Once a 14-acre farm, now a memorial park
The Ballard home is long gone, razed by the city to make way for the 132nd South expansion at Fort Street. But all was not demolished. The root cellar remains, a place as important to that long-time Draper farming family as the home itself.
Wayne Ballard, one of three living original family members, remembers the cellar filled with salted pork and fruit jars. His father Ross built it 90+ years ago. Wayne and his wife, Alice, who live just east of Ballard’s Corner, acquired the cellar when the city bought the property.
The cellar is a testament to his dad’s craftsmanship. Sturdy, tongue-and-groove shelving remains, and the cement walls, poured in layers, show no cracking. Barrels of leftover wheat from his parent’s time are still viable and ready for bread making.
“After walking home from Draper School, we’d go there, and if we were hungry, we’d grab a pint of fruit to eat in its coolness,” recalls Wayne. His mother Ruby canned more than 1,000 pints and quarts each year. She was a generous woman who baked bread and taught the 10 Ballard children self-sufficiency and honesty.
Another landmark on Ballard’s Corner is the Linden tree planted by Ruby 60 years ago. Today, it shelters the memorial for fallen Draper police officer Sergeant Derek Johnson. When the city razed the home, the Ballards fought to keep the tree. “It’s a messy tree,” admits Alice, “but pretty and so well shaped.” Wayne’s mother loved it.
In its heyday, the Ballard farm covered 14 acres, four of which were a tomato vineyard. Now those acres are mostly subdivision.
Ross and Ruby raised their children in a two-room adobe home with no running water or indoor plumbing. Then they replaced it with a modest $5000 brick home, which is the one most people remember. In that tiny home they raised eight boys and two girls, all of whom established distinguished careers. Five of the sons served in WWII and the other three in the National Guard.
Hard work and common sense defined the Ballard upbringing. “When father told us to build a new head gate, he didn’t tell us how to do it. We simply went and built it. If he said go kill a sheep for the winter, we’d do it without being shown how. We had to use our heads.”
“We did that all through our lives.”
The children learned early on how to work and irrigate the land, plant seeds, and harvest crops. “As we grew, each of us assumed a responsibility with the animals.” That included tending milk cows, pigs, an old horse, rabbits and, at one point, some 2,400 chickens. During WWII, Draper was the egg basket of Utah and local eggs were shipped across country.
Today, a small patch of what was Ballard’s farm is still being used for growing crops. Wayne dedicates one acre of his property to a garden where he grows seven crops of corn, Moscow-variety tomatoes, and his pride and joy—12-pound cantaloupes, the seeds of which he’s used for 28 years.
“I’ve been a farmer all my life. I can’t get it out of my system,” he says with a slight smile. He also runs a cattle ranch and a cotton farm in Utah and Arizona.
To honor their parents’ legacy, the Ballard family plans to erect a small marker with the inscription “Ballard’s Corner Memorial.” It will stand as a tribute to a hard working, generous Draper family and a cherished bygone era.