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.

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Coda

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

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Free People of Color, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

A reunion.

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And with that introductory email began my fruitful and thoroughly enjoyable correspondence with B.H., my third cousin, twice removed. Our common ancestor was Levisa (or Eliza) Hagans Seaberry, mother of Napoleon Hagans (B.H.’s great-grandfather) and Frances Seaberry Artis (my great-great-great-grandmother). In the spring of 2010, B.H. and I entered into a mutually beneficial exchange of information about our shared family. I had little information about Napoleon beyond what I’d found in census records and deeds, I’d lost track of his sons Henry and William, and I was completely unaware of his son, the accomplished Dr. Joseph H. Ward. He cued me into William S. Hagans‘ post-migration life in Philadelphia, shared amazing photographs and documents, and lead me to “discover” Joseph Ward’s early years. In turn, I introduced B.H. to Wayne and Wilson Counties and the lives of the Haganses, Wards and Burnetts before they recreated themselves up North.

This past weekend, I traveled to Detroit for — astonishingly — the first time ever. Our primary purpose was to take in the city’s rich street art culture, but I added an item to the top of the agenda — meeting B.H. Friday night, he and his wife treated us to dinner at an old and storied restaurant near the city’s Eastern Market, and Levisa’s children came full circle.

me and Bill

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Letters, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

By all means Ward should have the Spingarn Medal.

DuBois Ward Spingarn

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.

Uncle Joe Ward

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).

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Journal of the National Medical Association, volume 21, April-June 1929.

Though it’s hard to imagine a more resounding endorsement than one emanating from Dr. W.E.B. DuBois (himself a winner), the NAACP’s 1933 Spingarn Medal in fact went to YMCA secretary Max Yergan for his missionary work in South Africa.

[For a earlier bit of correspondence from Dr. DuBois to the Wards, see here.]

Hat tip to cousin A.W.P., Dr. Joseph H. Ward‘s granddaughter, who alerted me to this document.

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