Monday, November 26, 2012

Mamre Hurlburt Ward (1899-1969)

    A Wisconsin civic leader and businessman, the oddly named Mamre Hurlburt Ward was also a four-term representative in the Wisconsin State Assembly during the 1950s. His unusual first name "Mamre" has its origins in the Bible, where it has two different connotations. The first is listed as being an ancient Semitic chieftain who was one of the allies of the patriarch Abraham, while the second is a location, or, to be more precise, an ancient shrine located near modern-day Israel where the chieftain Mamre settled and "established the first Hebrew army." With that little historical tidbit out of the way, we'll now take a look at the life of this unusually named Wisconsin native!
   Born on January 16, 1899, in Bear Creek Valley, Wisconsin, Mamre H. Ward was the son of John Plumer (1866-1934) and Lora Lorena (Hurlburt) Ward (1869-1958). Mamre attended schools local to his native town and graduated from the Durand High School in the class of 1916. In August 1923 he married in Durand to Ms. Esther Nicklas (1899-1990) with whom he had three children, Robert Ward (birthdate unknown), John Plumer Ward III (1925-1988) and Esther Ann (born 1933). 
   Most of the resources mentioning Mamre Ward record him as having engaged in farming for the majority of his life, first in Bear Creek Valley and later in the village of Mondovi. While farming may have been an integral part of his life, Ward was also acknowledged as a prominent civic and business leader in the counties of Buffalo and Pepin. He served as President of the Bank of Durand for twelve years and later became the director of the Security National Bank of Durand after it was consolidated. Ward experienced continued success in local business in addition to his banking endeavors, becoming the vice president of the Durand Canning Company in 1933 and later managed a local cooperative creamery. The Wisconsin Blue Book (where the above picture of Ward was located) also denotes that he was a "member of several cooperative organizations" in addition to those already mentioned.
   While continuing to be active in the realms of local business and civic affairs, Ward also was also recognized as a prominent local political figure. In 1935 and 1936 he served as president of the Canton, Wisconsin town board and was a member (and later chairman) of the Wisconsin State Soil Conservation Committee. He also held a seat on the Pepin County Republican committee for a number of years. 

Mamre H. Ward as he appeared in the 1956 edition of the Wisconsin State Blue Book.

   In 1950 Mamre Ward won election as a Republican to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the counties of Buffalo, Pepin, and Pierce. Ward was continually reelected to the Assembly until 1958 and during his four terms held a seat on the legislative committees on Highways, Municipalities, and Agriculture. During the 1955  legislative term, he served as the chairman of the Commerce and Manufactures committee and in 1957 chaired the committee on Public Welfare.
   After leaving the legislature in January 1958, Ward returned to his earlier business activities. In his later years, he was a member and moderator of the Durand Pilgrim Congregational Church and also maintained a membership in the Durand Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star Chapter. Mamre H. Ward died at the St. Benedict's Community Hospital in Durand on October 13, 1969, at age 70. His wife Esther survived him by a number of years, dying in 1990 at age 91, and both are buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Durand.

Mamre H. Ward's obituary as it appeared in the Oct. 15, 1969 edition of the Eau Claire Leader.

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