James W. Ballard
Sketch On The Life Of J.W. Ballard
W. Ballard was truly one of the great pioneer preachers in Oklahoma.
He was born at Walton, (Henderson County) Texas on October 24, 1875.
Under the preaching of J.A. Hall, who came to Texas from Green
County, Ill. in 1845, he obeyed the gospel in 1896 at Cedar Hill,
Texas. He joined the great
migration that converged on the opening of the Cheyenne-Arapaho
country in 1891 and settled at Port, an inland town in the Southwest
part of Washita County. His father had taught him to be a blacksmith
and he followed that trade at Port. Before moving to Oklahoma he was
married to Mary Ellen Ramsey, of Cedar Hill. To them three sons and
a daughter were born. They were Jesse C., who has joined his parents
in the "better land," Howard P., Georgia Carr and Bennie.
this marriage he writes: "When I was about nineteen years old I was
running around quite a bit. My mother had died when I was fourteen
and my father married again, so I was just in and out. One day my
father said to me: "Son, I want you to find you a good Christian
girl, get married, and stop this running around." He asked me if I
knew of a good Christian girl that I could get. I told him I thought
I did, and he asked me, "Who is she?" I told him, and he knew her
family well and said: "If you can get that girl, you go get married
and settle down." My father had always taught me not to go with any
girl that was not of good family and highly respected." He always
said: "If you cannot go with the best, don't go with any, and above
all, marry a Christian girl." (Fathers today might profit by this
married Mary Ellen and she walked by his side to the end of life,
faithfully carrying more than her part of the load, which is typical
of preacher's wives.
Port Brother Ballard cane in contact with a gospel preacher named
John D. Kelley. Brother Kelley was about the only gospel preacher in
the area, and he preached in all the usual places in that frontier
society. He began taking Brother Ballard with him to his preaching
appointments, and almost forced him into the pulpit. His formal
education had ended at the sixth grade, and he was keenly aware of
this deficiency, hence his reluctance to begin such work. However,
Brother Kelley could see things Brother Ballard could not see, and
so just wouldn't leave him alone. Naturally, Brother Ballard came to
love and respect Brother Kelley, and to him he gives much credit for
the great work he did as a gospel preacher.
Like many other men of his time, he was a serious student of the
Bible and was by no means, an uneducated man. One of his sons writes
of often seeing him study far into the night. At one period in my
life I did a daily radio program for ten years from Lawton,
Oklahoma, near Apache where Brother Ballard lived. He was a regular
listener, and often dropped me a helpful note. This communication
always indicated a thorough knowledge of The Book, sound logical
reasoning, and complete dedication to The Truth. He was by no means
an uneducated man!
Early in life he moved from Port to nearby Sentinel, where I grew
up. (But he had moved from Sentinel when we got there.) In Sentinel
he preached and operated his blacksmith shop. He was well and
favorably remembered by the brethren there, and I remember often
hearing older folks tell of going into his shop and find him working
on a plow point on one end of his anvil and the Bible propped open
on the other end. The partial record of his work his children have
shows that he held at least two hundred and twenty eight meetings,
and this was in the time when most meetings were at least three
Sundays long, and many of them longer. The record shows that he
preached in one hundred and forty six communities in twelve states.
He was often asked to return where he had held meetings, and held
seven meetings in one place. He baptized many people, with as many
as sixty five baptisms in one meeting. In addition to his meeting
work, he had many debates, and did "local work" at Sentinel, Gould,
Cordell, Sulphur, Helena, Wynona, and Apache, all in Oklahoma, and
in Shreveport, La.
his day a preacher literally had to "endure hardness" if he would be
a "good soldier of Christ Jesus." He tells of many problems that
arose in his life because of inadequate support. He never complained
about this, however he did feel that the brethren should not put
such hardships upon the preacher's family. Of course he was right
about this, and due to the sacrifices of such men as he, those of us
who have followed have been better supported. He did sometimes
wonder if younger preachers would have so suffered. Of course it is
now as it was then; some would pay the price and some wouldn't.
1911 Sister C.R. Nichol wrote of him in her Gospel Preachers Who
Blazed The Trail, "He is one of the consecrated faithful
preachers of the gospel. To know him is to love him." His son,
Howard, recently wrote: "I am proud to be the son of J.W. Ballard."
And well he might be: He baptized my own mother into Christ in 1905,
the year before I was born, and in our family his name was always an
honored one. On May 30, 1959 The Lord called him home.
Mary Ellen continued until October 25, 1962. They both "sleep" in
the Apache cemetery where so many of their brethren and friends also
await the resurrection. "The lives of great men all remind us...."
Of Yesteryear, Loyd L. Smith, page 18-20, This Article Originally
Appeared In The Christian Worker, May, 1975
and his son, Benny Ballard, were popular Apache figures for many
years. J.W. was born October 24, 1875, at Walton, near Athens in
Henderson County, Texas. His father was a blacksmith and taught him
the trade, which he followed for years. He obeyed the gospel at
Cedar Hill, Texas, in 1896 under the preaching of J.A. Hall. At
Cedar Hill he met and married Mary Ellen Ramsey. In 1900 he moved to
Port in Washita County where he saw the need for a Church of Christ.
There he met a gospel preacher by the name of John D. Kelley. Kelley
began to take J.W. with him on his preaching appointments and soon
J.W. was filling the pulpit. Shortly afterwards the family moved to
Sentinel where J.W. preached and did blacksmith work. Older folks
used to tell of going into his shop and finding him working on a
plow point on one end of his anvil and the Bible propped upon the
records show that J.W. Ballard preached in at least 220 revival
meetings, many three weeks long; and in 146 communities in 12
states. He baptized hundreds, with as many as 65 in on meeting. He
did local preaching at Sentinel, Gould, Cordell, Sulphur, Helena and
Wynona prior to coming to Apache about 1928, where he finally made
his home. J.W. Ballard was a frequent writer for the "Firm
Benny was a
popular Apache schoolteacher and coach, rock hound and collector of
Indian relics. He died in 1964. Georgia (Ballard) Carr resided in
Apache until her death in 1995. Another son, Howard, lived past 100
years of age at Helena, Oklahoma. J.W. Ballard died on May 30, 1959,
and his wife on October 25, 1962. Bother are buried in the Apache
-Roy B. Young, Entry into the Apache Area Centennial History,
1901-2001: Preserving The History of Our Past For The Families Of
The Future, Privately Published book. page 140.
Directions To The
Grave Of J.W. Ballard
J.W. Ballard is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Apache, Oklahoma.
Apache is located SW of Oklahoma City, and just north of Lawton on
Hwy. 62. Take I-44 (H.E. Bailey Turnpike) to Exit 46 and head north
on State Hwy 277/281/62. At Apache go through town to Hwy 19 and
turn right. When Hwy. 62 turns north continue on Hwy. 19 to the next
entrance to your left, Fairview Cemetery. Enter the cemetery drive
until you get into the cemetery proper. Take the second left, and go
to the next road and stop. The Ballard grave will be just to your
right in the "North" section. Just NE of the J.W. Ballard grave a
few rows, in the same section, is the grave of Ballard's son, Benny.
Acc. to 17ft.
N34° 54.317' x WO98° 20.904'
Grave Faces West
Benny W. Ballard Was J.W. Ballard's
Son. School Teacher & Coach In Apache, Oklahoma
GPS 34° 54.329 x WO 98° 20.885. Acc. to 16ft. /Grave Faces West
Webmaster's Note: It was my pleasure
to visit the grave of J.W. Ballard October 11, 2004. I was traveling
with Graham McDonald, Scottish missionary. It was a cold and wet
day. We walked all over the cemetery searching, but couldn't find
it. We went back into town, and found information at the Crews
Funeral Home. We were then able to find and chronicle the
information on the gravesite, and one of the sketches above on the
life of J.W. Ballard.