Joseph H. Ward, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Joseph H. Ward

JOSEPH H. WARD. A publication of this nature exercises its supreme function when it gives proper consideration to the life and achievement of so earnest and noble a pioneer citizen as was the late Joseph H. Ward, who was a resident of Porter county for virtually half a century, and who here won for himself a large measure of prosperity through his own well directed endeavors. He was one of the representative agriculturists and stock growers of the county for many years and his fine landed estate of three hundred acres in Winfield township, Lake Co., near the village of Hebron, is retained in the possession of his venerable widow, who maintains her home in the village mentioned. Mr. Ward passed away on the 19th day of January, 1912, at the patriarchal age of ninety-eight years and three months, and he was the oldest citizen of the county when he was thus summoned from the scene of mortal endeavors. With strong heart and willing hand he had mastered the opposing forces of a workaday world and had gained for himself not only substantial independence, but also the implicit confidence and esteem of his fellow men. Upon the record of his life, prolonged far beyond the average span of years allotted to man, there rests no shadow or stain, and it is consistent indeed that in this history of Porter county be entered a tribute to the memory of this venerable citizen, who had accounted well to the world and himself in all the relations of life.

Joseph Harris Ward was born at Randolph, Portage county, Ohio on the 19th day of October, 1813, and was a son of Josiah and Mindwell (Harris) Ward, who were natives of Connecticut and representatives of stanch old colonial families of New England. Josiah Ward and his brave and loyal wife were numbered among the pioneer settlers of the historic old Western Reserve, in Ohio, and there endured the full tension of hardship and vicissitude, which marked the advance of civilization upon the frontier. They became the parents of five children, namely: Maria, Stephen, Abigail, Emma and Joseph H., and the last mentioned, the subject of this memoir, survived all others of the immediate family.

Joseph H. Ward was but six years of age at the time of his parents' death, and the children were thus separated to be cared for as well as possible. Joseph was taken into the home of his half-brother, with whom he remained until he attained the age of fourteen years, when he began the battle of life on its own responsibility, his educational advantages in the meanwhile having been of the most meagre order, as may well be understood in view of the conditions and exigencies of the time and locality. Alert in mind, strong of purpose and definitely ambitious, the boy was not to be deterred by seeming hardships. Not only did he apply himself with vigor to such manual labor as could be secured, but he also furthered his education by self-application and by carefully availing himself of such other opportunities as were presented. That he made definite advancement along this line is assured from the fact that when he was twenty years of age he began teaching in the country schools of his native state. For his pedagogic services he received the princely stipend of twelve dollars a month, the while he "boarded 'round" among the patrons of the school, as was the custom in the middle west for many years thereafter. In the late fifties, Mr. Ward made the long overland trip to California for the benefit of his health, and he remained on the Pacific coast about one year, after which he returned to Ohio, where he was married in 1860. He manifested a desire to return to California and establish a permanent home, but the venerable and invalid mother of Mrs. Ward needed the latter's ministrations and this project was thus necessarily abandoned. For three years after Mr. Ward's marriage he was engaged in agricultural pursuits in his native county, and he then removed to Lake county, Indiana, where he established his home in the autumn of 1863. He secured a tract of land in Winfield township, Lake County, near the village of Hebron, and there he developed a most valuable estate of three hundred acres. The old homestead, still owned by his widow, continued to be their place of residence for twenty years, at the expiration of which time they removed to the Village of Hebron, where Mr. Ward passed the remainder of his life in the enjoyment of the gracious rewards of former years of earnest toil and endeavor and with his cherished and devoted wife as his constant companion, even as she had been his true counselor and helpmeet in the years which had been marked by indefatigable industry and by the accumulation of a substantial competency. Thrift and good judgment significantly characterized the entire career of Mr. Ward, and yet he was never known to take the slightest unfair advantage of any person, and was ever generous and kindly in his associations with his fellow men. He and his good wife were always mindful of those who were in affliction and distress and their many charities and benevolences were dispensed without ostentation and with a deep sense of the stewardship which health and success impose. From a memorial published at the time of the death of Mr. Ward are culled the following statements: "Mr. Ward was a man of clear, strong conviction and irreproachable character. In politics he was an ardent Republican and from his youth to the end of the Civil war he was a pronounced antislavery advocate. In his youth he identified himself with the Christian church in Randolph, Ohio, and throughout his life he showed a deep interest in the welfare of the church, being one of those upon whom the church could depend for support in the various departments of its work. Mr. Ward was a zealous and effective advocate of temperance and was implacable in his attitude toward the liquor traffic in all forms. His modesty forbade any mention of his contributions to charity." Though he lived to almost the century mark, it may be consistently said that his strength was as the number of his days, and he retained to the last his remarkable mental vigor. On the 23d of January, 1906, Mr. Ward, when ninety-three years of age, fell and broke his thigh, and from the effects of this accident he never recovered. He was thereafter confined to his bed until the close of his life, and during the intervening years he had every attention that skill and affection could render. At any hour of the day or night Mrs. Ward, herself nearly ninety years of age at the time, was at his side when needed and ministered to him with all tenderness and loving devotion. The funeral services for this patriarchial citizen were held from the home and were conducted by Rev. Claude E. Hill, pastor of the Christian church of Valparaiso, after which the remains of the honored deceased were laid to rest in the Hebron cemetery.

Mr. and Mrs. Ward were attendants and liberal supporters of the Christian church in their home village and not only were they always ready to aid those in affliction or need, but Mr. Ward was known as a citizen of broad and progressive views and the utmost civic loyalty. He gave his cooperation in the furtherance of measures tending to advance the general welfare and he kept in touch with the questions and topics of the hour, even to the close of his long and useful life. He was a great reader and devoted himself to the best literature. His memory was remarkable, so that his reminiscences of the early days were most graphic and interesting, as he could tell of a period touched by but very few of the generation in which he lived during his declining years. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Ward was ever known for its generous and gracious hospitality and both gained the affectionate regard of all who came within the immediate sphere of their kindly influence. Mrs. Ward still resides in the home in Hebron, and that place is endeared to her by hallowed memories and associations of the past. November 18, 1912, represents the anniversary of her ninetieth birthday, and the years rest lightly upon her, while in appearance, character, manner and vitality, she well represents "old age as it ought to be." She is clear of eye, with hearing still acute and memory unimpaired and, though no children blessed her marriage, she is surrounded by hosts of friends whose devotion is unceasing and whose love is loyal, so that in the gracious evening of her long life, she may well feel that her "lines are cast in pleasant places," though to her is denied the companionship of the honored husband who remained by her side in the long journey down the pathway of life.

In 1860 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Ward to Miss Sally Osterhold, who was born in Rhode Island, on the 18th day of November 1822, and who is the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Gee) Osterhold. Samuel Osterhold was born in Germany and when fourteen years of age accompanied his parents to the city of London, England, where he was reared to manhood. His wife was born in Yorkshire, England, and when the industry of hand weaving began to assume importance in America, they decided to come to this country. Three of their children, Mary, John and Nancy, were born in England, and there Mary and John died in childhood. Upon coming to the United States the family settled in New Hampshire, where Mr. Osterhold became overseer in a weaving establishment. He later removed to New Haven, Connecticut, and from that state he went to Rhode Island. Besides Mrs. Ward, three other children were born after the family removal to the United States, Benjamin, Fanny and George. The parents gave the best possible educational advantages to their children, but these were very limited, owing to the conditions of time and place. Mr. Osterhold passed the closing years of his life in Indiana, and his widow was cared for with loving solicitude by her daughter, Mrs. Ward, whom she accompanied on their removal to Porter county, Indiana, there dying ten months later after a long period of invalidism.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 875-878

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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