ROBERT R. WARD. Prominent among the younger generation of capitalists in Southern Illinois who are making this section one of importance in the financial and industrial world may be mentioned Robert R. Ward, of Benton, who has displayed abilities that mark him as a man who must be reckoned with in banking and business circles. It is not every son of an illustrious father who is able to achieve success, but in the case of Mr. Ward it appears as though his father's mantle had fallen upon his shoulders. He was born August 9, 1879, in Benton, a son of William R. and Imogene (Snyder) Ward.
The great-grand-parents of Mr. Ward, Abel and Polly Ann Ward, where both born in South Carolina in 1800, were married in 1819, and died, respectively, in 1886 and 1893. Their son, John Ward, the grandfather of Robert R., was born in St. Clair county, Illinois, and when six years of age accompanied his parents to Franklin county, where he became a prominent merchant and mill man, building the first roller mills in the county, where he died in 1902, at the age of seventy-eight years.
William R. Ward, the father, was born five miles north of Benton, in Franklin county, August 12, 1848, and came to Benton with his parents when he was four years of age, receiving his education in the common schools of Benton and the State University at Bloomington, Indiana, which he attended for two years. On his return home he went into business with his father, a general store concern known as John Ward & Company, and later formed a partnership with Captain C. Moore, under
the firm style of Ward & Moore. This business continued until 1875, when, with Captain Moore, Mr. Ward established the first bank in Franklin county, known as the Exchange Bank of Ward & Moore, and this was conducted by them until 1898, at which time Mr. Ward was taken down with an illness from which he never recovered, although he lived until March, 1905. In 1898 the Exchange Bank of Ward & Moore was incorporated as the Benton State Bank, of which Mr. Ward was president until his death, and he was also interested in the milling and grain business, and for many years was known as the wealthiest man in Franklin county. He was a Democrat in politics, and during Governor Altgeld's administration served as trustee of the Southern Illinois Normal School. He was also a director in the St. Louis, Alton and Terre Haute Railroad Company up to the time it was absorbed by the Illinois Central. Mr. Ward was an early and prominent Mason, and a consistent member of the Christion church. He married Imogene Snyder, daughter of Solomon and Mary (Russell) Snyder, natives of Franklin county, and granddaughter of Samuel T. Russell, one of the first settlers in Williamson county.
Robert R. Ward received a high school education at Benton. He entered the Illinois State University at Champaign in 1893, from which he was graduated with the degrees of A. B. and LL. B. in 1903, and in 1904 was admitted to the bar, although he never practiced, owing to the necessity of taking charge of his father's affairs, on account of the latter's feeble health. He at once took active charge of the bank's affairs, being elected vice president, 1904, and where he has since continued to be the leading factor in the transactions carried on by this substantial institution, and has also had various other interests. He owns large farming properties, to which he gives a great deal of attention, and was the first to grow alfalfa in this part of the state. Recently he and his brother have erected a large business block in honor of their father's memory. He is a member of the Elks, and is high priest of W. R. Ward Chapter, which was named in honor of his father, and belongs to all branches of the Masonic fraternity, including the Knights Templar, Consistory and Shrine.
In 1905 Mr. Ward was married to Miss Terzie Kirkpatrick, daughter of the Hon. R. D. Kirkpatrick, a Republican member of the State Legislature from this district, a prominent capitalist here, and a veteran of the Civil war. Mr. and Mrs. Ward have had three children, born as follows: William R., in 1906; Russell D., in 1907; and Leroy Albert, in 1910.