What’s In A Name: Blue Ball, Ohio

Sometimes, when you look at a map, you can kind of tell how a village, town, or city got its name. Columbus was obviously named after Christopher Columbus. Hamilton was named after Alexander Hamilton. Jackson was named after Andrew Jackson and you get the point. Sometimes, the answers are more geographical, like Hillsboro being named for all the hills in the area or Cleveland Heights being kind of like the city of Cleveland, only a wee bit higher. You could probably guess that Dublin was named by Irish immigrants, or that New Philadelphia was settled by people from Pennsylvania. 

And then you have a community like Blue Ball, Ohio.

Technically, Blue Ball, Ohio doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s only because the area was annexed by the growing town of Middletown, which had once been a very short drive down the road. There are still, however, a few local landmarks and businesses that maintain the Blue Ball name, so … maybe in a way it’s still there today.

How Blue Ball Got Its Name

If we are going to try and understand how the town got its name, we’re going to need to go back in time to the early 1800s. Cincinnati and Dayton were both developing and there was a road that everyone called the Cincinnati-Dayton Road going between them. Then State Highway 122 went in intersecting it, and someone came up with the bright idea of putting a tavern there for weary travelers to grab a pint or three. As far as decisions went at the time, this one proved to be one of the better ones and before long that tavern had become a success.

If there is one thing every tavern owner knows it is that you have to have a good name … and a good sign. But, what are you supposed to do if there are no good sign makers in your area and you’re trying to open a saloon? Well, in this case, the owner discovered a metal ball someone had painted blue, so he stuck it outside on top of a pole and dubbed his establishment The Blue Ball. 

While the tavern was modestly successful, as it turns out the Blue Ball on top of the poll quickly became an important landmark for travelers along the Cincinnati-Dayton road. If you wanted to get from Cincinnati to Middletown, for example, someone might tell you to travel several hours down the Cincinnati-Dayton road and when you get to the Blue Ball, turn left and you’ll be there before you know it. Or, if you were traveling between Cincinnati and Dayton, you might know you’re roughly half way there when you see the Blue Ball.

Anyway … the little metal sphere on a pole quickly became an important landmark.

Before long, a few homes and businesses went up around the Blue Ball Tavern and a small community was formed. Since everyone was calling that intersection the Blue Ball, the name just kind of stuck. 

While the nearby town of Middletown continued to grow larger and larger over time, the community of Blue Ball did not, and so in 1994 Middletown expanded once more and the community then became part of the city of Middletown. 

Dig Deeper…

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top