Alfred John Ward – Golf Professional – Alf comes to America

Alf J Ward, The Indianapolis News, 23 Mar 1923
Alf J Ward, The Indianapolis News, 23 Mar 1923

Alfred John “Alf” Ward arrived in America in 19111, 2 to take advantage of the growing popularity of golf, a well-established sport in his native England. Alfred was the eighth of twelve children born in 1883 to Thomas James Ward, a Battersea distillery worker and builder’s labourer, and Sarah Courtneidge, a coachman’s daughter from Wimbledon.3

Alfred got his start in golf working as an assistant to James Braid at Walton Heath Golf Club in Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey.4 His brothers Henry Ward5 and George William Ward6 and nephew Alfred Robert Gardiner all worked at Walton Heath as caddies.7

It was under James Braid that Alfred learned the trades of building golf courses8 and maintaining greens that qualified him for his first job in America as a greenkeeper at the Houvenkopf County Club in Suffern, New York.9 In 1913, Alf was hired to remodel the Memphis Country Club in Tennessee, where he appeared in the 1914 City Directory.10

Alfred Ward Memphis City Directory 1914
Alfred Ward, greenskeeper, Memphis City Directory 1914

In Memphis Alfred Ward married his first wife Jane Sarah Randle (née Gant),11 a widow and fellow English immigrant 16 years his senior, on 28 Jan 1914.12 He deserted her three and a half months later on 14 May 1914 to return to New York and build the Country Club course in Waverly, Tioga County.13 In her petition for divorce, which was granted on grounds of abandonment on 12 Nov 1915, she requested the surname of her late husband Walter J Randle be restored to her. Walter had been killed three years earlier in a fall of 18 feet. They were married for 22 years.14

Back in New York, Alfred appears in several local newspaper articles. After building the course at Waverly, he secures a job as the golf professional at The Glen Springs resort and sanitarium in Watkins Glen, New York. The first article describes a match arranged in 1916 with the professional Tom Hancock at a nearby country club in Elmira, NY.15 It turns out Tom Hancock was also an assistant to James Braid at Walton Heath and worked at Suffern, NY upon coming to America. (More about Tom Hancock at Tom Hancock – Golf Professional) In 1917, Alfred, still the pro at Watkins, visits the Auburn Country Club for a golf match against Owasco professional Johnny Walker. Auburn, New York is where my great-grandmother Margaret Styles’ family lived at the time.

Plan Great Golf Match. On next Tuesday, November 14, commencing at 10:15 o’clock in the morning, a foursome match will be played on the Elmira Country Club links between first class golfers, two being amateurs and two professionals. The foursome will be composed as follows: Tom Hancock and F. Waters, against A. Ward and Phil Carter. – The Elmira (NY) Star Gazette 08 Nov 1916, p215

Fine Golfing Is Promised at Two Country Clubs. Some finished golfing may be provided on the courses of the Auburn and Owasco Country club for the balance of the week. Mr. Ward, the professional of the Watkins Golf Course, arrived in town this morning and will remain here at Auburn Club until Sunday. Attempts are being made to arrange a match or a series of matches between him and the professional of the Owasco Club and hopes are held that this may be possible. During his stay Mr. Ward will give lessons on the finer points of the game and quite a number of local golfers are planning on taking advantage of this opportunity to improve their playing. – The Auburn (New York) Citizen, 19 Sep 1917, p. 716

Professionals Meet on Links of Country Clubs. – Al Ward Wins Match Over Johnny Walker. Before a gallery of enthusiastic golfers, with paramount interest in the game, two professional men met on the Auburn Country Club links yesterday afternoon for an 18 hole match, twice around the big new golf course of the club. It was one of the hottest contested contests ever held at the club and the end did not come until the last hole.
Al Ward was the professional visiting the Auburn Club. He hails from Watkins and is a real golfer. Johnny Walker was the professional from the Owasco Club and these two experienced and expert players went the rounds twice yesterday afternoon…Well, today these two professional men will meet on the Owasco Links and again the golfing blood of Auburn will be out to follow the play. Sunday one of the windup events of the season will be a big tournament at the Auburn Club. – The Auburn (New York) Citizen, 21 Sep 1917, p217

The next year in 1918, Alfred’s World War I Draft Registration Card18 indicates he and Margaret are married now and both living at The Glen Springs in Watkins, NY. Margaret Styles was single in 1915, recorded in the New York State Census for that year working as a nurse at the Willard State Hospital for the Chronically Insane near Ovid, Schuyler County, NY.19 That places their marriage between the years 1916-1918 although I was unable to find the record anywhere in the state of New York.

Alfred John Ward WWI Draft Card Watkins NY

In 1919, the family moves to Auburn, NY where Alfred Ward works as the golf professional at the Auburn Country Club. The 1919 Auburn City Directory lists him as Alfred J Ward, 38 Grant Ave, Golf Instructor20 and he is featured in the Spalding’s Official Golf Guide for 1920.21

Alfred J Ward Auburn NY 1920 Spalding Golf Guide
Alfred J Ward, Auburn NY, 1920 Spalding’s Golf Guide21

The 1920 US Census shows Alfred and Margaret residing at 38 Grant Avenue. Margaret’s youngest brother Thomas Styles is living with them.22 The enumerator listed Alfred’s occupation as “plumber at a plumbing shop,” which has to be an error given all other evidence. By the next year, they were living in Monroe County Michigan, where Alfred and Margaret’s only child James Joseph Ward was born on 23 Nov 1923.23 The Auburn City Directory for 1920 states that the family had removed to Detroit.24

1920_Census_AuburnNY_Alfred_Ward_clip
1920 US Census, Alfred J Ward, Margaret T Ward, Thomas Styles, Auburn, New York22

Alfred Ward’s year of immigration to the USA in the 1920 Census above is listed as 1911. I had obtained a copy of his Declaration of Intention for Naturalization which he submitted several years later in 1923 when he was working as the golf professional at the Bloomington, Indiana Country Club.25 This document states Alfred’s last entry into the United States was on 29 Sep 1904 on the Tom Bigelow ferry from Brockville, Ontario, Canada to Morristown, New York. It is important to note that Alfred only signed this naturalization document and a clerk was the one to fill out all of the information.  So which record is correct?

Alfred J Ward Declaration of Intention for Naturalization 1923 Monroe County Indiana
Alfred J Ward Declaration of Intention for Naturalization 1923 Monroe County Indiana25

The ferry referred to in the naturalization document was the H.P. Bigelow and it did run a passenger service between Brockville, Ontario and Morristown, New York. However, this boat was purchased by the Brockville & Morristown Ferry Co. in 1908 and did not begin transporting passengers at this port until April 1908.26

Bigelow Ferry Service between Brockville, Ontario and Morristown, New York 1908
Bigelow Ferry Service between Brockville, Ontario and Morristown, NY, The Watertown Daily Times 16 Mar 190826

Alfred Ward could not have entered the USA at this location on this ferry boat before 1908. He also appears in the 1911 England Census as a visitor in home of golf groundsman John Edward Wallis, 44 Donald Rd, West Croydon, where he is working as a gardener or groundskeeper at Mitcham Common golf course.27 Alfred does not appear in USA records before this time and would not have been able to work for James Braid at Walton Heath if he came to America in 1904. Therefore, I believe 1911 is the correct year of immigration.

The passenger manifests for the port at Morristown and Brockville are available online at FamilySearch and Ancestry.com. I searched the entirety of these records looking for Alfred Ward and found only one potential match for his entry, in September of 1911.28 Although the name is written down as Alfred Warner instead of Ward, he is traveling with golf professional Thomas Hancock, who he knew and worked with in England and in New York. The date and location match so there is a strong possibility this is Alfred Ward’s record. His entry on the passenger manifest for the ship that brought him from England to either the USA or Canada prior to this ferry crossing still has not been located.

More about golf professional Thomas Hancock at: Tom Hancock – Golf Professional

List of Alien Passengers Applying for Admission to the United States from Foreign Contiguous Territory Port of Morristown, NY, September 1911Thomas Hancock, 26, laborer, last residence: Elgin, Canada; final destination: New York, NY; Paid passage self, has $50; was last in USA 1908-1910 in NY City; Contact in US: Mr Mulgrew, Staten Island, NY, 5’10”, fair, brown hair, blue eyes, born in England, Surrey, landed 24 Nov 1907 in NY on SS Baltic, examined Sep 20. Alfred Warner, 27, laborer, last residence: Elgin, Canada; final destination: New York, NY; Paid passage self, has $50; was last in USA 1908-1910 in NY City; Contact in US: Mr Mulgrew, Staten Island, NY, 5’10”, med complexion, brown hair, blue eyes, born in England, Surrey, landed 24 Nov 1907 in NY on SS Baltic, examined Sep 20. 28

Reference Notes


  1. 1920 United States Census, Cayuga County, New York, population schedule, Alfred J Ward, Margaret T Ward and Thomas Styles, 38 Grant Ave, Auburn Ward 10, ED: 20; Image: 732; digital images, image 728, Archive.org  (https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu1089unit#page/n728/mode/1up : 2016); citing: “Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920,” NARA microfilm publication T625, Roll: 1089; Page: 10B, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  2. “Vermont, St. Albans Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1954,” Thomas Hancock and Alfred Warner [Ward?], Sep 1911; digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9DS-49X6 : 2016); citing “Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954,” NARA microfilm publication M1464, Roll 165, vol. 157, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  3. England, birth certificate for Alfred Ward, born 24 Jun 1883, registered Jul-Sep, Wandsworth, vol. 1d, p. 662, no. 219, West Battersea, Surrey; General Register Office, Southport.
  4. “A.J. Ward Signs as Pro at Pleasant Run Course,” The Indianapolis News, 24 Mar 1923, p. 12, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3414535 : 2016.
  5. 1911 England Census, Henry Ward age 34, 1 Nutley Grove, Reigate, Class: RG14, Piece: 3211, Schedule Number: 137Registration District: Reigate, County of Surrey, digital images, Ancestry.com (http://interactive.ancestry.com/2352/rg14_03211_0273_03/41721164 : 2016 UK Link); citing “Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911,” held at The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.
  6. England, marriage certificate for George Ward and Alice Lillian Graffham, 23 Jul 1912, registered Jul-Sep, Reigate, vol. 2a, p. 542, no. 27, Reigate, Surrey; General Register Office, Southport.
  7. “Walton-on-the-Hill,” Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser, Epsom District Times & County Post, 30 Mar 1912, p7; Online Archives, Find My Pasthttp://www.findmypast.co.uk : 2016.
  8. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 7 Jun 1923, p.25, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/4425746 : 2016.
  9. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 23 Mar 1923, p. 34, col.2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/256854 : 2016.
  10. R. I. Polk, Polk’s Memphis (Shelby County, Tennessee) City Directory (Memphis: R. I. Polk Directory Co.,1914) Alfred Ward, greenkpr Mem Country Club, bds Edwd Fritz, p. 1429, digital images,”Memphis City Directories, 1849-1943,” Shelby County Register of Deeds, http://register.shelby.tn.us/courtrecords/city_directories//1914_polk_final/jpgs/1914_polk_w_1429.jpg : 2016.
  11. “Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950,”Alf Ward and Jane Sarah Randle, marriage bond, 28 Jan 1914, digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKH9-PSBM : 20 July 2016) FHL microfilm 1,784,656; citing Shelby County, Tennessee, United States, Marriage Bonds, 1913-1914, vol K1-L1, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.
  12. “Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950,” Alf Ward and Jane Sarah Randle, marriage license and certificate, 28 Jan 1914, digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKH9-45RZ : 20 July 2016) FHL microfilm 1,148,839; citing Shelby, Tennessee, United States, Marriage Licenses, 1914, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.
  13. Shelby County, Tennessee, Circuit Court Records, Jane S Ward vs. Alfred Ward, for divorce, granted 13 Nov 1915, Vol 12, Docket-No: 012238, Div 4, Book 082, Page 193; Shelby County Archives, Memphis.
  14. 1910 United States Census, Shelby County, Tennessee, population schedule; Memphis Ward 28, ED:0284, FHL microfilm:1375534; digital images, image 1016 of 1517, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po1521unit#page/n1015/mode/1up : 2016); citing: “Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910” NARA microfilm publication T624, Roll: 1521, Page: 10A, Records of the Bureau of the Census, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  15. Plan Great Golf Match. The Elmira (NY) Star Gazette 08 Nov 1916, p. 2; online Archives, Old Fulton New York Post Cards, http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : 2016.
  16. Fine Golfing Is Promised at Two Country Clubs. The Auburn (New York) Citizen, 19 Sep 1917, p. 7; online Archives, Old Fulton New York Post Cards, http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : 2016.
  17. Professionals Meet on Links of Country Clubs. – Al Ward Wins Match Over Johnny Walker. The Auburn (New York) Citizen, 21 Sep 1917, p. 2; online Archives, Old Fulton New York Post Cards, http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : 2016.
  18. “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” Alfred John Ward (b. 24 Jun 1883) registered 12 Sep 1918, Golf Professional at The Glen Springs, Watkins, Schuyler County, New York; digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KXBD-4JL : 2014), FHL microfilm 1,818,988; citing: NARA microfilm publication M1509, “World War I Selective Service System draft registration cards,” 1917-1918  National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC.
  19. New York State Census 1915, Margaret Stiles, 32, attendant, Willard State Hospital, Romulus, Seneca County, AD: 02, ED:02, p. 15, line 10; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://interactive.ancestry.com/2703/32848_B094125-00320 : 2015); citing: State Population Census Schedules, 1915, New York State Archives; Albany.
  20. The Auburn (Cayuga County, New York) City Directory, 1919 (Auburn: Sampson and Murdock Co.,1919) Alfred J Ward, golf instructor, 38 Grant Ave, p. 435, digital images,”U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry.com, http://interactive.ancestry.com/2469/2126848/109612526 : 2016.
  21. Grantland Rice, editor, Spalding’s Official Golf Guide (New York: American Sports Publishing Co., 1920), 62-63; The Library of Congress collection at Archive.orghttps://archive.org/stream/spaldingsofficia15unit#page/n71/mode/2up : 2009.
  22. 1920 United States Census, Cayuga County, New York, population schedule, Alfred J Ward, Margaret T Ward and Thomas Styles, 38 Grant Ave, Auburn Ward 10, ED: 20; Image: 732; digital images, image 728, Archive.org  (https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu1089unit#page/n728/mode/1up : 2016); citing: “Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920,” NARA microfilm publication T625, Roll: 1089; Page: 10B, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  23. “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” James Joseph Ward, 317014743, index, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: 2016); citing Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007, Social Security Administration.
  24. The Auburn (Cayuga County, New York) City Directory, 1920-21 (Auburn: Sampson and Murdock Co.,1920) Alfred J Ward, rem to Detroit Mich, p. 459, digital images,”U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry.com, http://interactive.ancestry.com/2469/2133961/1224915473 : 2016.
  25. Monroe County, Indiana Naturalization Records, Alfred John Ward, no. 221, Declaration of Intention, 2 Mar 1923, Bloomington, Indiana; citing original County Naturalization Records deposited at the Indiana State Archives, Indianapolis.
  26. New Ferry Service, The Watertown (NY) Daily Times, 16 Mar 1908 p.3, col. 2; Online archives, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (https://fultonhistory.com/fulton :2016).
  27. 1911 England Census, Alfred Ward age 27, visitor in home of John Edward Wallis, 44 Donald Rd, West Croydon, Class: RG14; Piece: 3348; Schedule Number: 362Registration District: Croydon, County of Surrey, digital images, Ancestry.com (http://interactive.ancestry.com/2352/rg14_03348_0725_03/41902428 : 2016); citing “Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911,” held at The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.
  28. “Vermont, St. Albans Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1954,” Thomas Hancock and Alfred Warner [Ward?], Sep 1911; FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9DS-49X6 : 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M1464, Roll 165, vol. 157.

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