[updated: 4 July 2017]
By Richard Gwynallen
Judah Ladd Ward
1803 – 1835
Relationship to Fawn: 4th great-grandmother
We have two Ward lines on my mother’s side of the family marrying into the Richardson family in the same general time period in the same county.
Judah Ladd Ward married Green Lee Richardson in Stokes County, North Carolina on 12 February 1825. Anna Emma Jane Ward married the son of Judah Ladd and Green Lee, Joseph Richardson, on 23 February 1850 in Stokes County.
I’ve assumed these two Ward lines were related, but haven’t proven it yet, so I decided to go ahead and discuss the roots of Judah Ladd Ward’s line. Perhaps I will come up with something about Anna Emma Jane Ward’s ancestry later.
At first glance I assumed Ward was an English family line. However, I was surprised to find Wards having arrived in the Cape Fear, North Carolina area on The Thistle with families from Kintyre, Scotland in 1739. These families formed the Scottish Highlander community in Cape Fear that became one of the most notable Gaelic speaking communities in North America.
Also, I discovered that there was both an English and a Gaelic origin for the name Ward. The English version has two possible derivations, the first being occupational for a civil guard or keeper of the watch, and the second topographical, describing one who lived by a ‘werd’ – a marsh.
In the Gaelic case, Ward is an Anglicized version of the original, “Mac an Bhaird,” “son of the bard.”
This essay will focus on two things:
1. The origins of the Ward family
2. What life was like in Stokes County in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when our Ward and Richardson families lived in Stokes County.
The Immigrant Family
Judah Ladd’s family seems to have arrived from Ireland prior to 1730 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The immigrant family was James Ward and Sarah Rodgers, and perhaps five of their children: James (Jr.), William, John, Issac, and Joseph.
James (Sr.) and Sarah were married about 1700 in Donegal, Ireland. The Ward family seems to have been based in the Inishowen Penninsula of County Donegal for at least four generations. Sarah was also born on the Inishowen Penninsula, but she may have been the first generation there, and her Rodgers family may have come over to Ireland from England or Scotland. There seems to be very little known about her parentage.
At least one of their sons, John, from whom we are descended, was married in Ireland. His wife was Mary Ann Campbell of Kilmacrennan (Gaelic: Cill Mhic nÉanáin or Cill Mhic Réanáin), County Donegal. The village of Kilmacrennan lies west of of the Inishowen Penninsula and Drongawn Lough, which is the lough bordering the southwest of the Inishowen Penninsula. This branch of the Campbells was in Ireland prior to the plantations of the early 17th century. It’s unclear when and how they came to be in Ireland. They acquired land from an English officer who was given land in Donegal in the late 16th century. An invading English army, intervening in a clan conflict and taking advantage to establish power there, was stopped in its effort to conquer Donegal, but had captured territory in east Donegal and gave confiscated land to English settlers.
James (Jr.) also seems to have been married in Ireland and brought three children to the colonies. Since he married in Virginia his first wife must have died.
The Ward researcher Carolyn Ward Clark (CWC) informed me that she had seen the ship record, which listed the senior James Ward as a widower of age 58 in 1730. It also listed on the same ship his son, James, Jr. (born 1700); the sons of James, Jr., James III (born 1727), Joseph and William (born about 1725); James, Sr.’s son William Ward (born 1702), who was single at the time; and our direct ancestor, son of James, Sr., John Ward, (born 1704). CWC speculates that John’s wife, Mary Campbell of Kilmacrean, stayed in Ireland, pregnant with Jacob (born 1730), and came the next year to the American Colonies with Jacob and his older brother John (born 1727).
James Sr.’s family settled in Augusta County, Virginia, where John Ward and Mary Ann Campbell also spent their lives. They settled in the valley of the Calfpasture River of the Beverley Manor project. In 1744 James Patton and John Lewis received a land grant of 16,500 acres on the Calfpasture. John Ward was listed as one of the original settlers on this land grant. From this point Wards appear periodically in surviving records. In one index of an undated document that is thought to be from 1750, John Ward is identified as a yeoman farmer in his purchase of 231 acres in Beverly Manor from John Patterson, identified as a weaver. William Beverly of Essex County was granted a patent of 118,491 acres of land on 12 August 12 1736 that became the Beverly Manor. Beverly Manor includes the modern suburbs of Staunton, Virginia. On 18 February 1761 John Ward sold to Joseph Waughub 246 acres in Calfpasture at the head of Grassy Lick Run at top of Black Oak Hill, which was part of Beverly Manor.
In 1745 John Ward served in Captain John Lockridge’s company of militia.
The son of John and Mary Ann from whom we are descended, Jacob, married Anna Hill and settled in Culpeper County, Virginia. They appear in the rent rolls in Culpeper County in 1764. CWC identifies their land as “southwest of Culpeper city near Madison Co. now on Rappidan River.” Jacob and Anna’s son from whom we are descended, John, migrated into North Carolina, ultimately to Stokes County. There is more information about John further below.
Ward Family Origins
James’ parents were Thomas Ward and Sussanah Swanson or Swenson. Sussanah’s parentage also is a mystery, but there is speculation that she was descended from the Sweeneys or MacSweeneys from County Donegal west of the Inishowen Penninsula.
If this is accurate, our immigrant Ward line descends from a well established Ward family of the Inishowen Penninsula, and Scottish Sweeneys who were based in County Donegal for centuries, having settled there as mercenaries for the O’Donnells. More on that further down.
James’s grandparents seem to be Richard Ward and Alice Edmonds. Her parentage is also speculative. However, our James’ great-grandfather, John Ward also appears to have married an Edmonds named Alice Anne. Perhaps these two Alice’s were aunt and niece or cousins.
Any level of certainty around the ancestry of James Ward, the immigrant ancestor, ceases with his great-grandfather, John, who was born about 1600.
Descendants of James Ward in Kentucky maintain a site that clearly believes the Wards were of native Irish stock, and that the name is derived from the Gaelic, Mac an Bhaird. They make no speculation as to James’ specific ancestry. In Early Modern Ireland, 1534 – 1691, a family called Mac an Bhaird is listed as a poet family from Ulster (pp. 522 – 538). The site Ulster Ancestry also identifies Mac an Bhaird as the Gaelic original of MacWard, but gives it a Scottish origin, implying a pre-plantation transfer of the name to Ireland. Ulster Ancestry also locates the name in Antrim and Down. There are other Mac an Bhaird in other parts of Ireland, with a significant grouping in County Galway and in County Donegal. A Maelisa Macaward was bishop of Clonfert, County Galway as early as 1179. Many a Mac an Bhaird or Ward appeared as bards to the O’Donnells in County Donegal.
There was a Cornelius Ward who was one of three Franciscan missionaries to cross from Antrim to Kintyre on 21 July 1624 to minister to scattered Catholics and to convert others in western Scotland. The other two were Patrick Hegarty and Paul O’Neill. (The Glens of Antrim Historical Society)
Others believe that the Wards originated in England with old roots in Yorkshire, and came to Ireland in the late 16th century when an English army, as mentioned above, took advantage of fighting between the O’Neills and O’Donnells and occupied the Inishowen Peninsula, or possibly with the plantations of the early 17th century.
The Ward researcher Carolyn Ward Clarke leans toward the theory of an English origin, but believes it is more likely to have been the area of Faversham in the Swale district of Kent, or the area of Tonbridge in west Kent. She mentioned in an exchange a family story of the pirate John Ward of Faversham, also known as Jack Ward or Birdy, who ended up as privateer for Queen Elizabeth I plundering Spanish ships and later became a Barbary pirate, living in Tunis and converting to Islam. No idea if this is a real connection in some distant part of our ancestry, but the pirate Jack Ward makes an interesting story.
MacLysaght, in his Irish Families series (1982, 1985), identifies two separate Wards groupings in Ireland, one English and one Gaelic. A group of Wards in County Down is of English origin, and is headed by Viscount Bangor.
Does all this information help us. We still only know that our Ward ancestors came from the Inishowen Penninsula in County Donegal and intermarried with Campbell, Rodgers, and Swanson/Swenson families. How they got to County Donegal we do not know. Were they part of the families who had served as bards to the O’Donnells? Or did they migrate there from further east, be it Antrim or Down, or even Scotland or England?
Swanson or Swenson heritage
Since James Ward and Sarah Rodgers were our immigrant couple I would like to record more about Sarah’s line of descent and their origins, but I have just not found anything of substance. The spelling “Rodgers” seems to be the most popular spelling of the name in Scotland, which leads some to speculate that Irish Rodgers came to Ireland from Scotland as part of the plantations.
Due to the lack of any certain information about the Rodgers, I will make a few comments about James’ mother’s family line to offer some cultural context for the family.
Whether Swanson or Swenson, the name derives from the pre-8th Century “Viking” (Scandinavian) personal name Sven, Suen or Sveinn, a form of endearment.
In County Donegal, the most significant use of the name comes from the MacSweeney clan. The Mac Suibhne (MacSweeney) originated in the lands of Knapdale in Argyll, Scotland from an 11th century marriage of an O’Neill prince, Ánrothán Ua Neill, with a Scottish princess. Their grandson was Suibne, from whom the clan derives its name. After opposing Robert Bruce’s claim to the Scottish throne the clan lost its Knapdale lands and most left for Ireland. Those who remained in Scotland became known as MacQueen. The Mac Suibhne clan became Gallowglass soldiers for the O’Donnell dynasty of Tyrconnell, then settled in northern Donegal at the beginning of the 14th century.
The Mac Suibhne clan were unique among Gallowglass warriors. Many Gallowglass received land in which to settle, but this clan established itself as a power unto itself over significant territories. Possibly their relationship to both the O’Neills and the O’Donnells helped.
Mac Suibhne territories were stretched across northern Donegal. One branch was based at Rathmullen on the western bank of Drongawn Lough.
The Mac Suibhne stronghold of Castle Doe is at Sheephaven Bay near Creeslough.
During the plantation of Ireland in the 17th century, Donnchadh Mac Suibhne was allotted 2,000 acres around Kilmacrennan where the Mac Suibhne chiefs were inaugurated.
Other branches of the clan existed as far west as Gweedore in Donegal.
The historian James Logan, in The Scottish Gaël, remarked how the Mac Sweeneys were notable for their hospitality. At Clodach Castle, a seat of theirs in southern Ireland in the Munster Parish of Kilmurry, there was a stone set near the highway which was inscribed with an open invitation to travelers to make for Clodach for refreshment.
More than likely, the family of Sussanah Swenson/Swanson came from a MacSweeney family connected to the MacSweeney bases at or near Rathmulllen, Kilmacrennan, Creeslough, or perhaps on the Inishowen Peninsula itself.
Life in Stokes County – Late 18th and early 19th centuries
John Ward married Rachel Vernon on 21 Dec 1779 in North Carolina in Germanton in what was Surry County and would later become part of Stokes County. CWC believes they were “likely living on Ward Road near Prestonville where their cemetery Ward Cemetery is and they are buried.” I noted a record that identifies this cemetery as “on Highway 772 between Prestonville and Sandy Ridge; highway went through center of cemetery.”
This represented the first Ward of this line to settle in Stokes County. John Ward appears as head of household on the 1820 and 1830 federal censuses. Prior to Jacob and Rachel’s appearance in Surry County, both the Ward and Vernon families were based in Virginia; the Wards in Augusta and Culpeper, and the Vernons in Lunenburg County.
The Stokes County Historical Society commissioned the publication, The Stokes County Historic Inventory, which was released in 1989. Most of the information below is drawn from that report.
Stokes County lies in the northwest Piedmont of North Carolina bordered by Virginia to the north, Surry County to the west, and Rockingham County to east. The county today has become somewhat of a bedroom community for towns such as Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Historically, it has been a rural county.
Close to the center of the county rise the Sauratown mountains, with rolling hills and valleys characterizing the rest of the area. Though covering only 5% of the county, the mountains have shaped life in the county. The natural beauty of the land has drawn people to the area for generations, and now contributes to the tourist industry in the county, and probably accounts for it becoming somewhat of a bedroom community.
On the other hand, the mountains hindered the development of roads and communications, and limited the size of farms and the cultivatable land. Census records show that for most of the 19th century only about 20% of the land was under cultivation.
What land was cultivatable was quite fertile, however, due to the many streams cutting through the county. Though mostly not navigable, the waterways gave rose to grist mills and other services required by a rural population.
Stokes County farms grew corn, wheat, oats, grasses, garden vegetables, and fruits, particularly apples, in addition to raising cattle, sheep, and swine. However, tobacco was and is the main cash crop.
The configuration of the land created by the mountains, hill country, and small valleys fostered to a situation where most inhabitants were yeoman farmers, what we might today call family farmers, as opposed to the larger planters. The rugged terrain and the difficulty of moving agricultural products to major market areas limited the practical size of farms. Further, a large percentage of these small farmers were tenancies held from larger, wealthy landowners. The 1850 census shows that there were 591 farms in Stokes county at that time, with an average of only 56 acres of improved land per farm. Consequently, slavery was not as prevalent in Stokes County. The 1860 census records show that only 3% of the white population had slaves, and only 28 households had 20 or more slaves.
Unlike the extensive Ulsters Scots community in Iredell and Rowan counties south and west of Stokes County, families of English descent dominated Stokes County. The German and Ulster Scots communities were a minority. Though the earliest churches seemed to be the German Moravians, the English Methodist and Baptist churches appear to have dominated and continue to do so today. John and Rachel are buried in a non-denominational Ward Family Cemetery.
The life of our Ward family in Stokes County in the early 19th century seems to have been that of yeoman farmers, possibly tenant farmers, who probably raised a variety of crops and livestock for family use and some commercial potential, most likely raising tobacco as a main cash crop. As with most of their class they probably had carpentry and blacksmithing capability, and perhaps supplemented their income through trades such as these. It was essentially subsistence farming where each farm was highly self-sufficient, and relatively isolated from each other. Examples of family farms in the county have not survived from that time, but their farm was probably a modest home with a variety of outbuildings. The Stokes County Historic Inventory describes most homes as “simple but sturdy log or frame houses of traditional construction, form, and detail . . . little affected by stylistic trends popular in the outside world.”
The Civil War drained the resources of the county as it did throughout the south with many men gone to fight in the Confederate army, and stores and supplies provided to the army.
John and Rachel’s daughter, Judah Ladd Ward, married Green Lee Richardson in 1825. Both Green and Judah had died before the Civil War, but at least two of their sons were among those away from the farm. Green (Jr.) served as a private in Company D of the 52nd Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. Their son, Joseph, was fatally wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia on 4 May 1863, while serving as a private in Company L, 21st Infantry North Carolina Regiment, and died at an Army hospital in Richmond on 10 May 1863. Joseph may have been a reluctant soldier having not enlisted until 22 February 1863. He may have been conscripted. The Richardson story is more fully explored in The Richardson and Johns Families – Our Maryland Quaker Roots.
However, the county escaped the devastation of actual fighting. The only military action occurred late in the war when Union General Stoneman’s cavalry swept through the mountains and western Piedmont, setting up camp on 9 April 1865 in the county seat of Danbury. However, after Stoneman determined there was little military need for troops in the county, his forces left Stokes County the next day by way of the village of Germanton near where the Wards lived.
Ending with a John Ward Story
John Ward, husband to Rachel Vernon, filed a pension application for his service in the Revolutionary War. The following is adapted from a summary of that pension application (pension File #W-9872) by Arthur Allen Moore.
John Ward was a private in the company commanded by Captain Green in Colonel Patrick Henry’s regiment in the Virginia line. He served 19 months and 2 days, being stationed in Williamsburg and discharged September 3, 1776.
In 1777, he volunteered again in Culpeper County, Virginia, and served under Captain Rucker, who marched his company to join General Washington near Philadelphia for a period of three months. There John Ward served by reconnoitering the position of the enemy.
In 1778, he moved to Germanton in Surry County, North Carolina (later Stokes County) and enlisted in the Militia under Captain Henry Smith and General Rutherford. He marched south with their force to the Savannah River where he patrolled the river to prevent crossing by the British.
He later served as a wagon driver of the provision wagon in Charleston, South Carolina. He enlisted still another term as wagon driver to the Yadkin River.
Additional information from his pension application papers indicate that he served under Colonel Lythe and Major Nelson opposite Augusta, crossed river down to Georgia to Briar Creek, where his unit was defeated March 1779. He served in this expedition five months as Captain. In swimming across the river after the battle he lost his commission and other papers. He was discharged by General Rutherford after crossing the river. He seems to have also served as a captain under Captain Henry Smith, Colonel Brevard, and General Rutherford, though the time frames are unclear.