US Congressman. Born in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas to a Methodist minister and his wife, who had moved to Texas from Virginia in 1856. Orphaned at age 6, his uncle raised him, sending him to private schools for his primary and secondary education. After graduating from Austin College in 1871, he worked as a farmhand and clerk and attended lectures at the University of Virginia, where he was elected president of the law class. He returned to Texas, was admitted to the bar in 1888, and was mayor of Huntsville, a post he held from 1877 to 1892. He first became active in Texas politics in 1887 as an advocate of a prohibition amendment to the state constitution. He practiced law in Huntsville until 1902, when he moved to Houston. Ball held many state Democratic party posts and was elected to the United States Congress in 1896. He resigned in 1903 to return to a Houston law practice that primarily served railroad and corporate clients. In 1911 he was selected chairman of the Prohibition Statewide Executive Committee, and many prohibitionists encouraged him to run against incumbent governor Oscar Branch Colquitt, who was up for reelection in 1912. He declined, but did run in the primary in 1914 and was defeated by James Edward "Pa" Ferguson. In addition to his prohibitionist activities, he was a lifelong promoter of publicly owned port facilities in Texas. While he was a member of the Rivers and Harbors Committee in the United States House of Representatives, he secured the first federal aid for development of the Houston Ship Channel in 1899. After leaving Washington he lobbied the state legislature and the United States Congress heavily, determined to facilitate local, state, and federal efforts to upgrade Houston port facilities. Both bodies soon passed measures significantly aiding local navigation districts, making him the "Father of the Port of Houston" for his tireless work against opposition in support of a new Houston Ship Channel, which was completed in 1914. Today, Ball's contribution to the Houston-area economy is immense: the port he championed is now the 2nd largest port in the United States, and the 8th largest port in the World. Following the development of Buffalo Bayou, Ball served as general counsel to the Port Commission of Houston, (Houston Harbor and Ship Channel) from May 1922 to August 1931, when he retired. In addition to his contributions to the city of Houston, Ball helped route a railroad through the then- little-known town of Peck, Texas. The result was significant economic growth, and in appreciation for Ball's efforts the citizens of the area gave the town a new name: "Tomball, Texas." In addition, he was general counsel for the State council of defense during the First World War; died in Houston, Texas; interred in Forest Park Cemetery.
Bio by: H M G
Lewis Edwin Ball