Ora Deborah Ham Ward – Daughter of Robert Montgomery Ham and Tabitha Clementine Kenady

21 May

Ora Deborah Ham - about 1894

Ora Deborah Ham was one of the daughters of Robert Montgomery Ham and Tabitha Clementine Kenady, and she was a first great-aunt from my husband’s Ham family line. Ora was born in Ellis County, Texas on 21 Jan 1885 – and she lived to be 100 years old!

The earliest record pertaining to Ora other than her birth is the 1900 census which was enumerated on 4 Jun 1900. There we find her living in Justice Precinct 7 of Kaufman County, Texas. She is 15 years old and attending school – she can read and write. Ora is living with her father Robert Montgomery Ham and mother “Tabbie.” In the home is her brother William Neal Ham and his new wife Julie E. (Stone). Also in the home is Ora’s older sister Maud (and 2 young daughters), who has divorced her first husband, Festus James. Also in the home are Ora’s three younger siblings: Robert, 13; Mac, 9; and Mabell, 3.

The next year, on 23 March 1901, Ora Deborah Ham, at the age of 16, married John Brady Ward in Kemp, Kaufman County, Texas. John Brady Ward was born to John H. Ward and Mary Janette Beavers on 10 Aug 1880 in Kaufman County, Texas.

Wedding Photo - John Brady Ward and Ora Deborah Ham

Ora and John had a very large family, 12 known children: Cuba Helen (1903-1989); Vivian Trudy (1905-1993); John Brady (1907-1989); Norma (1908); Ronald Byron (1911-1963); Grady Meyers (1912-2008); Edna Louise (1914); Inez Faye (1915-1979); Carmen Dee (1917-2002); Bessie “Becky” Lou (1921-2006); Edith Mabel (1923-1941); and Laura Lee (1927). 

By the 1910 census, Ora and John are renting a home and John is farming in Kaufman County, Texas. The couple has been married for about eight years and have had four children; three of them have survived: Cuba E., age 7; Vivian, age 4; and John B., age 3 (presume that Norma is the child that died). The small family is living a few doors down from John’s father, John H. Ward and step-mother, Harriet.

By February of 1920, the family has relocated to McCulloch County, Texas. There we find them again farming. Ora is indexed as being 35 years old living with her husband John, 48, who rents. The children in the home are: Cuba, age 15; Vivian, age 13; John B., age 12; Ronnie, age 9; Grady, age 7; Louise, age 6; Inez, age 4; Carmen, age 2. Also in the home is John’s cousin, Lee V. Hagerty, age 20. Living nearby is Ora’s sister Maud, who has married Andrew Rickman. Maud’s daughter, Ora’s niece, Artie also lives nearby with her husband John McKnight.

The 1930 census was enumerated on 3 May 1930, where we find that the family has once again relocated – this time to Taylor County, Texas. Ora by this time is 44 years old. She is with her husband John, age 47 who is indexed as a “house carpenter.” They are renting a home which they state is worth $12.50. The children in the home are: Ronald B., 19 and Grady M., 18 who are doing “odd jobs.” The younger children include: Louise E., age 16; Inez F., age 14; Carmen D., age 11; Bessie L., age 9; Edith M., age 5; and Laura L., age 2.

This is basically the last record I can locate on Ora (other than her death and burial). I have been told that The Dallas Morning News published an article on 29 Jan 1985 pertaining to Ora’s 100th birthday celebration. If any of you Ham/Ward researchers out there could provide me with a copy of that article, I would be very appreciative. Further, according to some of Ora’s grandchildren, Ora moved to Dallas and Brady stayed on the farm in Kemp, Texas.

Ora Deborah Ward Ham - 100th Birthday Celebration

Brady died in Dallas, Texas on 22 Mar 1970 and is laid to rest there in Lone Oak Cemetery.

John Brady Ward - Final Resting Place

As mentioned earlier, Ora lived to the ripe of age of 100 years, and died 15 Dec. 1985 in Dallas, Texas. She is laid to rest there in Grove Hill Memorial Park.

Ora Deborah Ham Ward - Final Resting Place

Inscription on her headstone reads:  “Beloved Mother – She gave so much and demanded so little.” 

What a tribute!



Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Ham, Ward


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2 responses to “Ora Deborah Ham Ward – Daughter of Robert Montgomery Ham and Tabitha Clementine Kenady

  1. Jan Shaffer

    May 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Why, there she is celebrating her 100th birthday with W. A. Criswell.

    • Judy Curbow

      May 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Yes Jan! You are correct. I didn’t even know who he was – I had to “google” him! For those of you not familiar with him: “Wallie Amos Criswell, Ph.D. (December 19, 1909 – January 10, 2002), was an American pastor, author, and a two-term elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) from 1968 to 1970. Supporters have described him as one of the 20th century’s greatest expository preachers, and the patriarch of the “Conservative Resurgence” within the SBC.” What an honor it must have been for Ora and her family to have him present at her 100th birthday celebration!


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