Who was Mr. Ward?
James Ward, Esquire, was born in Antrim, Ireland on August 1, 1814. In 1834, he traveled to America and lived at Auburn, New York as a farmer. He married Mary E. Hickson in 1840 and remained with her until her departure from this world in 1855.
Mr. Ward was a member of the Chicago Board of Education from May 1857 to 1863. During this period there was much progress and growth in the school system. At that time, he was the chairman of the committee on School Buildings and Grounds. As the chairman, he was responsible for the planning and supervision of the construction of the free schools in Chicago. He was described as having a quick and energetic disposition. He possessed excellent judgment on matters of building. These qualities earned him many marked compliments during his years of service to the board of education. As an example, when Mr. Haven, the President of the School Board was given the keys of the then recently completed Haven School, on the day of its dedication, Mr. Haven stated: " I am sure that if the people of the city do not express their gratitude to him (Mr. Ward) for his contribution to the comfort of the children who occupy our public school buildings, it is because they do not know whom to thank."
Mr. Ward retired from the School Board in 1863. Shortly after his retirement, he was appointed as the first Building and Supply Agent of the Board of Education until 1877. In this position, Mr. Ward was responsible for keeping the city's schools in excellent condition and economically supplied with all conveniences. " Few men at his age could successfully accomplish the labors he performed daily, or so faithfully and acceptably fulfill so delicate and burdensome a public trust as that held by him." The Board of Education named one of the finest school buildings in the city of Chicago at that time in honor of Mr. Ward as a token of their appreciation for his faithful service.
Compiled by: Ericka L. Smith
Excerpts from "Leading Man of Chicago"
According to James Ward's Great Great Grandson (Mike Ward) James Ward and several other people was profiled in a book titled "Chicago and It's Distinguished Citizens" that was printed in 1881and since he passed away before it was finished there is an additional obituary article at the end as well. The book is scanned and is available by link provided below.