Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


William W. Ward

WILLIAM W. WARD settled in Haskell County in December, 1885. His experience in the Far West has not been an uninterrupted progress and fair road to prosperity, but through good and bad fortune he managed to hold his own and in later years he has been able to capitalize his experience and long time connection with the region until he is now one of the substantial farmers and ranchers of Lockport Township.

Mr. Ward is a native of Eastern Indiana, born near Muncie in Delaware County, November 24, 1859. His grandfather, Bennett Ward, was a Southerner by birth and ancestry and spent his life as a farmer. He was a soldier in the Mexican war, and though quite old at the time also fought in the Confederate army. Armstead Ward, father of William W., was a native of Kentucky and one of a numerous family of children. When he was a child his parents settled in Delaware County, Indiana, where he grew up. A few years after the birth of his son William W. he moved to Vermillion County, Illinois, and lived there the rest of his days. The maiden name of his wife was Phebe Edgington, daughter of Wilson Edgington, of Ohio. Armstead Ward died in September, 1916, at the age of eighty-seven, and his wife in September, 1870, aged forty-two. Their children were: Alpheus Alonzo, of Nowata, Oklahoma; William W.; Grant W., of Indianapolis; Charles C., of Georgetown, Illinois; and Frank, who died in Illinois.

William W. Ward grew up in Illinois, received a very ordinary education in the country schools, and was about twenty-two years of age when, in 1881, he came West and for four years lived in the mountains of Colorado. He had considerable experience both as a prospector and as a workman about the mines of Alma at the head of the Platte River. On leaving Colorado he came to Western Kansas, and brought with him about $150, representing all his savings and the capital with which he embarked upon his life as a homesteader in Haskell County.

His first land was a preëmption, the southwest quarter of section 28, township 30, range 31, There he erected his first Kansas home. It was a soddy containing a single room, with a board floor and a sod roof. There were two windows to let in the light and a single door. While proving up the preemption he remained in these humble quarters for six months. Where he had stripped the sod off the ground he did some cultivation, making a garden and growing some sweet potatoes. He finally mortgaged the place for $300, paying $200 to the United States for a patent. He paid interest on the loan for seven years, and then deeded the place to the loan company for a consideration of three dollars in order to get rid of the mortgage. He also entered a homestead in the same section and a timber claim near by. The timber claim he sold for seventy-five dollars after proving it up. About the same time he was offered a half section close by for ninety dollars, but refused to buy it and later paid $150 for it. On his homestead he placed improvements in the shape of a sod house and later a small frame house, and finally exchanged it for a quarter section contained in his present holdings. Mr. Ward has lived at his present location since 1905.

The first five or six years of his Kansas experience were almost devoid of any results that would contribute toward his permanent prosperity. At the end of ten years he had realized about fifteen hundred dollars. During his first years in the state he was not able to afford even a team. Naturally he sought labor in more productive directions than on his homestead claim. As a wage worker he hired out to F. M. Paul at twenty dollars a month. Later he became a partner with Mr. Paul for a share of the net profits of the ranch. This association was mutually agreeable and profitable and continued for about twenty years. It brought Mr. Ward his foundation start as a cattle man. During their partnership from 1893 Mr. Ward lost nearly all his accumulated gains through the failure of the Evanston National Bank of Evanston, Illinois. He had just sold 140 head of cattle for $1,725, depositing the proceeds in the bank, and it was caught in the panic which wrecked so many financial institutions in that year. All that he got out of his deposits was $25, and he had to use that for expenses.

This disaster left him with only ten head of cattle, but he used those as a nucleus to restore himself as a cattle man, and when the partnership was dissolved in 1905 he had 250 head of cattle and thirty-seven head of horses, besides about nine quarter sections of land. The active manager in this partnership throughout was Mr. Ward. Mr. Paul was a traveling salesman and did little in the enterprise beyond supplying capital.

After the dissolution of the partnership Mr. Ward brought his stock to his present ranch. His residence is on the southeast quarter of section 14, township, 30, range 31. Altogether he has accumulated about 1,280 acres of land, one-fourth of which is developed for farming, growing feed stuffs. After the bank failure his chief single reverse came in 1911 when, as a result of an epidemic, he lost twelve out of his twenty-five head of horses. His cattle interests have kept growing until he now has over 400 head of White Faces. Mr. Ward is also a stockholder and is vice president of the Copeland State Bank.

As a citizen he has done his part toward keeping up community institutions practically ever since he came to Haskell County. He has almost continuously been a school officer, and for the past six years has been one of the county commissioners. His colleagues on the board have been Henry Johnson and Jap Scott. The most notable achievement of this board was putting the county on a cash basis. They refunded an issue of old bonds for public improvements at a lower rate of interest, and thus effected a large saving to the county. The bond holders agreed to take the county warrants at par and hold them until paid. Recently the board has also undertaken considerable road building, and a start has been made in giving Haskell County improved highways. Mr. Ward is also a former member of the Legislature, having been elected on the democratic ticket in 1911 and serving under Speaker Buckman. He was assigned to several committees of minor importance and introduced a few bills affecting his home district, but none of which became laws. In the form in which it was presented during that session he opposed universal suffrage for women. Another feature of his record was the vote he gave to San Francisco as a location for the Panama-Pacific exposition.

Some five years after coming to Haskell County Mr. Ward married, and he and his good wife have reared a large family of children on their ranch home. His marriage occurred July 20, 1890, Miss Margaret Rogers being the bride. She was born at New Bedford, Massachusetts, September 28, 1874, a daughter of John Rogers, who subsequently was a pioneer in Haskell County but finally returned to Massachusetts and took with him considerable capital acquired as a farmer and stockman in the West. Mrs. Ward's brothers and sisters are: Mrs. Michael Waldron, James, Michael and Bernard, all of Kansas; Patrick, of San Benito, Texas; Terry, of Massachusetts; Thomas, of New York City; Miss Anna, of New Bedford, Massachusetts; Maria, who is married and lives at New Bedford; and John, who is now serving with the Allied Armies in Europe. In order of age the children born to Mr. and Mrs. Ward bear the names of Mamie, Thomas Cooley, Luella, Katie, Clara, Margaret, William, Johnnie, Anna, Carl and Grant. Mamie is now the wife of Warren Endsley, of Copeland, Kansas, and has a son, Earl. Thomas C. married Fay Frank, and has a daughter, June.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

tcward@columbus-ks.com


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