Thomas W. Ward

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Thomas William (Peg Leg) Ward (1807 – November 25, 1872) was an Irish-born American soldier and politician, elected the second (1840–41) tenth (1853) and was appointed the nineteenth mayor of Austin, Texas in 1865. He also served as Texas Commissioner of the General Land Office and United States consul to Panama.

General Land Office former agency of the US Department of the Interior

The General Land Office (GLO) was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for public domain lands in the United States. It was created in 1812 to take over functions previously conducted by the United States Department of the Treasury. Starting with the passage of the Land Ordinance of 1785, which created the Public Land Survey System, the Treasury Department had already overseen the survey of the "Northwest Territory", including what is now the state of Ohio.

Panama republic in Central America

Panama, officially the Republic of Panama, is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people.

He was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1807 to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ward, landowning English immigrants. In 1828 Ward immigrated to Quebec and thence to New Orleans, where he studied engineering and architecture.

Quebec Province of Canada

Quebec is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario and the bodies of water James Bay and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and to the south by the province of New Brunswick and the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Seven years later he answered the call for volunteers to help stand off Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna's army. Ward was one of the organizers of the New Orleans Greys, which fought at the siege of Bexar in December 1835. During the battle, Captain Ward, at the head of an artillery company, followed Benjamin R. Milam into San Antonio. During the ensuing battle Ward lost his leg to a cannonball, and Col. Milam was killed by a rifle shot. Legend has it that Milam's body and Ward's leg were buried in the same grave. The crippled Ward returned to New Orleans to be fitted with a peg leg. His stay in the city was brief, however, and he returned to Texas in the spring of 1836.

New Orleans Greys

The New Orleans Greys were a Military volunteer unit of two militia companies that totaled about 120 men that had formed in the city of that name for service in the Texas War of Independence. Their name came from the grey military fatigues they wore.

Commissioned as a colonel by President David G. Burnet, Ward served under Gen. Thomas J. Rusk. For his service to the Republic of Texas, Ward later received 2,240 acres in Grayson and Goliad counties.

Grayson County, Texas County in the United States

Grayson County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 120,877. The county seat is Sherman. The county was founded in 1846 and is named after Peter Wagener Grayson, an attorney general of the Republic of Texas.

Goliad County, Texas County in the United States

Goliad County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population is 7,210. Its county seat is Goliad. The county is named for Father Miguel Hidalgo; "Goliad" is an anagram, minus the silent H. The county was created in 1836 and organized the next year.

After the Texas Revolution Ward settled in Houston and worked as a general contractor.

Houston City in Texas, United States

Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States, with a census-estimated population of 2.312 million in 2017. It is the most populous city in the Southern United States and on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Located in Southeast Texas near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth MSA. With a total area of 627 square miles (1,620 km2), Houston is the eighth most expansive city in the United States. It is the largest city in the United States by total area, whose government is similarly not consolidated with that of a county or borough. Though primarily in Harris County, small portions of the city extend into Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

A general contractor, main contractor or prime contractor is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of a construction site, management of vendors and trades, and the communication of information to all involved parties throughout the course of a building project.

On February 18, 1837, Augustus C. Allen signed a contract with Ward to build the Texas capitol in Houston. Despite missing the initial deadline due to material delays, Ward completed the building in time for the Second Session of the 1st Congress of the Republic of Texas to meet in it. He served as a clerk and later a member to the Harrisburg County's Board of Land Commissioners during 1838.

1st Congress of the Republic of Texas

The First Congress of the Republic of Texas, consisting of the Senate of the Republic of Texas and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, met in Columbia at two separate buildings and then in Houston from October 3, 1836, to June 13, 1837, during the first year of Sam Houston's presidency.

During the spring and summer of 1839, the capitol was moved to Waterloo, later renamed Austin. Ward followed the seat of government and in late 1839 served as the chief clerk for the House of Representatives during the Fourth Congress. He went on to become the second mayor of Austin in the fall of 1840 when Edwin Waller stepped down. During his brief tenure in the winter of 1840, Ward created eight districts with a representative from each serving on the city council. He also coordinated the sale of town lots.

In January 1841 he was appointed the second commissioner of the General Land Office, succeeding John P. Borden. Ward presided over the land office until 1848. Throughout his term he struggled to make sense of the often unclear and tangled land laws as well as the nightmare of conflicting surveys and untrained surveyors. The commissioner also had to combat rampant fraud and wrestle with dishonorable land speculators. Early on, Ward discovered that the job of land commissioner could be quite hazardous to one's health. In 1841 he lost his right arm when a cannon misfired during the official celebration of San Jacinto Day. The following year Ward became involved with the citizens of Austin in the Texas Archive War. Ordered by President Sam Houston to cooperate in the removal of archives from Austin, Ward was among those fired upon by Angelina Eberly.

During the state elections in 1848, George W. Smyth defeated Ward in the race for land commissioner. After his defeat Ward served as the commissioner for overseeing land claims within the Peters Colony.

In 1853 he was elected the 10th mayor of Austin but resigned in September to accept an appointment by President Franklin Pierce as United States consul to Panama.

He returned to the United States in 1857 and, despite ailing health, was nonetheless active in the election of 1860 as a bitter opponent of secession.

In 1865 Andrew J. Hamilton appointed him mayor of Austin (19th), his third time to hold the post over a 25-year period. While he did serve as mayor of the capitol of Texas three time, he never completed one year in each of these terms. In October he left Austin to serve as Andrew Johnson's appointee as Corpus Christi's customs collector. He remained in this position until 1869 when Ulysses S. Grant fired him.

Ward married Susan L. Marston, a widow with two children, on June 20, 1844. Three years later their home was built by the noted Austin architect, Abner H. Cook, on the corner of Hickory (now 8th Street) and Lavaca. This corner now houses the United States Court House, to be move the new Federal Court House in front of Republic Square.

Ward died in his home on November 25, 1872, from typhoid fever. He was buried with the honors of Masonry and Odd Fellowship in the Texas State Cemetery.

On August 16, 1872, the first county seat of Johnson County was named Wardville in his honor. Ward County, Texas, created in 1887, was also named in his honor fifteen years after his death.

The state of Texas had a monument erected at his grave in 1932.

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