January 1944: President of Holmes and Gilfillan
Bernard Ball Dies In Tragic Accident

scanning credit:  Greg Pierotti
Bernard A. Ball, aged 49, one of Smethport's most prominent businessmen, proprietor of the firm of Holmes and Gilfillan, was instantly killed early last thursday morning when his car crashed into the rear of a parked truck at Falconer, N. Y.  Mr. Ball was returning from a business trip to Jamestown when the accident occurred.  He sustained a fractured skull and numerous other injuries.

Samuel A. Bowers, Chautauqua County coroner, who investigated, stated that the truck owned by a Hartford, Conn. firm was hit in the rear by the local automobile.  Mr. Ball, it was said, was pinned in between the seat and dashboard.  Coroner Bowers issued a verdict of accidental death.

Mr. Ball was born in Olean on March 20, 1894, and resided there until 1912 when he moved to Smethport.  Arriving here for the firm of Holmes an Gilfillan, dealers in lumber supplies.

He worked his way up through the ranks and in 1933 was rewarded by being named president and treasurer of the firm.  In 1936 Mr. Ball purchased the business from the estate and has continued as owner since.

Prior to the entrance of the United States in World War II, Mr. Ball was manufacturing bowling alley ten pin setters.  These machines were purchased by bowling alley operators all over the world.  With the shortage of material and equipment, Mr. Ball was forced to shut down this part of the plant.  It was in the interests of this business the Mr. Ball had gone to Jamestown to meet with a steel company salesman in an attempt to obtain steel for his business.

He was a man of pleasing personality and had a large circle of friends.

Mr. Ball was a graduate of West brook Academy; a member of the Masonic Lodge of Smethport, Bradford Lodge of the Elks, a director of the Smethport Borough School District, member of the Bucktail Post, American Legion, director of the Smethport Rotary Club, Smethport Community Chest, McKean County Motor Club, and the Grange National Bank.

He is survived by his widow, the former Miss Jane Kohn and one son, Bernard Jr.;  also his mother Mrs. George Ball of Olean, a sister, Miss Gertrude Ball also of Olean, and a brother, Alfred Ball of New Orleans, LA.

Funeral services were held Sunday at 3:30 o'clock from his house on Bank Street, the E. J. Burton, pastor of the Methodist Church, officiating.  Burial was made in Rose Hill Cemetery.

Honorary pallbearers were Thomas Sullivan, Fred Anderson, Lee Blowers, Harvey Carey, Ray Abby, I. N. Russ, Milton Wright, Edward Swanson, Burt Metzgar, J. Alfred Johnson, E. J. Conwell, Earl Gallup, C.L. Burt, Frank Raymond, A. E. Quirk, R. W. Herzog, and R. A. Digel.

Active pallbearers were F. J. Quirk, A. M. Anderson, Frank B. Fay, Alford Bush, Dr. A. R. Livermore, and W. A. Ross.

The Bucktail Post and American Legion, had charge of the committal services at the grave.  Harold J. Lee acted as chaplain.  Taps were sounded by Merle Scott and Richmond Johnson.

  • 1895: Home of Alba J. Gilfillan
  • 1906:  Holmes & Gillfillan/BackusPinsetters
  • 1906: Backus Company
  • 1915:  Backus Patent Pinsetter Installation (2000AD photos)
  • 1933: New Pinsetter Factory
  • 1940:  Bernard Ball Biography
  • 1940:  Bernard Ball Spotmatic Pinsetter Patents
  • 1951: Milton H. Wright Spotomatic Patent
  • Smethport History main page