Published On: Fri, Dec 13th, 2013

Words have power

Dear Editor:

Sherman Hart Ballard was not only a successful 5-term WV State legislator, he was a well established attorney in Monroe County. So it came as no surprise when the State had an especially difficult case regarding a mother drowning her child and having been convicted, her appeal was based on the fact that the trial had received so much publicity, even being the first to be broadcast on the radio, it had been impossible for her to receive a fair trial. Her motion for appeal had been granted and the State assigned Sherman Ballard as her defense counsel.

As Sherman later explained to his nephew, my father Leonard Ballard, it was a difficult situation and required special handling to balance the facts that were well known. He instructed the defendant always be dressed in “widow’s weeds” (black) and to constantly dab with a handkerchief her tear-soaked eyes. Further, he addressed his defense to one particular juror (it only takes one) and the conclusion to his remarks included a popular prose piece of the day, “A Mother’s Love For Her Child.”

The appeal resulted in a verdict of “Not Guilty.”

Now for the following, a special note of appreciation for the aid and assistance given to me by the reservation people at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, with an especial thanks to Ms Jordan.

My wife and I had made the traditional trip to Nashville, in the hopes of seeing those legends of country music such as Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Little Jimmie Dickens and so many others, and of course we took the tour of many historic places. It was on this tour, we heard the following story.

In the early days of Nashville, TN, when it was known as a thriving commercial area, its days as a musical center and venue had not yet arrived. Among the very successful business leaders was Thomas Ryman, who not unlike so many of the community leaders was a gentleman of great religious conviction. So great, in fact, he enjoyed spending his free time making the rounds of the many evangelists who had erected tents for those who assembled to hear their messages of faith and salvation. Thomas Ryman attended just such a service conducted by Samuel Porter Jones and was so moved, following the service he approached Mr. Jones and told him that the spirit of salvation was so moving that he, Thomas Ryman, was going to build a building so that Jones would never have to preach in a tent again.

The result was the Ryman Memorial Tabernacle, later to become known as the Ryman Auditorium home of the Grand Ole Opry.

My curiosity prompted me to ask, that that must have been a powerful sermon to arouse such a response and I wondered if anyone knew what it was about. The tour guide answered “Yes.” It was called “A Mother’s Love For Her Child.”

Jack Ballard

Lewisburg