Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Ida C. Ward, 1863–1947
By Amy O'Neal, Independent Researcher
Woman Suffrage Activist
Ida C. Ward was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1863, to John W. Ward and Mary Nutt Ward. John Ward's family soon moved to Greenville, where Ward founded and ran a newspaper, the Washington County Times. After selling this paper, Ward temporarily moved the family away from the town to seek work at other newspapers. Eventually, Ward returned to Greenville and founded another paper, the Greenville Spirit. Later, Ida Ward wrote, "To be the child of a popular editor was almost as lucky as to be the child of a favorite minister."
The Wards had four daughters, all of whom were publicly involved in the community of Greenville, and none of whom found it necessary to marry. In 1902, the Greenville Times referred to the family as "Mr. and Mrs. John Ward and their talented daughters." After their parents died, the Ward sisters lived together for the rest of their lives.
In 1909, Ida was one of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association's Assistant Superintendents for Press Work; she represented Greenville. Press work involved publishing "news about and arguments for woman suffrage." In 1910, Ida continued writing articles for the newspapers in Greenville.
In addition to her advocacy of woman suffrage, Ida wrote a column advocating a local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals. In 1902, she was one of the founding members of the Greenville Humane Society. Like many advocates for woman suffrage, she was also a supporter of the cause of temperance, and she and her sister Julia signed a public petition for the closing of Greenville saloons.
Throughout her life, Ida was involved in many lines of work, including bookkeeping, sales, and insurance; but first and foremost she was a public figure in the town. In her thirties, Ida was an actress, playwright, and theater manager. Together with her sister May, also a playwright and actress, Ida owned and managed a traveling theater company in the early 1900s called the DeLeon Comedians. May and Ida Ward appeared on stage in Greenville in amateur sketches with some of the town's foremost businessmen, but their company staged original Ward plays and adapted plays outside of town as well.
Ida C. Ward died in Greenville on April 11, 1947, some months after the last of her sisters, Minnie. Ida's pallbearers included members of some of Greenville's most prominent families. The Ward family is interred in Greenville Cemetery.
Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS). "47 Years Ago Today." January 26, 1939.
———. "At the Grand." February 12, 1904.
———. "Miss Ida C. Ward Succumbs Today." April 11, 1947.
Greenville Times (Mississippi). "Greenville Talent." September 6, 1890.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. VI. New York, 1922, p. 329. LINK
Thompson, Lily Wilkinson, "Woman Suffrage News in Mississippi," Jackson Daily News, October 21, 1909, p. 82.
Ward, Ida C. "Greenville's First Editor." In Memoirs of Henry Tillinghast Ireys: Papers of the Washington County Historical Society 1910-1915, edited by William D. McCain and Charlotte Capers, 90-96. Jackson, MS: Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Mississippi Historical Society, 1954.
Weekly Democrat-Times (Greenville, Mississippi). Advertisement. February 13, 1904.
———. "At the Grand." October 20, 1900.
———. "Dear Old Tony." March 12, 1898.
———. "The Grand's Plays." November 17, 1900.
———. "Greenville Humane Society." October 4, 1902.
———. "Petition." April 6, 1907.
———. "The Social World and Things That Interest Women." May 24, 1902.
———. "Suffragist Press Department." April 29, 1910.
———. "To Our Humane Citizens." June 21, 1902.