Births Deaths Marriages, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin

Young Joseph.

While Americans fought in Europe, a war with influenza raged at home.

Indy News 19 Oct 1918 Joseph Ward Jr death

Indianapolis News, 19 October 1918.

Dr. Joseph H. Ward returned to Indianapolis eight months later to find his wife Zella and daughter Mary Roena recovered, but his beloved son gone. The boy was nine years old.



My grandmother Mary Ward Roberts, whom we called Mur, would cry remembering when Buddy was taken away. She and her mother couldn’t follow the hearse because they were still sick. The purple cloth they put outside of the door to let people know that the house was infected with Spanish Influenza. Mur said that Buddy pointed his finger upward and said goodbye. Her father went into a deep depression in France and was hospitalized. When he returned from France, he had Buddy’s body exhumed to say a final farewell. Can you imagine?         — Z.P., great-granddaughter of Joseph H. Ward

Business, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin

Dr. Ward’s commendable enterprise.

In which we learn that “among the many enterprises which have come into life in this community, and which are doing as much so much to uplift the race, by giving employment to Colored youth; and by establishing ideals to which they may attain, none has been of better purpose than that recent established in our midst by our fellow-townsman, Dr. J.H. Ward.”

JH Ward Ind Recorder 8 7 1909The Recorder, Indianapolis, 7 August 1909.


Births Deaths Marriages, Education, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The rise of the Grand Chancellor; or “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, North Carolina, to Naptown:

Joseph H Ward Grand Chancellor Ind Freeman 7 22 1899

Joseph Ward early years 7 22 1899 Ind Freeman_Page_1

Joseph Ward early years 7 22 1899 Ind Freeman_Page_2

Joseph Ward early years 7 22 1899 Ind Freeman_Page_3

Indianapolis Freeman, 22 July 1899.

A few notes:

  • Joseph Ward’s mother might have been too poor to send him to school, but his father Napoleon Hagans, had he chosen to acknowledge him, certainly could have, as he sent his “legitimate” sons to Howard University.
  • The school in LaGrange at which he 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.
  • Joseph graduated from High School No. 1, later known as Shortridge, an integrated institution.
  • A “tour of the south”? Really?
  • Do student records exist from the Physio-Medical College? The school closed in 1909.
  • Joseph’s first wife was Mamie I. Brown, an Indiana-born teacher. The 20 October 1900 issue of the Indianapolis Recorder reported: “Mrs. Mamie Ward, through her attorney O.V. Royal, was granted a divorce from her husband, Dr. J.H. Ward, in the Superior Court no. 1, and her maiden name was restored. Both parties are well known in society circles.” Four years later, Joseph married Zella Locklear.
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Mother Ward.

None of us knows the details of the arrangements, or the impact on their willing and unwilling participants, but it is clear that Napoleon Hagans had a messy personal life. His oldest child, William Coley, was born about 1860 to Winnie Coley, an enslaved woman who lived on the nearby farm of John Coley. Winnie had several additional children, fathered by Coley himself and by Napoleon’s brother-in-law Adam T. Artis. Around 1867 — no license has been found — Napoleon married Apsilla “Appie” Ward, born in 1849 to Sarah Ward, an enslaved woman, and her owner, David G. W. Ward, a wealthy physician living in northwest Greene County. Napoleon poured his ambition and wealth into his and Appie’s sons, Henry Edward (born 1868) and William Scarlett (born 1869). Both attended Howard University and settled into comfortable, distinguished livelihoods in farming, education and real estate.

Though Napoleon’s youngest was denied these advantages, he was arguably the most successful of all the sons.  Joseph Henry Ward was born 4 August 1870 in Wilson, North Carolina. (Or Wilson County, in any case.) His mother, Mittie Roena Ward, was Appie Ward Hagans’ twin. (Identical, it is said.) And Napoleon Hagans’ sister-in-law. I know nothing at all of her early years. In 1879, Mitty Finch (Finch? why?) married Virginia native Algernon Vaughn in Wilson. In 1880, the family’s household included Mittie’s mother, Sarah Darden; her husband Algie, a farm laborer; Mittie, a cook; and children Joseph, 8, Sarah, 6, and Macinda, 5 months.

By 1890, Joseph had struck out on his own and for reasons unknown landed in Indianapolis, Indiana. There, he went to work for a physician who would set him on his own path to a medical degree. Joseph’s half-sister Sarah married William Moody in Wilson in 1892 and, by the dawn of the new century, the Moodys and Mittie Vaughn were living in Washington DC. Soon after Mittie joined Joe Ward in Indianapolis, reverted 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]

Mittie Ward died of stroke in Washington, DC, in 1924. She was visiting her elder daughter Sarah Ward Moody and planning to travel to see the younger.


Pittsburgh Courier, 19 April 1924.