Aaron Ward, born on November 26, 1834, in what was then Newton Township, Gloucester County, NJ (now within the borders of Camden), was the youngest of eight children born to Mason and Hannah Barton Ward. Interestingly, he was the second child named Aaron, as his elder brother, E. Allen Ward, had tragically passed away before his third birthday in 1829.
Educated at Westtown Academy in Westtown, PA, Aaron Ward married Anna Bates on November 8, 1854. The couple had a daughter, Lettie Allen Ward, born on March 3, 1859, and a son, Franklin, born on August 12, 1860. Another daughter, Hannah, followed shortly thereafter. At the time of the 1860 Census, the Ward family resided in Camden’s North Ward, with Aaron working as a house carpenter and also serving on Camden’s City Council in 1861.
Responding to the call of duty during the Civil War, Aaron Ward enlisted on September 3, 1862, and was appointed Captain of Company D, Twenty-fourth Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers. The regiment, comprising men from Camden, Gloucester City, and Glassboro, played a significant role in the December 13, 1862 assault on Fredericksburg, with Company D suffering losses but displaying great tenacity.
Wounded in the lungs during the battle, Captain Ward remarkably recovered. The regiment camped for four months after Fredericksburg, and Aaron Ward was discharged on May 31, 1863, returning to his family in Camden. Resuming his position on City Council, he was later involved in real estate, insurance, and eventually established a successful street and road contracting business.
Aaron Ward’s ventures included notable projects such as the construction of the first bridge across the Cooper River at Baird Avenue in 1903, a bridge at Kaighn Avenue, a concrete wharf at the foot of Cooper Street, and the Line Ditch sewer in South Camden. His skill in overcoming challenges with the Line Ditch sewer earned him praise for saving the city thousands of dollars.
After the passing of his first wife, Annie, Aaron Ward remarried twice and lived to the age of eighty. He passed away on June 26, 1915, survived by his wife Sarah W. H. Ward, son Franklin, and daughters Dr. Lettie Ward, Mrs. Hannah Bardo, and Elizabeth Ward. Aaron Ward was interred at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, where he was remembered for his contributions to the city. Franklin Ward continued in the construction business, and Lettie Allen Ward gained distinction as one of Camden’s first female doctors. Aaron Ward’s legacy extended to his older brother E. Allen Ward, a noted contractor who built the Camden City Hall. Aaron Ward was a respected member of the community, affiliated with organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic and Camden Lodge No. 15, Free and Accepted Masons, and a member of the Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church.