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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


JAMES M. WARD. Soon after the advent of the pioneers in Central Illinois, and their discovery of a soil more than usually productive, the establishment of a nursery became a necessity among the other industries inaugurated by the enterprising men who drifted thitherward. Among these latter was the subject of this sketch, who is now recognized as one of the largest nurserymen and fruit growers in Scott County. He has eighty acres of finely cultivated land on section 35, township 15, range 14, and has for some years given early all of his attention to the propagation of choice nursery stock. He is of that genial, courteous and obliging disposition, which has not only gained him many personal friends, but which has been the means of securing him a large patronage, both in this and adjoining counties.

An Ohio man by birth and training mostly, our subject first opened his eyes to the light in Newark Township, Lacking Co., Dec. 3, 1831. His father, Stewart Ward, Esq., was born in Beaver County, Pa., in 1792, and was the son of John W. Ward, a native of England, who came to America in 1790, lived for a time in the Keystone State, and then in 1800 emigrated to Ohio, settling in Licking County, before the Territory had been transformed into a State. He improved a farm from the wilderness, and there spent the remainder of his days.

The father of our subject was reared amid the wild scenes of pioneer life, in Licking County, Ohio, where he received a limited education, but grew up healthy in mind and body, and like his father before him, engaged in agricultural pursuits. His life passed uneventfully (with the exception of serving as a Corporal in the War of 1812) until 1830, when he set out for the farther West, and located first in Putnam County, this State, near the present site of Magnolia. Two years later he removed to the vicinity of the Fox River, in Kendall County, where he entered a claim, but was driven out by the Indians, and took up his abode near Ottawa.

In the fall of 1832, Stewart Ward changed his residence to a point near the present site of Bloomington, where he engaged in farming until 1841. That year, crossing the Mississippi with his family, he took up his abode in Gentry County, Mo., repeated the experiment of reclaiming a portion of the wilderness, and built up a comfortable homestead, where he remained until his decease, in July, 1841. He possessed at the sturdy elements of the pioneer, and for a long period officiated as a Deacon in the Baptist Church. He married Miss Anna McGinley, a native of Pennsylvania, who died in 1843, aged fifty years.

James McGinley, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was born in the North of Ireland, and upon emigrating to America, located first in Pennsylvania, and then like the Ward family pushed further westward into Ohio. He was one of the pioneers of that region, and engaged as a contractor during the construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal from Cleveland to Portsmouth. In 1830, however, he made another removal, coming to Illinois and locating near what was then the hamlet of Bloomington, and where his death took place in 1836.

To the parents of our subject there were born six children, viz.: James M., our subject, who is the eldest; Martha A., and Catherine, who are residents of Bloomington; Rebecca, who died when four years of age; Orlando, who died in 1839, and Henry, a resident of Davies county, Mo.; James M. with his brothers and sisters spent his life in a manner common to the sons of pioneer farmers, acquiring his education in the district school. He was a lad of nine years when the family set out from Ohio to Illinois, overland by team, and still remembers many of the incidents of the journey, the settlement near Bloomington and Fox Lake, and how the Black Hawk Indians frequently passed through the country. He also recollects the agitation which culminated in the removal of the family to Ottowa for safety from the Indians. Later in life he attended the High School, which was established in Bloomington, and at the age of nineteen years engaged as a teacher, which profession he followed about three years.

Mr. Ward, in 1845, made his first purchase of land about eight miles west of Bloomington, and the improvement of which he carried on very successfully. In due time, by additional purchases, he became the owner of 360 acres, the whole of which he brought to a good state of cultivation. This accomplished, and desirous of more land to conquer, he disposed of his interests in McLean County, and in April 1866, emigrated across the Mississippi into Macon County, Mo. There he purchased eighty acres first, and afterward became owner of 300 acres in Randolph County, all of which he improved, and lived there until 1869. In January of that year he came to Scott County, and purchased the land which he now owns and operates.

Upon this place Mr. Ward has effected fine improvements, and is well equipped with all the appliances necessary for carrying on the nursery business. About thirty acres is devoted to the growing of apple, peach and evergreen trees, while he has a large assortment of flowering and other choice plants. His specialty, however, is the smaller fruits, great quantities of which he ships annually to Peoria, Chicago, and other points. A portion of his land is devoted to farming on a small scale, and he raises a goodly number of Poland-China swine.

Near Bloomington, McLean County, this State, on the 6th of February, 1842, our subject was united in marriage with Miss Clarinda Barker. This lady was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 16, 1823, and is the daughter of Samuel Barker, who located near Bloomington in the spring of 1832, being among its earliest settlers. To Mr. and Mrs. Ward there were born eighty children, only four of whom are living. Charles died in 1858, when a promising youth of sixteen years.

George Ward, during the late Civil War, enlisted in the 94th Illinois Infantry, was mustered in at Bloomington, in the fall of 1862, and participated in all the battles in which his regiment engaged, serving until the close. Then returning home, he is now engaged in farming. Albert is married and engaged in the commission business at Saulsbury, Mo.; Levi died at the age of eleven; Alice became the wife of Amos W. Harrison, of McLean County, and died April 12, 1881; Samuel is a resident of Canton, Mo., and is engaged in teaming; Henry died when a little lad of five years; Daniel was graduated from the Christian University, at Canton, Mo., and is Principal of the Fountain school in Pueblo, Colo.

Mr. Ward cast his first Presidential vote for William H. Harrison. He is now a lively Prohibitionist, and frequently is sent as a delegate to the County Conventions. He has served on the Grand and Petit Juries, and as School Director, Justice of the Peace, and Township Clerk. He is an active member of the Christian Church at Naples, in which he has been an Elder for the long period of thirty years, also served as Clerk, Trustee and Superintendent of the Sunday-school at Naples, twenty years. Socially, he belongs to the I.O.O.F., at Naples, and has represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge at Springfield. Mr. and Mrs. Ward are proud in the possession of twenty-eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

1889 Index
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