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William J. Ward collection

Identifier: MS 3056


Summary: This collection is the personal and business papers of William J. Ward, 1808-1892, consisting of: business and family correspondence; indentures, deeds depositions, land plats, and other legal documents; receipts, lists, and other financial documents; printed materials; and a garden journal. Some correspondence in the collection mentions Civil War Reconstruction issues from the perspective of a Southern Sympathizer. Of particular interest is a sermon by William J. Ward, published in Baltimore City in 1866, given in support of the Ladies Association of Baltimore for Southern Relief.


  • 1725-1911


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

William J. Ward (1808-1892) was most likely the son of George Ward, a merchant, and Arietta Jessup Ward. In September of 1831 he married Harriet Jessup, with whom he fathered two children, Emma and Arietta, before Harriet died of pulmonary consumption in August of 1839. Following an 1845 European tour of Switzerland and Amsterdam, Ward married Isabella Fouschee Green in 1853, and together they had four children: Mary R., William J. Ward, Jr., George, and Charles A. – the male members of whom William J. Ward would correspond with his entire life. During the Civil War, William J. Ward was a Southern sympathizer, as is evidenced by his anonymous publication of a Sermon by a Layman, presented to the Ladies’ Association of Baltimore for Southern Relief in 1866. Aside from this one publication, Ward appears to have lived a relatively quiet and peaceful life at 111 West Monument Street, Baltimore City, where, as a lawyer he dealt primarily with civil cases and land disputes between the years 1840-1880. William J. Ward died in 1892, of unknown, though presumably natural, causes.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 document boxes, and 1 oversized folder)

Language of Materials



The William J. Ward Collection consists of six major series: 1.) Correspondence; 2.) Legal Documents; 3.) Financial Documents; 4.) Printed Materials; 5.) Diary, and 6.) Miscellaneous. The papers in this collection range from 1725-1911.

Each series is arranged by document type and filed chronologically. All undated material comes after dated material. Large, bulky materials are contained in a folder in a separate, oversized file.

Series I: Correspondence; 1844-1886 (Box 1, 10 folders)

This series includes personal and business correspondence for the Ward family, and is divided into subseries organized by the family members who received the correspondence. The bulk of the correspondence falls between the dates 1870-1886.

Subseries 1: William J. Ward Papers; 1844-1886 (Box 1, Folder 1)

This subseries contains the correspondence of William J. Ward, from 1844-1886. Included in this subseries is a letter from Ward’s wife, Isabella “Belle” Ward; this is the only item generated by her in the collection. The majority of the material is correspondence from William J. Ward, Jr., to William J. Ward, while the son was away at the Virginia Military Institute. Of particular interest is a letter from L. A. Thompson, written in 1866 from Texas, which details several complaints of white Southerners over Reconstruction as well as hintsthat Ward wrote a sermon which is contained elsewhere in this collection.

This subseries consists of 10 letters.

Subseries 2: William J. Ward, Jr. Papers; 1854-1873 (Box 1, Folders 2-6)

This subseries includes the correspondence of William J. Ward, Jr., primarily in letters from his father, William J. Ward, written while William attended school at the Virginia Military Institute, c. 1869. Included is one letter from Annie C. Warner, the sister of George Warner, Jr., and eventual wife of William J. Ward, Jr., from 1854 when the two were courting marriage. The subseries consists of 65 letters.

Subseries 3: George Ward Papers; 1884-1886 (Box 1, Folder 7)

This subseries contains the correspondence of George Ward, and with the exception of one letter from a P.J. Simmons in 1886, concerns the Ward family. Letters from his father, William J. Ward, seem to indicate that the senior Ward had a preference for this son, perhaps because George took up his father’s profession of attorney. Also included are letters from his brother, Charles, in New York City, which collaborated with the letters in Subseries 2 indicate that the Ward family was well-traveled and spread out geographically. The subseries consists of 9 letters.

Subseries 4: George Warner, Jr. Papers; 1841-1873 (Box 1, Folder 8)

This subseries contains the correspondence of George Warner, Jr., a close friend of the Ward family and related through his sister, Annie, who became the wife of William J. Ward, Jr. Warner was a lawyer who worked closely with William J. Ward, who apparently also advised and served the younger attorney on several legal issues. The subseries consists of 6 letters, all involving Warner’s legal cases.

Subseries 5: C. Stokem and Company Papers; 1875, 1876 (Box 1, Folder 9)

This subseries contains the business correspondence of C. Stokem and Company. The letters, written by C. Stokem to Delcher and Barrow, concern business transactions between these persons, and a relationship of creditor, to debtors, respectively assigned. The letters were most likely tied to the Ward family because one member’s law practice dealt with a civil dispute between C. Stokem and Delcher and Barrow. The subseries consists of 22 letters.

Subseries 6: Miscellaneous; 1868, 1886, 1890, n.d. (Box 1, Folder 10)

This subseries contains two letters from William J. Ward to his son, Charles Ward, one of them a postcard in the French language, as well as one letter for Annie Ward from Edwin Higgins. Two letters in this subseries are undated, one from “Rosie to Pa,” perhaps written by Mary R. Ward to William J. Ward, as well as another letter whose author is unknown, addressed to “Dear Uncle” – the content of this last letter does not illuminate who, exactly, this “uncle” was. The subseries consists of 6 letters in total.

Series II: Legal Documents; 1771-1888, n.d. (Box 1, 2 Folders; Box 2, 3 folders; Oversized Items)

This series includes deeds, leases, indentures, depositions, statements of character, official court documents, and land plats relating to William J. Ward’s profession as lawyer in the city of Baltimore, where he flourished 1840-1880. Also included are items related to legal clients of George Warner, Jr. Oversized items in the collection include a series of land plats for locations in Baltimore city, in an area called “Ridgely’s Delight” and “Timber Neck,” near to what is presently Eutaw Street.

Subseries 1: Legal Documents; 1771-1889, n.d. (Box 1, Folder 11; Box 2, Folders 1-3; Oversized Items)

This subseries contains deeds, leases, indentures, depositions, and statements of character for court cases over which William J. Ward was attorney. Of particular interest is a case from 1883, the National Mechanics Bank of Baltimore vs. Annie C. Ward, George Warner, and William J. Ward, concerning unpaid loans on the part of these three individuals. Also contained in this series are files relating to Elisabeth Nagle, a legal client of George Warner, Jr., and a passport for William J. Ward. The subseries consists of 43 items.

Subseries 2: Miltenberger’s Lessee vs. Charles Warner, Jr.; 1862, n.d. (Box 1, Folder 12; Oversized Items)

This subseries contains materials related to what appears to have been William J. Ward’s major court case, Miltenberger’s Lessee vs. Charles Warner, Jr. This case involved contested land in areas of Baltimore City called “Ridgely’s Delight,” and “Timber Neck” and the materials reflecting this include official, printed court appellant’s briefs, depositions, and chiefly, land plats detailing the disputed territory. The subseries consists of 8 items.

Series III: Financial Documents; 1808-1892 (Box 1, 5 Folders)

This series includes receipts, stock certificates, bank checks, and federal, state, and municipal tax information, primarily for persons outside the Ward family, likely related to Ward’s legal cases. The bulk of the material in this series falls between the dates 1833-1892.

Subseries 1: Receipts; 1833-1854 (Box 1, Folder 13)

This subseries contains receipts for rent payments of John Robertson, a receipt for Daniel Pope’s water rent to the Baltimore Water Company, one receipt for William J. Ward, and rental account information for Elisabeth Nagle, a legal client of George Warner, Jr. The subseries consists of 15 items.

Subseries 2: Receipts; 1854-1892, n.d. (Box 1, Folder 14)

This subseries contains receipts for rent payments of clients of William J. Ward and George Warner, Jr., and William J. Ward’s personal accounts, as well of lists of expenditures that appear to have been written in Ward’s hand. Of particular interest in this subseries is a dentist’s bill for William J. Ward and his daughter, which upon inspection shows that the young lady had seventeen dental operations within the span of a single month. The subseries consists of 20 items.

Subseries 3: Miscellaneous; 1808-1878 (Box 1, Folders 15-17)

This subseries contains stock certificates from the Mechanics’ Bank of Baltimore, bank checks from the Commercial and Farmers’ Bank of Baltimore, and municipal, state, and federal tax records, chiefly for individuals not in William J. Ward’s family. The stock certificates are from the summer of 1808, and the bank checks from 1816, and have a possible connection to legal cases dealing with the failure of Baltimore City banks in the early nineteenth century. The subseries consists of 22 items.

Series IV: Printed Materials; 1725-1911 (Box 1, Folders 18-19; Box 2, Folders 4-6)

This series includes an incomplete fragment of The Family Dictionary, vol. II, From H to Z, by M. Chomel, edited by R. Bradley (Cambridge) from the year 1725; an 1866 copy of Sermon by a Layman, presented to the Ladies Association of Baltimore for Southern Relief, by William J. Ward; a 1783 copy of the Treaty of Paris; a c. 1870 edition of Zell’s Hand Atlas of the World, Part 2, edited by J. Bartholomew George; and a 1905 copy of May Manton’s Bazaar Glove-Fitting Patterns, Spring & Summer Catalogue, a book of early twentieth-century dress patterns.

Series V: Diary; c. 1850 (Box 2, Folder 7)

This series includes a “garden journal,” c. 1850, by William J. Ward. The incomplete fragment of the diary contains daily information on weather, family and social gatherings, garden work, and recipes.

Series VI: Miscellaneous; 1840-1911, n.d. (Box 1, Folders 20-21; Oversized Items)

This series includes a c.1840 college diploma, in the Latin language, for a Mandeville Thum; an 1867 college catalogue for the Virginia Military Institute, presumably for William J. Ward, Jr.; a c. 1889 grocer’s account book for “Mrs. Ward;” a calendar and a holiday shopping brochure from a Baltimore City company, Stewart & Co., both from 1911; a color drawing of a bridge; an unsigned certificate for stock in the Washington Monument Society; a certificate of membership for the Society of American Whigs; two calling cards; and two sheets of what appears to be math notes, taken by William J. Ward, Jr., during his time as a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute.

Subseries 1: Poetry and Religious Exercises; c. 1861, 1867, n.d. (Box 1, Folder 21)

This subseries contains an anonymous, though presumably written by William J. Ward, poem to “Edith,” a fragment of the poem “The Bay of Biscay,” notes for religious, devotional exercises, and notes for biblical references, which are possibly related to William J. Ward’s anonymous 1866 Sermon, found in the fourth series of this collection. Of particular interest is a c. 1861 song, credited to B. F. Butler, concerning the April 19 Civil War riot in Baltimore City. The subseries consists of 5 items.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of George B. P. Ward, 1994.

Scope and Contents

The papers in the William J. Ward Collection span a period of 186 years, from 1725 to 1911, with the vast bulk of material covering the years 1806 to 1892. The materials consist of personal and business correspondence, printed materials, a garden journal, financial documents, and indentures, deeds, land plats, and other legal documents relating to Ward’s career as an attorney in Baltimore City, Maryland. The collection has been arranged within a framework of six series based on document type, which is discussed in greater detail in the series description.

The bulk of the material represents the life of William J. Ward (1808 – 1892), his correspondence with his children, and the various legal documents generated by his legal practice. The majority of this material spans the years 1833 – 1892. Correspondence between Ward and his children, falling between the years 1844 – 1846, chiefly concerns family affairs and gives evidence to the geographical mobility of the Ward family, where Charles Ward communicated from New York City, George Ward remained in Owings Mills, Maryland, and William J. Ward, Jr. traveled the country from Baltimore to Kansas. Most of the family correspondence is between William J. Ward and William J. Ward, Jr., and was written from father to son as Ward, Jr., began his career at the Virginia Military Institute c. 1869. Although most of the correspondence centers on the Ward family, there are also letters concerning Charles Warner, Jr., whose sister Annie Warner married William J. Ward, Jr., and whose father held a close relationship with William J. Ward, and a series of business correspondence from C. Stokem and Company covering the year 1876, and likely relating to one of Ward’s legal cases. Financial documents in the collection are mostly receipts, stock certificates, and tax records for individuals other than the Wards, with the names of John Albright, Joseph and Elisabeth Nagel, Daniel Pope, and John Robertson and “Robinson” (these last two appear to have been the same individual) occurring the most frequently. These receipts from personal accounts were likely involved in Ward’s handling of civil court cases, and particularly of note are a series of bank checks for the Commercial and Farmer’s Bank of Baltimore from 1816. Particularly interesting in Ward’s personal financial receipts are the records of his daughter’s and his trips to their dentist, Dr. Coyle, in 1878. Legal documents in the collection consist of indentures, statements of character, depositions, and notes on law cases. Included in this set of legal documents are a series of printed court trial records for the Miltenberger's Lessee vs. Charles Warner, as well as several land plats that appear to have been involved in this case, which was a land dispute. The printed materials in the collection consist of an incomplete “Family dictionary,” printed in 1725, a copy of the Treaty of Paris, printed in Baltimore in 178(?), a pattern book from 1905, and a sermon written by an anonymous layman to the Baltimore Ladies’ Commission for Southern Relief in 1866. Correspondence between William J. Ward and a Texan, L. A. Thompson, from March 14, 1866 reveals that this sermon was, in fact, written by William J. Ward, and placed within the context of the letter, which illuminates Southern concerns with Reconstruction, also hints that Ward was a Southern sympathizer.

Guide to the William J. Ward collection
Under Revision
Kevin C. Allor
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-25: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States