Velma Ballew
of Navarro County, Texas


Biography Index || Corsicana Daily Sun




11/21/2004 Remembering history: From Silver Lake to the tornado of 1930, Ballew tells all

Velma Ballew has been city secretary at Frost City Hall for the last 24 years. When the subject of Frost history comes up, she is the person to talk to. Daily Sun photo/ SCOTT HONEA


If there is anything you would like to know about the history of Frost such as, Silver Lake, or the tornado of 1930, or even old businesses downtown, then all you'll need to do is talk to Velma Ballew.

Born in South Carolina, Velma moved to Frost with her family at the age of 13. After graduating from Frost High School, she went on to attend Navarro College before marrying Robert Lynn Ballew. The couple left Frost and moved to Houston, but soon after the birth of two children, the Ballews decided big city living wasn't the environment they wanted to raise their children in.

"Back then, I couldn't wait to get out of town," Ballew said. "Houston was nice, but we decided that Frost was where we wanted to be. We wanted our children to be close to their grandparents."

The rest, you could say, is history.

Ballew has been the city secretary for Frost over the last 24 years, and could also carry the title of historian as well. She, and co-worker Mary Henderson, handle all of the city's collections from water bills to collecting fines, to building permits and property tax payments.

"It's busy on a lot of days," Ballew said. "There may be times when one or two people come in to pay their bills, and then there are days they come in one after another."
Besides her job, Ballew has a deep love for history ... especially Frost history.

Ballew remembers the reception she and her family received after moving to Frost as a girl.

"It was very exciting, and the people here accepted us and seemed glad to have us here," Ballew said. "That's how folks were back then. It was always a big deal when somebody new moved to town."

Ballew learned much of the history of the town, when several of the ladies would ask her to memorize a lot of what they told her.

"Faye McCrary told me most of it," Ballew said. "She told me about the tornado that hit town back in 1930. Her house was hit by the tornado, but the only damage was to the front porch."

Ballew said McCrary was lucky, but most of the town was not, especially the downtown area.

She can tell you the story about the time the railroad built a lake (Silver Lake) just a couple of blocks from the downtown area, and the pavilion that used to sit where the football and baseball field is now.

"The pavilion used to have a variety of events and had three piers for people to fish off of," Ballew said. "There was even a man that ran a steamboat out on the lake, and would take people on excursions."

From the bank robbery of 1935 to the tallest man to ever live in Frost, Ballew can bring you up to date on just about any event that took place in the town.

"It seemed that life was simple back then," Ballew said. "I do miss talking with those who were able to tell me the stories though. I learned a lot from those ladies growing up."

Ballew said a lot has changed in the town. There are no more small farmers here anymore, there's only a handful of large farms left around the community. She said even the lake has disappeared due to the expense of keeping it cleaned out because of the dust and sand that would build up in it.

"We had places you could buy clothes, shoes and groceries," Ballew said. "There was even a beauty shop and a barber shop, two pharmacies, a couple of banks, a hardware store and a lumber yard."

Ballew said most of the folks would agree, they are thankful to still have a bank, a gas station, a school, a couple of cafes and churches in the town.

The next time you travel on Highway 22, stop in the little community of Frost and make sure you visit city hall. Inside you'll find yourself virtually surrounded by the history of this once great town, and maybe -- if there's not too many customers -- Velma Ballew can tell you one of the many stories pasted down to her from those who once lived to tell the tale.

Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright February, 2020
Edward L. Williams