The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 48,185 black Americans with Ward as their last name. That represented 19% of the total of 260,464 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Ward.
We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.
After The Civil War
The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1850 and 1860, only free African Americans were recorded in the census. The many enslaved were omitted.
From 1870 onward, all black Americans were included.
6,503 people named Ward were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 789 as mixed.
There was a total of 55,411 people with the name.
Ward In The 1900 And 1940 Census
The mixed category was dropped from the census in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.
The 1900 census recorded 13,429 people with the last name Ward as black within a total of 93,300 that year.
By the way, the mixed category returned in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. It was dropped again in 1930, but replaced with extra categories for colored and non-white in a way that seems confusing now.
This changed again in 1940 and we can simply focus on one black category.
The 1940 census recorded 19,493 people named Ward as black within a total of 147,346.
Historic Black Figures With The Ward Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Ward as their last name.
- Born: 1871
- From: Wilson, North Carolina
- Died: 1956
Joseph Ward’s parents were too poor to send him to school. He worked as a waiter before arriving in Indianapolis where a local doctor spotted his potential and paid for his school education. He excelled at his studies and was the editor of the school newspaper.
After graduating high school in 1894, Ward attended medical college in Indiana and Brooklyn. When he qualified as a doctor in 1897, he opened a practice on Indiana Avenue. When he was blocked from working in hospitals, he established Ward Sanitarium in 1906 to treat African Americans.
Ward was a freemason and a prominent leader in the black community. He was a friend of Beulah Wright Porter and supported her successful efforts in setting up a TB clinic for black patients.
He helped business owners like Madam CJ Walker amongst others. Ward remained her private doctor until her death.
During the First World War, Ward enlisted as a medical officer. He ran a Field Hospital in France, the first African American to do so. After the war, he became Chief Medical Officer of a Veterans Hospital at Tuskegee.
- Born: 1927
- From: LaGrange, Georgia
- Died: 2016
Horace Talieaferro Ward was a high school valedictorian and graduated from Morehouse College in 1949. After his application to study law at the University of Georgia, Ward enlisted in the army.
After leaving as a corporal, he earned a law degree from Northwestern University in 1959. Ward joined a Georgia law firm that worked on significant civil rights cases. They included the successful fight of Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter to gain admittance to the University of Georgia.
From 1964, he served four terms with the Georgia General Assembly. He was the first black trial court judge in Georgia when he was appointed in Fulton County in 1974. Ward became a federal judge in 1979.
- Born: 1935
- From: Atlanta, Georgia
Francis Ward studied English at Morehouse College and completed a masters in journalism at Syracuse University in 1961.
He worked as a janitor at the Atlanta Daily World to support his studies. He went on to get proofreading work at the paper.
Jet Magazine hired Ward in 1964, and he transferred to Ebony three years later. He started working at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1968. He notably covered the assassination of Martin Luther King. He joined the L.A. Times as their Chicago correspondent before moving to the Miami Herald.
Ward lectured in journalism at Northwestern University, before taking up a similar post at Syracuse University. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association Of Black Journalists in 2016.
Ward In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Ward surname from several different military services.
Five regiments for black soldiers were formed during the Civil War. They were known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
Their records are part of the national archive of military monthly returns. The information includes the year and place of birth, where they enlisted, their occupation, and their height.
One of the earliest military entries for Ward was in May 1870. Henry Ward was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in May 1870 at Camp Supply, Indian Territory.
One of the later entries was in January 1915. Orlando Ward was a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry.
You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.
Black Civil War Sailors
The National Parks Service has a free archive of African American sailors during the Civil War.
The information includes their age, height, rank, occupation, and where and when they enlisted. It also includes every ship that they served on.
You can search the database on the National Parks website.
One of the earliest entries for Ward was for Thomas Ward from Baltimore, Maryland. He enlisted in October 22 1861 at New York when he was aged 37.
The record shows that Thomas was assigned on April 1 1866 to the ship Lenapee.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook/Steward. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Donaldsonville LA in September 12 1864. James was aged 22 and was from St. James Par., Louisiana.
He was assigned to the ship Fairy on August 30 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Carpenter and Farmer. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.