A Tribute to Bonnie Sage Ball by Gladys Julian Stallard
From: Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication No. 31 – 1997
The Historical Society of Southwest Virginia has lost a very valuable member who has been with the organization from its very beginning. Bonnie Sage Ball was a charter member who has served in many capacities. She has contributed many articles for its annual publication, has done extensive research on families and events of historical significance, and has compiled and published several family histories, including those on the Sage and Ball families. She wrote “The Melungeons – Their Origin and Kin.” She grew up among them in Lee County, Va. and adjoining Hancock County, Tenn.
She was a retired schoolteacher, a homemaker and mother of four. … Her ancestors are from London, England. Bonnie was born Dec. 17, 1901 on Wallen’s Ridge near Stickleyville, Lee County, Va. She was brought into this world by Dr. Bradley T. Young, during a blinding snow storm. Bonnie was the fourth of 13 children of Vas Sage and his wife, Mary “Mollie” Duncan. When Bonnie was six years old her father moved off the ridge so the children would be near the Stickleyville school.
Bonnie attended Radford Normal School for women. She taught school during the winter and continued her education at Radford during the summer. In 1926 she went to St. Charles in Lee County to teach. There she met Palmer Ray Ball. They were married a few months later. The next year they moved to Virginia City in Wise County, then resided in Haysi, VA. for a period of time.
Bonnie taught school in Dickenson and Buchanan Counties. She was also News correspondent for the Bristol Herald courier, the Coalfield Progress, the Dickensonian, the Roanoke Times and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
Bonnie retired in 1967, after a total of 33 years in the teaching profession. she and her husband moved to Big Stone Gap, less than a block away from the June Tolliver House and the site of the John Fox Jr. drama, “The Trail of he Lonesome Pine.”
Bonnie Ball remained busy. She was a member of Virginia Creative Writers, Trinity United Methodist Church, the UDC, DAR, and several historical societies. She was a life member of the Virginia Retired Teacher’s Association. She recorded cemeteries, researched courthouse records, compiled a history of Methodist Churches, wrote a book of verse and a book of Appalachian Folklore. Besides all these activities, she published a bicentennial history, “Stickleyville – Its Schools, History and People,” and carried on a voluminous correspondence with people all over the United States.
Bonnie Ball suffered Health problems during her later years and lived for sometime in Heritage Hall in Big Stone Gap. She remained alert until her death. She died after a short illness in the Lonesome Pine Hospital, Saturday, May 11, 1996, at the age of 95. She was preceded in death by an infant son, by her husband and a daughter, Dorothy Ball Booten of Chicago Heights, Ill.
She was survived by a son, George Ball, San Diego, Calif.; a daughter, Nancy Ball of the home; a sister, Thelma Powell, Richmond, Va.; three brothers, Carl Sage, Orleans, Ind., Earl Sage, Stickleyville and Ralph Sage, Kingsport, Tenn.; and by four grandchildren.
Funeral services were conducted in the Holding Funeral Home Chapel, Monday, May 13, at 8 p.m. with the Rev. Buford Hankins and the Rev. Joe Berta officiating. Graveside services were held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 14 in the Cecil-Frye Cemetery, Pennington Gap in Lee County, VA.
Bonnie Ball will be missed very much indeed, but her accomplishments and name will be familiar to people of like interests for generations to come!
Theodosia Wells Barrett, 88, died Saturday, March 23, 1991, at her home. She was a native of Swords Creek section of Russell Co., and a former resident of Tazewell Co., and Florida. She was a widow of Frank Barrett.
She was a graduate of Radford University and retired school teacher in Russell, Tazewell and Buchanan counties. She authored several local history books and articles and chaired “The Heritage of Russell County 1786-1986.” Her first book , “Pioneers on the Western Waters,” is the only written history of northwestern Russell Co. She was a member of numerous historical and genealogical societies and the National League of American Pen Women. She was a member of the United Methodist Church.
From: Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication No. 26 -1992.