J. P. Ball, African American Photographer

Ball Moves South and West

Three girls photographed in Helena, Montana
Three girls photographed
in Helena, Montana

View Larger Image

After leaving Cincinnati, James Presley Ball moved to Greenville, Mississippi and later to Vidalia, Louisiana. In 1885 he was contracted to take the school photographs for the St. Louis (Missouri) Common Schools.

Two years later, while living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he was chosen as the official photographer for the 25th-anniversary celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation in that city.

Ball entered politics in Montana.

That same year Ball left Minneapolis for Helena, Montana Territory, where he ran a successful studio with his son, daughter, and daughter-in-law and entered politics.

In December 1887 he was nominated as a delegate to a civil rights convention and later ran for several offices on the Republican ticket. He later became president of Montana's Afro-American Club and co-founded the St. James AME Church.

Ball photographed many business leaders and pioneers from Montana. He also documented the arrival of recent immigrants, the construction of the state capitol in Helena, and several public executions.

In the second half of 1900, Ball followed his son J.P. Ball, Jr., to Seattle in the Western Territory of Washington. J.P., Jr., opened the Globe Studio in 1892 and Ball & Sons studio in 1897 while he was developing a practice as a lawyer.

Image of two women taken in Seattle
Image of two women taken in Seattle

View Larger Image

J.P. Ball remained active in civic affairs and founded and organized Shriners' lodges in Seattle and Portland. He left Seattle for Honolulu, presumably for the change in climate to help relieve his crippling rheumatism. He opened a studio in his home in Honolulu, which was probably run by his daughter, Estella.

J.P. Ball died on May 4, 1904, at the age of 79, in Honolulu

Previous | Next