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About Benjamin Lincoln Ball

About the author: Benjamin Lincoln Ball or B.L. Ball (March 29, 1820 — December 11, 1859). Dentist, businessman, traveler. Born in Northborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts, died in Chiriquí, Panama. son of Dr. Stephen Ball (1767-1850) and Lydia Lincoln (1780-1866) of Northborough, Worcester county, Massachusetts. Graduated from Harvard Medical School. 1844.

An interesting detail is that B.L. Ball had a display of a case of artificial teeth in the National Fair of 1846. In the same blog entry, the following biographical details are presented:

A web search for biographical material on Dr. Ball revealed that he had more than an interest in the burgeoning field of dentistry and orthodontics. He apparently loved hiking in the mountains and traveling the world. He was known to have traveled through Asia in 1848, 1849 and 1850 where he visiting the Alps on his way home from the East. He seems to have been the first American to make an ascent of a snow peak in the Alps other than Mont Blanc…

B. L.’s cenotaph is etched on his parents headstone in Massachusetts but tells us he died in Chiriquí, Panama on 11 December 1859. I could find no explanation for his death in Central America but I assume he was on yet another adventure — perhaps to California.

About the diary: Published as Rambles in eastern Asia, including China and Manila, during several years’ residence, J. French, Boston, 1856. Of this, and the author’s other books, the blog cited above mentions that,

He recorded his travels and authored at least two books in the mid-1850’s: Rambles in Eastern Asia (1855) and Three Days on the White Mountains (1856) — the latter publication detailing his “perilous adventure” of attempting to climb Mount Washington (in the White Mountains of New Hampshire) during winter when he nearly froze to death. His book became a favorite of early-day mountain hiker enthusiasts such as Henry David Thoreau.

The Philippine Diary Project includes the author’s chapters concerning the voyage to, in, and from the Philippines. This comprises the period from November 28, 1848 to- March 3, 1849. The author, in his introduction, states that,

In preparing the manuscript, which was from the notes of his private journal, it was found that all could be not be contained in a single volume; accordingly this work has been confined to China and Manilla, and the other countries omitted, at least for the present.

With the view of reducing the work to the present size, many passages have been withheld; which, it is to be hoped, will sufficiently account for any apparent discrepancies.

In some instances, the journal is supplemented by letters, which have also been included.