Ballard, Mary Elizabeth (Markle) (May 14, 1884 - January 27, 1944)

Mrs. D.W. Ballard Burned

to Death in Flames that Consumed Ranch Home Tragedy Thought to Have Occurred Last Thursday Morning and Not Discovered Until Friday

Unknown - February 3, 1944

One of the saddest tragedies of record in Converse county occurred on the D.W. Ballard ranch about 30 miles north of Douglas last Thursday when Mrs. Ballard, evidently in a brave effort to save a few valuable articles from her blazing home, became trapped or suffocated in the structure and burned with it.

The tragedy occurred, or is thought to have occurred early Thursday morning in a blinding snowstorm. Mrs. Ballard was alone on the ranch, Mr. Ballard having gone to Casper the day before for medical treatment. The fire raged and died to cold ashes unbeknownst to neighboring ranchers. The true facts of the disaster will never be known by mortal man.

First to discover of the ranch home was Mr. Ballard himself who returned to Douglas from Casper Friday and that afternoon drove out to the ranch. There he found only the foundation and a blackened pile of ashes where his home had stood. He searched the bunk house and other out-building that had escaped the flames, thinking that Mrs. Ballard might have sought shelter in one of them. Not finding any trace of her he assumed she had been taken to a neighboring ranch.

Driving back to the Fiddleback he phoned his sons in Douglas, and then, with Art Epperly, Paul Wilkinson and Gerald Reeves, ranchers in that area, returned to the scene of the fire. It was then that the remains of Mrs. Ballard were found, burned beyond recognition.

From statements made by those who investigated the scene and from facts learned by coroner's jurors the fire must have raged between 5 and 10 o'clock last Thursday morning. During this time a blizzard was raging in that area, the snow being driven by a strong northwest wind and visibility was almost nill. This would prevent neighbors the closest of which were two or three miles distant from detecting the flare or smoke of the burning building.

From the inquest it was learned that three timepieces were discovered in the ruins situated in different rooms of the house. Two of them had stopped at approximately 6:30 and the other an hour or so later.

Investigators learned that Mrs. Ballard had made at least two salvage trips out of the kitchen door. She had carried out the pictures of her sons and other members of the family, some books a set of silverware and an end table. It was assumed she made another trip into the burning house for some other cherished article and was either overcome by smoke or trapped by falling timbers.

Her body was found at a point that was a halfway between the kitchen and other room. It was at the foot of the stairway leading to a room above.

The tragic death of Mrs. Ballard has saddened the hearts of her many esteem with which she was held was attested by the large number of friends and neighbors of her home community who came to town Wednesday afternoon to pay their last respects at the funeral rites.

The services were held at the Baptist church at 2 p.m., with the Rev. Glenn Knight in charge. Interment was in Douglas Park Cemetery. Pallbearers were Tom Meisner, John Wohlford, Jacob Riehle, Ray Henry, Arthur Epperly and Dick Stoddard.

Mary Elizabeth Markle was born at Webber, Kan., on May 14, 1884, a daughter of George W. and Marg E. Markle. She was the seventh child of a family of nine children. There she received her education and grew to womanhood.

On November 19, 1901, she married to Daniel William Ballard. The couple left Kansas shortly after for Pomeroy, Wash., where they resided a few years and then returned to Kansas to remain until 1917. In that year they came to Wyoming and settled on the present ranch in the Dry Creek area north of Douglas.

Surviving are her husband; four sons, Melvin of Douglas, William of Leverett, Wyo., Carroll of Douglas, and Daniel, in the army; a daughter, Mrs. Mabler Dixon of Douglas; eight grandsons; four granddaughters, and three brothers and four sisters. One brother preceded her in death, having lost his life in an airplane crash.

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