Ward is located on Kelly’s Creek, 3 miles east of Cedar Grove and about 20 miles east of Charleston, WV. Ward once consisted of 800 +/- houses. Language in the lease of the land granting use of it to Valley Camp Coal (previously Kelly’s Creek Colliery) stipulated that the houses were to be torn down when the mining operations ended. For that reason, there is little there today as evidence of the community’s existence.
Things began to wind down for Ward around 1970. That was when demolition cleaned up most of what was left of Ward. By 1992 only 4 houses remained as evidence of the community of Ward.
In 1979 past residents of Ward came together to start the Ward, WV Annual Reunions. Out of these reunions a number of compiled books were published by a committee. Every year or virtually every year the committee gathered to organize the reunion and they also compiled material for these booklets.
The Ward Reunion has continued for years and I’m in the process of running down information to see if the tradition continues. If so, I’ll be adding a page to this blog with all the details and perhaps see if we can arrange to post photos from a recent reunion. According the the 1992 Reunion Book the event was attracting over 500 people each year! All these people gathering with the common thread of family ties to Ward back when it was a bustling coal mining community.
Ward had everything needed to sustain a community. The coal company built a store, post office, gas station, theater and a place called “The Clubhouse”, a boarding house for single coal miners.
The late 1950’s brought mechanization to the coal mining industry and reduced the need for so many general laborers. The company started laying off workers. The families would have to leave the company-provided homes and the mining company tore these down as the families left using the lumber for other projects and gradually reducing the size of Ward until it was completely gone less than 20 years later.
Can you imagine a place where the sense of community is so strong it draws back former members for years after the physical presence has vanished? We could use a little of that loyalty today.