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The Ward Family


Linda Twamley


Many families in the Red River Valley have a right to beproud of their heritage. Some of the families can trace their ancestorsway back to colonial times. One of these families is the Ward Family. TheWards can trace their ancestors back to William Ward who is recorded asbeing in America in 1639.

William Ward is believed to have come to America around1639. According to the records of Sudbury, William Ward shared in a divisionof a plantation. At that time, he is recorded as having his second wifeand several children with him. William Ward was made freeman in 1643, representedSudbury in the General Court in 1644, and was for several years, Chairmanof the selectman. He was still Chairman in 1660 when he left Sudbury tolive in Marlbourough. Here he was chosen deacon of the church when it wasstarted. His home stood not far from the site of the first Meeting House,which was not far from where the Gates Academy now stands.

William Ward, although being a distinguished gentleman,still suffered great hardships. Especially during King Phillip's war in1675 - 1676, when his buildings were burned and his cattle destroyed - andone of his sons was killed by the enemy.

William Ward died at Marlbourough, August 10, 1687. Butnobody knows his correct age. He is supposed to have been around 85 or 90.Circumstances and facts point to the latter. On December 9, 1700, his wifedied at the age of 87 years. They left 14 children, one was drowned in 1666.

From William Ward's descendants have come many distinguishedpeople. Some have become quite famous. One is Artemas Ward. He was bornin Shrewbury, Massachusetts, November 26, 1727 and died there October 28,1800. Artemas Ward is noted to have opposed the royal authority of Englandvigorously, and thus became a respected officer. He was promoted to colonelof the 3rd Regiment after he participated in the battle of Ticonderoga.In October 1744, he was appointed Brigadier General by the provincial Congressand on May 19, 1775, he was appointed Commander in Chief of the Massachusettstroops. Thus, he is credited with being in command at Bunker Hill. ArtemasWard directed the siege of Boston until he was relieved of command by GeorgeWashington on July 3, 1775. Because of illness, Artemas Ward resigned fromthe Army in March 1776. Then he went on to serve in a high judicial office,was president of his state's executive council, delegate to the ContinentalCongress, and Federalist Congressman from 1791 - 1795. The homestead ofArtemas Ward is now owned by Harvard and preserved as a monument.

The Wards, after Artemas Ward up to Lysander C. Ward, allmanaged to somehow put a small dent in history. Many of them were leadersin their towns or states. Some were priests. All were well educated.

Once one reaches Lysander C. Ward, one starts to find presentday Wards. To the Wards who live in the Red River Valley, Lysander C. isthe grandfather. He was born in 1845. He married Lucy Cook in 1871 and hedied in 1928. Lysander C. Ward's son was Walter Ward who was born in Avoca,Iowa, December 4, 1878. He is the father of Laurence (July 6, 1908), Roger(June 26, 1910), Willis (December 21, 1915), and J. Eugene (December 5,1917).

In 1903, Walter moved to McArthur, North Dakota. Then,on August 1, 1907, he married Nellie Pritchard at Avoca, Iowa. Coming backto North Dakota with his blushing bride, he built a house on some land westof McArthur, North Dakota. One of the carpenters who helped to build thehouse was Norvil Babtie, who was the world's greatest speed skater at thattime.

On March 1, 1920, Walter moved his family to rural St.Vincent, Minnesota where he purchased a farm. The farm was located whereWillis Ward now lives. Walter Ward passed away March 1, 1956. He was laidto rest in the Joe River Cemetery. All of this boys attended Joe River School.Then Laurence, Roger, and Willis went on to graduate from the Humboldt HighSchool.

The Wards have always had a deep spiritual belief. Manyof their ancestors were preachers or missionaries. One of Walter Ward'ssisters was a missionary to South America for many years and another wasa missionary to Africa. In fact, one of her children was born in Africa.Several of the different cousins are now medical missionaries in South America.

Because of this deep spiritual belief, Walter felt it necessaryfor his boys to attend church. The first church they attended was the JolietteMethodist Church. Here, the boys attended Cradle Roll which we now knowas Sunday School. They attended this church till a church was built in McArthur.They had to ride eight miles in a wagon pulled by a team of horses to getto church. When they moved to Minnesota, they attended the North Star Church.Here, Walter Ward became a member of the Church Board, School Board, andElevator Board.

The Ward family has always been willing to sacrifice fortheir country. Many held positions of public trust and fulfilled it withhonor. They expected the responsibility of trust placed in them not forfinancial gain but for the opportunity of serving their friends and neighbors.

One of these Wards lives today. He is Laurence C. Ward,former County Commissioner of Kittson County, Walter Ward's first son. Laurencelives across the river from his father's farm.

Laurence can remember many things about his childhood.He recalls that during the prohibition days there used to be bootleggerscrossing their land to get to Canada. Here, the agents seized the bootleggerscars and ended up getting stuck. Then Laurence and his father and brothershitched up the never fail horses and pulled them out.

Around 1922, the Wards acquired their first automobile.One can be sure there were many times when they themselves became the onesto be pulled out.

The Ward family may have been slower than some in acquiringan auto, but they were the first in Kittson County to acquire a combinea swather. The combine was an International No. 11. The Wards acquired theirin the spring around 1927-28 then in the fall Morris Florence acquired oneso now there were two in Kittson County. Florence acquired a No. 8. Laurencecan recall that they used to work very late at night but since the pulltype combine did not have lights on it they lit matches every now and thento see where the swath was. Since the combines and swather were quite new,many people used to come out to the fields and stand for hours and watchthem work.

The Ward family then got something else new. In 1933, theyacquired the first oil burner in Kittson County. They got it from the NelsonBooker Hardware Store in Pembina. They have since sold it but from whatthe owners of it now say, it is still running.

Laurence and his brothers being typical boys liked ponysled rides. One day after Laurence and Roger finished a sled ride, theywent to the barn to put the pony away. The boys, tired of driving the pony,decided it would be too much work to pout him in his stall so they put himin the straw stall. Then they went up to the house. But when Walter camefrom getting a load of hay, he didn't see the pony and so he dumped theload into the stall. Walter went up to the house and asked Laurence wherethe pony was. The two confessed so they had to go out to the barn, get thepony out, then put all the straw back in. It was very dark in the barn asthere was no electricity at that time so they were very much afraid. Theystill haven't forgotten that lesson.

Another way to sleigh ride was to tie their sleds to acow's tail and then let the cows out on the road. They usually got a goodride but the only way to stop them was to cut the rope loose from the cow'stail. This was very hard to do as the cow kept right on running. Laurencestill has a scar on his finger where he cut it with his new knife when hetried to cut the sled loose.

Laurence remembers that they used to save the cream andwhen they got a five gallon can they sold it to get money for Christmaspresents. Each boy got $.25 apiece. Then they went in the sleigh to Pembinato buy presents for their brothers and folks. When they hung up their stockings,they got an apple, some peanuts and candy. It is had been a good year, theyalso got some clothing or a knife. When they got older, they each got awatch. The watches they received cost a dollar which at that time was consideredexpensive.

The Wards in this area are well known farmers. They raiselivestock as well as grain. In 1957 - 1958, they had the All American Sowand they held the title of Grand Champion for ten years straight. They raiseRegistered Crown Swiss Cows and grow certified seed tubers united potatoes.These they ship to Alabama.

Many families can trace their history back to their ancestors.But how many families have such a distinguished heritage? By following thewards right up to present day times, it is easy to see that a hundred yearsfrom now the present day Wards will become a part of their distinguishedheritage. So, be proud you Wards. You have earned the right!



Encyclopedia Americana - Artemas Ward: Encyclopedia Americana,Volume 28, Venice to Wilmot, John, Page 348

Ward, Andrew, Henshaw, The Ward Family, Published by SamuelG. Drake, No. 56, Cornhill, 1851, C.C.P. Moody, Printer, Old Dickinson PrintingOffice.

Ward, Laurence - Interview, January 10, 1971

lG. Drake, No. 56, Cornhill, 1851, C.C.P. Moody, Printer, Old Dickinson PrintingOffice.

Ward, Laurence - Interview, January 10, 1971