to Wealth From
Humble Birth Is Epochal
of "Midas Touch"
Although Ed Ballard's rise
from humble surroundings to the pinnacle of wealth is
well know locally, the midas touch was so fantastic that
it bears repetition. Beginning as a bowling alley helper
as a boy Ballard was taken under the wing of Lee. W.
Sinclair, owner of the hotel, and put in charge of the
With the rise in popularity of West Baden and French
Lick as playgrounds of America's wealthy society the
casino probed a bonanza. Later he acquired an interest in
Brown's, which became world famous as a gaming place in
Every business venture that Ballard undertook turned
out with magical success. He purchased every major circus
in the United States, except Ringling Brothers and just
before the depression began, sold out all these interest
at a huge profit.
Even as late as two or three years ago it is reported
that a million or more bushels of wheat were bought at
that commodity's low and sold shortly after at over twice
it's purchase price.
In addition to his business interests Ballard was the
owner of a string of blooded show horses and annually
entered them in the horse shows of the country capturing
In 1933 he closed the West Baden Springs Hotel and a
year later made an outright gift of the building and land
valued at over four million dollars to the Jesuits Order.
The once famous hotel is now West Baden College where a
hundred or more students study for the priesthood and
A note of irony can be seen in the whim of fate which
singled out this man for sensational accumulation of
wealth and then climaxes his colorful career with a
sensational and untimely death.
For Local Millionaire
Killed At Hot Springs
Last rites were
held here last Monday afternoon for Edward Ballard, 63,
millionaire sportsman of this place who was shot to death
in a Hot Springs, Ark. hotel suite last Friday (November
6, 1936) by Robert Alexander of Detroit, a former
business associate of Ballard's.
Funeral services were conducted by the Rev. Fr.
Donnelly, Rector of the West Baden College, in the atrium
of the college building which was formerly the West Baden
The body lay in state on the atrium from ten o'clock
Monday morning until the funeral at two o'clock that
afternoon. Hundreds of persons passed by the bier during
these hours and returned or remained for the funeral
The service was brief, but one of the most impressive
that has ever been witnessed in the valley. The flower
banked bier was flanked in either side by a solid phalanx
of Jesuit students in clerical black as the funeral music
of the choir of male voices accompanied by the chapel
pipe organ reverberated through the rotunda.
Father Donnelly, in a brief message read one of the
psalms of David and dwelt on the benevolences of the
The funeral cortage moved to Ames Cemetery, four miles
east of French Lick where burial services were held. In
the same cemetery lie his father, mother and three
He is survived by his widow, one son, Charles Ballard,
one daughter, Mary, a brother George and many other
The funeral offered a striking contrast in the make up
of its cosmopolitan crowd. Notables from the sports,
business and political world, local business and
professional men, laborers, acquaintances and friends
both white and colored, the frankly curious and the
morbid minded gathered to make up one of the largest and
varied funeral crowds in local history.