Basic Facts About Ward West Virginia

Ward is located on Kelly’s Creek, 3 miles east of Cedar Grove and about 20 miles east of Charleston, WV.  Ward once consisted of 800 +/- houses.  Language in the lease of the land granting use of it to Valley Camp Coal (previously Kelly’s Creek Colliery) stipulated that the houses were to be torn down when the mining operations ended.  For that reason, there is little there today as evidence of the community’s existence.

Things began to wind down for Ward around 1970.  That was when demolition cleaned up most of what was left of Ward.  By 1992 only 4 houses remained as evidence of the community of Ward.

In 1979 past residents of Ward came together to start the Ward, WV Annual Reunions.  Out of these reunions a number of compiled books were published by a committee.  Every year or virtually every year the committee gathered to organize the reunion and they also compiled material for these booklets.

The Ward Reunion has continued for years and I’m in the process of running down information to see if the tradition continues.  If so, I’ll be adding a page to this blog with all the details and perhaps see if we can arrange to post photos from a recent reunion.  According the the 1992 Reunion Book the event was attracting over 500 people each year!  All these people gathering with the common thread of family ties to Ward  back when it was a bustling coal mining community.

Ward had everything needed to sustain a community.  The coal company built a store, post office, gas station, theater and a place called “The Clubhouse”, a boarding house for single coal miners.

The late 1950’s brought mechanization to the coal mining industry and reduced the need for so many general laborers.  The company started laying off workers.  The families would have to leave the company-provided homes and the mining company tore these down as the families left using the lumber for other projects and gradually reducing the size of Ward until it was completely gone less than 20 years later.

Can you imagine a place where the sense of community is so strong it draws back former members for years after the physical presence has vanished?  We could use a little of that loyalty today.

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37 Comments

  1. Joy Bryant

    I am looking into who owns the Ward cemetery and tracing my genealogy on my father’s side, who were Dorman (s) and Proctor (s). Can you give me any details of that cemetery? Thank you.

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  2. lee robinette

    I was in vietnam in 1965 and had a friend from Ware W Va. When i left he was still there and I wonder what ever happened to him

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  3. Fritz Ollom

    My dad (John Ollom), who just passed this summer, was born in Ward in 1922 and lived there until he was eight. His dad worked for the coal company, ostensibly as a weigh boss but really as a baseball player. Evidently the coal companies at the time sponsored baseball teams. Have heard some family stories about how “spirited” these games could be.

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  4. Bobby Gene Hudnall

    In response to the note from Joy Bryant asking who owns the Ward Cemetery. The land is Owned by Mr. Joe Anderson, who resides in New Hampshire. Hope this is helpful.

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  5. Lisa Isbell

    Thanks Bobby! Is there somewhere people can contact Joe Anderson? How is funding for the upkeep of the cemetery managed these days? I am just curious…my aunt & uncle live right across from it in the log home. My dad is Dallas Rider.

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  6. Gail Gochenour

    The Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society, Inc. P.O. Box 8765 South Charleston, WV 25526 published a book in 1981 “Kanawha Valley Cemeteries” Volume I compiled by Elaine Gates. The Ward Cemetary along with many others in the area is included.

    Reply
  7. Barry Zaffuto

    My mother was born in Ward in 1922 where my grandparents moved for work after coming from Italy in 1921. They subsequently moved to coal mines in Western PA. However when applying for black lung benefits for my father in the 1980’s, my mother sent for her birth certificate. On her application, someone (in WV) scratched out the name Ward and inserted “Coalwood” which is in McDowell County. I stumbled upon this site while looking to see if there really was a Ward! Obviously there were Italians in Ward in 1922, did any stay and become part of the community?

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    • Lisa

      Offhand I don’t know Barry, however, I wouldn’t be at all surprised since there were many nationalities represented there at Ward. Do you want to share her surname and perhaps any associated ones? I have some Ward community reunion books from other the years – lots of family names are in them. They aren’t indexed but I can flip through and see if I can spot anything for you.

      Reply
  8. jackie cox

    I was born and raised in Ward with a couple of years absence as my family moved to Portland Oregon during WWll…Then back until I joined the U.S.Navy out of East Bank, H.S.

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  9. Sandra Jean McBane Austin

    I and my twin brother were born in Ward in 1940. I attended several reunions. My memories of Ward still warms my soul today. My mother Helen Faye Hammond(s) McBane was born in Ward in 1914. Her mother’s name was Virginia “Virgie” Hannah Hammond(s). Virgie’s parents are buried in Virginia’s Chapel in Glasgow/Cedar Grove. Virgie, husband Wallace, brother Earl, and several infants are buried in the Ward Cemetery. Please share my email address so I can connect with others whom have fond memories of this special little town.

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  10. Bill Lundberg

    Bobby Gene, are you related to Lawrence Hudnall? I met Lawrence in Columbus, Ohio in 1992 and we became good friends. He would often talk fondly of growing up in Ward, West Virginia, and talked about how the town no longer existed and of a recent reunion with his long lost sister. In the late 90’s he moved away and we lost touch. He was in his 80’s then.

    Reply
  11. Si Rosenthal

    I would like the Email for Sandra Jean McBane Austin. I met her years ago and was surprised to find her again. The above says she is willing to share her Email address.

    Reply
  12. Cari Especto

    Hi- My grandfather Woody Hundley used to live in Ward, & we were related to the Tucker’s – does anyone know if that house is still there – this is where my Mom Linda was born & I wanted to show my son – Thanks in advance for all your help

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  13. Lisa Isbell

    Hi Cari, Not sure if this is the Tucker family you’re looking for but Patsy and Charles Tucker lived next door to my aunt – at Ward, or rather what’s left of it now. They passed away in the last few years (not sure exactly when). Their house was torn down. Their daughter Lois still lives near my aunt though, Lois Tucker Fitzpatrick.

    Reply
  14. Jaye Andrews

    My grandfather, Jim Andrews, was a pitcher for the Ward coal mines’ baseball team. Have a team photo. Can’t figure how to attach it.

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  15. Georgia Watson

    Hello from Palm Springs CA. My name is Georgia Watson and I would like to know if as I’ve heard the county courthouse burned and all the vital records were destroyed (circa early 1900’s). My mother was born in Ward 1918 and her father is buried in the Ward Cemetery name Wysor Crowder. He was killed in a mining accident 1-18-1918. He and my grandmother had a still borne baby ( boy I believe) also in Ward Cemetery, marked simply Baby Crowder. Hopefully someone out here in cyberland may have info. I would appreciate so much! Thank You

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  16. PK WILLIAMS

    Hello, My grandparents were, Alma (Hutchinson) & Obie Love, they lived in Ward, and had 1 child, my Mom, Mary Frances Love. She told me of the lil town/city and one day I would like to visit there. from ward they moved too London Wva. And yes he worked the mines and had coal within his arms to prove it. As kids we were fascinated by the lil black specks … if anyone knows someone who remember them please contact me. I know this is a long shot of seeing any pics.Thank you.

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  17. Ron Webster

    I was born @ ward in 1948. The reunion ended a few years back.It appeared that all the hard core Ward citizen’s has all went to the great Ward heaven in the sky & the interest has faded away. I live in Lewisburg Tn. now, but my sister Brenda Webster/Gray lives in Oley up Cabin Creek & pastors a church in the old school on 60 @ Hugheston. It appears she knows everybody & a lot about that reunion. If U live near there C her. If you need her number e-mail me, (Ron) 4 info on her. soundwav@live.com

    Reply
  18. Carol J Tucker Quinn

    Is there any way to get copies of the Ward Reunion books. My dad was raised in WARD. His name was Bobby Nolan Tucker Sr. His father was George Tucker. They both were coal miners.

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  19. Lisa Isbell

    Hi Carol, I don’t know if I can get copies of those reunion books or not. I have a name and phone number around here somewhere for someone who at one time said she could get those so I’ll see if I can find that and give her a call. I spoke to her a number of years ago and at that time the reunions were still going on. Maybe she still has the files to get reprints done, that would be nice. I’ll see if I can get in touch with her.

    Reply
  20. Jaye Andrews

    IMG_5443.png
    My grandfather, Jim Andrews, Ward Coal Company baseball pitcher. Best guess is this picture was taken in the late 1930’s.

    Reply
  21. Joshua johnson

    My grand mother is patsy Tucker, she lived in the last company house that stood in ward before being torn down after my grandparents passing. However my mom has a lot of ward reunion books if interested.

    Reply
    • Lisa Isbell

      Hi Johshua, I have a lot of the Ward Reunion books too but if there are some I don’t have available, I would be interested in them, yes. I’m also interested in pictures from around ward from way back in order to post them here on the website. Thank you for visiting White Oak Attic. ~Lisa Isbell

      Reply
  22. Rachel Womack

    Does anyone have any stories about the Lewis Kelley family! Lewis, Jewel, Ginny, Lois, Billy Lewis. The last member of this family and my momma Lois passed away June 12th. I’d love any info and or pictures to show on a screen show at her celebration of life July 27th. Pls forward any pics or stories asap to : rewomack1963@gmail.com

    Reply
  23. Michael Kilty

    Where would the buildings shown in the picture on the website have been located in relation to the Ward and Mt. Lewis cemeteries? My wife’s great-grandfather Bill Smith is buried in the Ward cemetery and older ancestors are in unmarked graves in Mt. Lewis cemetery. Bill was an engineer for the Kelly’s Creek railroad. We have a copy of a picture of him in the cab of the locomotive. The picture was hanging on the wall of the barbershop in Cedar Grove and the barber told us who had the original. I forget his name but we were able to get a copy of the picture from him.

    Reply
  24. Larry Tucker

    I was born in Ward in 1953 and my family moved after the flood in the early 60’s took our house. My Dad was a Forman for Valley Camp. I would love to get a hold of some of those books. I. Am currently the President of Ward Local 340 and we meet monthly in Cedar Grove and we are all retired.

    Reply
  25. Alex Moore

    Hello all!I have just started going back in the family history and found my great grandfather worked in the mines sometime near 1950.Does anyone have housing records or employment records that i may be able to see a definitive date of my grandfathers employment.His name was Carles Lester Moore and he lived in Ward with my great grandmother Violet and their children Dean and Patsy (Patty).I am gathering any possible records and anyone with any information can email me at alexmoore4713@gmail.com.Thank you very much!

    Reply
  26. CAROLYN MITCHELL

    I was born in Ward, January 1950 and was sad when there was nothing there any more, but even more happy as I drove through around 4- years ago to see it revitalized. The sign entering Ward is beautiful. I also have a grandmother and uncle buried in the cemetery on the hill. I’m planning a trip to Ward this summer to reconnect with my beginnings

    Reply
  27. Daphene Simmons Richard

    There is a web site called Memories of Ward, WV. Where there are many questions being answered. Also there is a web site called Valley Camp Coal Company. It too has many interesting facts. I lived at Ward from 1943 to 1961. My father worked there all his life and retired from Valley Camp. His name was Edward Simmons.

    Reply
  28. Janet

    I found a picture going through old boxes of my parents titled Sunday School – Ward WV June 19, 1927. There are approx 200 people in the pic. It’s not in perfect condition but you can see everyone. Would be glad to send if anyone keeps these old pictures.

    Reply
  29. Donna Lee Goodson Ansted

    My father, Don Goodson, was born and raised in Ward, West Virginia. He attended Gauley Bridge High School where he played football. He is buried in Ward cemetery among his family members.

    Reply
  30. LIONEL FERRELL

    I am looking to restart the ward reunion. If anyone is interested in getting it going again please let me know. I am a grand kid of two grandparents that were miners valley coal camp and my parents grew up in ward. I had the pleasure of taking my parents through ward this past year to let them see what it is now.

    Reply
  31. LIONEL FERRELL

    Janet can you share that picture with me

    Reply
  32. John A Owens

    My Dad John Paul Owens was born in Ward in 1922. His father, Oakley Ordd Owens. My dads brothers were, James, Ordd and Bill. Sister Elizabeth. My dad left Ward I think in 1939 wanting to escape the mines . Joining the Navy he was wounded at Guadalcanal and lost a leg due to infection. He married Jessie Pardons from Ripley and raised their family in MI. Dad worked for GM…..

    Reply
  33. Tom Hammonds

    My family left Ward West, Virginia when I was going into the second grade around 1956. My father was injured in a coal mining accident and had to find a new career to provide for his family. I have some fond memories of the little town most of which came from visiting my extended family which lived in Ward for the next ten or twenty years. For me, there is something special about Ward which made me feel that I was home. When I visited, I felt like I owned a piece of Ward and it was where I belonged. It made me think of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and cousins and usually brings a tear to my eyes.

    Reply
  34. john campbell

    i moved to Ward in 1995 and im still here today in Rube Hollow

    Reply
  35. Connie Pauley

    My Mother Nancy “Nannie” Young Canterbury was born at Ward, a daughter of Harvey and Olive May Buckley Young…Always loved going to Ward to visit them…I have never been to a Ward Reunion but my Mom with other family members have gone and she really enjoyed it…My Grandparents are buried in the Ward Cemetery…My grandpa was a coal miner and several of my uncles were also…

    Reply

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