Ward, Artemas, 1848-1925

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The grocer's encyclopedia

Artemas Ward was born in New York City in 1848, the son of Henry Dana and Charlotte Galbraith. His great-grandfather Artemas Ward was a general in the Continental army during the Revolutionary War, and his father was an Episcopal clergyman and head of a private school. Ward grew up and was educated in New York City. At age fifteen he served with the New York State soldiers' depot, which received and cared for soldiers returning from the Civil War. He moved to Philadelphia and worked for the importing/exporting firm of Isaac Hough & Company. In 1872 he married Rebecca Robinson of Philadelphia, and they had one son, Artemas Ward, Jr. In 1874, Ward founded the "Philadelphia Grocer," a trade periodical that he owned, edited and published. Enoch Morgan Sons' Co., makers of Sapolio brand soap, took notice of Ward, and appointed him their advertising manager in 1885.

Ward, a pioneer of modern advertising and publicity, made Sapolio a household name. By depicting the name and product in a fanciful scene and using clever poems and captions to sing its praises, Ward succeeded in blending promotion with diversional amusement. Today, Sapolio ads culled from old magazines are collector's items. In 1892, Ward achieved his greatest advertising exploit: to send Captain William Albert Andrews, a trans-Atlantic sailor and piano-maker, from Atlantic City to Palos, Spain in a fourteen-foot boat named "Sapolio." Though Andrews had made this voyage before in a twenty-foot boat with his brother, the "Sapolio" was nothing but a canvas-covered, folding, collapsible boat. This fact attracted much attention by the press, and generated free advertising for Sapolio. Ward planned the event to coincide with the celebration of Columbus' voyage 400 years earlier, and exhibited the seaworthy "Sapolio" afterwards at the Chicago Exposition.

In 1899 Ward established "Fame," a journal for advertisers, and began an advertising company; the same year he leased from the New York Elevated and Interborough Rapid Transit, and the Brooklyn transit authority, all advertising privileges on their elevated and surface cars, which included rights to sell vending machine snacks and newsstand items. He bought factories to supply all his vending machines and newsstands with the requisite chocolate and chewing gum. He retired from Enoch Morgans in 1910 to manage his commercial empire, and published his lavish and impressive reference work, The Grocer's Encyclopedia the following year. In the Preface, Ward describes the book as the product of thirty years' worth of stolen minutes, and as his attempt to rectify his "crude but well-intended effort" at a similar project back in 1882, when he published The Grocer's Handbook. With hundreds of pages describing every sort of foodstuff, useful dictionaries for French, German, Italian, and Swedish culinary items, and vibrant, full-page, full-color illustrations, The Grocer's Encyclopedia attested to Ward's enthusiasm for the world of culinary possibilities that existed at the turn of the century. He says in the Introduction, "The Grocer who does not think better of his calling in life as he glances over this book is not worthy of it. Forest and Ocean, Land and Sea, the Animal and the Vegetable Kingdoms - the earth and its fullness - are all tributory to his trade."

Ward invested his wealth in several ventures. Between 1913 and 1920, he was proprietor of the King Motor Car Company in Detroit, Michigan. He raised dairy cows on 3,000 acres of land in Orange County, New York, acquired several thousand acres of land in Westchester County, N.Y., and New Jersey, and had a thousand-acre apple orchard in Virginia. Fascinated with early American history, he published a book on his great-grandfather, The Life of Artemas Ward, the First Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolution (1921), and a family history named for the founder of Sudbury and Marlborough, Massachusetts, The William Ward Genealogy (1925). He donated valuable historical manuscripts to the Massachusetts Historical Society, and was a noted philanthropist. When he died in New York City on March 14, 1925, his residual estate of several million dollars was bequeathed to Harvard University, to be known as the General Artemas Ward Memorial Fund.


  • Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. 20. New York: James T. White & Company, 1929.
  • Ward, Artemas, The Grocer's Encyclopedia. New York: 1911.
  • Website: http://www.reisegeschichte.de/lesen/biblio-kanu.htm%20 [BROKEN LINK] (June 29, 2003) (for synopsis of Andrews, William A., Columbus Outdone: An Exact Narrative of the Voyage of the Yankee Skipper, Capt. Wm. A. Andrews, in the Boat "Sapolio." New York, 1893.)

Written by Anne-Marie Rachman