Biography of Milton F. Ward
Milton F. Ward. Among the business men of Kansas, there are none more far-seeing and intelligent than those who make up the agricultural class. The career of a farmer is somewhat exacting, in that he may not choose his own times or seasons for labor, for Nature adjusts such matters; but it is not probable that any other vocation gives such large and certain returns for well-directed effort expended. When an agriculturist successfully produces large crops he may be called a capable husbandman, but when he is able also to profitably handle the yield of his fertile fields himself, he had won the title of superior business man. Such a man was the late Milton F. Ward, who for twenty years was engaged in agricultural pursuits in Shawnee County, and who was known alike as a skilled farmer and a man of excellent business judgment.
Mr. Ward was born near Zanesville, Ohio, on a farm, June 17, 1832, a son of John and Katherine (Betz) Ward, his father being a farmer and carpenter of the Buckeye state. There were eight sons and four daughters in the family, and Milton F. was the eleventh in order of birth. His parents were honest, God-fearing people, in modest circumstances, who gave their children the best educations that they could afford, and Milton F. Ward attended the district schools of his native community, devoting the summer months to assisting his father in the work of the homestead. As a youth, he went to visit an elder brother, near the City of Fort Wayne, and there secured a position as teacher in the country schools, which he taught for three terms. While there he was married July 29, 1856, to Miss Sarah J. Robinson, who was born on a farm near Fort Wayne, December 8, 1832, a daughter of Horney and Katherine (Freshour) Robinson, natives respectively of Ohio and Indians, who received her education in the district schools. After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Ward returned to Mr. Ward’s home in Ohio. They were the parents of five children: John R., deceased, who had five children, all daughters; Edward Allan; Calvin S., of Abilene, Kansas; Clara Alice, now the wife of W. A. Larry, of Council Bluffs. Iowa; and Florence May, who married B. H. Smith, of Abilene, and had one child.
At the outbreak of the Civil war, Mr. Ward, with other patriotic men of his locality, answered the call of his country, and, leaving his wife and children and his eighty-acre farm, enlisted in Company D, Seventy-eighth Begiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry as a private for three years. He subsequently fought in many engagements, including the battles of Fort Donelson and Lookout Mountain, and was with General Sherman in his famous march to the sea. At the expiration of his three years of service, be reenlisted, with the rank of second lieutenant of his company. While the men who fought at the front underwent many dangers and privations, no less a sbare of the burdens of the great war were borne on the shoulders of the brave women who had been left alone at home. Mrs. Ward had three small children, the family was poor, and the pay of her soldier husband, while sent home regularly, was not sufficient for the family needs. Therefore, to add to the soanty income, she was forced to work hard with her cows and chickens in order to secure butter and eggs, which she sold at small prices. She remained on the farm for one year, but then found the responsibility too great, and with her children returned to the home of her father and mother in Indiana. There she remained in Indiana until the close of the war, when Mr. Ward, wearing the epaulets of a captain, rejoined his family. Shortly thereafter they went back to Ohio and Mr. Ward resumed farming. The after-war prices were exorbitant, and he was forced to pay $60 for a cow and $24 for a hog, with produce and provisions in proportion, while the labor of the farmer was but poorly remunerated. Also, Mr. Ward’s farm consisted of much rocky soll, and, taking all things into consideration, he decided that the West offered greater opportunities for the securing of a competence. In 1873 he came to Shawnee County and located on a farm near Topeka. He rented land and in the first year grew a good crop, but the next year the grasshoppers came and all that the little family had saved was completely wiped out. Some way, the family managed to live through the hard times, and for the next three years lived on a rented farm of 160 acres, and the father’s hard and well-managed labor resulted in the raising of good crops, so that at the end of that time the family moved to a farm of their own, consisting of 120 acres of bottom land. For eight years the family lived in a small frame shack, but then a more commodious house was built, and from that time on the Wards propspered and became substantial residents of their community. At the time of his death, August 14, 1892, Mr. Ward was accounted one of the well-to-do farmers of his locality.
Mr. Ward was always a leader in his community in assisting in the building of schools and churches. In politics he supported the republican party, and while he was never an office seeker served as township trustee for a short time. He was an Odd Fellow of Silver Lake Lodge, and a man of sterling qualities of heart and mind that made him respected and esteerned wherever known. Mrs. Ward, who survives him and lives on the homestead in Shawnee County, is a woman of many accomplishments, and an active worker in the Methodist Church, of which she had been a lifelong member. Mr. Ward was laid to rest in Prairie Home Cemetery, in Menoken Township.
Edward A. Ward, son of Milton F. and Sarah J. (Robinson) Ward, and one of the progressive farmers of Menoken Township, was educated in the public schools of Menoken Township, and for some years was a teacher in the district schools of Shawnee County. He was married April 7, 1886, to Miss Alma Lucas, of Shawnee County, who died in 1896, since which time her husband and daughter have made their home with Mrs. Milton F. Ward in Menoken Township. There were two children born to this union: One who died in infancy; and Edith, who was married October 7, 1904, to Fred Pelle, of Silver Lake, Kansas, by whom she had one child–Erwin, who was drowned March 30, 1908, in Shengaunmga Creek. She was again married March 21, 1916, to James Osborne, of Alma, Kansas. Mr. Ward is a republican, was for several years a trustee of Menoken Township and a member of the school board, and at one time was a candidate for county commissioner, but was defeated by S. H. Haynes, now county assessor of Shawnee County.