remarkable job. In the past twenty years he has given six hundred patriarchal blessings -- over twenty to grandchildren. He was over sixty years when he started flying lessons and was ready to solo when Mother caught up with him one day at the Soda Springs airport and convinced him he should not pursue it. At age sixty-five he considered his biggest task was "growing old gracefully." May we as children and grandchildren rally around him that he may finish out his earthly life with happiness and dignity. It has been said, "Happiness, real happiness, doesn't come in acquiring wealth or fame or position. True, lasting happiness comes in service."
Truly the lives of Kenneth and Zina Balls will remain as a challenge to us, their posterity, and to those who come after us.

I, Kenneth Grant Balls, was born April 29, 1892 in a log cabin at Davisville, four miles west of Soda Springs, Idaho, on a farm my father homesteaded. Mrs. Knolls was the attending midwife.
\ My father, Daniel Balls, son of John Balls and Sarah Baxter Balls, was born in Chediston, England, coming to America when he was three years old. His boyhood days were spent in Hyde Park, Utah and he worked in Idaho in the summertime. He met my mother, Mary Eliza Davis, daughter of William Clark Davis and Eliza Packer Davis of Riverdale, Idaho. They were married in the Logan temple and lived the first years of their life together in Riverdale, Idaho where the twins, Pearl and Earl, were born. In 1890 they homesteaded near Soda Springs at Davisville, Idaho where they lived the remainder of their lives. Their children are: the twins, Pearl and Earl, myself, Inez, Emma, Eva and Ruth.
The first summer of my life was spent on the Blackfoot River. My folks were camping and putting up hay and they told me I watched the willow leaves move in the wind. As a boy I helped father on the ranch and did fishing on the Bear River, a mile and a half away, walking there and back. Our farm tools were a hand plough, harrow and a binder. My father broadcast the grain out of a bag, walking and sowing.
Mother used to use a little willow tea on me. I only remember once that Dad hit me with a sock when I got him out of patience. As I look back over it, my early life went smoothly. I don't remember any quarrels in the family. I started school in the lower town of Soda Springs, driving in a one-horse cart with Pearl and Earl. Part of the schoolhouse stands at the present time. The second year I well remember as I went to school in a log cabin about fourteen by sixteen feet with about fifteen pupils. It was located about one block from my father's home in Davisville. The following year a new schoolhouse was built across the tracks near the Seamons' home and part of the foundation still remains. It was an eight-grade school in one room twenty by forty feet. My Aunt Emma Davis, C.C. Dewitt and Dora Pratt were some of my first teachers. Minerva Kohlep was also one of my teachers and she lived with our family.
One of the first books I read was Black Beauty with other books similar.
I was baptized June 30, 1900 in Soda Creek by David Hopkins and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints by Daniel F. Lau, July 1, 1900.
I graduated from the eighth grade with Ella Nelson and Glenn Davis, a class of three. Our graduation exercises were held in Gorton's Hall in Soda Springs. I gave the essay, still remembering one sentence. "Lives of great men all remind us we can make our life sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints in the sands of time." The County Superintendent, Miss Loren, made quite a fuss about me as I graduated with high honors.
After Christmas the following year, I stayed in Montpelier, Idaho with Grandfather Davis and his second wife, whom we all knew as Aunt Tean, and went to school during the winter. It was here I learned English from Miss Dunning who said, "Say what you mean and speak it clearly." That spring I had the leading part in a drama at the opera house in Montpelier. This ended my schooling -- not my education.
My hunting days were usually spent alone as a boy. Father had a muzzle-loading shotgun. Once I was going to get a whole flock of ducks and I put an extra big charge in the gun. When I shot, it tipped me over backwards on the ground. Another time I was using a double-barrel shotgun and broke by stock. I patched it together, tried to shoot it once more and the charge kicked breaking it loose and blowing the barrels behind me and the other hammer hit a rock and discharged blowing dust all over me. I didn't try that again.
In the summertime I worked on the farm putting up hay and helping with the harvest in the fall and in the winter worked getting wood and logs from the canyon. We had a horse-powered threshing machine, which took twelve horses and six men to run.
My job was measuring the grain in half bushels and feeding the machine. We traveled from place to place and ate at the different farmhouses.
My first trip was to Salt Lake City to the Grand Army Reunion in about 1908. Glenn Davis and I left home on the ping-pong train (a three-car train with a small engine) and changed at McCammon. There was hardly standing room on the streets. I also spent a week or two every summer camping with Glenn on the Blackfoot River bringing home our catch, which was many. One winter seven of us went elk hunting. Our fathers were along and we slept four in a bed in a sheep camp. We came home with seven elk.
Great sadness came to our home when our baby sister, Ruth, a sweet auburn-haired girl with large brown eyes became ill with cholera infantum and passed away. This was while brother Earl was on a mission in the Northwestern States. Ruth was buried in a small plot in Davisville and later moved to the Soda Springs cemetery.
Mother and Father had plenty of time in the summer to go camping every year. When I was about twelve years old, Mother and Dad, Uncle Simon and Aunt Tish and Grandpa and Grandma Davis and Uncle Will and Aunt Rhoda and families with three white top buggies and one bane wagon and two ponies started for the Yellowstone Park. We cut through to Star Valley and crossed the Snake River on a ferry. Laura Dyke and I rode a horse most of the way to Yellowstone and back. We made our bread and got our meat, chickens and fish along the way, buying a little bacon and a few groceries. We saw the park and loaded up with enough fish from Yellowstone Lake to do us four or five days. On the way back, we forded the Snake River and the water ran in our wagons so we had to put our bedding and supplies on the seats. On the Teton Pass we cut trees and drug them down the hill to keep from speeding. The round trip took twenty-eight days. Since that time I have made the same trip by car in a day and one half. Later in "Ford" times we went with Gladys Horsley and her friend and Uncle Bud and Al Davis and families. One morning early at the Falls camp we were disturbed with a bear in camp. Uncle Bud grabbed his ax and went to scare the bear away. He was successful in scaring the bear but forgot he was in his nightclothes and he had awakened the whole camp for an audience.
In early times Michael Mickelson, a close friend of the family, and his hired man, Dad and I went hunting on Bear Creek at the foot of Caribou Mountain. We caught 67 trout out of one hole. The first afternoon Dad and Michael Mickelson took a walk up on the mountain to see if there were any game tracks around. They ran on to a bear track which lead them to a big mound of dirt by a large pine tree where the tracks lead in a hole in the mountain but no tracks coming out. They debated about going up on the mound and shooting and having the bear come out. Dad didn't like that idea. There was a small ridge across from where the bear was. Dad suggested getting on the ridge and firing a shot. Michael fired as he had the quickest loading gun. The bear popped his head out and they both shot and the bear fell back in the hole then he came out fiercely and right toward them. They both shot again and hit him but he kept coming. They shot once more and hit the bone in the shoulder of the bear and he was trying to get up to them with a broken leg and then with two more shots he dropped dead not over fifteen feet from where they were. It was a grizzly bear weighing 800 to 1000 pounds. The fat on its back after we skinned it was five inches thick. We took 100 pounds of grease with us and had it to grease harnesses with. We brought two hindquarters of nice red meat on with us and gave it to the butcher shop.
Another bear story -- great Grandfather Balls was cutting timber in the summertime, walking up east from Hyde Park to get it out for the winter. They used to cut wood in the summertime and pile it up to haul out in the winter. He had left his ax in the timber. The bear met him in the trail and all he had was a stick he was using for a cane. The bear attacked and he kept it away for a while with the stick but it got to him and shook him up fiercely, bit him and left him for dead. Grandfather lay quiet while the bear came back to him three times. After he was sure the bear had gone away, he crawled and made it home. Grandfather stayed at our home in his later years and I saw the scars on his arms.
When I was twelve or thirteen years of age I went with Mother to Brigham City with a team and buggy. We spent the first night in Hyde Park and the following day in Brigham picking our fruit and returning back as far as Hyde Park. I took sick and they gave me a soda fizz. It made me vomit but we went on the next day to Charity Gray's, a midwife and doctor in Cleveland, and she gave me some senna tea and we came on home with our fruit and then I was really sick with typhoid pneumonia for two weeks.
Mother and Dad went to Soda Springs to church. T.H. Horsley was Bishop. I was ordained in the Priesthood, being ordained a priest January 2, 1912 by Hyrum M. Lau. President Lewis S. Pond would always compliment the priests on the administering of the sacrament.
When Father was road overseer, I helped with the farm work and worked for the County dragging roads after the storms. We went to the canyon and cut stringers to make a bridge across Bear River by the cemetery in Davisville. All the labor and materials were donated but the county paid for the plank.
At the age of twenty-one, I took up 280 acres of land one-half mile northeast of my father's home. I used to plough with three horses and a walking plough and ploughed many hundred acres that way. In the fall we would work for the County. One major job we had was changing the course of the river so it would go under the bridge directly and not wash. Mel Brown, Frank Harris and I were camping out in a tent. There was a fair lady teaching school in Bailey Creek whom I knew. One night she stopped, or I stopped her, and asked her for a date. After six long years I finally persuaded her to marry me and she seemed very pleased. I well remember when she taught at Sterrett or Ivans and I had to take her with a team and sleigh and she would tell me how she used to warm her feet with a lamp chimney when she got home.
Her father and mother were very strict with their children. I would usually ask for a drink of water before leaving so we could go to the kitchen and I would find out when I could see her again. Whenever I was there they would usually sit in the front room with us. Zina would usually entertain me by playing the piano (a grandson learned one of the favorite pieces she used to play) and serving refreshments while the folks were reading, crocheting and sleeping in the chair. I bought her a few quarters worth of candy during our courtship and one or two presents -- a watch and muff.
When the date was finally set there was quite a bit of preparation going on by both families. I had built a lean-to on the homestead and established a residence. My Dad had a Ford and our parents journeyed to Logan on June 29, 1915 and I bought our license, which took five dollars of the thirty I had borrowed to get married on. Father and Mother and I stayed at Hyde Park and Zina and her parents stayed at Aunt Hattie Montrose's in Logan where we were to pick them up the next morning -- the 30th. We were up early and got to Logan and met them on the street nearly half way to the temple. This was the happiest day of our lives as we were married in the temple.
After we came from the temple Zina had a strawberry alamode and I had a green cantaloupe alamode, which gave me a pain in the stomach the rest of the day. Zina had a ring but it wasn't a wedding ring. Her Mother thought she should have a wedding ring so we went to the jewelry shop and I bought a ring, which took seven dollars more of the thirty dollars I had borrowed to get married on. We went to Uncle Jake Zollinger's where we stayed up till quite late, I thought, and they put us to sleep in the attic on a very soft feather bed.
The next day we started on our honeymoon with our parents, going to Ogden to see Uncle Joe and Aunt Rose Torgensen where we had dinner. We then came back to Hyde Park and stayed with Uncle Ren and Aunt Eliza Peterson and then on to Pearl and Frank Harris' in Thatcher and visited and celebrated the fourth of July.
We stayed with our folks a few days and then went to the Five Mile meadows and put up hay for Dad Horsley, sleeping in a tent. We then moved to the homestead and got ready for the harvest. Zina had quite a time baking bread. She would first bake it on the top and then turn it over to bake the bottom. I don't know whether she knew how to run the stove, which we had bought for $2.50. She did a good job feeding the heading crew.
Several nights later after we had settled for the night in a boarded-up tent outside our lean-to house, a group came along and shouted, "We want a dance or we will put you tent and all in the canal." The canal was only a short distance away so we gave a dance in the meetinghouse in Soda and the music and all took the remainder of the borrowed money. Luckily, Zina still had the $76, which she had saved during her six years of school teaching. We hauled drinking water from Dad's place in a can and hauled water from the canal in a barrel on a slide. We bought another twenty acres from my father over where the lake or reservoir now is. This was our hay crop.
We lived in the one room lean-to that winter. In the spring on May 12, 1916 our first son, Harold, was born in the folding bed with Dr. Kackley attending. The following year we went out and logged and got lumber from Johnson Creek and built on two rooms and Florence was born November 22, 1917 in luxury. I even borrowed a Ford to go get Dr. Kackley.
The following year we moved to Wells Harris' ranch in Gentile Valley and milked eight or nine cows and fed about 200 head of cattle for two winters, moving back to the ranch in the spring. Maurice was born that spring, April 21, 1919 at Davisville and Dr. Hubbard from Grace was the attending physician. Frank Harris was called to fill a mission and we lived at his ranch and took care of the ranch and cattle while he was on his mission. We did this for $75 a month. We well remember coming home to Davisville and Soda for Christmas. I fed the cattle the day before, got up Christmas morning and milked eight cows, fed the calves and got the team ready while Zina got the family ready and heated some rocks for the sleigh. We stopped at my home in Davisville, spending part of the day there, and went on to Zina's parents in Soda and had dinner, went to the dance at night, got our rocks and three kids, hooked up our team, drove back to the valley, milked our cows, Wells Harris' and Elsmore's--26 in all, (the last few seemed to give a lot of milk), fed the calves and went in for breakfast. I then went out to feed the outside cattle.
After Frank came home from his mission we moved back to the dry farm in Davisville. It was late spring. That summer we sold the dry farm and bought the Wesley Davis farm across the river and that fall moved our house across the river. We had to cut the house in half to get it across the river bridge. That fall I killed my first deer and Fred was born in Grandma Lau's house with Dr. Kackley attending. While in the moving process we lived in part of Grandma Lau's house in Soda Springs, which we rented for $18 a month furnished. I spent that winter rebuilding and plastering our home on the ranch. In the spring we moved across the river to our new dry farm. Two years later Margaret was born at the dry farm with Dr. Russell Tigert, Sr., attending.
Usually the farm didn't occupy all my time. I hauled wood for four years, usually with four horses and two wagons, trailing the one. I also worked for Jim Slick building a siding on the railroad for the stockyards. We were in town by eight o'clock and followed the fresno all day to put the dirt on the grade. All the other boys got fired or quit but I stayed as I was getting $8 a day for a man and four horses. At the end of the job when I received my pay Mr. Slick said, "You're a damn good man."
During these days the harvesting was done by header and threshing machine. Ploughing was done with teams and grain was hauled by wagon. We had ten to twelve horses on the ranch to do the work. I worked two four-horse teams on two gang ploughs, driving the best team and leading the other. Also during these years I would always take care of my fishing and hunting in between times. On one fishing trip with Dad I caught 75 and Dad came in with 90. I was out to beat him.
About this time we bought the Foreman place and Genevieve was born with Dr. Russell Tigert coming to the ranch. At this time I was Ward Clerk for Bishop Hyde Lau. I had served as Clerk for Bishops James Bigler, Thomas K. Gunnell and Daniel Balls and even went on further in this position and was clerk for Everett Horsley. I guess the reason they kept me so long in this position is that I had a good wife who did the work, although I had the qualifications.
At one time I was the largest wheat farmer in Caribou County. They didn't think they could raise any wheat east and north of Soda because of the frost. I raised all wheat on my farm. I sold two carloads of wheat for twenty-eight cents a bushel, getting two cents over the market price. We cut all day just making wages. I also remember a time later when I sold wheat for $2.15 a bushel.
Financially we did fairly well so we bought a city block in town. One winter we lived in the John Skinner home in Soda, on the corner of Third East and the Highway, and I helped Father Horsley with the sheep, working sixty nights_while they were lambing.
Having hauled water for most our married life, and with a family of six children, we built a brick home in town. I did all the work I could and hired the rest done. We moved to our new home in town the fall of 1927 and Merrill was born May 10th, the following spring.
I was called as Bishop of the Soda Springs Ward, being ordained by Joseph Fielding Smith November 17, 1929. I held this position for seven years and my dear wife was my Ward Clerk. During these years we were blessed with two more children, Kenneth Gerald, born April 21, 1932 and Edna Lucille born November 24, 1934. It was during my term as Bishop we went through the depression. We had the privilege of having President Heber J. Grant in our home and in later years I took many a case of soda water to him at his home in Salt Lake City. After being released as Bishop I served in the Stake MIA Superintendency and on the Stake High Council.
During the depression years I drove the school wagon east of town. I used my car when the roads were good, hauling as many as seventeen pupils, and when the roads were bad I took the team and sleigh and stayed over night at Bill Lloyd's ranch.
We had a siege of the scarlet fever over a period of six months. While we were fumigating the house, Maurice had his leg broken in an automobile accident and laid on his back for six months before he was able to walk again.
Harold was called to serve on a mission to Australia after one year at the BYU. We were in debt again and still using horsepower on the farm but by the time he returned, we had a tractor and were nearly out of debt.
While we were sawing wood with a power saw, Jerry, a lad of about four years, was trying to throw some sawdust at me unnoticed and caught his arm in the saw cutting through all but one cord and the blood vessel. I wrapped it in a clean dishtowel and rushed him to the hospital. Dr. Russell Tigert, Sr. advised amputation but we asked him to sew it up. He said that it would always be a straight arm as there was no elbow joint left. As his arm healed his Mother rubbed it with olive oil and through fasting and prayer he had near normal use within one year.
For two years I served as chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Caribou County. We rebuilt and surfaced the road between Soda Springs and Alexander and the road north past Hooper Spring to China Hat.
Again I was called to be Bishop of the Soda Springs Ward, during which time the Ward built a Seminary and we started a building fund for a new chapel. A. Ira Cox, my counselor made the first donation and when we were released we had approximately $12,000 toward a new building. I served for five years making a total of twelve years for me as Bishop. We had many of the apostles stay at our home -- Harold B. Lee, Stephen L. Richards, Charles A. Callis, and Lynn Bennion.
During the Second World War, Harold served in the European theater of war and Fred in the Pacific. While Fred was stationed around Australia he was about the same as a missionary. He gave music lessons to members of the church and made many lasting friends.
Margaret and Genevieve were called to the Western States Mission shortly after World War II and about three months later Merrill received a call to serve a mission in England, giving us three missionaries in the field at one time. After the new church was built I volunteered to take care of things until they found a custodian and stayed seventeen years -- the last few years taking care of three wards and the Stake. I enjoyed the work.
I went East with Zina and the girls and fished in the Chesapeake Bay. I made two tries to go to Alaska, getting 900 miles up the highway the first time and my companion got homesick. The second time I planned a trip to northern Idaho with Chris Lallatin. We found ourselves going to Canada and got as far as Grouse Creek, the beginning of the Alaskan Highway. We visited Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Seaward. This was a nice trip -- 5700 miles -- traveling time thirteen and one-half days. Other nice trips we have had were to Mesa and Old Mexico, several times to California, three times to Canada, the World Fairs in New York and Seattle. The most outstanding was when we went with Zina's cousins to Hawaii by air. We were gone three weeks returning on the Mariposa, the same ship that carried Harold on his mission to Australia.
On May 29, 1955 I assumed the biggest job I ever had in the Church. I was ordained a Patriarch by Elder George Q. Morris; and, as Zina puts it, having only the gray hair as qualifications. It has been a great responsibility.
I bought my last horse, Mustard, for $50 and broke him to ride. He put me off once but it was in the snow back of the house. I took him hunting elk one stormy day about five o'clock in the morning with Maurice and Bob Herd. We had only one permit so Maurice and Bob Herd were going to chase one out to me on a ridge. They saw elk but I saw none. About dark I started for camp but Mustard had gone through considerable snow to his knees all day without anything to eat and being only a three-year-old, he gave out on me and laid down. I looked around for something to make a fire and couldn't find anything so I got on my knees and asked for help. After a few minutes I saw a flash of light. I fired a shot but got no answer so I made my way toward the flicker of light and found coals from a fire so I found wood and built it up and dried out my packs. I then took my saddle blanket and lay on the snow and was going to have a sleep when I heard someone holler. I fired another shot and Maurice and Bob Herd came. Maurice rode Mustard and I rode his horse and we made it back to the truck. We met Harold and a group from town coming after us. Bob Herd had sent word to town that I was lost. We got home at six the next morning.
After being happily married for fifty years, it was a privilege to go to the temple with our entire family. There were twenty of us in all. Brother Raymond, the Temple President, honored me by having me say a few words. Our eldest granddaughter received her endowment that day. After we came from the temple we were feted at a lovely dinner at Smithfield. The following day the children gave us a reception at the church with around four hundred guests greeting us. The next day was a celebration with the grandchildren and a picture taken with our posterity sixty in all. Since then we have lost one grandson, Dean Olswald, in an accident.
All of our children graduated from the High School across the street from our present home. All attended college and Fred, Jerry and Margaret graduated, with Jerry also receiving a Master's Degree. Five of the nine, Harold, Maurice, Merrill, Margaret and Genevieve filled missions. Harold, Fred and Merrill served in the Armed Forces of their country; Harold and Fred serving overseas during the Second World War. Maurice and Jerry are serving as Bishops and our other three sons have served in Bishoprics. All nine were married in the temple to lovely companions.
Now, after better than three-quarters of a century, I am partly retired. My present jobs are Patriarch of Idaho Stake, temple work and home teaching, operating 623 acres of farmland with my grandsons to help. Now comes the biggest job of my life -- growing old gracefully. I feel well and intend to finish breaking my horse, which threw me off once. I can run a couple of blocks and take a hard day's fishing or hunting. I love life and appreciate everyone.


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