Biography of Samuel Baldwin Ward


THIS gentleman was born in the city of New York on the 8th of June, 1842. His ancestry is found to be English on both sides. His great grandfather was named Samuel Ward and was born August 27, 1724. He moved from the state of Virginia to Morristown, N. J., and there married Mary Shipman, dying there on the 15th of April, 1799. Of the mother of our subject the maiden name was Abby Dwight Partridge, and the birthplace was Hatfield, Mass. She was the daughter of a distinguished clergyman and descended through both parents from the best New England and old England stock. A son of the Samuel Ward referred to was named Silas Ward, who was born in Morris county, N. J., in 1767, and who died at an extremely advanced age in 1862. He was the grandfather of Samuel Baldwin Ward; and his wife, Phoebe Dod, a representative of a New Jersey family of distinguished literary and scientific attainments, was the grandmother of the Albany physician whom this sketch is taking into account. From the sturdiness and the culture of the persons thus indicated the character of the immediate progenitors of our subject can be inferred. His father was named Lebbeus Baldwin Ward, son of the Silas Ward already named, and he was born on the 7th of April, 1801, and died in the city of New York on the 15th of June, 1885. Dr. Ward, of Albany, is thus united with the best middle state revolutionary stock on his father’s side, and with the best Puritan Pilgrim blood that ran in the veins of his saintly mother. The father, Lebbeus Baldwin Ward, was a man of capacious mind, studious habits, trustworthy judgment and invincible moral principle. To his large natural abilities were added the ripened fruits of a practical education to which he made all of his work in this world a constant contribution. The direction of his aptitudes and tastes was mechanical. He won wide reputation as a builder of engines and afterward as a manufacturer of heavy wrought iron forgings. He built the Hammersley Forge Works on the North river at the foot of Fifty-Ninth Street in New York, and he was identified with several of the grand public improvements of the metropolis in the period of his active career. To a degree he was a man of affairs as well as a man of achievements, an original member of the metropolitan board of police, a member of the state assembly in 1851 and a member of various commissions to whom was delegated the construction of important city works by the municipality of New York. L. B. Ward and his two brothers, John D. and Samuel S., also built the first steam-boat and the first railroad that ever ran in Canada, the firm doing business in Montreal from about 1820- 1838.

In a practical, cultivated and thoroughly American home, amid all the protections of love and surrounded by all the incentives of high example and true counsel, the boyhood of Samuel Baldwin Ward was passed. To private schools was due the first instruction which he received supplementary to that of the household. So evenly sustained and so uniformly rapid was his progress in the acquisition of knowledge that he entered the freshman class of Columbia College at the age of fifteen. He there took the full four years course and proved himself a good fellow as well as a good student. He was graduated in the class of 1861, with the third honors and his popularity among the alumni of the institution has been as marked as his intelligent promotion of the interests and the honor of his alma mater.

Even before his graduation he was fortunate in finding out what he wanted to be and in determining to become it. He had resolved to devote his life to the study and practice of medicine and surgery. Circumstances favored this resolution. One of the staunchest friends of his family was the celebrated Dr. Willard Parker. The latter became our subject’s preceptor in medicine and from his office young Ward was entered as a student in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, the lecture courses of which he attended in 1861 and 1862. Those times were the makers of men and the creators of opportunity. The patriotism and ambition of every class of minds, the professional included, were profoundly appealed to. The young student coveted a chance to unite service for his country with the acquisition of his profession. The chance came. In the second year of the war he entered the. United States service as a medical cadet and was enabled to carry on a course of invaluable clinical instruction, under circumstances which rendered his abilities and his activity helpful to the cause of Union and of freedom and to the needs and injuries of its defenders on the field of battle. The opportunity also concurred with one to study the operation of large military and civic forces, the procedure of a great government at its highest tension of energy and the methods and the policies of warriors, statesmen and philanthropists in a supreme emergency of liberty and nationality. The crystallizing effect of all this upon the career and character of our subject cannot be overestimated. He learned obedience and he learned to command. Self-reliance and co-operation were alike enforced upon him. The reality of patriotism and the worth of the results of the war were revealed to him, with a vision of the equal sincerity and valor of both sides in a struggle which set forth qualities that have become not merely the bulwirk of the Union against internal dissension and external aggression but an invaluable asset in the common fame of collective America.

Technical tuition divided his time with this heroic form of practical instruction. All the while he was entered as a student in the medical department of the Georgetown university, an institution not remote from his field of official duty, and from that school he received his medical diploma in 1864, although a year previous he had received a contract as an acting assistant surgeon of the United States army and following his graduation he was commissioned by Abraham Lincoln as an assistant surgeon of the United States volunteers. At this point the distinctly medical career of our subject may be said to have begun. He retired from the military establishment of the Union with the close of the war in 1865, returned to New York in October of that year, and embarked for Europe for still further medical study, which he pursued for a period of over twelve months. Coming back, Dr. Ward began the private practice of his profession in the city of his birth. He was soon chosen a professor of anatomy and afterward of surgery in the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary. For six years he labored actively as a practitioner and instructor in New York. He was effectively connected with the medical charities of the city. He was attending surgeon of the Northern dispensary, as well as consulting surgeon of the Western dispensary for women and children and visiting surgeon to the Presbyterian hospital. In 1872 he was elected assistant surgeon of the New York Seventh regiment of the national guard of the state, with the rank of captain, and filled the post until he reached the resolution to settle in the capital of the state.

That resolution was affected in May, 1876. He took at once an influential position in the ranks of his profession and in the social life at Albany. Almost directly following his arrival he was chosen professor of surgical pathology and operative surgery in the Albany Medical College. He also became one of the attending surgeons to the Albany City hospital and to St. Peter’s hospital, and he is now professor of the theory and practice of medicine in the Albany Medical college; a member of the Albany County Medical society; a permanent member and ex-president of the State Medical society; a member of the executive committee of the State Normal college; a trustee and the vice-president of the Dudley observatory; a trustee of the Albany Female academy; the president of the state board of survey; as well as having been in the past a member of the board of health of the city; one of the civil service examiners for state medical officials, and repeatedly a delegate to the American Medical association. He is a member of the Fort Orange club, of the Albany Camera club, being himself an accomplished amateur artist, and he is also connected with the American Climatological association, as well as of other scientific and social bodies not a few. In 1864, he received the degree of A. M. in course from Columbia college, and in 1882, that of Ph. D. ex honore, from Union university.

From these honors and responsibilities his activity and efficiency in his profession and his devotion to all cognate pursuits in sympathy with his chosen field, as well as his standing as a citizen and a gentleman, can be correctly inferred. He has contributed valuable articles to the literature of his profession and his pen and influence have been at the service of any interest, within his power to promote, within the large compass of the departments of helpful endeavor in the world. Dr. Ward is well known for his service in the development of the sanitary advantages of the Adirondack regions to the observation of mankind. In 1879 he first visited that wonderful region and it has echoed to his rifle, or its waters have rewarded his rod every spring and summer since. His investments in the Saranac Lake country have been considerable and his influence in inducing capitalists, physicians, artists and lovers of leisure to acquaint themselves with the natural beauties and the health-giving assurances of that locality has been marked. Both as a citizen and as an officer of the state he has addressed himself to the work of forest preservation and to the creation and the education of a public and a legislative sentiment in favor of that benign cause. His energy and efficiency in this regard have been reinforced by like endeavors put forth by many others, but none of them have exceeded his enthusiasm or surpassed his usefulness in that field of labor for the health of the race. He allows neither his labors for education nor his social duties nor the accomplishments with which he charms his times of leisure or of rest to interfere with the assiduity and industry with which he carries on the duties of his chosen profession. He is not merely a practitioner of medicine but a soldier and enthusiast of it. His fondness for his calling was born with him. Every other pursuit followed by him is ultimately made contributory to the controlling work of his life. He has not lost a central and a consecrated efficiency in a diversity of alien avocations or in a versatility of pleasurable employments.

Of the characteristics of this man it would be agreeable to speak, did not the facts already set forth suggest them, and did not his present activity in the prime of his powers veto the idea of summing up an esteemed contemporary for the verdict of that history in which his part is yet incomplete, and into the silences of which he has not yet passed. The words of estimate would by the partialities of friendship become the words of eulogy and they are not called for on the printed page, because they are already graven in the hearts and memories of all who have passed within the sweep of his life and who have been admitted into the chambers of his friendship.

In 1871 Dr. Ward was united in marriage to Nina A. Wheeler, daughter of William A. Wheeler, of New York City. Mrs. Ward was a woman of singular beauty of person, of gentle sincerity of manner, of a wide range of practical and elegant accomplishments, a devoted wife, a loving mother, a profound Christian and an undoubting friend. She was the light, the solace, the incentive and the idol of a beloved home, not merely the companion but the confidant of her husband and of their children, until, in October, 1883, she was recalled by the Master of Life, exchanging worlds with the serene confidence of a blessed immortality. Three children share with their father the consciousness of their loss, until the day shall break and the shadows flee away.


Noted living Albanians and state officials , A series of biographical sketches. 1891.

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