There are two versions of how Ward came to be called Ward. The first suggests the community was named in honor of Dr. David Ward, a man who owned most of the land that would later become Ward on Kelly’s and Hughes’ Creeks.
Dr. Ward bought 3,551 acres of timber land located on Blue Creek from O. A. Thayer in 1880. A purchase that undoubtedly contributed to his being known as one of the “Lumber Kings of the West”. Dr. Ward continued through the early 1880’s with other purchases. One of the substantial purchases was for 933 3/4 acres of land that was formerly owned by pioneer William Morris. This land was on the northwest side of Kellys Creek. He would go on purchasing land that would give him ownership of virtually all of the land surrounding the two creeks, Kellys & Hugheston-Hughes, aside from C. C. Lewis‘ holdings in and around Mammoth.
From 1892-1894 the railroad came through the area giving rise to a means to export the coal mined in the area to other parts of the country. This gives the area a substantial boost in commercial opportunities. During this period Dr. Ward opts for leasing his land rather than operate coal mining operations himself. The first operations were actually very small and took place on Lewis’ land at Mammoth.
J. W. Dawson constructed the Kellys Creek Railroad for Lewis in 1895 to connect the four small mines at Mammoth. This would become the Kellys Creek Coal Mining Co. and Dawson sold his interest around 1898 and left to build Lick Creek and Lake Erie Railroads in Southwestern Virginia. He also went on to a mining operation in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.
In 1901 Kanawha & Hocking Coal & Coke Co. purchased Kellys Creek Coal Mining Co. and Dawson returns in 1903 to build Kellys Creek and Northwestern Railroads along the creek to Five Mile, which is located about 7 miles from Cedar Grove, a community right next to Ward.
Kellys Creek Colliery Co. was organized by Dawson to mine the coal on the lands held by Dr. David Ward and so is credited with naming Ward. Dawson leaves in 1917 selling his interest to J. A. Paisley, Valley Camp Coal Co. but the name remains unchanged until the mid 1930’s when the oprerations became knows as Valley Camp Coal Co.
The other version of the naming story dates back to 1870. Ward Hudnall settled near the place that would become Kellys Creek Railroad Station in later years (at Ward). Dawson bought the land from Hudnall, who evidently failed to file a patent on the land since it was referred to as a “squatters claim”. So it is possible that Dawson named the community after Mr. Hudnall.
The prevailing opinion is its more likely he named it for the distinguished Dr. Ward since he was a man of great fortune. His holdings were so vast they would equal the amount of land in the entire state of West Virginia. It was Dr. Ward receiving the benefits of royalties and lease payments from the mining being done in those early years. Perhaps both Hudnall and Ward factored into the name choice.