John J. Ball, a railroad contractor of De Soto, was born in Rio de 
Janeiro, Brazil, South America, June 22, 1862.  His father, John Ball,
was born in Ireland in 1833, and immigrated to the United States in 
1848.  In 1858 he went to Brazil, South America, where he worked on
railroad tunnels until 1866, when he brought his family to De Soto,
where they have since resided.  John Ball married Ann Cain, and of
their fourteen children seven are living, viz.: Austin, John J., 
Margaret, Annie, Jane, Ella and Katie. In religious faith they are
Catholics. Early in life John J. Ball became interested in contacting, 
which was his father's business; he helped build the branch of the 
Iron Mountain Railroad, the Cotton Belt, and others, and also takes 
contracts to furnish gravel to railroad companies, etc.  In 1887 he
loaded 12,000 car loads of gravel for the Iron Mountain Railroad.  He
has been in the service of the railroad several years, being first
employed as water boy, then as brakeman and conductor, and finally as
division roadmaster. He is a member of the order of Railroad Conductors.
December 23, 1884, he married Mary E. Barron, daughter of Felix Barron,
a merchant of Irondale, Mo.