Ward

There was something unusual in that green-looking country boy.

In which the Indianapolis Freeman enlightens us regarding Joseph H. Ward‘s journey from Wilson to Naptown:

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Indianapolis Freeman, 22 July 1899.

A few notes:

  • Joseph Ward’s mother was Mittie Ward Vaughn. His father Napoleon Hagans was a prosperous free-born farmer in Wayne County near Fremont.
  • The school in LaGrange at which Ward worked was most likely Davis Military Academy:  “By 1880 a second school for boys … Davis Military Academy, was founded by Colonel Adam C. Davis. “School Town” became La Grange’s nickname as the military school would eventually have an enrollment of 300 students from every state and even some foreign countries. The school also had a band, the only cadet orchestra in the country during that time. The school prospered, but an outbreak of meningitis closed it in 1889.”
  • Dr. George Hasty was a founder of the Physio-Medical College of Indianapolis, which Joseph Ward later attended.

Physio-Medical College of Indiana, undated. IUPUI Image Collection.

Sankofa: the Wards come home.

Joseph Henry Ward left Wilson in the late 1880s on a journey that would lead him to a trail-blazing career as a physician in Indiana and Alabama. It does not appear that he ever returned to his birthplace. Yesterday, however, his granddaughter and great-granddaughter, both born and reared in the Midwest, came home. Zella Palmer FaceTimed me as she and her mother Alice Roberts Palmer stood outside David G.W. Ward‘s house near Stantonsburg, the house in which Joseph Ward’s mother Mittie Ward and grandmother Sarah Ward toiled while enslaved. David Ward was the father of at least three of Sarah Ward’s children, including Mittie.

Cousin Alice is an accomplished educator and politician, a former member of the Illinois state senate. Zella is chair of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture in New Orleans. One hundred and thirty years after Joseph Ward left Wilson County, in the spirit of sankofa, they returned to claim their ancestors. There was laughter — Zella said she felt like she was in a scene from The Color Purple — and tears, as Cousin Alice, standing in her people’s footsteps, recalled the teachers who told her that black people did not have any history. The pilgrimage to North Carolina included time in Robeson County at a Lumbee pow-wow in honor of Dr. Ward’s wife, Zella’s namesake, Zella Locklear Ward. It was “magical, spiritual and sobering,” Cousin Alice said.

I’m so thankful to have been able to share, even if remotely, this incredible homecoming with you, cousins!

Zella’s photo of the house in which her great-great-great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother were enslaved by her great-great-great-grandfather.

1100 East Nash Street and 1208 Woodard Avenue.

The one hundred-seventh in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

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 Wilson Daily Times, 12 April 1946.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, 1100 East Nash Street: “ca. 1913; 2 stories; Sallie Barbour house; Queen Anne house with hip-roofed main block and front two-story wing; asphalt veneer; modernized porch; Barbour was noted schoolteacher whose name was given to the former black elementary school (Wilson Colored School) that once stood on Stantonsburg Road.” The house was demolished in the early 1990s.

In the 1922, 1925 and 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Parker Allison (c; Mary) hlpr h1100 E Nash

Allison Parker died 27 January 1930. Per his death certificate, he was 75 years old; was born in Halifax County, North Carolina, to Hillard and Dianah Parker; was married to Mary Parker; lived at 1100 East Nash; and worked as a housecleaner. Cause of death: “heart attack probably died suddenly while sitting up in chair. Died before Doctor reached him.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1100 East Nash Street, Sallie Barber, 67, widowed public school teacher, and her sister Tiny Hill, 69, also a widowed teacher.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barbour Sallie M (c) h1100 E Nash; Barbour Luther (c) barber h 1100 E Nash

Sallie Minnie Barbour died 22 April 1942 at her home at 1100 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 71 years old; was born in Wake County to Essex Blake and Clara Hodge; was a widow; and was a schoolteacher. Ardelia Nunn, 1100 East Nash, was informant.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Rogers Rufus (c; Dora) tob wkr Export Tob h1100 E Nash

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, 1208 Woodard Avenue is: “ca. 1917; 1 story; shotgun with gable returns and hip-roofed porch; asphalt veneer.”

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, this house was vacant. In the 1930 directory: Davis John (c; Vinie) h 1208 Woodard Av

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1208 Woodard Avenue, rented for $12/month, sawmill laborer William Davis, 42; wife Vina, 42; and children Margana, 17, Curtis, 14, Viola, 13, Arabella, 8, Castella, 7, James, 5, Laura J., 4, and Augusta, 3.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Nash Sidney (c) tob wkr h1208 Woodard av

In 1942, Alvin Sidney Nash registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 9 August 1900; lived at 1208 Woodard Avenue, Wilson; his contact was Rosa Nash Battle, 913 Washington Street; and he worked for W.T. Clark’s Tobacco Factory, Wilson.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Floyd (c; Beatrice) rodmn City h1208 Woodard av

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

The obituary of Dr. Joseph H. Ward.

The Indianapolis Star, 13 December 1956.

Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward passed away in Indianapolis in December 1956. Read more about him here and here.

A letter in which W.E.B. DuBois expresses his support of the selection of Dr. Ward to receive the Spingarn Medal in 1933. (It instead went to Y.M.C.A. missionary Max Yeargan.)

Iconic photograph of Major (later Colonel) Joseph H. Ward during his World War I service, from Emmett J. Scott’s The American Negro in the World War (1919).

Document courtesy of Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. Memorandum from W. E. B. Du Bois to Spingarn Medal Award Committee, January 2, 1933. W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Artis’ Cafe padlocked.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 February 1939.

  • June Scott Artis — A history of Stantonsburg gave the date of the cafe’s opening as 1947, which apparently was off by at least a decade. It remained in business into the 1960s.
  • Edgar Artis, June S. Artis’ son.
  • Walter Ward — The 6 February 1939 edition of the Wilson Daily Times reported that Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 15 to 18-year sentence.
  • H.B. Swenson — H.B. Swinson died 28 January 1939. Per his death certificate, he was “murdered, knife wound of breast”; was born 18 April 1913 in Greene County to Allen Swinson and Henrietta Applewhite of Greene County; lived i Stantonsburg; and worked in farming.

Wilsonian Ward appointed Chief Surgeon at Tuskegee.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 January 1924.

More than 40 years after he left, the link between Dr. Joseph H. Ward and Wilson was well-enough known that the Daily Times printed an article about his appointment as Chief Surgeon at Tuskegee’s veterans hospital.

Students at the colored orphanage.

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For “School Session September 1929 to May 1929,” the Roster of Students for the Oxford Colored Orphanage listed six children from Wilson: Madell Moore; Julian and Joseph Covington; and Dempsey, Malachi and Kurfew Ward.

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  • Madell Moore — in the 1930 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, Maedall Moore, 9, is listed as an inmate of the Oxford Colored Orphanage of North Carolina.
  • Julian Covington
  • Joseph Covington
  • Dempsey Ward — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 703 Viola Street, house carpenter Jessie Ward, 36; wife Mary, 34; and children Mabel, 17, Gertrude, 12, Kerfus, 7, Malachi, 5, Dempsey, 3, Virginia, 2, and Sara, 1 month. In the 1930 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, Dempsey Ward, 14, farm laborer, is listed as an inmate of the Oxford Colored Orphanage of North Carolina. (Neither his brothers nor the Covingtons are listed.)
  • Malachi Ward — Malachi Ward died 14 February 1963 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 November 1919 in Wilson, N.C., to Jesse Ward and Mary Sherrod; he resided at 2819 North 11th Street, Philadelphia; and he worked as a barber. Kerfew Ward of Compton, California, was informant.
  • Kurfew Ward — Kurfew Melvin Ward was born 17 December 1912 in Wayne County, North Carolina. On 15 September 1937, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, issued a marriage license for Kurfew M. Ward, 24, and Elizabeth Brown, 19, both residents of Pittsburgh. Per their application, Wars was born 17 December 1912 to Jesse Ward and Mary Sheard, both dead; was from Wilson, N.C.; worked as a laborer; and lived at 621 Whittier. Brown resided at 107 Pugh and was the daughter of Earl Brown of Pittsburgh and Blanche Brown of Virginia. In the 1954 city directory of Compton, California: Kerfew M. Ward, plasterer, with Elizabeth J. Ward. Kurfew M. Ward died 4 July 1970 in Los Angeles, California.

Annual Reports of the Colored Orphanage Oxford, N.C. is available at https://archive.org/details/reporttoboardofd19201944.

Elm City news.

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New York Age, 12 July 1930.

  • Bedford Severage – Bedford Savage Lucas was born about 1907 to Frank Savage and Serena Woodard. She married Elias Lucas on 6 July 1930 in Wilson and died 25 July 1965 in Wilson.
  • Elias Lucas – Elias Joseph Lucas was born in Elm City in 1908 to Haywood and Cora Williams Lucas.
  • Alice Hunter — in the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township, Wilson County: Eliza Pinkney, 34, and sister Alice Hunter, 40. Alice Hunter died 20 April 1960 in Elm City. Her death certificate lists her parents as Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane Pitt, and Eliza Pinkney was the informant. Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane Pitt married 11 April 1878 in Toisnot township. Per estate records, Hunter died about 1893.
  • Eliza Pinkney – Eliza Pinkney, wife of Jim Pinkney and daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jones, died 10 July 1969 in Wilson.
  • Mary Hunter – Mary Whitehead Hunter, born 1886 in Nash County to Benjamin and Frances Whitehead, was the wife of Alice and Eliza’s brother Willie Hunter. She died 1 July 1930 in Wilson.
  • Katie Wynn – in the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township, Wilson County: railroad shifter Jessie Winn, 38; wife Katie, 37; and children Ralph, 16; George, 14; Charlie, 9; Jennie M., 7; Marie, 6; Herbert, 4; Katie, 2; and Edward Winn, 1. Katie Davis Wynn was born 30 May 1901 in Edgecombe County to John and Mary Williams Davis. She did 13 June 1963 in Elm City. Jessie Wynn died in 1946.
  • Genevieve Ward — Genevieve Ward was born in 1912 to Peter James Ward and Vallie Hockaday Ward. In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: railroad laborer Peter Ward, 35; wife Vallie, 28; and children V. Jennie V., 7; James, 6; and Eliza Ward, 3 months. Peter Ward, son of Jim and Phyliss Winstead Ward , died 17 October 1938 in Elm City.
  • Mamie Clyde Ricks Dantly –Mamie Clyde Ricks was born in 1909. At the time of the 1930 census, she had not yet joined her husband Aaron Dantley, who is shown living in a rooming house in Washington DC and working as a hotel waiter. Instead, she is listed as a 20 year-old in Elm City town, Toisnot township, with Ed Ricks, 52; Nannie, 50; Ruth, 16; and Eugene, 10 months.

MC Dantley

  • Mary Gaston — in the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township: Dewey Gaston, 30, barber; wife Mary, 20; and children Doris L., 5, and Victor H., 3. Next door in one direction: barbershop proprietor George Gaston, 72, and daughter Ada, a teacher, 43. In the other: John Gaston, 48, brickmason; wife Nannie, 41; daughters Pricilla, 21, and Minnie, 18; plus mother-in-law Mary Barnes, 62. Dewey Gaston, 23, son of George and Priscilla Gaston, married Mary B. Howard, 24, daughter of Mary E. Darden, on 8 March 1923 in Tarboro, Edgecombe County. Witnesses were Mancie Gaston and Fannie F. Ricks of Elm City. Dewey Milton Gaston, born 11 November 1899 in Elm City, died 16 February 1948. His father George died 30 May 1934.
  • Charles and Clarence Nicholson — Charles B. Nicholson and Clarence Everard Nicholson were born 24 December 1914 in Elm City to Thomas Harrison Nicholson (originally of Halifax County) and Clara Williams Nicholson. [Which golf course could African Americans play on in Wilson in 1930?]

David G.W. Ward plantation.

The Ward-Applewhite-Thompson House is a historic plantation home located near Stantonsburg, Wilson County’s oldest incorporated town. It was built about 1859 and is a boxy two-story, three-bay, double-pile, Greek Revival-style frame dwelling. It has a shallow hipped roof and wrap-around Colonial Revival style porch with Doric order columns added about 1900. Attached to the rear of the house is a gable roofed one-story kitchen connected by a breezeway.

“Country doctor” David G.W. Ward bought the property in 1857 and probably built the house two years later. (In the 1890s, his heirs sold it to heirs of W.H. Applewhite.) Situated on the confluence of Whiteoak and Goss Swamps, the old road to the coast (now Highway 58), and Contentnea Creek, the county’s only navigable waterway, “this well-watered, flat an fertile tract … was a prime site for the home of an important planter.” D.G.W. Ward, who was also a farmer and merchant and was active in local civic and social affairs, was such a man.

Though he could hardly have worked his vast acreage otherwise, as usual, the Nomination Form glosses over Ward’s slave ownership. In a discussion of his residency, a footnote mentions that Ward is listed with 46 slaves in the 1850 Greene County slave schedule. In the 1860 census of Greene, he is credited with owning 54. Among them were Sarah Ward and her children Henry, Mittie and Appie, who were his children, too. Ward owned extensive property in both counties and likely maintained quarters in both. Certainly, his slaves labored across county lines.

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Ward-Applewhite-Thompson house, February 2014.

The Civil War set D.G.W. Ward back, but not for long. When he died in 1887, he stood possessed of more than 1900 acres in Wilson and Greene Counties.

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Wilson Advance, 22 August 1889.

For a personal account of my history with this house, see here.