Central Pennsylvania African American History for Everyone
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Banner headline Former Slave Dies



the 20th Century

Henry S. Ward, a Formerly Enslaved
African American Resident


Significant numbers of formerly enslaved African Americans made their homes in central Pennsylvania in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some escaped enslavement and traveled north via the Underground Railroad before 1865. Many more found themselves no longer enslaved by war's end and looked north for job opportunites or to escape the harsh poverty and crushing racism of southern Reconstruction. The first few decades of the 20th century saw large numbers of southern Blacks moving north to take advantage of the plentiful jobs in northern industries.

Their presence in northern cities enriched each African American community. Their shared first-hand stories of lives enslaved broadened the historical perspective and served to counter the "Lost Cause" myths. Knowing which citizens were formerly enslaved is invaluable for modern historians and persons researching their family histories. Small connections can often add up to bigger stories. The news items below represent snippets in the lives of these persons.

Death Notice, March 20, 1915

1915 Death notice for Henry Ward, a formerly enslaved resident of Mount Holly Springs, PA.

Text of news article:
Slave Is Dead

  Carlisle, March 20. -- Henry Ward, a former slave in Virginia, a veteran of the Civil war and for 40 years one of the leading colored residents of Mount Holly Springs, died at his home in Upper Holly Thursday evening at 10:30 o'clock, after an illness of four days. He was 73 years old. Death was due to pneumonia.

  He was born in Virgnia on a plantation, where he was for some years a slave. He escaped to the Union lines shortly after the outbreak of the Civil war and enlisted.

Additional Info:
Henry Ward is buried in the cemetery surrounding the abandoned Mt. Tabor AME Zion Church in Mount Holly Springs. That burial ground was formerly known as the Mount Holly Colored Cemetery, or Mount Holly Springs Colored Cemetery. It is still listed as such in online databases, there being no updated formal name for the site. His tombstone, along with a biography of his life, is on Find-A-Grave:

  Additional biographical information on Henry S. Ward is available from Cumberland County Historical Society's Gardner Digital Library:

  Henry S. Ward served during the Civil War with Company E of the 25th US Colored Troops, enlisting at Carlisle, PA.

Harrisburg Star Independent (Harrisburg, PA), 20 March 1915, p. 2.

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