Melvin Joseph Ballard, Apostle, was born Feb. 9, 1873,
at Logan, Cache county, Utah, the son of Bishop Henry Ballard and Margaret
McNeil. His parents, who emigrated to Utah in 1852, were numbered among
the old sturdy pioneers, who endured the hardships incident to travel over
the plains with ox teams and who assisted in the establishment of the great
Western empire, making the "desert blossom as the rose" and laying upon
the rocks a foundation that will weather every storm during the ages to
come. They were exceptionally unassuming and succeeded in living the divine
law as nearly perfect as seems possible to mortals. A few years prior to
the birth of Melvin, much sickness and numerous deaths visited the home
of the Ballards until it appeared at times as if they were forsaken, yet
never a word of complaint fell from their lips, nor did they ever deny
the power of God, who, in the midst of all these trials and sorrows, had
comforted them with a testimony that God lives and overrules to bring about
the perfection of his obedient children.
Upon one of these sad occasions, when the clouds
of darkness hovered long about them, the mother, with a "broken heart and
a contrite spirit," bowed in solemn supplication before her Father, and
received the assuring comfort that she should be given a son who would
be numbered as one of the Apostles of the Lamb, and to her last day she
maintained that this would come to pass just as it had been revealed to
her. This knowledge was one of the many blessings which sustained and cheered
her long years of toil and sacrifice.
The boyhood days of Melvin were spent upon his father's
farm, and in attending school as time and means permitted. He was a devoted
worker and possessed a studious mind, aiming to qualify himself for what
he felt to be his life's mission, the salvation of his fellow-men. He succeeded
well in acquiring a common school education in the midst of difficulties.
The divine art, music, made up a large part of his nature, the development
of which brought joy mingled with tears to thousands of souls, and no one
in his home county was more gratefully and lovingly remembered in this
respect than was he. Few funerals were held where the sadness of the occasion
was not made brighter by the sympathetic strains of melody as they pierced
into the very hearts of those who needed comfort.
Melvin was baptized and confirmed on his eighth birthday
by his father. In 1884 he was ordained a Deacon. In this capacity, as a
boy, he first learned obedience in the operations of the Priesthood. He
was prompt in attending his quorum meetings, in caring for the Ward meeting
house, keeping it clean, making fires, and in doing whatever was essential
for the comfort of those who attended Ward gatherings. In those days it
was customary for the Deacons quorums throughout the Church to chop wood
for the widows and poor among the people, and in this work young Melvin
took great delight. Especially was it his custom to spend a part of each
Christmas day, with a sleigh as a vehicle, in distributing gifts which
had been given through his father, the Bishop, for the blessings and comfort
of the widows and orphans and those in need.
As a Priest, to which office he was ordained, Dec.
27, 1891, by his father, he manifested the same zeal and love for God's
work that he had done while acting as a Deacon. In this calling he traveled
as a teacher among the Ward members and received his first experience as
a preacher of the gospel. His love for this constantly increased, and he
endeared himself in the hearts of the people until they looked upon him
as indeed a bearer of glad tidings.
Elder Ballard entered the Brigham Young College and
graduated with the class of 1894 in the business course, following which
he became a member of the faculty and taught music. The Higher Priesthood
was conferred upon him Feb. 5, 1895, at which time he was ordained an Elder,
and succeeded in magnifying his holy calling to the entire satisfaction
of those who presided over him. At about this time he became acquainted
with Miss Martha A. Jones and they were married in the Logan Temple June
On the sixth of July, 1896, Elder Ballard was ordained
a Seventy by Apostle John Henry Smith
and on the following day he was set apart as a missionary to labor with
Elders Brigham H. Roberts and George
D. Pyper to hold meetings in the larger cities of the United States. This
special mission was continued for several months, and upon the return of
Elder Roberts and Pyper to Utah, Elder Ballard was assigned to the Northern
States Mission, where he labored with his usual energy. He was appointed
president of the Southern Illinois Conference, in which capacity he served
until honorably released to return home in December, 1898.
In 1899, he assisted in organizing the Logan Knitting
Factory, one of the leading factories of the State. He also assisted in
organizing the Logan Commercial Club which was later united with the Booster's
Club under the name of Commercial-Boosters Club. He served two terms as
president and director of that organization. During the same year he was
set apart as one of the presidents of the 40th quorum of Seventy, which
position he filled with signal honor. In January, 1899, he held a week's
discussion with one of the ministers of the Reorganized Church upon the
question of succession, and succeeded in establishing in the hearts of
the hearers the fact that the authority of the Priesthood is with the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Brother Ballard was ordained a High Priest, April
23, 1900, by Apostle Francis M. Lyman,
and by him set apart as a counselor to the Bishop of the Logan Second ward,
where he labored untiringly until 1906, when he was called as an alternate
High Councilor in the Cache Stake of Zion, in which position he was afforded
an opportunity of enlarging upon his usefulness because of a larger field
in which to labor. At this time he had become a recognized speaker of exceptional
ability, and his services were sought after by Bishops and presidents of
auxiliary associations in his own and adjoining Stakes of Zion.
During the winter of 1902-1903 he was called upon
a short mission to Boise, Idaho, and assisted President Joseph W. McMurrin
in organizing the scattered saints into a branch, which they successfully
accomplished to the joy and comfort of many who had been long deprived
of the blessings of an organization. Many public meetings were held which
resulted in bringing several into the fold of the Redeemer. This small beginning
later resulted in the organization of the Boise Stake of Zion.
Notwithstanding his strenuous religious and business
activities, he found time to serve in a civil way as a city councilman,
and as a member of the civic organizations of the city and county. For
three years he served upon the Stake Board of Young Men's Mutual Improvement
Association and Religion Classes; acted for many years as chorister of
the Logan Second Ward, and was chairman of the Cache Stake Tabernacle choir
for seventeen years, and assisted in installing a $15,000 pipe organ. While
engaged primarily in Stake work he always found time to assist in a Ward
capacity, for he was a devoted teacher in the Sunday school and president
of the Y. M. M. I. A. for several years.
Being called to preside over the Northwestern States
Mission he was set apart for this very responsible position April 6, 1909.
During his ten years of presidency, he presided over hundreds of young
men and women missionaries, all of whom loved him with exceptional devotion.
Thousands of saints also regard him as a man of God, devoted to the uplift
of humanity. His friends are legion in the Northwest and are numbered among
the leading business and professional men. Many chapels were built under
his direction, and the spiritual and financial condition of the saints
Elder Ballard was ordained an Apostle, Jan. 7, 1919,
by President Heber J. Grant to fill a vacancy caused by the reorganization
of the First Presidency. The appointment of Elder Ballard as a member of
the Council of Twelve, in harmony with the revelation to his mother before
his birth, was further evidence of the beautiful harmony that comes through
the operations of the Spirit of God through his humble and devoted children.
His appointment gave universal satisfaction, and he entered upon his new
duties with the love and affection of the saints everywhere. Brother and
Sister Ballard were the parents of eight children.
After faithful service in the Quorum of the Twelve
for twenty years, Elder Ballard died July 30, 1939 at Salt Lake City, Utah.
The LDS Biographical Encyclopedia
2005 Church Almanac, p. 65
Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation