George R. Ward

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This article is about the innkeeper. For similarly named people, see George Ward (disambiguation).
George R. Ward

George Robert Ward (born January 17, 1831 in Culpeper County, Virginia; died June 13, 1896 in Birmingham) was a dry goods and cotton merchant and proprietor of the Relay House hotel in early Birmingham.

Ward was one of eight children of Robert G. Ward, a former Sheriff of Culpeper County, Virginia and his wife, the former Judith Field. His education was extensive and he stood for the examination to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point in the late 1840s. Instead of honoring his appointment, however, he accepted a position with the dry goods firm of David Leeche and Son in Baltimore, Maryland, where he worked until November 1853.

In 1854 Ward held an interest in a steam packet line operating on the Coosa River. In 1857 he married Margaret Ketcham of Rome, Georgia. Her parents moved to Birmingham in 1872 to operate the newly-built Relay House and the young couple accompanied them, sharing duties as hosts until taking over the operation in 1877 when Mr Ketcham died. He retired when the hotel was demolished in 1886 for the construction of a new Union Passenger Station.

The Wards had five children, Medora, Robert, Mary, W. P. and George Battey, who later became a Mayor of Birmingham. Ward died in 1896. His headstone is at Elmwood Cemetery.