Biographies of American Seedsmen and Nurserymen Ball, George Jacob–(1874-1949)–Glen Ellyn, Illinois–was born in Milford, Ohio in 1874.  At thirteen he was working in a greenhouse near Cincinnati.  For thirteen years he worked with a leading seed company, a rose grower, and a commercial cut flower grower.  He settled in the Chicago area after serving in the Spanish-American war.  By 1905 he was growing sweet peas and offered them to the cut flower trade.  He built greenhouses in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and began to develop improved strains of asters, sweet peas, and calendulas.  In 1915, he gathered seed from ‘Orange King’ calendula and sent it to a California grower.  This crop was so successful that he was financially able to establish the Geo. J. Ball, Inc. His first one-page seed list was printed and mailed to growers in 1918.  Ball Seed Company continued to expand and in 1927 they moved to West Chicago.  In 1933, the Ball Trial Gardens were opened.  In 1937, George Ball published the first issue of GrowerTalks, and in 1938 Ball was elected president of the Society of American Florists.  Ball died in 1949 and his four sons, George K., Victor, Robert, and Carl, took over Ball Seed Co.  The company now owns ten other horticultural firms including W. Atlee Burpee & Co., and a number of other companies, and the parent company is called Ball Horticultural Company.  Anna Caroline Ball became owner and CEO of Ball Horticultural Co. in 1995.
Sources: GG