Regina H. Blackstock, professional genealogist

Continuing the Research from 2006

Research published by Jerry Merritt in 2006 steps through a lengthy process of reviewing records leading to Nathan Ward of Spartanburg, SC being the father of James B. Ward. His research identifies Samuel, Nathan, John, and Solomon as James B.’s brothers.  To Mr. Merritt’s credit, he makes it clear his research was subject to change should new evidence be found in the future.  Ron Jones also contributed to this research effort. To review this body of research, see:

Other research, most of which focuses on disproving specific documents, WILL NOT be discussed in this research paper.  It is my hope we can move beyond “throwing the baby out with the bath water” and focus on evidence universally accepted within the research community (for example: county, state or federally created documents with a proven chain of custody which authenticates them as being “truthful”).  None of the documents which have fallen into the category of being “fake” are included in my research efforts.

Below are some of the key points made in the body of research presented to-date which I feel is relevant to the new evidence.

Specifically, Mr. Merritt’s research relies heavily on five key points which I believe the new evidence will prove to be wrong:

Key Point #1 – Four brothers

James B. Ward had four brothers named Solomon, Samuel, Nathan, and John. At no point in Mr. Merritt’s research does he “prove” James B. had four brothers – much less that they were named Solomon, Samuel, Nathan, and John.  He creates a theory and produces research to prove or disprove the theory by reviewing census and other records.  To date, I do not know of any evidence to support James B. had brothers.  At most, we can say the evidence STRONGLY SUPPORTS a relationship between John Ward, Nathan Ward, and James Ward.  Maybe John, James, and Nathan are cousins, or maybe they are brothers…..we don’t know the truth, yet.  However, the research shown below strengthens the possibility these three (John, James & Nathan) are brothers and possibly weakens the case for Samuel and Solomon being related.

Key Point #2 – Father died before 1820

James B. Ward’s father died before 1820.  Mr. Merritt concludes the elder woman on the 1820 Census found living with a “James Ward” in Wilkinson County, GA could not be Elizabeth’s mother – because Elizabeth’s father was still living and her mother should have been counted as an elder woman in her father’s household. Therefore, this elder woman must be James B. Ward’s mother – which means James B.’s father is probably dead.

If the 1820 Wilkinson County Census is found to be another Ward (and not our James B.), then we can no longer speculate his father was dead by 1820.

Key Point #3 – Searching “all”

Records reviewed included all men who could have been James B.’s father.  It is common practice among researchers to conduct census searches of “all” residents in a county, state, or year in order to locate possible matches.  Mr. Merritt’s research relies heavily on this technique – and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, it is important to remember the time period being researched – late 1700s and early 1800s – was one of rapid expansion and people were often moving into places that were not included in these early United States Censuses.  Therefore, you need to be very careful if you say “I searched all the Ward families and found only one possible match…”  Because, in reality you searched ALL THE RECORDS – not ALL THE FAMILIES.

The new evidence presented in this research proves James B. Ward was living in the Territory of Florida in 1820.  This means James B. Ward was not enumerated on the United States 1820 Census. By 1830, when the first Florida census is conducted, James B. Ward had moved from Florida to Dale County, AL and is relatively easy to trace.  It is his movements prior to 1830 that will lead to the discovery of his true father.

Key Point #4 – Lived in Baldwin County, GA

James B. Ward was living in Baldwin County, GA in 1815. In 1815, James B. Ward would have been 19 years old.  The following was provided as evidence James B. Ward was living in Baldwin County, GA:

Was this 1815 James Ward living near the English family our James B. Ward?  Was this James English the father of Elizabeth English, James B.’s future wife?   Mr. Merritt later proves this English family is not Elizabeth’s family.7  However, the actual identity of this particular “James Ward” has not been completely resolved.  Could it be our James B. Ward?

Key Point #5 – Lived in Wilkinson County, GA

James B. Ward was a resident of Wilkinson County, GA around 1820.  A “James Ward” is found on the 1820 Census in Wilkinson County, GA.  Based on this, the following supporting evidence is deduced or found:

The new evidence will prove James B. Ward was not living in Wilkinson County, GA in 1820.  He was living in Florida.
Therefore, much of Mr. Merritt’s research falls apart and no longer supports his finding that Nathan Ward of Spartanburg, SC was James B. Ward’s father.

Starting Timeline

Based on the above records and data, as well as other census/records not listed above, Mr. Merritt offers the following timeline for James B. Ward’s early life:

The 1822 entry “James’ land on Nat’s Creek” is now known to be “James S. Ward” instead of “James B. Ward.”  Therefore, it has been crossed off the timeline.
Figure 1 is a map showing Georgia county lines in 1821 and the location of Wilkerson, Baldwin, Laurens, and Pulaski Counties.  A very rapid expansion was in process during the years surrounding this map and county lines were quickly changing in order to accommodate the rapid growth.

Figure 1 - 1821 GA, FL, and AL Counties
Tri-State Map
Click image for larger view.



FOOTNOTES

1 Gene Ronald Jones, The Wards and Bakers: Pioneers of West Florida, ASIN: B0006P4RLC (Decorah, Iowa: Anundsen Pub. Co, 1993, reprinted 1994).  NOTE:  This book was also published online during the early 2000s. Mr. Jones also published an online family newsletter focused on his family’s genealogy which included Elijah Ward.  His book and online publications also include research on the family of James B. Ward, the Wards of Charleston, SC, and other Ward families in the North Florida area.

2 A summary of this document is provided by Jerry Merritt in his 2006 publication, Finding James B. Ward’s Parents.  The original PDF document was made available on a website which is no longer online.

3 A summary of this document is provided by Jerry Merritt in his 2006 publication, Finding James B. Ward’s Parents.  The original PDF document was made available on a website which is no longer online

4 Jerry Merritt, Pensacola Links (http://pensacolalinks.com/ : accessed Jan 25, 2009), Finding James B. Ward’s Parents. NOTE: This publication is still online and can be viewed at: http://pensacolalinks.com/families/wards/Parents.htm

5 Jerry Merritt, Pensacola Links (http://pensacolalinks.com/families/wards/Parents.htm: accessed Jan 25, 2009), Finding James B. Ward’s Parents.

6 Jerry Merritt, Pensacola Links (http://pensacolalinks.com/families/wards/Parents.htm: accessed Jan 25, 2009), Finding James B. Ward’s Parents.

7 Jerry Merritt, Pensacola Links (http://pensacolalinks.com/families/wards/english.htm: accessed Jan 25, 2009), Finding Elizabeth English Ward’s Family.

8 1820 U.S. census, Wilkinson, Georgia population schedule, Not Stated, p. 325, James Ward; digital images, Ancestry (http://ancestry.com : accessed Mar 6, 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm roll m33_9.  … "Announcements by Sherriff Alexandar Hall," The Georgia Journal, May 07, 1822, p. 3; digital images, Digital Library of Georgia (https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn82014251/ : accessed Sep 14, 2019).  … 1820 U.S. census, Greene, Georgia population schedule, Capt Kimbroughs District, p. 156, James S. Ward; digital images, Ancestry (http://ancestry.com : accessed Jan 5, 2020); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M33, roll M33_8.