Last night the Wilson County Genealogical Society had its best presentation that I have seen. Lisa Henderson’s program about finding her cousin Dr. Joseph H. Ward was like a tightly crafted novel, except in this case it was true. She truly showed her gift for research when she recounted all the different sources she used to pin this man down and figure out who his father was (a plantation owner), his mother (a former slave) and how the enslaved and free persons of color of Wayne and Wilson intermarried or cohabitated. Some of the sources she used were digitized newspapers, voting records (free persons of color could vote if their grandfather was a registered voter), cohabitation records, census records, and even a Confederate field map.
Dr. Ward rose up from the cotton fields of Wilson to get his medical license and open up the first African American hospital in Indianapolis, IN. When WWI broke out he became the head of the Colored Medical Corps. and eventually became a Lt. Colonel and the highest ranking African American in the US Army.