Gerrit Smith Ward was born in Floyd, New York, on July 9, 1842, the last of five children born to Austin and Phila Clark Ward. Austin’s older brother, Sardis Ward (1796-1874), had a daughter, Anna, who married Isaac Pierce. Pierce was a partner in the firm of Pierce, Hall, and Ward in Alma, Michigan. Gerrit moved to Alma before the Civil War to help his cousin.
Gerrit was commissioned as a Sergeant of Company A of the 144th New York Volunteer Regiment on October 30, 1862. On December 8, 1863, he was appointed Chief Principal Musician of the same regiment. On June 25, 1865, he was honorably discharged at Hilton Head, South Carolina.
On October 21, 1869, Gerrit married (Mary) Josephine Ely (April 7, 1853-December 9, 1939) in Alma, the daughter of Brigadier General and Michigan State Senator Ralph Ely (1819-1883) of Alma, whose papers are also housed at the Clarke Historical Library. Together Gerrit and Josephine had two children, Sarah Louise Ward (November 25, 1871-May 22, 1953) and Charles Ogden Ward (June 28, 1875-June 1, 1962). Sarah later married Walter C. Edwards (died May 23, 1940), with whom she had four children, Kathleen (November 5, 1904- ), Louis (January 3, 1907- ), Ruth (June 28-August 17, 1909), and Marjorie (August 16, 1917- ).
Gerrit worked as a cashier at the First State Bank of Alma, 1880-1883. He became a co-partner of the reorganized bank under the firm of W. S. [William Sisson] Turck and Company. In 1902, he resigned due to his health. In 1913, he was elected president, a position he held until his death in 1916.
In 1899, Gerrit served as Director of the Valley Telephone Company. He owned some Tennessee mines in conjunction with W. O. Johnson, J. O. Lumsden, F. H. Hamblin, E. B. Green, and H. J. Ward, 1886-1887. With his son, Charles, Gerrit, H. A. Edwards, and W. C. Edwards were involved with the Roanoke Rapids Paper Manufacturing Company of Roanoke, North Carolina, 1907-1912. Gerrit also owned timberlands in Arkansas (1892) and land in Montcalm County, Michigan.
Gerrit died on June 9, 1916. He was survived by his wife, Josephine, who died on December 9, 1939.
Charles Ogden Ward (June 28, 1875-June 1, 1962) married Della Lucinda Sigsby (died March 21, 1963) on April 21, 1903 at Alma. Together, they had two children: Don Gerrit Ward (August 13, 1906-April 4, 1907) and Hugh Ely Ward (December 9, 1908- ).
During the Spanish-American War, he was appointed Chief Musician (cornet) of the 35th Michigan Volunteers on July 25, 1898. He was mustered out on March 31, 1899.
Charles worked as an assistant cashier (1902-1904) at the First Bank of Alma. He later served as Treasurer of the Roanoke Rapids Manufacturing Company, 1911-1912. Charles then became a real estate developer. In 1916, he joined two other men in forming the Michigan Avenue Heights subdivision of Pine River Township (Michigan) and Alma. The goal of the corporation was to buy, plat, and sell land in the subdivision. In 1920, he became a co-partner with three other men in forming the Shadow Lawn Realty Company in Alma, to buy, re-plat, and sell land in the old Fairground Plat subdivision in Alma’s Pine River Township. (This information for both men is from the collection.)