Filed Under Religion

Reverend Scott Ward

Part-Native American Methodist minister

In 1869, Scott Ward became became a traveling preacher in the newly-formed, African American "Lexington Conference" of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Over a long career, Ward served many churches, but he used Covington, Kentucky, as a home base, and he eventually owned four houses there.

Scott Ward was born around 1835. A contemporary newspaper tells us that “Rev. Ward is a tall, slender, light-complexioned colored man… [H]is smooth, thin face and high prominent cheek bones betokened Indian blood in his veins, and the reporter’s query elicited the information from Mr. Ward that his mother was a full-blooded Mohawk and a member of Blackhawk’s tribe.”

In 1858, at Tazewell, Tennessee, Scott Ward married an enslaved woman named Lucy Rose, and they had a daughter, Alice. Mother and child were sold in 1860, when Alice was only six months old. Scott Ward did not know what happened to his daughter for forty-two years, until 1902, when she wrote to him, saying that she was living in Texas and had seen his name in a list of Methodist conference appointments.

Around 1865, Reverend Ward married a mixed-race woman named Elizabeth Wilson. They had five children: Saloma, Samuel, Sylvester, Schuyler, and Cinderella.

Black Methodists in the Lexington Conference stayed within the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC), rather than breaking away, as the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination had done. A preacher in the Lexington Conference would typically receive a new assignment every two years, moving to a different location.

The Lexington Conference covered a wide geographic area. In 1879, Scott Ward accepted an assignment to Evansville, Indiana, even though no Black Methodist church existed there. When Ward stepped up to preach a guest sermon at a white church, some members walked out. Ward persevered, and he founded St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church of Evansville (now St. John’s United Methodist).

Reverend Ward served a number of churches in Kentucky, including a stint at Covington in the early 1870's. In Ohio, he was appointed at various times to Oberlin, Dayton, Portsmouth, Madisonville, and Cumminsville (Cincinnati).

The Cincinnati Commercial Gazette for October 6, 1894, says, “Few men are better known throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana than the Rev. Scott Ward… . He has been identified with the Lexington M. E. Conference for twenty-five years, and boasts that of the many who were present and founded the Conference he is one of three who are still in active work.”

Scott Ward purchased property in Covington, Kentucky, as early as 1874. In 1908, now in his seventies, he got a permit for construction of a five-room house at 57 Center Street in Covington. By 1910, he was living next door at 59 Center Street, and his daughter Cinderella was at 61 Center Street. Ward owned all three of these houses, plus another at 51 Franklin Street (all now gone).

By the time he swore out his will on March 9, 1914, just a few weeks before he died, Reverend Ward was able to bequeath one house apiece to each of his six children. The houses in Covington went to Samuel, Sylvester, Schuyler, and Cinderella. To his daughter Saloma, he left a house where she already lived – Dayton, Ohio. And for his eldest daughter, Alice – born into slavery, the daughter of an enslaved mother – Reverend Ward was able to bequeath a house in the place she already lived: Yoakum, Texas.

Images

Reverend Scott Ward Source: Walter H. Riley, Forty Years in the Lap of Methodism: History of Lexington Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church (Louisville, KY: Mayes Printing Company, 1915), 3.     Creator: Unknown photographer
Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), March 7, 1898

Location

Scott Ward owned the houses, since replaced, at 57, 59, and 61 Center Street in Covington, Kentucky | Private property

Metadata

Chris Hanlin, “Reverend Scott Ward,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed February 7, 2023, https://stories.cincinnatipreservation.org/items/show/174.