Ebin Jennings Ward, the popular ex-mayor of Marseilles, LaSalle county, is one of the native-born sons of the town, his birth having occurred here September 2, 1854.
The first mention we find of the Ward family in America was of William Ward, in 1639, in Sudbury, Connecticut. In direct descent, his son Samuel was born September 24, 1641, and died in 1729. His son Joseph was born in 1670 and died at Marlboro June 30, 1717, aged forty-seven. Phineas Ward, born August 5, 1705, died October 19, 1756, aged fifty-one. Captain Josiah Ward, born September 4, 1741, was an officer in the Continental army and died February 27, 1795, in Henniker, New Hampshire. Josiah Ward was born September 15, 1769, and died in Croydon, New Hampshire, in 1826. Dr. Daniel Ward was one of the pioneer physicians of this place, loved and highly esteemed by all who knew him. A native of Croydon, New Hampshire, born June 6, 1810, he was a son of Josiah and Elizabeth (Hoyt) Ward, the latter a daughter of a Revolutionary war soldier. The father of the Doctor died when the latter was sixteen years of age, but he received an excellent education for that early day; and in 1834 the Vermont Academy of Medicine bestowed upon him the degree of Doctor of Medicine, upon his completion of his prescribed course of study. Two years later he came to Illinois, and, after residing in the town of Hennepin, Putnam county, for a short period, he located permanently in Marseilles, where he built up a fine practice and reputation for skill. He was twice married, his first wife being a Miss Mary Ann Goldwaite, of Newport, New Hampshire, and their three children were Ada A., Zina G. and Mary H.
Ebin J. is the only child of the second marriage, his mother having been Julia Belle, daughter of Levi Jennings, of Fall River, Illinois. On the mother's side were Moses Jennings, who was born August 19, 1733, and died March 26, 1813; and Levi Jennings, born July 10, 1778. His daughter, Julia Belle Jennings, was born November 13, 1819, and married Daniel Ward October 25, 1853; she died at Marseilles September 6, 1862, and was survived several years by the Doctor, whose death took place in Marseilles, March 21, 1873.
The boyhood of E. J. Ward passed quietly in this town, where he was a pupil in the grammar schools for years. In order that he might enjoy better educational advantages, he went to Chicago, in 1871, and during the following four years attended the old central high school of that city. Thence going to Yale College, he was graduated in 1878, and at once entered upon a course in civil engineering in the same institution. Having completed his work in that department in 1880, he entered the employ of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company as a civil engineer, and for a short time assisted on construction. Later he was assistant engineer in charge of bridge construction for two years with the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company.
The great project of the Chicago drainage canal becoming an assured enterprise, Mr. Ward went to Chicago and from 1890 to 1895 was one of the assistant engineers along that route for the wonderful water-way. During his connection with the sanitary district of Chicago his work consisted largely of a careful inquiry into the feasibility and practicability of a deep water-way to connect the western end of the sanitary canal at Lockport with the Mississinoi river by way of the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers.
Mr. Ward has won the highest praise for his eminently satisfactory labors, and is looked up to as an authority in his line. For the past four years he has been living retired at his pleasant home in Marseilles, devoting his time to his private business interests. He owns considerable valuable property, and is one of the well-to-do citizens of this place. Politically he is a Republican in national affairs, reserving the right of independent action in local elections, where the suitability of the nominee for a given position takes precedence of everything else. In 1897 Mr. Ward was honored by his fellow citizens, who elected him to the position of mayor. During the two years of his term of office, he made a record of which he may justly be proud.
On the 5th day of October, 1881, Mr. Ward married Miss Anne Randolph Vaughan, who was born January 27, 1857. They have one daughter, Julia Jennings, born April 4, 1887. Mrs. Ward, a lady of fine education and social attainments, is a daughter of Dr. Isaac P. Vaughan, of Glasgow, Missouri.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 64-66.