A Warning to Ward Researchers



Jerry Merritt


January 2000





If you are researching the Ward lines of the South, there are two documents that you need to be aware of: the Ward Record 1840 and the Monroe Letter.  They have become widely distributed over the years and many people have based their family histories upon them.  Neither, however, is authentic.  Even if you have never seen these documents, there is an excellent chance you have been passed a Ward genealogy based on them.  This paper lays out the problems with these two documents so that researchers can judge for themselves whether they want to accept these documents and the inaccurate family links they attempt to make as sources for their own lineages.  The first question the reader may have is, “Whoa, what’s going on here?”


Here’s the story. Back in the 1950s the government agreed to pay the descendants of the Creek Indians for land taken in the early 1800s. Some early estimates placed the anticipated payments at $90,000 per person. There was a subsequent, and completely understandable, scramble by Indian descendants to get qualified for these generous distributions.  In view of the potential pay off, many previously undocumented lines began to look for Indian connections as well.  The WARD line, like most lines, had rumors of Indian ancestors.  Since it was a difficult line to trace, someone associated with the James B. Ward line took it upon themselves to make sure there was sufficient documentation to qualify for the coming windfall.  The actual distributions amounted to nearly nothing but the ad hoc WARD documentation effort nearly destroyed the real family lineage which has not to this day recovered.  My only purpose in writing this paper is to try to get my own WARD line properly documented again.  If the false family ties put forward in the 1950s in these two documents remain unchallenged, the James B. WARD line will never be set straight again.




The Ward Record and Monroe Letter are reasonably well-crafted forgeries but are not nearly good enough to keep any capable amateur genealogist from showing conclusively that they are phony.  Nevertheless, the documents, along with the inaccurate genealogies created by the researchers who trusted them without verification, have taken on a life of their own in recent years. The Internet has greatly spread this fictitious Ward lineage while simultaneously giving it an unwarranted credence merely because it appears in so many places in the modern database.  And worse perhaps, the information put out in these documents got passed around to the parents and aunts and uncles of today’s researchers.


Adults from the 1950s thought the wonderful new Indian stories they were suddenly hearing were true.  I know my own mother started out that way. The stories added an interesting new dimension to the family and few ever wondered why they had never heard these stories before.  And so they passed them on to their children who today remember the old-timers talking about how their great-grandparents were Creek Indians.  So, for the descendants today, this recently implanted family lore of Indian ancestors seems to go far back into history.  Some believe their family has always known these stories.  But it all started in the 1950s.  Nobody ever heard of this before then because it hadn’t been made up yet.


It’s not just that the two documents themselves appear suspicious at first glance, either.  There are people living today with firsthand knowledge of the effort to fabricate these documents back in the 1950s.  When I started researching the Ward line of my family these kind people “clued me in” to believe neither the Monroe Letter nor the Ward Record because neither were true.  So there is current living knowledge that the records are not the work of James B. Ward or Joe Ward.  This evidence, however, is anecdotal and undocumented because, for various reasons, nobody wants to set down in writing their personal knowledge about those past deeds.  It was because of revelations like these from old-timers of Bay, Walton and Holmes Counties, offset by a lack of anything in writing that the documents were not authentic, that I decided to take a hard look at the documentation myself.  I wanted to see if the warnings were actually true.  What I discovered is laid out below for other WARD researchers to consider as they build the documentary basis for their own WARD genealogies.


The remainder of this paper will address these two supposedly original documents from the 1800s used to “prove” Creek Indian connections to the James B. WARD line.  These are the only pre-1950 documents that link James and his wife, Elizabeth, to Indians.  I will point out errors in both the content of the documents and in the actual documents themselves.  I hope that by doing this I will keep any more WARD researchers from ending up in the wrong family tree as happened to me for a brief time.


The Ward Record


The Ward Record 1840 was donated to the Washington County, Florida Public Library in Dec 1978 and from there a copy found its way into the Special Records Collection at the Pace Library at the University of West Florida.  The copy was subsequently “discovered” there and published in the S.E.N.A. (Southeastern Native American) Exchange, Vol 4, Number 1 in the Fall of 1996.


This “record” is so obviously contrived that it’s difficult to even find a starting place when pointing out its shortcomings.  The crafters of the Ward Record apparently had only vaguely familiarized themselves with the Ward lineage before attempting this fairy tale and it definitely shows in the final product. I suppose the best place to start is to identify the Joe Ward whom we are led to believe wrote the Ward Record.


The Ward Record self-documents itself in the opening entry as having been written by Joe Ward, son of Jackson Ward, son of Jack Ward and Nahoga Moniac. (See the first paragraph to the Ward Record which is included in this paper)  To begin with, Jack and Nahoga Ward had only one living son after 1827 and his name was John.  This was attested to by Samuel Moniac in the following well authenticated deposition:



                                    Creek Agency, Oct 13th 1827


Personally appeared before me, John Crowell, Indian Agent, a respectable half breed Creek Indian Samuel Manack, who deposith that he was personally acquainted with Jack Ward of said nation in his lifetime and with his family up to the time of his death, and that he knows that said Jack Ward died at his residence on a certain tract of land called Ward’s reserve which is now a part of Montgomery County, Alabama, which was granted to the said Ward under an Act of Congress that Mahagen Ward is the only wife of the said Jack Ward and that John Ward and Susan Ward are the only children now living of the said Jack Ward.  That the deponent has known both the said John & Susan since the time of their infancy and is well acquainted with them to the present time.


Sworn to before me                                     his

the 13th of Oct 1827                           Saml. Manack   X

Jno. Crowell                                               mark

Agt. Ind A.




Problems with the Ward Record’s Content


Here are some key problems with the Ward Record followed by a more detailed account of each problem.  Paragraph numbers match to bullet numbers for ease of reference between the two.  The 1840 - 1911 portion of the Ward Record purportedly written by Joe Ward is located at the end of this section with footnotes pointing out some of the many discrepancies in this work.


1. Jack Ward and Nahoga had no son named Jackson living after 1827

2. Joe Ward is actually William Josiah Ward whose early family is totally different from the lineage put forward in the Ward Record

3. The Ward Record gives incorrect family ties of even recent Wards

4. Joe Ward’s handwriting never changes from age 10 to 81 (1840-1911)

5. Joe Ward gets his own name wrong -- twice

6. Grammar misuse is inconsistent and contrived

7. The Monroe Letter is referred in an unbelievable setting


Problem 1. The Sam Moniac deposition makes it clear that if Jack and Nahoga Ward ever had a son named Jackson, he was dead by 1827.  Joe Ward was born in 1830. There is, therefore, no way any son of Nahoga named Jackson (if she even had a son named Jackson) could be Joe’s father.  This alone destroys the credibility of the Ward Record but there’s much more.


Problem 2. Throughout the Record Joe Ward indicates that he lived in the area where the Ward Reunions were held.  After “Joe” dies his “son” Acey Ward begins making entries in the Record and states that his father, Joe, died 19 Mar 1923.  There is only one person in Florida, Georgia or Alabama who fits Joe’s description and that is my great-great-grandfather William Josiah “Diamond Joe” Ward.  He got the name Diamond Joe from the diamond shaped ax cuts he used to mark his timber.  Diamond Joe’s tombstone gives his date of death as 19 Mar 1923 -- the same as Joe Ward’s.  Diamond Joe actually died on 4 Mar in 1924 and a corrected tombstone was added to the grave in 1993.  Whoever fabricated the Ward Record, however, wasn’t at all thorough in their research of the Wards.  They apparently just used the tombstone date and didn’t bother checking death certificates.


Problem 3. Now, as it turns out, Diamond Joe’s father was the James B. Ward the Ward Record is trying to tie to Jack and Nahoga Ward. The drafters of the Ward Record, however, used the names of real people to lend authenticity to their work but apparently didn’t research to find the family connections behind the names they picked.  For instance:


  ~  Joe’s father was not Jackson Ward as the Ward Record states.


  ~  Jackson Ward was actually Diamond Joe’s eldest brother John Jackson Ward born in 1821.


  ~  That Diamond Joe’s (and thus Joe Ward’s) father was James B. Ward is documented beyond all doubt.  The 1850 census alone can do that.


Here is the family in the 1850 census.


  ~  Note that Monroe Ward is listed as well.  Monroe, according to the Ward Record, was Joe’s cousin.  In fact, he was Joe’s brother.



WARD, JAMES B.          54 M FARMER            SC

----- ELIZABETH            52 F                             GA

----- WILLIAM J.           20 M FARMER          AL  (This is Diamond Joe)

----- BENJAMIN F.         16 M FARMER            AL

----- ELIZABETH            14 F                             AL

----- MARY                      12 F                             AL

----- MONROE                  5 M                            AL


Tracing this William J. Ward through all of the censuses, one later finds him living near his siblings in Walton County, FL thus leaving no doubt as to it being this William J. shown above. Plus the names and ages of his wife and children clearly prove that it is William J. “Diamond Joe” Ward from census to census.


There is another erroneous entry in the Ward Record that further demonstrates that Joe Ward, the “author” of the Ward Record, was based on Diamond Joe Ward.  This is the Oct 1926 entry supposedly made by “Acey” Ward.  Acey says that he is the son of Joe Ward and Acey’s sons are Raymond, Wiley and Alfred.  The Oct 1940 entry, supposedly by an Eva D. Ward, says that Acey was Walter Acey Ward, her husband and a brother of J.C., J.J., and R.R. Ward.  This information clearly identifies Acey as Walter W. Ward, son of William Jasper Ward, son of Diamond Joe Ward.  This would make Acey the grandson of the supposed Joe Ward of the Ward Record and not his son; therefore, Acey could not have authored the latter portion of this report as is attributed to him.  He surely knew who his father was.  This now gives us two “signed” authors who clearly did not write the Ward Record.  This last mistake, however, clearly shows again the Diamond Joe connection to the Joe Ward in the Record and yet again demonstrates exactly how inaccurate even the more recent family history in the Ward Record is.  Given this alone, no careful researcher would put any credence in this supposed Ward Record as proving ties to Jack and Nahoga Ward -- or to anyone else for that matter.


And one final item, though I have certainly not exhausted the inconsistencies that could be listed, the Ward Record names a James B. Ward as early as 1840 when it states he is the son of the man who married Elizabeth English.  However, the man who married Elizabeth English is James B. Ward.  He did not have a son also named James B. Ward.


These factual errors are enough to demolish the Ward Record’s claim to authenticity.  Let’s continue a few more paragraphs, however, to address problems not of historical accuracy but of internal document errors.


Problems with the Document Itself


Problem 4. Another major problem with the Ward Record is Joe’s birth on 23 Mar 1830 in Dale County, Alabama.  We are led to believe that Joe Ward at age 10 begins the Record in 1840. In addition, his handwriting is exactly the same in 1840 as it was in 1911 when he supposedly made his last entry 71 years later.  How many of you have the same handwriting now you had when you were 10?  If we assume that he started the journal at age 10 he would have been 81 at his last entry.  In addition, the handwriting is not the Spencerian style used in the 19th century but is clearly modern 20th century style.


Problem 5. On the 1854 entry the person producing the Ward Record slipped up and signed “Jack Ward” instead of “Joe Ward.”  It must have been all that talk about Jack and Nahoga Ward earlier.  It’s not likely the real Joe Ward would get his own name wrong when he signed his work. Since the Record was being entered into a book with numbered pages, however, there was no way for the writer to recover from this mistake except to start over in a new book.  That apparently was too much trouble.  Then whoever was writing this record slipped up on the 1863 entry and signed Jack Ward again. This time they tried to smudge the ink to hide the mistake but “Jack” is still clearly visible under the smudge.


Problem 6. As to the grammar, there appears to be an attempt to use “was” in place of “were” where the plural form is called for.  But the misuse isn’t consistent as would be expected of someone who would normally say, “we was there.”  This mixing of the correct with the incorrect seems contrived.  It’s as though the writer wasn’t paying close enough attention to the grammar as they went along and only made an intentional error when they happened to think the writing needed a little “authenticity."  Apparently they viewed Joe Ward as a hick.  In fact, he was a well read, knowledgeable man and, according to his death certificate, a minister.


Problem 7. The entire 1861 entry is devoted to the letter from James B. Ward to his son Monroe (This Monroe Letter was supposedly written a few months earlier in Aug 1861 and is addressed in detail in the next section.) The 1861 entry then goes on to reiterate how they are all of the Jack Ward and Nahoga Moniac line.  How convenient.  Apparently the same person who produced the Monroe letter worked on the Ward Record and is trying to corroborate the letter with this entry. Since it is well documented that Jack and Nahoga Ward had only one son, John, living in 1827, James B. Ward couldn’t possibly be descended from them since he was still alive in 1862.  And why would then 16 year old Monroe read a five sentence letter from his father saying what everyone at the reunion supposedly already knew.  And why would Joe Ward record this mundane event as the only relevant occurrence at that reunion.  The answer is, he wouldn’t.  This was merely a crude attempt to corroborate the forged letter with another concocted document, the Ward Record.


There are many more problems with the Ward Record. I think, though, I have made the case that the Record is a modern day construct so full of historical and technical errors that we needn’t continue to belabor the “Record’s” obvious shortcomings.  The reader might want to while away some time reading over the transcript of the Joe Ward portion of the Ward Record that follows to see how many more examples of factual errors and anachronisms they can find.







Click on the footnote to go to that note.

Click on the footnote number to return.




1840. My grandfather was Jack Ward a fur trader.  He married Nahoga Moniac and the children traveled all over with them. He was an Creek Indian and a  Chief name of White Cloud. He was killed in 1815. He traded in Spanish Florida many years.  My father was Jackson Ward[1] and he remembers early trading trips to this Country. He told me the story of Capt. Blue and a Co. of Soldiers coming to Holmes Valley and destroying the town of Conchatte Micco.[2] Known here as Chief Holmes as he and his band was hiding from Jackson's Army. Some of the families was fishing on the bay and the others hid out and only the town was destroyed.[3] We came to Holmes Valley after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. We farmed the Valley and every year we had a Reunion and called all our people together. My Father traveled all over Fla. Ga.[4] and Ala. and he would ask all our kin and friends to be with us the first week in October and to bring trade goods. We always have Preaching and Singing. Our Post office was Roche's Bluff and we had our Cousins from Ala. come one was James B. Ward his Father[5] was the one that married Elizabeth English and she was a fullblood Creek. All the talk is of being sent west but we don’t aim to go.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward


Oct. 1844.   I have not been to Reunion for some time since the trouble in 1842 when some hostile people killed the Perkins family down on the creek during the Indian War. There was a bounty set of $200 for each man and $50 for every other Indian. Our Clan was not in it but we had to scatter. There has been a new Church organized named Holmes Valley Church. We will hold Reunion there. Our cousin James C. Ward[6] come this year. He plans to move here when his Ala. Senate term is over. He is a teacher and we may have a school. People from Econfina, Red Bay and Hicory Hill were here.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward


Oct. 1846.  All the talk at Reunion was that the Constitution of the Church had finally been wrote and sanctioned. And we are now a State of Florida. That was done last year and Stephen Roche the delegate to the Convention acts like he did it all. We turned it down in Roches Bluff in 1839 but this time it went over. Sharpless Evans, John Russ and Wiley Jones[7] seem to be helping to run Washington Co.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward


Oct. 1850.   There is more high feeling against the Indians. If a man is not a Mason or belong to the Church he is considered a Wild Indian. Church is the best protection our families have and if they are married into influential families. Our Reunion, was small this year because of the unrest. Church services, as usual. We elected J. Mercer as Moderator (Chief) and J.M. Wooten Clerk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joe Ward


Oct. 1854.  Our people are afraid to get together for any reason. There has not been a real Reunion since 1850. Cousins from Ala. and Ga. are not moving about much. They stay where they know when and where to hide. A few people met at Holmes Valley Church this year. We elected a new Chief. We call him Moderator D.P. Everett. J.M. Wooten Clerk.

                                                                                                            Jack[8] Ward


Oct. 1859.  It is more than ever a hard thing to bear to be branded an outlaw in our own land. More than 150 people in this part of Fla. was sent West for a bounty. Our people that was caught will come home as soon as they can. Most of them know the way as they have made trips out there before. It is hard on women and children. Over 60 families got away and only a few dared come Back this year. Children of the families caught were left with the rest of us and we claim them as our own. Some white people took Indian children to raise. The Nelson took a child that is relative and we have several children. I dare not name.[9] Prayers were said each Service for the unfortunate families. G.M. Underwood is Moderator. We no longer say the word Chief. B.F. ?atton is Clerk.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward


Oct. 1861.   A few of our folks met at the church and had a fishfry. Our cousin Monroe[10] was there and did read a letter from James B. Ward saying he was half Creek and that his Elizabeth wife (sic) English Ward was a full blood.[11] They are Monroes parents. We are of the Jack Ward and Nahoga Moniac line. We are glad to see Cousin Monroe. There was no preacher so we only had Prayer meeting. John Thurman, Mod.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward Clerk


Oct. 1863.   The war we none wanted is on us[12] and our cousin of Dale Co. Thomas Ward joined the Confederates in Feb. 1863 a Troy. I don’t want to leave my family but we have always been ready to fight for the Country that has treated us so bad. Someday we may understand. I will go on the 15th of this month and intend to inlist for the duration. I hoped to see more of the folks at this Reunion to say goodby and find out who else is fool enough to be going. No Church only singing and Praying. John Thurman Moderator.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jack[13] Ward Clerk


Oct. 1868.   This is the first Reunion I have been at since the war. Times is so hard few people can travel but our cousins from Walton Co. were here with a new baby girl born Sept. 19 named Sarah Emma. Some of our folks that went West in the roundup of 59 are back. No names for fear of recapture.[14] Most of the children are back with their parents. They changed the name of the church since I have been gone to Ebenezer.  Why I don't know I loved the old name best.  Church Services and several days of Protracted Meeting. A new Moderator has been elected by the name of Joe Marlin. He is a friend of mine. Several people joined the Church.  There was a Footwashing and  Baptizing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Joe Ward Clerk


Oct. 1876  James B. Ward the old cousin that was born in S.C. in 1796 has died in Dale Co.[15]  He is the father of our school teacher James B. Ward.[16] The Church seems to be going down the past few years.  We meet at the Church for Reunion and to sing and pray.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Joe Ward


Oct. 1880  Reunion was held at Ebenezer this year. Several of the oldtimers come out most interest was hearing Capt D.W. Ward tell of his and Capt. Kolmetzs times as riverboat captains on the Choctawhatchee and Holmes Creek. He is full of wild tales and the children never tire of them.  We had no Preacher but the usual sing and Prayer Meeting was held.  Plenty of rations and a big crowd this year.  Jeff Thurman Moderator.

                                                                                                Joe Ward Clerk


Oct. 1885 - 2 new babies to count for the Ward Clan. ? Dan on June 22, 1882 and Walter Acey[17] on Oct. 4, 1885.  The crowd was good this year as our people are feeling safer and at home. No one calls anyone else Indian but we all know who we are and are proud. Our children know who their people are.  We have a new Moderator W.A. Bryan and A. L. Register, Clerk.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward


Oct 1900  The talk now is all of railroads. Washington Co. has a track from Chipley. Some say the County seat will be moved from Vernon that used to be Roches Bluff to Chipley.  Reunion was well attended. Another Ward named Thomas Franklin was born Oct. 26, 1895. I can’t record all the happenings but now and then I like to set down a few things. We met at Ebenezer and I agreed to be Moderator.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward


Oct. 1907  Cousins from Dale Co., Ala, John and Wm. Ward come for this Reunion. They say business is good.  J.J. Ward is still busy promoting railroads for this part of the Country.  We held Reunion at Ebenezer with the usual Services and feasting.  W.A. Bryan is Moderator now.

                                                                                                            Joe Ward


Oct. 1910 Talk was of Geronimo that died in Fort Sill last year. He was in prison in Fort Pickens near Pensacola at one time. It was agreed at Reunion that if all Indians had been as brave and determined as he was they never could have taken our land. A good crowd was there We had no preaching but we had Prayer and singing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joe Ward


Oct. 1911. Dan was telling tales again.  He said Uncle Pink Ward took the convicted Snow a loaded gun in a cake.  Snow got out of jail and Uncle Pink took him in his buggy to Ala.  Uncle Pink didn’t believe him guilty of murder.  There was a big crowd and the young men played baseball and had Prayer meeting and singing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joe Ward



That concludes the offerings on the Ward Record 1840.  Now on to the Letter supposedly written by James B. Ward to his son Monroe documenting their Indian heritage.



The Monroe Letter


For those who may not have seen it, here is a transcript of the Monroe Letter. The official Photostat of the Monroe Letter I have used was from my mother’s records dating from the 1950s. This letter was duly recorded on page 468 of the Miscellaneous Record Book in the County of Taylor, Florida on or before 18 October 1957 but was ordered removed from the records on the 11th of November 1957 by R. H. Rowe, Circuit Judge.  The exact reason for removal is not clear but seems to have been at the petition of a descendant of Monroe Ward who was incensed that such a document was posted using his family’s name.



Alabama Dale County

August the 28th A.D. 1861


To Monroe Ward

                   I am writing this for your

information.  Your mother, Elizabeth

English Ward, is a Creek Indian.  I

am half Indian and have Irish descent.

I believe the Federal Government will pay

for the land that once belonged to

the Creek Indians in the near future

or during your life time.  I pray that

you receive all that you are due

and that you have some of the

things I missed.


Test. Withel Rigel             Signed by

James M. Collins             Your father

Justice of the Peace         James B. Ward  (L.S.)

State of Alabama

Dale County



To see a Photostat of the actual letter,click here.


Here are key problems with the letter followed by a more detailed account of each problem.  As with the Ward Record, paragraph numbers match to bullet numbers for ease of reference between the two.


Problems with the Letter’s Content

1.      James gives no tribal information

2.      James makes an illogical assumption about payment for Indian lands

3.      The last sentence doesn’t reflect James Ward’s actual finances.

Problems with the Letter Itself

4.      It’s not James B. Ward’s signature on the letter

5.      James didn’t write the letter

6.      The JP didn’t write the letter

7.      The JP didn’t put his certification on the letter

8.      Signature element of the JP doesn’t follow conventions of the time

9.      Overall formatting is wrong

10.   The date format on the letter is a blatant anachronism.

11.   The letter is written in modern day cursive script

12.   According to the letter, James children were 3/4 Indian but don’t look Indian

13.  Neither James, Elizabeth, nor their 3/4 Indian children were ever listed in any  census as Indian


Problems with the Content of the Letter


Problem 1. The first problem that surfaces in the content of this letter is that James names the nation his wife came from, Creek, but fails to mention his nation or either her tribe or his. If the purpose of the letter was to provide proof to Monroe for future payments for land taken from Indians, why didn’t James mention his or Elizabeth’s own tribes.  He mentions he was of Irish descent, however.  What good is that?  Yet, even this is more specific than the Indian descent he supposedly gives.  Saying he was part Indian was like saying he was part European.


  ~  And why does only Monroe get this letter?  What about the other eight children?


                a. This approach makes no sense except in the context of someone manufacturing this document and not knowing for certain who the rest of the children were.


                b. If they ended up not naming them all, or got one or more names wrong, that would be proof that James didn’t write the letter since James would have known the names of all of his children.


                c. Therefore the letter could safely contain the name of only one child -- and that child would have to be for certain James’s child.


  ~  And how did they know for certain that Monroe was James’s son?  Because he, and only he, was named in James’ will.


  ~  And why was only Monroe named in the will?  Because he was the only minor child at the time.


  ~  And why didn’t James include the names of his ancestors in this letter?  This creates two problems for the document.


                a. He wanted Monroe, and presumably the other children, to get the money due on the Indian lands but didn’t give them any names of ancestral Indians to help them prove their claim.


                b. Even if providing names hadn’t occurred to James, the JP would surely have pointed this out to him.  It is too glaring an error to have slipped by someone even moderately versed in legal requirements.


Problem 2. With the American Civil War already underway it seems impossible that James, unless he had lost touch with reality, would have been thinking the federal (think Union here) government was, “in the near future,” going to pay the Indians for taking their land.  The federal government was at war with the South (think Confederacy here), Indians and all.


Problem 3. Almost everyone who reads the Monroe Letter notices the last sentence.  It seems a modern lament, “...that you have some of the things I missed.”  James’s will listed large herds of cattle, sheep and hogs -- Elizabeth got her pick of 40 from each herd.  James also had plantation tools, buggies, wagons, horses and $500 cash as well as furniture, land and a slave boy.  This was a prosperous man by the standards of 1861 Dale County, AL.  He hadn’t missed anything. Obviously the drafters of the Monroe Letter didn’t know this. 


Problems with the Letter Itself


Problem 4. It’s not James B. Ward’s signature on the Letter.  We are fortunate to have a signature of James B. Ward that is completely authenticated.  It dates from 8 Oct 1859 and was witnessed by two people who, under oath, stated they witnessed James sign and that they knew him to be James Ward.  That signature is shown below as the middle signature of three. The bottom signature is from a 20 Jan 1859 declaration for bounty land that James B. Ward made before a JP.  (The differences in size between the two genuine signatures are due to different enlargement settings on copy machines used to copy those signatures.) The top signature is from the Monroe Letter.


The reader doesn’t have to be a handwriting expert to detect that the bottom two signatures are totally different from the top although they were purportedly made by the same man within a 31 month period.


  ~  Note the Spencerian characteristics of both the “J” and the “d” in the genuine signatures.  Anyone who has seen a few mid-1800 censuses will recognize this script immediately.


  ~  Also note the differences in the “r”s in Ward between James’s actual signatures and the signature that appears on the Monroe Letter.  They are totally different scripts.


  ~  And the downward curve of the “W” to begin forming the “a” is missing on the Monroe Letter signature.


  ~  A man’s signature does not change this much over a period of 31 months.


  ~  In addition, James B. Ward was never known to sign his name with a middle initial.


It is painfully obvious that the signature on the Monroe Letter is not that of James B. Ward.  Yet, we know that James could read and write.



Problem 5. James Ward didn’t write the letter either.  The signature is in handwriting different from the rest of the letter.  The only reason for this would be that someone else wrote the letter and then James signed it.  But we now know that James didn’t sign this letter.  It makes no sense that James would have written the letter himself then have someone else sign it.  Since the letter was done the same day as his will and with the same witness and same JP it would stand to reason that, since James didn’t write or sign the letter, the JP wrote and signed it.  But the signature is different from the writing in the body of the letter so the JP didn’t sign it either.  Then who did sign James’s letter to his son?  And who wrote it?  Obviously something’s very wrong.


Problem 6. The JP didn’t write the letter either.  The JP’s signature element is wrong.  In the letter the last two lines under James M. Collins’s signature block are:


The State of Alabama

Dale County


This minor detail is a powerful indication that the letter is not authentic.  We now know that James neither wrote nor signed the letter to his son.  The only one left to write the letter that makes any sense at all is the JP.  The JP, however, would not have used the state and county as part of his signature element because it was redundant.  The top line of the letter already stated it was in Dale County, Alabama.  I have reviewed a number of documents from this locality and era and have found in all cases the JP merely signed his name followed by, “Justice of the Peace,” or simply, “JP.”  Check it out for yourself if you doubt this.


Problem 7.  There is no certification or statement of recognition on the letter.  Still another problem arises out of the JP having a role in this letter.  In documents such as this where some kind of statement for the record is being made, the presiding official enters comments on the document that he personally knows the deponent and that the deponent appeared before him on that date to make the statement.  There is no such statement on this letter.  The JP’s name merely shows up in the bottom left-hand corner. Again, it doesn’t fit with the standard way of doing business in the 1860s in Dale County or anywhere else or even today, for that matter.


Problem 8. The format’s wrong as well.  In addition, if the JP (or any other knowledgeable scribe) had penned this letter, the top two lines of the letter would also have been connected by a brace, “}”, and the letter body started to the right of the brace as was done in other documents of that time by Judges, JPs and Records Clerks.  No matter how you cut it, what you see in the letter doesn’t make sense except in the following context:


The last two lines of the Monroe Letter -


                                                The State of Alabama

                                                Dale County


- are exactly like the beginning of the second portion of the will.  In the will these two lines are conjoined by a right-hand brace just as was done at the top of the first portion of the will.  Because the second portion of the will was started so close to the bottom of the first part, however, someone apparently thought it was part of the JP’s signature block so they faithfully copied it into the Monroe Letter as part of the JP’s signature block - exactly as it appeared on the will.  Only from this perspective, does the peculiar format of the Monroe Letter make any sense.


Problem 9. The identical dates give a clue.  Another of the more suspicious aspects of this letter I still haven’t addressed is the fact that it has the same date as James B. Ward’s will.  The dating itself isn’t so much the problem.  One might expect James to go into town one day and take care of his final arrangements in one fell swoop, especially since a war was under way.  The problem comes when you compare the strange format of this letter with that of his will made the same day.  They are totally different yet both have the same people as Testifier and Justice of the Peace; Withel Rigel and James M. Collins.  Plus we now know that James Collins is the only reasonable candidate now left who could have written the letter for James.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason, then, that the formatting would be the same for both?  Of course it would.  And this leads right into an explanation for the serious problems we see in the Monroe Letter.


Because the two dates are the same and the names are the same, it appears that whoever fabricated this letter used a copy of James’s will both to format the letter and to obtain names of actual 1861 Dale County inhabitants.  They were playing it safe.  Recall the penchant they had for using actual names in the Ward Record.  Now we are beginning to see how the Monroe Letter came to be -- and it fully explains the numerous problems in the letter itself.


Problem 10. The date format on the letter is a blatant anachronism. As further proof that almost everything about this letter is wrong, the date in the second line of the letter doesn’t follow the writing conventions of the 1860s either.  In every case I’ve seen of written dates from this era the 28th would have had the “th” as superscript not as letters the same size as the other letters in the line as we do today.  The date should have looked like this: August the 28th and not August the 28th.


By this point the reader may have lost track of all the formatting problems with the letter. Here is how the letter should have looked if it had been done in accordance with the convention of the time:




Alabama Dale County

August the 28th A.D. 1861


To Monroe Ward,

I am writing this for your

information.  Your mother, Elizabeth English Ward, is a

Creek Indian.  I am half Indian and have Irish descent. 

I believe the Federal Government will pay for the land that

once belonged to the Creek Indians in the near future or

during your life time.  I pray that you receive all that you

are due and that you have some of the things I mifsed.


Test. Withel Rigel                         Signed by,

James M. Collins                          Your father,

Justice of the Peace                     James B. Ward    L.S.


The State of Alabama

Dale County


I James M. Collins Justice of the Peace

for the County and State aforesaid

hereby certify that James B. Ward whose name is signed to

the foregoing conveyance and who is known did Execute the

same voluntarily on the day this bears date.

Given under my hand this the 28th day of August, A.D. 1861

                                                            James M. Collins

                                                            Justice of the Peace




You will note the important differences in the use of superscript in dates, signature blocks limited to James M. Collins, Justice of the Peace, and right-hand braces at the beginnings of each section.  You also see the JP’s certification here that was missing in the letter.  Compare this format yourself to other documents of the period and you will see how unvaryingly this format was used.  In addition, James could write and was in his 60s at the time of the letter so, if he had penned this letter, he would undoubtedly have used the double S convention of his own era and the word “missed” in the last sentence would have looked like “mifsed.”  Whoever produced the Monroe Letter missed all of these important differences.


Problem 11.  And finally, the script of the letter, like the Ward Record, isn’t the Spencerian script of the 1800s.  This, however, now makes sense.  In view of all of the other problems with this letter we would certainly expect the fabricators to get the script wrong too.


To sum it up, we now know that neither James Ward nor the JP either wrote or signed the Monroe Letter.  We also know that the letter is incorrectly formatted, contains anachronisms, and is not written in the script of the time.  The obvious question is, if neither James nor the JP wrote or signed this letter, then who did?  Fortunately it is not necessary to know the answer to this question to know that the Letter is not a product of the time it claims to be from and therefore cannot be used as source data upon which to build a Ward genealogy, or any other genealogy for that matter.


What I have listed above should be enough to cause most people to completely rethink the Indian connections in their Ward lineage but some will want even more proof before giving up such an astoundingly well “documented” history.  After all, it’s extremely rare to have something this good about one’s family.  Actually, it’s almost too good.  Are there still other types of evidence that this astounding documentation is not authentic?  Read on.


Other Evidence at Odds with the Letter


Problem 12. Another problem crops up when one applies the bloodlines as put forward in the Monroe Letter for James B. Ward’s children to the children’s photographs.  If James was half Indian and Elizabeth was full-blooded Indian, their children were 3/4 Indian and should look Indian.  They don’t.  None of them.  Neither does Elizabeth.  Here are pictures of both Joe Ward and Elizabeth, his mother.






Problem 13. In addition, the federal records don’t back up the Monroe Letter.  In every census after 1850 when race and color were given, both Elizabeth and James are listed as White.  And in every census from 1850 to 1920 Joe, supposedly 3/4 Indian, is listed as White. And all of the other children were listed as White as well without a single exception.  So what happened?  Did James and Elizabeth just tell the enumerator they were White and he wrote it down that way?  Hardly.  Back in those days the White enumerator would not have let a group of obvious Indians tell him they were White and then put that in his census report any more than he would have put black as white or white as black.  The Whites back then weren’t that politically correct.  In fact, most Whites held Indians in low regard.  Yet every enumerator from every census put every descendant of the Wards down as White.  That ought to tell any remaining skeptics something important.


And further proof that Elizabeth wasn’t an Indian


We have several descriptions of William Josiah “Diamond Joe” Ward, son of James B. Ward and Elizabeth English.  In all of those descriptions Joe has blue eyes  -- cornflower blue in one description.  In addition, Joe’s photographs also show light colored eyes, though the photos are black and white and can’t actually show blue.


We know that the gene for blue eyes is recessive and the gene for brown eyes is dominant. Because full-blooded American Indians are characterized by brown eyes they can have no recessive genes for blue eyes in their race, otherwise there would be lots of blue-eyed Indians.  In order for anyone to have blue eyes each parent must have at least one gene (allele) for blue eyes unless that person is a mutant or has some other rare abnormality.  That means Joe Ward’s parents each had at least one allele for blue eyes. Therefore, Elizabeth couldn’t have been a full blooded Indian.  Granted, she may have been part Indian.  This doesn’t prove she had no Indian blood.  It only shows that she had White ancestry; contrary to the Monroe Letter.


I’m almost finished now.  I have outlined a number of proven failings in the Monroe Letter.  Other more circumstantial flaws I’ve thrown in just to be thorough.  While even these less substantial flaws cast grave doubt on the Letter’s alleged history, keep in mind that any one of the confirmed failings prove that the Monroe Letter is not authentic.  So, now...


One Final Overriding Proof


If everything I have laid out above still fails to convince the reader the two documents addressed in this paper are not genuine, I have one final offering.


  ~  Joe Ward’s own death certificate lists his race as White.


That information was provided at Joe’s death in 1924 by J.J. Ward of Bruce, FL.  This J.J. Ward was Joe’s own son.  So there it is.  His son who would certainly have known if Joe Ward were 3/4 Indian.  And this was at a time long past any fear of Indians being relocated out west.  If Joe and his family were Indian and as proud of their Indian heritage as the two documents indicate, surely that heritage would have been listed on Joe’s last official document in this world -- and it wasn’t.  So, based on Joe’s death certificate alone, neither the Monroe Letter nor the Ward Record can be authentic.




There you have it -- solid, incontrovertible evidence that the Ward Record and the Monroe Letter are not authentic. I have shown from the documents themselves that they are not the work of Joe Ward or James B. Ward but are instead modern day works.  What I found certainly validated the information given to me by elders of the Ward line that these two documents were not to be trusted.  And keep in mind, these are the only two pre-1950 documents linking James and Elizabeth to Indians.  Everything else came about after 1950 as part of registration for money.  I must admit, though, I would have preferred the two documents to be proven genuine.  Still, it’s better to cast off this deception now than to carry on an unfounded belief in a family line that never was.  Each reader, however, must make up their own mind whether to retain Ward lineages based on these two documents (or based on others’ work which, in turn, was based on these documents.)  Because the false lineage appears to be so well documented, it will be a hard one to let go but:


  ~  What use is a well documented line that never existed?  After all, there is documented evidence given in this paper that the James B. Ward line could not have come from Jack and Nahoga Ward.


  ~  What will your descendants think when they discover that you were taken in by these amateurish attempts?


  ~  What will doubts about the accuracy of your Ward research do to your descendants’ confidence in the rest of your hard work?


It’s time now to purge our family histories of these two documents and their influence.  Because of these documents, the authentic Ward history has been lost and efforts to recover it waylaid far too long. Other than these two obvious fabrications there is not the slightest piece of direct evidence that either James or Elizabeth were Indian much less descended from Nahoga or Creek parents.  It’s time to begin to recover from this damage and begin researching again in earnest because today there’s no one left who knows who James B. Ward’s parents actually were.








[1] Jackson’s name was left off of the S.E.N.A. Exchange article.  Joe’s father is actually James B. Ward.  It has been proven that he couldn’t be the son of Jack Ward and Nahoga nor could any son they might have had named Jackson Ward be Joe’s father.

[2] This does not sound like the wording from a 10 year old’s writing efforts

[3] It seems contrived that Joe is telling his family history but makes no mention of his maternal grandparents.  I guess they weren’t eligible for Indian money.

[4] Ga. is the modern abbreviation for Georgia.  The old form found in censuses and elsewhere is Geo.

[5] James B. Ward who married Elizabeth English had no son by this name.

[6] This apparently should have read James B. Ward since the 1876 entry says James B. Ward is their school teacher.

[7] This is William B. Jones son of Solomon Jones and Sarah Davis.

[8] Here’s the first of two examples of Joe Ward missigning his own name in this document.

[9] Why would Joe not name anyone?  In this same entry he names the Clan Chief.

[10] This is, in fact, Joe’s brother.  Obviously something’s wrong with the genealogy here.

[11] If everyone’s so secretive about being an Indian as the Report states, why in the world is James B. Ward putting the fact into a letter and having it witnessed by a Justice of the Peace?  And why would Monroe read such a letter to people who already knew they were (supposedly) Indians?  And why would this mundane event be the only recorded event of significance at this Reunion?

[12] The Civil War was on them at the last Reunion.  Why is Joe just now getting around to knowing it?

[13] Here’s the second example of Joe getting his own name wrong.  Does that seem suspicious to anyone?

[14] Again, Joe names the Chief but says he can’t name others or they might be recaptured.

[15] Actually, James B. Ward died in 1862.  Joe must have been somewhat out of touch with his father.

[16] Again, James B. Ward had no son by this name.

[17] According to later entries (not transcribed here) Acey was Joe’s own son.  Wouldn’t Joe have remarked for the record that this was his son?  In fact, however, Acey was Joe’s grandson.  More bad genealogy.