Mother Ward has departed this life.


Pittsburgh Courier, 19 April 1924.


Mittie Roena Ward was the mother of Dr. Joseph H. Ward, the Wilson-born Indianapolis doctor featured in my first blog entry. Mittie and her twin sister Apsilla, “Appie,” were born in 1849 to Sarah Ward in Greene County on the plantation of David G.W. Ward, who was their father as well as owner. [Ward’s plantation extended into Wilson County, and I have blogged about his home just south of Stantonsburg here.]


Mittie’s twin, Appie Ward Hagans, perhaps 1880s.

On 12 July 1866, Sarah Ward and Sam Darden filed their cohabitation in Wilson County. This registration, which formalized the marriages of ex-slaves, noted that they had been married five years, well after the births of Sarah’s children. Daughter Appie married Napoleon Hagans of Nahunta, Wayne County, circa 1867, and on 16 June 1870, Henry Ward, son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes, daughter of Henry Forbes, in Wilson. The couple appear next door to the Forbes family in the 1870 census of Wilson. On 6 May 1879, Mitty Finch [alias Mittie Ward] married Virginia-born Algernon Vaughn in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sarah Darden, 57, son-in-law Algia Vaughn, 23, daughter Mittie, 22, and grandchildren Joseph, 8, Sarah, 6, and Macinda Vaughn, 5 months. [Joseph “Vaughn” was actually Joseph Ward, listed with his stepfather’s surname.] Also living in Wilson, plow shop worker Henry Ward, 27, wife Sarah, 28, and children Walter, 9, Manora, 7, Lilly, 5, Claudius, 3, and Addie, 1.

Mittie’s daughter Sarah married William Moody in Wilson on 18 February 1892.


Before the decade was out, the entire family relocated to Washington DC to join William’s mother, Fannie. In the 1900 census of the District: William Moody (born 1872), wife Sarah S. (1876) and children Augustus (June 1894) and Crist Moody (1896), plus sister-in-law Minerva Vaughn (1890), mother-in-law Mittie Vaughn (1854), and mother Fannie Harris (1854), all born in North Carolina.

Soon after, however, Mittie joined her son Joseph Ward in Indianapolis, reverted permanently to her maiden name (though keeping the title “Mrs.”), and began a peripatetic life that saw her in and out of the households of her children. The Indianapolis Recorder, an African-American news weekly, kept close tabs on the mother of one of the city’s most illustrious residents:

  • “Mrs. Mittie Ward, mother of Dr. J.H. Ward will leave today for Washington, D.C., to spend the winter with her daughter, Mrs. Sarah Moody. Her youngest daughter will remain in the city with her brother Dr. Ward.”  [12 December 1903]
  • “Ward-Artis.  On Wednesday June 22, at high noon the wedding of Miss Minerva Ward, the daughter of Mrs. Mittie Ward and sister of one of our prominent physicians Dr. Joseph H. Ward, and Mr. Dillard Artis, of Marion, will be celebrated in the presence of the immediate family and a few intimate friends. Rev. Morris Lewis assisted by Rev. T.A. Smythe will perform the ceremony. They will leave at 5 p.m. for Marion, where a wedding reception will be given from 8 to 11 p.m., at 920 S. Boot street, the home of the groom. The bride is well and favorably known in our city’s best circles and is a favorite in the younger social set. The groom is a prominent cement contractor of Marion and a highly respected citizen, owning a great deal of property, which he has accumulated by his industry and business tact. They will be at home at 920 S. Boot street, Marion.”  [18 June 1910]
  • “Mrs. Minerva Ward Artis of Marion, spent the holidays with her mother, Mrs. Mittie Ward, of the city.”  [31 December 1910]
  • “Mrs. Dillard Artis of Marion, was in the city a few days this week. Mrs. Artis is visiting her brother, Dr. J.H. Ward and her mother, Mrs. Mittie Ward.”  [18 February 1911]
  • “Dr. J. Ward of Indianapolis and Master Joseph were guests of his mother Mrs. Mittie Ward and sister Mrs. S.D. Artis of S. Boots street Wednesday.”  [19 August 1911]
  • “Mrs. Mittie Ward of Indianapolis, who has been the guest of her daughter for the past week Mrs. S.D. Artis returned home Saturday and on December 5, will leave for Washington, D.C. to spend the winter with her daughter.”   [2 December 1911]
  • “Dr. J.H. Ward of Indianapolis was called to this city [Marion, Indiana] the first part of this week to attend the bedside of his mother, Mrs. Mittie Ward, who is ill at the home of her daughter, Mrs. S.D. Artis, in South Boots street.”  [25 November 1916]

It was during one of her visits with her daughter Sarah Moody in Washington, D.C., that Mittie Ward succumbed to a stroke.


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