Thomas E. Ward

by Edmund Starling, 1886


THOMAS E. WARD was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, on the fifteenth day of July, 1844. His great-grandfather settled in Maryland prior to the Revolution, and he and four of his sons were members of the famous Maryland line during the struggle for independence. After the war, his grandfather, Edward Ward, married Miss Elizabeth Soaper, and, in 1789, removed to Kentucky and finally settled in Ohio county, where he died in January, 1856, at the advanced age of ninety-seven years, having raised a large family. His eighth child, the Rev. Ezra Ward, the father of the subject of our sketch, was born in Ohio County, February 8th, 1808, and, when about eighteen years old, joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was soon after licensed to preach, and, until his death, July 10th, 1864, no man was more widely of favorably known in connection with the ministry of that church.

Mr. Ward's great-grandfather on the maternal side, Captain Thomas McCoy, had held the rank of Captain in the British Army, and had participated in the French and Indian wars prior to the Revolution. At the close of those wars, he sold his commission and settled in South Carolina. He, also, was from Ireland. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he joined the patriots, raised a company and served under General Marion, and was sent by that officer with recruits to General Sumpter, who was defeated, and Captain McCoy and his son made prisoners. They were carried to Augusta, Georgia, where one Colonel Brown was commanding. Brown had served with McCoy and recognized him. A court martial was immediately summoned and Captain McCoy was tried for treason, condemned and hung on the same day. His son, a youth of sixteen, a prisoner, was executed at the same time. Mrs McCoy, having heard of the capture of her husband and son, set out immediately for Augusta to see them. She arrived while they were still hanging, and had them taken down, put in rude coffins, placed them in her wagon, and carried and buried them. Three months afterwards, Thomas McCoy, the maternal grandfather of our sketch, was born. He remained in Carolina until 1800, when he moved to Breckenridge County, Ky., where he settled and lived until his death in 1862. Elizabeth McCoy was the sixth child born of this marriage, and was married to Rev. Ezra Ward on the sixteenth day of January, 1839. They settled in Hardin County, where they lived up to their death, she dying October 17th, 1855. There were seven children born of this marriage, of which Thomas E. was the third. His childhood was passed on his father's farm, near Stephensburg, in Hardin County, where he enjoyed the usual chances of securing an education at a county school taught three months in a year. The ups and downs of life were his, and, through multiplied trials, gained his education. So anxiously was he upon this point, he hired himself to Rev. James Vinson, of Wolf Springs, Hardin County, to work during mornings and evenings and on Saturdays, during ten months, for his board and tuition. This school was broken up by the war, and, soon thereafter, young Ward enlisted as a private in the Forty-eighth Kentucky Federal Regiment, infantry, commanded by Colonel Burge, a Methodisy clergyman. He remained in the service four months, mostly on detached duty, when, on a final organization, his Captain was left out, and he, with others, declined to be mustered in. He then returned to Hardin County, and again entered Rev. Vinson's school, upon the previous terms, and there remained for seven months, up to June, 1864. Carrying away the honors of the class of thirty-four, he returned to farming, where he remained until January, 1865, when he took charge of a school at Longgrove, Hardin County, and taught three months. He quit teaching, and, in November, 1865, entered the employ (as man of all work) of Hon. W. L. Conklin, at Litchfield. He commenced the study of law and so applied himself that, upon his examination in May, 1866, he received the compliments of the examining judges, and a license to practice. He prosecuted his studies to 1867, when he entered into partnership, in Grayson County, with Judge Martin H. Cofer and continued with him to his election as Circuit Judge, Mr. Ward continued to practice in Grayson until November, 1872, with great success. Having married Miss Isabel Stapp, of Henderson, in June, 1872, he closed his business in Grayson with a view of removing to Wichita, Kansas, but abandoned the idea on account of his wife's objection of going into a new country so far from home and friends. January 1st, 1873, he came to Henderson, and, without influential friends, money, or acquaintances, he went quietly to work, and has succeeded as few young lawyers would or could have done.

The History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Starling 1887 page 784-86;

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