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Experiencing Monday's total solar eclipse in Jefferson City was not the only notable piece of history for Keith Ward of Alexandria, Virginia.
Ward is a descendant of Edward and Junius Ward, for whom Wardsville is named.
On top of experiencing eclipse totality, this was Ward's first time ever in Missouri. He was accompanied by his son, daughter and great-niece. During their visit, they were able to view the tombstones of multiple generations of ancestors.
Edward Ward and his wife, Mary-Susan, one set of great-great-grandparents on Keith's father's side, were buried on Bill and Nancy Gratz's farm, formerly known as the Old Van Lou farm.
Gratz said the tombstones had been there since they bought the property in 1980. Edward Ward died in 1890.
Ward said the family began planning their trip to Jefferson City nine months ago when they discovered there would be an opportunity to view the eclipse and trace their family's genealogy.
"Jefferson City stood out because my grandmother would always tell me stories about living here," Ward said. "So that's when I tried to round up family members to come down."
His daughter, Jenni Klein, drove from San Antonio, Texas, while his son, Luke Ward, traveled from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and niece, Morgan Ward, traveled from Athens, Texas.
Gratz said he was impressed Ward and his family would drive so far to trace their heritage.
The Wards took Sunday to visit the Gratz farm to see the tombstones — that's when Keith learned a new version of family history he never would have known.
Wardsville native Paul Rodeman told the family that Wardsville was named after Edward Ward.
Based on a document at St. Stanislaus Parish in Wardsville, Rodeman said Keith's great-great-grandfather Edward had donated 4 acres of land to the Catholic church and school with the understanding that the area around it would be named Wardsville.
"This was very interesting news to me," Ward said. "Prior to this I had always heard the story that Junius (son of Edward) was the founder of Wardsville."
Junius Ward is said to have been the owner of the land Wardsville sits on today, according to multiple sources.
The Wards also were able to see the markers of Henry-Edward Dixon and his wife, Letitia Glover, parents of his maternal grandmother, who were buried in Hickory Hill Cemetary in Eugene.
A third set of great-great-grandparents, Peter Glover and Martha Mosely-Glover, were buried in Woodland Cemetery in Jefferson City.