HON. JESSE B. BALL. – Twenty miles up the Skagit river, in the heart of one of the richest timber sections of Washington, is Sterling, a thriving young city, with high hopes for the future. The founder of the place is the man whose name appears at the head of this sketch. Mr. Ball is a pioneer of 1853, having crossed the plains in that year and stopped at Downieville, where he worked a short time for a company of miners, – his only work for anybody but himself on this coast. His career has had the restless activity and energy characteristic of our people. At Nevada City and other points he was engaged in mining for two years. At Oroville he was in the stock business for nine years. Taking advantage of the no-fence law, he then spent three years at Honey Lake valley, in the same pursuit.
In 1867 he came to Puget Sound, and in 1868 farmed for a year on the Nisqually bottoms. Logging and lumbering near Steilacoom engaged his attention until 1878. It was in that year that he came to Whatcom (now Skagit), and started the town of Sterling. Here he kept a store and logging camp. A year ago he sold his store and his timber lands, and confined himself to farming and real estate, owning several sixty and seventy acre tracts of land near the town. In politics Mr. Bail is a Republican, and has been postmaster of his town for many years.
In the early days of California, he was something of an Indian fighter. He was part owner of the ill-fated steamer Josephine, which plied between Seattle and Sterling, and which blew up in 1883, near Port Susan, and killed nine or ten men. Mr. Ball himself had been expecting to go on that very trip, but was deterred by some ominous foreboding. Mr. Ball ranks among the first of the lumbermen of the Sound. He is a married man and has had seven children, six of whom are living.