After my recent rediscovery of a Confederate map that revealed the locations of several plantations significant to my genealogical research, I began searching for more information about John Lane, Silas Bryant and David G.W. Ward‘s landholdings. Pretty quickly, I found a link to a copy of a nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, submitted for the Ward-Applewhite-Thompson house near Stantonsburg, North Carolina. This Greek Revival house, dating back to about 1859, was owned and occupied by several of the area’s leading planters — including “country doctor” D.G.W. Ward, who purchased it in 1857 — and it and its outbuildings are little changed from their antebellum forms.
As I read the detailed architectural description of the house and its setting, a tiny kernel of recognition began to form in the back of my mind. A big, white, two-story house? Set well back from the road? Just outside Stantonsburg? Could it …?
I scoured the maps attached to the nomination form, trying to lay them over the current topography. State Road 1539 … that would be Sand Pit Road today … just east of a fork in the road and just north of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad (which was not there in Ward’s time) … and there it is, just like I remember.
Yes. Like I remember.
I’ve BEEN in this house. Many times, though long ago.
Growing up, my sister and I were very close to my father’s sister’s daughters. Our local family was quite small, but my cousin’s father came from a big family with deep Wilson County roots. Her grandmother had nearly a dozen siblings — whom we also called “aunt” and “uncle” — and we were often invited to attend their family gatherings. I remember best the delectable Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners gathered around tables groaning with food, but there were also the annual 4th of July family reunions at Aunt Minnie’s out in the country near Stantonsburg. The Barneses were tenant farmers for an absentee landowner and rented his large two-story house. We’d pull off the road into a sandy circular drive and park under the trees alongside cars with New York and New Jersey plates. I vividly remember my cousin’s great-uncles and cousins tending a barbecue pit in which a split pig roasted, chickens strutting among them. A screened side porch protected platter after platter of home-grown, home-cooked goodness. My memories of the interior of the house are vague: a central staircase, two large front rooms, the kitchen in back. (The staircase I remember mostly because, carefully tending a tall glass of lemonade, I missed a riser and slid down their length, smacking my ribcage against the steps and knocking the wind out of myself.)
I couldn’t believe it. It is exciting enough to identify D.G.W. Ward’s house and find that it is still standing, but to realize that I knew the house at which Appie and Mittie Ward had lived and worked as the enslaved children of their own father was uncanny.
Ward-Applewhite-Thompson House today.
Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2014.
37 thoughts on “Dr. Ward’s house. And me.”
I really enjoyed following you down memory lane. Reading about your journey to find the house made me smile. Lovely story.
You told this story so vividly. So glad your discovery brought back such vivid memories, and that you shared them with us.
It was a bittersweet feeling for me as well, when I had visited the plantation of my ancestors, I was excited to walk on grounds my ancestors walked on and cried to know how that they were repressed as humans.
Great post! I love how you pulled it all together using the map.
I really enjoyed going back in time with you.. Thank you
Your article was discovered and sent to my sister by her son. My grandparents, Thomas and Minnie Barnes lived in this house for many years. Having grown up , there over many summers, we remember the awesome “family reunions” held there. Thank you for the article and your research.
Thanks so much for commenting! Though we were not “blood,” growing up we were embraced by Edith Bell Barnes Ellis and her sisters, and our childhoods were enriched by time spent spent in their homes and at their tables. I miss my uncle Roosevelt and Miss Edie Bell! — Lisa H.
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Hello, this information has really set me on a chase to find my roots as well. thankyou so much for the vivid storyline and pictures. I am a younger Ward with family originally from the Stantonsburg town. Can we link up to see if our families are intertwined??
Sure. Feel free to email me at lyhend at aol dot com.
And thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad the posts are inspiring! — Lisa H.
Thanks for taking me back down memory lane. I spend my summer’s there as a kid, working on my grandparents farm (Thomas and Minnie Barnes). The work was hard, but the love from the family made it worth being there.
Hi, Reggie! My cousin (and yours) Monica showed this blogpost to y’all’s aunt/cousin Inez, who got a kick out of it. Glad you enjoyed it, too! Best regards. — L.
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My JamesBaker b 1804lived next door to David G. W. Ward in Greene co NC in the 1850census. I have DNA matched a woman in Australia who has lots of Wards in her family. I don’t know where to start. We don’t know who James Baker’s first wife was. Second wife Priscilla ?
Not sure I understand. Do you suspect that Baker was married to a Ward whose descendant would up in Australia?
No. Her Ward line goes back to England. I think one of the Wards in Greene Co NC is a descendant of a European Ward. Not sure. But it’s possible. My Bakers were not wealthy, did not own land. They worked as coopers. It’s possible James Baker worked for David Ward.
D.G.W. Ward was from Onslow County. He moved to Greene as an adult. I am guessing that they were of English descent, though I’ve never researched that. There are other Ward lines in the Wilson County area who are not, as far as I can tell, related to D.G.W. Ward.
I was wondering about that. In 1900 some of my one of my female Bakers can be found in Wilson. Elizabeth/Betty/Betsy Grizzard. Her son Acy/Asa/James Asa Grizzard is living there too. Also Millie Ellis who was first married to James Hines Baker from Greene County.
I bet we are related.
Here is a tip for you. Jesse Ward in Carteret County NC
From my friend Martha Marble:
“Paula Baker have a few odd Wards on my database but most don’t have dates for and none are linked up. Just that some people I follow married Wards. See one from Martin Co. No David or Frederick. Oop in trying to copy some deleted some information from my database – something about Jesse Ward of Carteret having a will and leaving to his siblings including Eleanor Harper and a brother in Greene Co, a sister in Onslow and another sibling. Not sure how I managed to delete that as was trying to copy.,”
Thank you. I am not a Ward myself; my research was done for Hagans cousins who are Wards.
I see. Let me see if the woman in Australia has Haganses. She has names I have never heard of before. Your blog gave us renewed hope of finding out more. Something I’ve learned reading all these records: when a man with children died, sometimes the county took them away from the mother if they thought she couldn’t take care of them. I’m sure the poor suffered terribly with this. I know that the Hobbs and Baker grandparents raised their grandchildren. James Baker had a trade that likely kept them fed even though he didn’t own land.
DGW Ward’s children with Sarah Ward were enslaved, as was their mother. He owned them all. One of the daughters, Appie, married my GGG-grandmother’s brother, Napoleon Hagans.
The children of slaves and poor whites were taken and apprenticed where they suffered horrors only glimpsed in court records where they are asking to be released due to cruelty. They were taken from their mothers.
Here is a court care re Jesse Ward of Carteret. I can’t read it on my phone. Will have to look on computer later today.
Look here. Laney Harper is a Greene co name I remember.
The line of Grizzards/Bakers in Wilson is my DNA cousin Betty Reason’s line. She lives in NC. We have visited each other. I’m in Louisiana.
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