Written in Salem, Idaho on January 31, 1899
The biography of your humble servant commences at the early dawn of January 1, 1828, at Newborough, Northamptonshire, England. I am the son of John Ward and Ann Woods, who were born at Eye, Northamptonshire, England, and North Lufnaham, Ruthlandshire, England, respectfully. My parents were in humble circumstances and the common education of life was not attainable, in consequence of which my education was limited. I spent the first twenty years of my life on the farm and at the time of the inauguration of the Free Trade Law, which proved to be very detrimental to the renters, my father was compelled to leave the farm. In consequence I turned my attention to the bakery and grocery business in which I was successful.
I was married March 28th , 1849 to Sarah Ann Plant who bore me four children. At this time we were living in West Walton in Norfolk County. There were no Latter-Day Saints in the vicinity until late in the fall of 1850. My wife and I first heard the Gospel preached on the first Sunday in January 1851, and were baptized on the 23rd, of the same month. I was ordained to the Priesthood in February following, and ordained an elder in March of the same year. I commenced my missionary labors on the day I was ordained an elder and was successful in the work, as we had a new branch of sixteen members: my father, mother, youngest brother, and two sisters being among the number. We had much joy in our labors for the Lord was with us.
At a conference held at Bedford I was called as a missionary, sold out my business and left on Nov. 1st , 1851, leaving my wife, child, father, mother, brother and sisters. I was appointed to labor at New Market and vicinity. After two weeks of continuous labors I was unable to get a meeting in the great town of New Market. I then directed my labors to the surrounding county and was very successful in so doing. In a small town called Seahim. I baptized sixteen unto the church, and a very successful branch was organized. After this I was appointed to labor in the Southampton conference, in the branches of which my labors were abundantly blessed in the bringing of many souls to the truths of the Gospel, and the building up of the various organizations. I labored in this conference during 1853 and 1854. In 1855 I was called to labor in Scotland and was appointed by the presidency to labor in the different branches of the Glasgow conference, in which I was blessed in the counseling of my brethren and the Saints.
In the reformation of 1857 my president (the president of the Glasgow Conference) baptized me after I had first baptized him, We together baptized forty of the members of the conference and continued our labors in this direction throughout the different branches, in which was manifest to us that we were all accepted of the Lord. During this year I was called by Apostle E. T. Benson to labor in the Dundee Conference; while laboring in this conference, I was up to hold a discussion for three nights at Airbraugh. The subjects were arranged by Apostle Benson, which ended in a perfect victory for the Gospel, my opponent having given up and was satisfied in two nights, he being incapable and not desiring to continue longer. After visiting the different branches, we went to old Bonie Aberdien where I received a call from the Liverpool office notifying me that I was appointed to preside over the Liverpool conference. A short time after commencing my labors in Liverpool I had the misfortune of losing my wife who was called by death; two weeks after the death of my wife, I also lost a daughter in death leaving me with two children to mourn the loss of our dear ones.
I had the good luck in getting Sister Clegg at Stockton (of Stockport) in whose tender care I placed my children, and by whom they were given every attention possible.
Continuing my labors with much pleasure and being blessed by the power of God, we labored diligently in the up-building, and bringing many to the cause of truth. In the fall of the same year I was called to preside over the Irish Mission. In connection with my brethren we labored with much satisfaction and with the blessings of the Lord. I was pleased with the opportunity to labor in this part of the Lord’s Vineyard. In the fall of 1858 I was appointed to labor in the Manchester Conference, having much pleasure in visiting the branches, and was an instrument in the organizing of branches that had become disorganized.
In July 1860, on July 21, I was again married, taking to wife Martha Monks, daughter of John and Alice Monks, and who was born Sept. 14th, 1839, near Bolton, Lanchestershire, England. (She bore me ten children. She died May 8th, 1899, after a useful life.)
I was appointed captain of the guard on the ship Manchester. We were 27 days and nine hours coming from Liverpool to New York. After a long and tiresome journey, we arrived in Florence, Nebraska and stayed in camp here for six weeks, leaving with ox teams under the care of Ira Eldgredge, arriving in Salt Lake City, Sept. 14th, 1861. Our riches consisted of fifty cents cash. My wife and two children had no shoes. All was well. We visited father and mother (John and Ann Woods Ward) at Ft. Herriman for six weeks and then started for Wellsville, Cache County, and arrived there October 25, 1861.
In November, my wife and I enjoyed the privilege of receiving our endowments in the Salt Lake Endowment house.
In March 1862, we moved to Hyrum, Cache Co. I was appointed president of the teachers quorum shortly after arriving, which position I held for fifteen years, acting on many occasions as bishop of the ward and was called as one of the (members of the High Council previous to the reorganization of the Stakes of Zion) appointees of organization of the Stakes of Zion. I had the privilege of being a member of the School of the Prophets. Shortly after this I was ordained a Seventy of the 64th Quorum.
During the epidemic of diphtheria there were seven of the family stricken, but by the blessings of the Lord we lost none.
On August 18, 1867, I married a plural wife, Sennie D. Nielsen, (daughter of Seron and Elsie Marie Nielsen, and who was born Sept. 25th 1846 in Yerring, Denmark) by whom there are nine children (Six of whom are living).
In the year 1871, I was again called to fulfill a mission in England, during which I was appointed as president of the Manchester conference, in which position I filled with pleasure and satisfaction to my brethren. On my return I was appointed captain of a company of 3 50 Saints sailing on the ship “Wisconsin.” In September 1872, I arrived home in the full blessing of health.
On reaching home in Hyrum I received a kind reception from my families who were all well, and from the saints who were glad to have me back. I employed myself on the farm and in the fall of 1873 I made up one thousand and fifteen gallons of sugar cane syrup.
At the time the Utah Northern railroad went through, I was cook for the company. Our quarters were at Richmond and Logan. After this I was agent for the Hyrum Lumber Co. in Logan. It was afterward called the Cache County Lumber Co. I was also secretary and treasurer for the Seventies of Hyrum, Paradise, Wellsville, and Millville. We employed two men to work on the Salt Lake Temple.
On March 30th , 1874, I again married, taking Jane Ashworth to wife. She was born Oct. 4th, 1853 and was the daughter of Edmond Ashworth and Alice Ashworth. She is the mother of four children. I left Hyrum in 1878 and moved to Randolph, Rich Co., Utah. From here we moved to Meadowville, Rich Co., Utah, and from there we moved to Snake River Valley, arriving in the latter place September 21st, 1884, and settled in Salem.
I have had a family of 27 children; 18 living and nine dead. I have 30 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.