Shanna Ward’s Bequest 1820 Project Unveils Two New Historical BIPOC Books Centering Around the Life of Freedman John T. Ward

Shanna Ward, a fifth-generation descendant of John T. Ward, spent four years researching her ancestor. Now, she is sharing his story with the world to help others tie together the past with the present and future.

Bequest 1820 Project founder Shanna Ward has announced the launch of two new books sharing the life of freedman John T. Ward.

Shanna is the owner of Life Happens Insurance and a dedicated community volunteer who recently raised money for a free children’s breakfast held at a local low income library, and she’s an activist against police brutality and for unity. Over the summer, she was featured in her local newspaper to showcase a march for freedom held for Juneteenth.

She grew up in her family business, E.E. Ward Transfer & Storage Company, which is the oldest Black owned company in America. Shanna can recall hearing stories of John T. Ward, of whom she is a fifth-generation descendant, all through her childhood and young adulthood. When she wanted to learn more about this man, who truly seemed to be a legend in her mind, Shanna spent four years researching family records, archives, and narratives of those who crossed paths with John.

In her research, Shanna discovered more than she ever dreamed of finding. Yes, John was a Freedman, but he was also an abolitionist, conductor of he underground railroad, delegate, and business owner. He also obtained a contract  during civil war transporting supplies John and his family were among those in America’s first-ever mass manumissions in 1827, in which slaves were freed in large volumes. Shanna put together his story in a book entitled ‘The Bequest of John T. Ward’, which will be released soon.

Shanna has found that many of the issues John faced in his lifetime are still relevant today, including oppressive laws, racial equity, voters’ rights suppression and reparations. By connecting readers with the spirit of a true Black American freedman who helped form the rights held by Americans today, Shanna hopes to remind people that history doesn’t have to repeat itself. By understanding history and seeing the challenges faced by minorities today, Americans can come together to forge an even brighter future for all.

Next month, Shanna is releasing another book based on the life of John, which will serve as the prequel to ‘The Bequest of John T. Ward’. ‘Little John T. Ward & the Quilted Code: Let Ward Do It’ is a children’s book based on John’s childhood, offering previous illustrations and a heartwarming story for young minds.  It will has officially made its debut in time for Black History Month in February 2024 and can be purchased now on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats. Stay up to date with the release of both books by visiting


The Bequest 1820 Project was started by Shanna Ward as a way to discover the full story of her ancestor, John T. Ward, and has evolved into a movement to inspire others to become stewards for the past, present, and future. He was the founder of one of the oldest black owned businesses in America. The business, which was founded in 1881, was once featured as a Jeopardy game show question.

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Company Name: Bequest 1820 Project
Contact Person: Shanna Ward
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Phone: 614-679-8193
Country: United States