We celebrate Dr. Joseph H. Ward this Veterans Day!

This past September, the Department of Veterans Affairs posthumously awarded an Exceptional Service Award to Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward for his leadership of the V.A.’s first all-Black hospital “during an era of severe discrimination and racial hostility.”

To learn more about Dr. Ward and Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital, see this recent NPR piece, A Century Ago, Black WWI Vets Demanded Better Care. They Got Their Own Hospital, and this National Archives blogpost, The Trials and Triumphs of Dr. Joseph H. Ward.

Dr. Joseph H. Ward stands at center in the first row in the photograph taken of the V.A. Hospital’s ground-breaking all-Black medical staff.


Dr. Ward pays a visit.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 21 July 1931.

I found this odd article while searching for a digital version of the article re Rev. J.P. Stanley’s funeral. It purports to highlight Col. Joseph H. Ward, but mangles the facts of his life — starting with his name, which was not John D.

As a reminder, Joseph H. Ward’s mother, Mittie R. Ward, was the daughter of Dr. David G.W. Ward and Sarah Ward, an enslaved woman. So, Mittie was born enslaved, but her son Joseph, who was not born until 1872, decidedly was not. And he didn’t “take” his own surname, it was given to him by his mother at birth. Misinformation aside, what caught my eye here was Dr. Ward’s visit to his half-uncle, Judge David L. Ward — who was an unvarnished white supremacist in the mold of Josephus Daniels, Charles B. Aycock, and Furnifold M. Simmons.

The funeral of Dr. J.P. Stanley of New Bern.

I came across this transcript of an article in the 14 July 1931  edition of The New Bernian in Afro-American Death Notices From Eastern North Carolina Newspapers 1859-1935, Berry Munson, editor:

An overwhelming crowd turned out Sunday to pay tribute of respect to the late Dr. Judge Pickett Stanley, whose funeral was conducted at St. Peters church on Sunday at 4 o’clock. Rev. H.R. Hawkins, pastor, officiated, assisted by the Rev. Maultsby, Branch, Sutton, Todd, Love, and Johnson. Resolutions from the church were read by Prof. W.S. Todd; there was a solo by Mrs. Ella Battle; statement from the family by Rev. W.F. Todd who also gave intimate remarks about the deceased. Rev. Hawkins preached from the text, “There is a time to die,” an eloquent discourse on the meaning of life and death. An impressive part of the service was the address by Col. J.H. Ward, commanding officer at U.S. Veterans hospital in Tuskegee where Dr. Stanley had worked for several years. He closed by reading  resolutions from the staff of the hospital. The following members of the medical profession were present from out of the city. Drs. Bynum, Harrison and Wright of Kinston; Drs. Delaney, Sebastian, Winston, and Fleming of Raleigh; Drs. Dilliard and Williams of Goldsboro; Dr. Battle of Greenville; Dr. Dudley of Veterans Hospital, Tuskegee. These with our local staff, Drs. Mann, Fisher, Munford, Martin, Davies, Alston and Hill were honorary pall-bearers. The active pallbearers were I.H. Smith, Guy Howard, Jessie Pearson, W.S. Todd, W.T. Lewis, L.C. Starkey and Ambrose Harget. Other visitors were W.C. Redding of Kinston; Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Fisher and Camillus Darden of Wilson; Miss O.L. Bigsby of Tuskegee; Miss Jessie Williams and friends of Goldsboro and Dr. and Mrs. Bynum of Kinston. Interment was in the family plot in Greenwood cemetery.


Friends with Wilson ties were:

The obituary of Ella Ward.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 June 1950.


In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Abraham Bynum, 47, a widower, and children Annie, 19, Addie, 18, Walter, 16, Oscar, 15, John, 12, Willie, 11, Hattie, 9, Ella, 7, Arthur, 1, and Harley, 5.

On 15 November 1913, Albert Ward, 26, of Saratoga, married Ella Bynum, 20, of Saratoga, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: cropper Albert Ward, 30; wife Ella, 25, and children Willie, 4, and Robert, 11 months.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Albert Ward, 48, hired laborer in ditching; wife Ella, 42; son Robert Lee, 21, saw mill worker; and daughter Naomi, 19.

In 1940, Robert Lee Ward registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 7 January 1919 in Greene County, N.C.; lived in Saratoga, Wilson County; his contact was mother Ella Ward; and he worked for M.A. Tyson, Stantonsburg.

Ella Ward died 1 June 1950 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 November 1893 in Wilson County to Abraham Bynum and Jane Atkinson; was a widow; lived near Saratoga, Wilson County; and had worked in farming. Columbus Ward was informant.

Naomi Artis died 3 November 1963 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 May 1920 in Wilson County to Albert Ward and Ella Bynum; was married Frank Artis Jr.; and was a laborer. Martha Kay Artis was informant.

Columbus Ward died 2 April 1964 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 October 1916 in Wilson County to Albert Ward and Ella Bynum; was married to Helen Marie Ward; lived at 809 Mercer Street; and worked as a laborer.

Robert Lee Ward died 31 January 1971 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1919 to Albert Ward and Ella Bynum; was married to Florine Artis; lived in Stantonsburg; and worked as a farm and sawmill laborer.

The passing of Rev. Dr. Beauregard Ward, 102.

Rev. Dr. Beauregard “B.G.” Ward, 6 August 1920-11 June 2023.


In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer James Ward, 50; wife Addie, 39; children Maggie, 19, Oz, 17, Ida, 16, Joseph, 15, Ora, 12, Bourgard, 11, Charlie, 8, Leland, 5, Minnie L., 3, and Annie M., 0; and mother Sarah, 72, widow.

On 11 May 1939, Boiggard Ward, 21, of Wilson County, son of Jim and Annie Ward, married Bertha Dupree, 19, of Snow Hill, N.C., daughter Preston and Ada Dupree, in Snow Hill, Greene County.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Highway No. 264, farmer James Ward, 58; wife Addie, 46; and children Ida, 24, Charles, 18, Leland, 14, Minnie, 13, Annie, 10, Molena, 5, and Beauregard, 20; daughter-in-law Bertha Lee, 20; and grandson James Lee Barnes, 9.

In the 1950 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: proceeding east on Stantonsburg Black Creek Rd., farmer Beauregard Ward, 26; wife Bertha Lee, 26; children Boyd Lee, 9, Milton, 7, Gene Aubry, 5, Earnest, 4, Elnora, 3, Willie Gray, 2, and Linda Fay, born in August [1949]; and hired hand John L. Williams, 15.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 February 2009.

The obituary of Pfc. James F. Ward.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 February 1949.

Pfc. James F. Ward died while on active duty in the Pacific in October 1945. Three-and-a-half years later, his body was brought home for burial in Bethel A.M.E. Zion’s cemetery just south of Stantonsburg.


In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Frank Ward, 46, lumber piler at lumber factory; wife Pearl, 40, washerwoman; and children Viola and Virginia, 14, James F., 10, Mandy, 8, and Tom P., 4.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Frank Ward, 56, sawmill laborer; wife Dora, 39, washerwoman; and children Virginia, 24, James F., 10, Amanda, 18, Thomas P., 15, Arleine, 4, and Leaonia, 1.

Love in the time of white supremacy.

Mr. W.G. Britt, Goldsboro, N.C.

Dear Sir:-

Please send license by return mail for the marriage of Mingo Ward colored age 25 years son of Lam Ward living, Mother dead to Lizzie Smith Age 21 years daughter of Wright Smith Mother dead. All of Wayne County. These are n*ggers and are all right.

Enclose you will please find County order for $3.00 if any more due let me know.

Very truly yours, B.F. Aycock


I can only guess at the backstory, but my guess is not wild, and the thing practically speaks for itself. The young people wanted to get married; they had no way to get to Goldsboro and probably no time to go; they certainly had no money to pay for the license. Benjamin F. Aycock extended them credit or maybe even vouchsafed the three dollars; he put in a good word with the Register of Deeds; he slurred these young lovers; he felt himself generous.

To love oneself and to find love in such a world as this? Revolutionary.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina: Lem Ward, 40; wife Mariah, 35; and children Kater, 14, and twins Sarah and Sophia, 12, Susan, 8, Lam, 9, Lawrence, 5, Mingo, 3, and Junius, 2.

The marriage license issued in response to Aycock’s letter.

On 14 March 1907, Mingo Ward, 25, of Wayne County, son of Lam Ward, married Lizzie Smith, 21, of Wayne County, daughter of Wright Smith, in Great Swamp township, Wayne County, North Carolina. Free Will Baptist minister G.W. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Mingle Ward, 28; wife Lizzie, 24; and son Junious, 7 months.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Meng[illegible] Ward, 42; wife Lizzie, 37; and daughters Bettie E., 9, and Gladies, 7.

In the 1930 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 46; wife Lizzie, 44; and children Bettie, 18, Gladys, 12, Christine, 8, and Sarah, 6.

In the 1940 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 60; wife Lizzie, 56; daughters Christine, 18, and Sarah, 16; daughter Gladys Thompson, 20, and son-in-law Edward Thompson, 21.

Mingo Ward died 27 January 1941. I have not found his death certificate, but he is buried in Daniel Quarters Cemetery, near Fremont, Wayne County.

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1317 Washington Street, Lizzie Ward, 65, “picking cotton”; daughter Sarah, 26, housecleaning; and grandchildren James Edward Thomas, 9, and Jean Elizabeth Thomas, 8.

Lizzie Ward died 30 October 1965 at her home at 1321 Atlantic Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 March 1885 in Wayne County to Wright and Lizzie Smith; was a widower; and was born in Daniel Quarters cemetery, Wayne County. Bettye Ingram, Washington, D.C., was informant.

Where we worked: Davis Military Academy.

A biographical feature on Dr. Joseph H. Ward noted that he left Wilson to secure work as a waiter at LaGrange, North Carolina’s Davis Military Academy. This notice for Davis ran in a short-lived Wilson newspaper, The Advertiser, in 1888, around the time Ward might have seen it.

The Advertiser (Wilson, N.C.), 27 September 1888.