I was in the process of planning some possible kayak runs on the Great Miami River this morning when I noticed that my Garmin topo maps marked a point as “Ball’s Ferry” on the river at State Route 73. Curious, I did some searching on Ball’s Ferry.
A Lane Public Library site on Butler County place names indicates:
Ball’s Ferry was immediately east of Trenton in Madison Township on the Great Miami River where Davis Ball and then Aaron Ball operated a ferry from about 1818 until 1861, and Peter Schertz until 1867. In the latter year a free bridge was built by the county. The ferry was on the route of the state road from Chillicothe to the college lands (Miami University in Oxford) when Chillicothe was the state capital (1803-1810 and 1812-1816). The ferry site is believed to have been a fourth of a mile south of the present Ohio 73 bridge, which opened in 1965. Ball’s Ferry also was known as Brownstown.
With a bit of further research, I found a Google Books entry for A Centenial History of Butler County published in 1905 with an entry on Ball’s Ferry and an accident that happened there in 1819. The short version is that the ropes controlling the ferry snapped while trying to cross the flooded river and all the occupants on the ferry were lost except one. An image of the page from that book is below.