Among the pioneers of the State and Sonoma county special mention should be made of the gentleman who name heads this sketch. He is descended from a race of pioneers. His grandfather, a native of Scotland, emigrated to the United States and settled in North Carolina in the colonial times. His father, David Ward, was born in that state, but was among the early settlers in Cook County, Tennessee, where the subject of this sketch was born May 23, 1815. His mother, Nancy (Mitchell) Ward, was a native of Virginia. Her grandfather was an officer in the Revolutionary war. Shortly after Thomas M. was born his parents moved to Missouri, and after a short residence in several places in that State they removed, in 1820, to Lafayette county. Here Mr. Ward was reared and his early youth and young manhood was spent on his father's farm, where he became inured to the hard labors and privations attending pioneer life. He was naturally of an ingenious mind, and he became quite an expert as a carpenter and cabinet-maker. At the age of nineteen years, in 1834, he married Miss Glaphgra Bowman, daughter of John Mitchell and Elizabeth (Horn) Bowman. In that year he engaged in farming and stock-raising, and four years after he moved to Andrew County.
In 1845 he located in Buchanan County, where he remained until 1847, when he returned to Andrew County, his occupation during all these years being that of a farmer and stock-raiser. Of a restless disposition and ever a pioneer, in 1849 Mr. Ward started with his family, with ox teams, across the plains for the Golden State of California. This journey was performed unaccompanied with any startling incidents, and after the usual hardships they arrived in Yolo County in August if that year. There he had the misfortune to lose his wife, who died September 3, 1849. After the death of his wife Mr. Ward came to Sonoma County, and in July 1851, in connection with his brother, Nathaniel Ward, opening a blacksmith and carpenter shop in Sebastopol. This was the first shop established in that now thriving village. He continued his business in Sebastopol until February, 1853, when he came to Green Valley and purchased land upon which he took up his residence and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits. At an early date in which Mr. Ward took up his residence in Green Valley it was sparsely settled and the lands were in their wild state. He at once set about clearing the land and erecting his home. His career as a farmer and horticulturist is well known. Of his original land he is now the owner of 108 acres. This land is situated on the east side of the valley, near the Sebastopol and Forestville road, in the Oak Grove school district, four miles northwest of Sebastopol and two miles south of Forestville. The greater portion of his land is devoted to hay, grain and stock-raising, but he also has a fine orchard of ten acres, containing peaches, apples, pears, plums, etc. The peaches are the Crawford, orange cling and lemon cling varieties. In addition to a family vineyard containing a large variety of table grapes, he has also six acres of the Mission wine grapes. Mr. Ward has some fine stock, his cattle being improved with both Durham and Jersey stock, and his horses with Norman and Goldfinder breeds. On this farm is a substantial and comfortable residence surrounded by shade trees, situated upon high ground from which he has one of the finest views of the beautiful green valley imaginable. Commodious barns and other out-buildings attest the success that has attended his efforts in building up a home. His knowledge of building and carpentering has enabled him to construct nearly all his buildings without the aid of other than common labor. It should be mentioned that Mr. Ward, as early as 1854, planted his first fruit trees, and in the first fruit exhibits from Green Valley in the county fairs, products from his orchard were among those that took the first premiums.
Mr. Ward has long been identified with the growth and prosperity of his section of the county, and is a firm believer in its glorious future. He has for years served as a school trustee in the Oak Grove district. In politics he is a life-long Democrat, and is consistent in his views. He takes a deep and intelligent interest in all the political questions of the day. Mr. Ward's second wife was Miss Elizabeth Janes, to whom he was married in 1850. She is the daughter of Henry F. and Kesiah (Talbot) Janes. Her father was a pioneer in every sense of the word. He went to Wisconsin at a very early period and settled where the city of Janesville now stands, building the first house in that place, that now bears his name. He was also a pioneer of the State of California, coming to this State in 1849, and finally taking up his residence in Humboldt County.
To Mr. Ward's first marriage there were born seven children, only one of whom is now living-- David M., a resident of Colorado. By his second marriage he has eight children living: William H., residing near the old homestead; John L., who married Miss Frances Fordalie, living in Forestville; Charles M., who married Miss Lydia Branscomb, residing in Mendocino County; Edward L., married Miss Ella Carey and is living in Green Valley; James A., married Miss Minnie Ross, and is living near the old homestead; Benjamin F., married Ethel Perry, and resides in Green Valley; Julia A., the wife of T. J. Janes; and George S. The two last named are living under the parental roof.
Source: Illustrated History of Sonoma County [CA], 1889, pp. 667 & 668
Submitted: Monica Schirmer Eshelman