The inscription at the bottom of on old cabinet picture with an old man standing by a tall monument simply read, “Jim Ballew by mother’s grave Durant, OK”.
Mom had spent years researching her family genealogy. She had lots of the old cabinet pictures that had been given to her by a great aunt, Aunt Ella. I had heard all these names all my life…
Aunt Ella, Aunt Dora and Grandpa Ballew so the names were familiar to me. Jim was a brother to George Edward Ballew my great great grandpa.
I lived about 100 miles north of Durant and on one of my trips home to Texas seemed like an ideal time to see if I could find the grave of C. S. Ballew. I found the Durant City Hall and started my search there going from one building to another inquiring about where to find vital records and how to get to the Durant cemetery. It was late and and on a Friday and office buildings were closing. I didn’t have much luck in finding any information in the short time I had to spend there but I found the cemetery pretty easily. It was south east of town about 3 miles south down a narrow paved road with lots of shady trees and hedgerows along each side of the road. I turned left and drove through the open, tall wrought iron gates that read Highland Cemetery and spotted the little brick cemetery office building to my left. The attendant was standing outside near his truck and I drove up hoping to catch him before he left and asked the where abouts of this grave. I really didn’t expect it to be there. Maybe it was in a different cemetery. He went into his little office and brought a map to me and a list of names. We looked it over and she was here! So I asked if he would show me so I wouldn't have to spend too much time searching on my own. He was very kind. So I followed him to the northern part of the large cemetery and there it was... tall and majestic and silent, just like in the picture. I slowly got out of the car and quietly walked over to it and touched it...
It was then that I realized I found a piece of my family’s past, right here, right now, something tangible that I could touch. The inscription on it faced west. I got my camera and took some pictures. I looked around at some of the other headstones and there was James Madison Ballew’s grave (C. S. Ballew's son) just west of and at the head of his mother’s grave. Now excited with my find I started trying to put this puzzle together. I later found that the old man in the picture standing at his mother’s grave was Jim’s brother Clay Ballew.
The old photo of the headstone that led me to searching for the Ballew line was for George’s Mother only. So where was his Father? The information I have says his name was George W. (Washington ?) Ballew.
But still no idea of where he was buried. Of course I did have some dates and after cross referencing some information and getting some sources from Census records, I found a picture of George’s Father’s grave. He was buried in Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas.
There is really no way at this point to know exactly why they moved to Dallas, but they had lived in the northern part of Georgia where Sherman’s Army swept through leaving a path of destruction on their way to Atlanta. With the Yankees and Carpet Baggers taking over, I guess they thought Texas would be a better place to be away from Georgia and the reconstruction and to start a new life.
They Made Me
By Gale Gipson Rotan
C. S. Ballew
Nov. 12, 1899
Aged 82 year