Gordon Thomas Ward
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In the News

Got Spooks? A Little Paranormal Activity Right Here in Hillsborough
By Laura Madsen of the HillsboroughPatch, November 9, 2011

 

    I don't walk around my home seeing or feeling ghosts all the time. Nor do I think about them a lot. I'm not some crackpot looking for orbs on a daily basis, either. But there have been times when the inexplicable has happened, so like many, I turn to the experts for answers.

    On the night after Halloween, I went to a paranormal presentation. Yes, a ghostly evening event held right here at the Hillsborough Public Library. It was eerily dark outside; the moon was slightly larger than a crescent. It was cold and damp as some mist rose from the remains of the snow on the side streets. And that’s when I met Gordon Ward.

    Gordon Ward is a ghost expert, if you will. He also is a presenter, educator, and an author, and was the center of attention at “Ghosts: What They Are and How to Investigate Them” that evening. He actually wrote a book called “Ghosts of Central Jersey: Historic Haunts of the Somerset Hills”, among others. During his presentation he shot down the myths and magic of supposed paranormal proof, while recounting his own experiences with “forces of energy”, and telling tales of local ghostly legends.

    His manner of logically and methodically explaining how to investigate a possible paranormal presence, allowed my six year-old daughter to enjoy and learn from his presentation, too. What? Did I really bring my young daughter to a ghost-hunting gathering? Yes, I did.

    And at first I was a bit apprehensive. I was afraid she would be spooked, or walk away from it with nightmares, dreaming of Freddie Kruger or Poltergeist. But once the presentation started, and Mr. Ward explained how there really is no reason to be afraid of these unexplained phenomena (which he was very good at explaining), I relaxed; because my daughter was quite interested in what he had to say about apparitions, poltergeists, and the like. So was I.

    We learned a lot that night. First, if you think you see or sense an apparition or spectral spirit, use your common sense. Can this event be explained in a logical way? Is the wind blowing, tapping a tree against my window? Are my heating pipes just cooling down making noises? Maybe that was a flash of light from a car passing by outside my window. Or, maybe not.

    Ward explained that there are very inexpensive ways you can investigate if what you are witnessing is a true ghostly meeting. First, you can do some research on the location, building, land, and/or area where this experience has happened. Maybe there was an event or something that happened in the past that could explain something like hearing children’s voices, or seeing a figure walk across a room and then disappear. And the events don’t necessarily have to be something terrifying either. Maybe these spirits just resided there in the past while they were in living bodies, and they are “stuck” since passing away.

    Secondly, try to communicate with the entity. If you want to get “proof”, try making a digital recording of the conversation you initiate. For some reason, when you speak to a spirit, you may not be able to hear their response. But! If you play back your recording, sometimes you can hear a reply; not always, but sometimes. It takes a lot of energy to communicate when you no longer have a physical body with vocal chords, so the supernatural try their best.

    There’s no need to hold séances or turn out the lights. According to Ward, that just adds an unnecessary panic factor to heighten people’s fears conjured in their own minds, and also encourages people to trip and hurt themselves in the dark.

    In my experience, whenever something “unusual” has happened in my presence, I feel as if it’s benevolent in nature. Just someone visiting, perhaps, or passing through saying “hi”. Nothing to panic about.

    Ward does confirm that animals and children are sometimes more sensitive to ghosts in the area; perhaps because they don’t have any pre-existing prejudices about what is “real” and what isn’t.

    Oh, and ghosts aren’t limited to humans. Sometimes animals like to cross-over back into this realm for their own reasons, too.

    I can’t do Gordon Ward’s presentation the justice it deserves. He isn’t a ghost chaser looking to sensationalize every spooky legend out there, and he’s not in denial that there are things that happen that we are just beginning to understand. Instead he presents a very level-headed and logical approach to proving that we are not alone.

    While attending the presentation I had the opportunity to purchase one of Gordon’s books and he graciously autographed it. One thing I will tell you is that after hearing Gordon Ward lecture on “The Real Ghosts of Central Jersey”, so to speak, I have a more educated perspective on local legends and am not spooked out in the least.

    And for those of you who do chase orbs with your cameras, go see one of Gordon’s presentations. (He has his speaking schedule posted on his website.) Hate to break it to you, but Gordon has logically and educationally proven that most of the time those “orbs” aren’t anything but dust particles that your camera lens decided to capture on film. No wonder orbs tend to haunt old places - the older, the dustier, no?

    Actually friends of mine who live in Florida were visiting haunted sites on a tour the other week and one of them took some photos with orbs in them. I asked Jennifer Durand, "Why would ghosts appear as orbs anyway? What's with that shape? If I were coming back to haunt someone, I'd be a little more creative and be a triangle."

    I joke, but rest assured, there is a lot of verifiable information out there on ghostly encounters, and Gordon Ward does a great job of explaining how to be a modern-day “Ghostbuster”, without all the hype – and you won’t get slimed.

 

Do You Believe in Ghosts? Paranormal Expert Makes Haunting Presentation at Library
Gordon Thomas Ward of Haunted New Jersey visits Hillsborough
By Gerard Longo of the HillsboroPatch, November 2, 2011

    With Halloween in recent memory, the Hillsborough Public Library held a program on Tuesday night focusing on how to find one of the holiday’s traditional mascots—ghosts.

    The 90-minute program, “Ghosts: What They Are and How to Investigate Them”, was presented by Gordon Thomas Ward, an author and paranormal investigator who specializes in finding—and communicating with—beings and spirits on the “other side”. The presentation featured Ward’s views on ghosts, instructions for those interested on how to conduct their own sound-based paranormal investigations without costly equipment, and a question-and-answer session with audience members, all of whom believed in ghosts from the outset.

    “I’ve spoken here before and I did one on Lewis and Clark and Historic Haunts of Central Jersey,” said Ward. “I’ve become sort of a regular speaker here. I have a list of libraries in the region that I send out fliers to every once in a while.”

    Ward’s interest in the paranormal began when he was a young child. His family’s house in Bernardsville, according to Ward, hosted spirits who would make unexplained noises and even appear from time to time.

    “Your father knows everything when you’re seven or eight years old,” said Ward. “It was the first time I could remember my dad standing there and, when we’d ask ‘what is that?’, he’d say ‘I don’t know.’”

    Ward, who is part of a paranormal investigation agency called “Haunted New Jersey”, stated that there are three types of paranormal beings: apparitions, which have an awareness of themselves and their surroundings, residual ghosts, which are “impressions” or “recordings” upon their locations, and poltergeists. Ward urged the audience to be wary of misconceptions about poltergeists, as they do not quite fit the stereotype set forth by the 1980s movie of the same name.

    “It’s not a ghost, and it does not have a consciousness from the other side,” said Ward. “We think it is nothing more than energy that comes from a living person in that environment. Unbeknownst to them, their energy affects things in that environment.”

    Ward stated that conducting one’s own paranormal investigations is surprisingly uncomplicated. Key traits to possess include a historical background of the place being investigated, an open mind and logic.

    Too often, Ward said, paranormal activity programs on television paint an alarmist picture of spirits, many times blowing a small, inconsequential noise out of proportion for entertainment value.

    “Anything that’s on TV, I’m a little more leery of,” he said.

    All one really needs to conduct paranormal investigations are items such as a K2 meter, which measures electromagnetic fields in an environment, and a voice recorder. The electromagnetic fields may project a metaphysical presence of a paranormal being, while a voice recorder may pick up sounds made by a spirit called Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs).

    According to Ward, each voice has its own human voice signature, which makes it easier to detect which spirit in question a voice may belong to—especially if investigators visit a site more than once.

    This is different from a direct voice phenomenon, which occurs when a noise is heard on-site. EVPs are only heard on the playback, and Ward stated on Tuesday night that he has heard several on digital recordings—including some that have mentioned him by name—following his investigations.

    “EVPs cannot be heard at the time of the recording, which is what sets EVPs apart from direct voice,” says Ward.

    Despite Haunted New Jersey’s recent efforts to explore more into paranormal activity, skeptics still remain. Part of the reason could be due to the field’s presentation in the media, while a lack of communication between paranormal activity groups does not help the cause, either.

    “Most groups don’t talk to each other, which I think is a crime,” said Ward. “If we pooled our resources, we’d know a lot more, but people are very proprietary about what they’ve found out.”

    Ward, however, is sure of one thing; his experiences with the paranormal—as well as those of anybody else—have not just been a figment of his imagination.

    “If you talk to anybody who has had these experiences, they are as sure about this as they are that you guys are sitting in this room right now,” said Ward.

 

Ghosts are subject of book by local author

 The Bernardsville News

Published: Friday, September 19, 2008 7:14 AM EDT
BERNARDSVILLE – He claims to have debunked the infamous story of Phyllis Parker’s haunting of the Old Bernardsville Library on Morristown Road and invites residents to check out his evidence.

Author and historian Gordon Thomas Ward of Bedminster Township has penned “Ghosts of Central Jersey, Historic Haunts of the Somerset Hills,” designed to inform, entertain and take readers to places where the past is supposedly entwined with the present.

“Phyllis Parker never existed,” Ward said in an interview with this newspaper. “The account of the former Bernardsville Library, in particular, blows the story about Phyllis out of the water. This should be of great interest to people because it changes the account of one of our town’s pieces of folklore.”

Nonetheless, he argues in the first chapter of the book that ghosts do indeed exist.
“I don’t believe that anyone can argue against the existence of ghosts,’’ he writes. “They have been seen by the young and old, the simply schooled and the erudite, dreamers and men of science.’’

The former Bernardsville Library is one of several historic sites in Somerset and Hunterdon counties that Ward researched for his latest book.

“This book is a link between history and the paranormal,” he said. “I looked at the history, experiences and the forensic evidence of occurrences.”

Sites highlighted include the Gladstone Tavern, the New Jersey Brigade site and other locations on Hardscrabble Road, the Grain House in Basking Ridge, parts of the Great Swamp, Prallsville Mills in Stockton, and of course the former Bernardsville Library, which was known as the Vealtown Tavern during the Revolutionary War era when Phyllis Parker supposedly lived.

Ward presents extensive historical evidence to shoot down the often-told tale of Phyllis Parker. For instance, he says there are no records indicating that Phyllis Parker ever existed.

Essentially he claims the story was created years after the Revolutionary War by people to explain the unexplainable.

Nonetheless, he still acknowledges that the old library may indeed be haunted - perhaps by multiple spirits - and says the mystery is not yet resolved.

Ward, who grew up in Bernardsville, also talks about his own childhood home on Lloyd Road, which he claims “developed a reputation for being haunted.’’

From living in an old home, he said he became “rather adept at picking out the unusual sounds.’’

“In the evening, there was often the sound of someone ascending the stairs,’’ he writes. “Footsteps were heard on the second floor when no one was up there, and other footsteps were heard on the porch late at night, followed by the rattling of the front door handle.’’

The book gives a mix of factual history and investigation into ghostly phenomena. Ward even provides readers with a link to a web site where they can listen to ghostly voices themselves, or as he calls them, Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP).

“The book goes on to reveal forensic evidence to support the claims,” Ward said. “I think it appeals to everyone: historians, those interested in paranormal, local residents. It’s really for everyone.”

Included throughout the 128-page book are numerous black and white pictures of the local buildings where apparitions and strange noises have supposedly been seen or heard.

Ward will present a free lecture on the book at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Bernardsville Public Library on Anderson Hill Road.

A former history teacher, Ward is currently a member of Haunted New Jersey, a group of paranormal investigators who have accrued more than 75 years of investigative experience.

Ward has written several books, newspaper and magazine articles about his interests in history and the paranormal. He is the author of “Life on the Shoulder: Rediscovery and Inspiration along the Lewis and Clark Trail,” and “A Bit of Earth in the Somerset Hills.”

He will be presenting other lectures and book signings at several locations throughout the area in weeks to come.

For a complete list visit www.gtwservices.com.

Just released this month, the book is published by Haunted America, a division of The History Press of Charleston, S.C. Visit www.historypress.net for more information.

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SOMERSET magazine, Spring 2006
His Quest West
Former Far Hills Country Day School teacher traveled the 1,800-mile journey of Lewis and Clark and brought home a lesson plan for life.
By Liza Jaipaul

    It’s ten years now since Gordon Ward retraced the Lewis and Clark expedition by bicycle, foot and canoe.  But the lesson he learned along the way remains timeless: live life on the shoulder.

    The history teacher and writer developed his philosophy while writing his latest book, Life on the Shoulder: Rediscovery and Inspiration along the Lewis and Clark Trail, a journal of his adventure retracing the historical route with friend and colleague, Todd Paige.  The book was released last year to coincide with the bicentennial of the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark that explored the uncharted West and resulted in one of the greatest adventure stories in American history.

    “A great deal of time was spent literally riding on the shoulder of many roads and passing many sights,” Ward says.  “I, in turn, was passed by many other travelers…”  Ward believes that time should be spent on the shoulder, “allowing oneself to step back and permit life’s events to unfold naturally.”

    Though Ward is philosophical about life, he is the kind of person who makes things happen.  The goal of the six-week, 1,800-mile Quest West was to raise funds through pledges for an endowed scholarship to Far Hills Country Day School (FHCDS) in Far Hills, where both Ward and Paige taught at the time.  “We were successful in raising $85,000 through donations from individuals, and we were able to fund the scholarship.” Ward says.  The scholarship was created to provide for an academically able student who, due to financial hardship, would not otherwise be able to attend FHCDS.

    In Life on the Shoulder, Ward’s observations are intermingled with quotes from the diaries of Lewis and Clark.  “It’s a historical book, a travel book and a spiritual book,” he explains.  Ward describes the trip as both historical and brutal.  “It is about the things that happened to us in our journey, which were life-changing experiences.”

    The modern adventurers traveled through Idaho , North Dakota , Montana and Washington before reaching their destination along the coast of Oregon .  They traversed rivers, the Rocky Mountains and desolate areas, using Lewis and Clark ’s original 19th century journals to map out their route.  The trip was punctuated with “unbelievable coincidences that made me change my outlook on life, on why things happen to people,” Ward says.  “I really think now that everything happens for a reason.”

    Some of the coincidences included Ward getting sick on the journey, with high fever, chills and pains, just as Clark did in 1805.  Both he and Clark recovered and went on to finish the trip.  Ward also tells of strangers appearing “like guardians” out of nowhere to help them.  At one point, while in a particularly remote leg of the trip, they became dehydrated.  “We stopped sweating.  Our minds were foggy.  Todd’s legs were shaking, and we knew we had to get water quickly, but we didn’t know how.”  That’s when he says they heard a car.  “The couple driving the car stopped, and the woman said ‘you look thirsty.’  They handed us a big seltzer bottle they had refilled with water, and then told us to hike west three miles where there would be a spring with all the water we needed.”

    “The whole trip was like that.  It happened time and time again,” says Ward.  “We had the feeling someone was watching out for us.”

    Paige, now head of the Middle School at The Pennington School in Pennington, describes Ward as “an incredibly thoughtful person who is always looking to enhance learning for students, both as an educator and by bringing experiences like our trip into the classrooms.  He livens things up, and doesn’t just cover the basics.”

     FHCDS’s Head of School Jayne Geiger says the students followed the trip with great interest.  “It became a history lesson and fund raiser at the same time.  It has enabled a number of wonderful young people to be a part of Far Hills Country Day School ,” she adds.

    The Louis Starr Scholarship, Geiger says, is named after the late Louis Starr of Bedminster, an alumnus who had a long association with the school.  Starr inherited Clark ’s diaries after they were discovered in 1952 in a desk that belonged to his grandfather.  “We consulted him on this voyage, and he was a big force behind it,” Ward says, “even donating money towards the scholarship.”

    Ward is humble about his accomplishments, believing that the “exploration of the greatest wilderness lies just beneath the skin in the hearts and minds of us all.”

    In addition to teaching and writing, Ward offers team building and motivational programs to corporations and schools, and conducts speaking engagements.  Ward has also published a poetry book, Windows: A Collection of Verse, and he is currently working on a local history manuscript called A Bit of Earth, and a spiritual book, In the Midst of Angels.

    It will be interesting to see what’s next on Ward’s journey.

 

RECORDER COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS, February 9, 2006
Out & About Guide to the Arts and Leisure, 

...Shoulder Tells of Emotional Journey
Sherie Schmauder, Contributing Writer

"Lewis and Clark’s stunning journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in 1804 to 1806 inspired many to follow in their footsteps. In 1994, Gordon T. Ward, a Bedminster resident and a former history teacher at the Far Hills Country Day School, and Todd Paige, also a former FHCDS teacher who lives in Pennington, took just such a trip. . . .
  “Life on the Shoulder, Ward’s story of that grueling trip, is a combination of his travel journal and excerpts from Lewis’s and Clark’s journals. Black and white photos in the paperback book add to the immediacy of the narrative. . . .
  "Ward and Paige intended to follow a 1,800-mile segment of Lewis and Clark’s trip. The planning involved the classes they taught at the Far Hills Country Day School.
  “'Math classes even got involved with studies of bicycle frame design, angles and gear ratios,' Ward said. The two men also hoped to raise funds for a school scholarship with their trek.
  "Combining bicycling, hiking and a bit of canoeing, Ward and Paige followed the Lewis & Clark trail from Bismarck, N.D., to Canon Beach near the mouth of the Columbia River, where Lewis and Clark ended their journey."

 

PATRIOT 8 CABLE TELEVISION (Channel 8), Tuesday, January 3, 2006
Twenty minute interview on "Community Corner" show at 9:00 PM.  Other airings took place Wednesday, January 4 at 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM in addition to teasers on CNN Headline News.

 

THE BERNARDSVILLE NEWS, Thursday, December 29, 2005
Local Author to Discuss New Book on Travel Adventure
Staff Writer

BERNARDSVILLE – Gordon Ward, a writer, educator and resident of Bedminster, will speak about his new book, “Life on the Shoulder: Rediscovery and Inspiration along the Lewis and Clark Trail,” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Bernardsville Public Library. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

    Ward was teaching at Far Hills Country Day School in 1994 when he and fellow teacher Todd Paige decided to spend a summer retracing the route taken by the famed explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. They raised money and incorporated their preparations into their classroom lessons.

    Later, the 1,800-mile journey was accomplished by bicycle, canoe and on foot. Now, 11 years later, Ward has published his chronicle of the trip in time to coincide with the bicentennial anniversary of the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition.

    The book is about a journey on many levels.

    It is one that travels back through time, experiencing the places known and recorded in the pages of history and the journals of Lewis and Clark.

    Ward also describes a journey through the current American West, and area of diverse environments, beauty and powerful natural forces.

    Ward describes the book as “part travel guide, part historical reference and part book about a spiritual journey.”

    There is no charge to attend the program at the library, but advance registration is requested. Call the library to get further information or to sign up.

    Registration can also be accomplished at the library’s web site, www.bernardsvillelibrary.org. Click on Programs/Activities and then “Link’’ to register.

 

THE REPORTER, Thursday, December 15, 2005
Bedminster Man Follows Footsteps of Lewis, Clark
"It's totally changed. You can't really travel on it like you could. It was grueling in parts. Parts of it were very difficult, because of the environment, the terrain, or both. Or the weather."Gordon Ward Author, "Life on the Shoulder"
Thursday, December 15, 2005
By ALLISON ELYSE GUALTIERI, Staff Writer

BEDMINSTER -- Lewis and Clark trekked across the American West, carrying out their mission to explore the vast country. With a little help and a little luck, they arrived in Astoria, Ore., and opened the west to the actions and imagination of a nation.

    For Gordon Ward, the spirit of their journey is still alive. After hiking, biking, and canoeing, the Bedminster man's recreation of their trip is complete as well, and will never fade.

    While he and his trip partner, Todd Paige, had originally planned to travel the Oregon Trail, a twist of fate brought them to the Lewis and Clark trail instead, one of many the two would experience along the way.

    He met a man whose grandfather had served as the Superintendent of Indian Affairs after the Civil War, and found William Clark's field note in the antique roll-top desk that came along with the job.

    "We were hooked after that," Ward said. The two, both athletes, decided to change their plans, and kicked off their trip in St. Louis, where Lewis and Clark began theirs, before flying to Bismarck, N.D., to start their life on the road. Most of their travel was on bicycle, with a multi-day canoe trip along the Missouri River.

    "It's totally changed. You can't really travel on it like you could," he said, because there are dams along the way. "It was grueling in parts. Parts of it were very difficult, because of the environment, the terrain, or both. Or the weather."

    Despite the challenges and hardships the trip presented, the two kept on, and encountered a landscape that was both changed and the same as that described in the explorers' journals.

    "They saw hundreds of thousands of heads of buffalo out there. We saw one," he said. But on the Lolo Trail, little is different, and the two saw few other travelers.

    Now home, Ward has written a book about his journey that he describes as "part travel guide, part history book, and part philosophy and spiritual journey."

    The spiritual description of the trip is due to a number of coincidences along the way. "We had bizarre things happen to us. It was like, we have angels watching over us. We have a presence taking care of us, and there's no argument," Ward said.

    Once, when the two were out of water at the top of a trail, severely dehydrated and shaking, two people in a car gave them a bottle of water and pointed them in the direction of the nearest spring before going on their way. Only three other vehicles passed by the entire time they were on the Lolo Trail, and none stopped.

    Another time, they had missed meeting up with their support vehicle, and needed to get to a place with a phone. Ward flagged down a motorist for a ride -- who recognized him, after seeing him on a news program a week earlier and hundreds of miles away.

    "This guy happened to see it, remembered it, and happened to be driving to Lewiston, Idaho," said Ward. "We had things like that happen time and time again."

    "It changed my life. We didn't feel alone out there," he said. "I really don't believe in a chance anymore."

    The book, titled "Life on the Shoulder," combines his journals of the trip with quotations from those of Lewis and Clark, and is available in local bookstores and online outlets. The former history teacher is now working on a biography of Meriwether Lewis, and will be speaking and signing books around the area, including from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at The Bookworm in Bernardsville.

 

THE COURIER NEWS, Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Modern-Day Tailblazer Chronicles His Journey on the Lewis and Clark Trail.
By JANET LEONARDI, Correspondent

    Gordon T. Ward has an affinity for writing, history and adventure. This Bedminster resident readily admits that he has written his entire life.

    "I knew I would always write -- it's a release," he said. He also cherishes the study of history, focusing on the pre-revolutionary Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Add to these his love of adventure and it's easy to understand how he came to write "Life on the Shoulder, Rediscovery and Inspiration along the Lewis and Clark Trail."

    A little more than a decade ago, Ward, a teacher along with his friend and colleague, Todd Paige, planned to explore the Oregon Trail. But through a series of fortuitous circumstances, the pair came into possession of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's original 19th-century journals. The Oregon Trail trip quickly was replaced by a fascinating 1,800-mile journey retracing Lewis and Clark's steps through Idaho, North Dakota, Montana and Washington, culminating on the coast of Oregon.

    "We painstakingly planned every detail of the trip for over a year before we set out with bikes, canoes and gear for our starting point in North Dakota," Ward recalled. "We left at the end of June in 1994 and returned in August, six weeks later. It was, at times, an arduous journey, traveling on rivers, through the Rocky Mountains and across desolate plains."

    But arduous though the trip was, it was exhilarating, as well. Ward recounts how much of the time was charged with uncertainty, like searching to replenish their water supply. It also was fraught with unexplainable, and sometimes, eerie parallels to incidences of the original explorers' trip.

    Ward even became seriously ill along the route, as Clark had in 1805, but both recovered and continued the journey. And on several occasions, strangers appeared, literally out of nowhere, to guide the present day explorers to streams or help.

    "We tried to retrace Lewis and Clark's steps to the best of our ability," Ward said. "After the first week, I decided to keep a journal of our experiences, just as they had."

    The result is "Life on the Shoulder," which he describes as part travel guide, part history book and part self-revelation.

    "Todd and I spent a good deal of time riding on the shoulder of roads. It afforded the opportunity to take a closer at life and do some self-exploration, as well. Moving at a slow pace along uninhabited roadsides forced us to observe the smaller and slower nuances of life," Ward said. "The entire journey was definitely a life-changing experience for me."

    It took years for the author to find the right publisher and 2005, the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's trip, seemed the opportune time for the book's release. " 'Life on the Shoulder' contains many layers and, while making discoveries about the western wilderness and its inhabitants, I made important discoveries about myself," Ward said.

    Today, Ward is still writing, completing another book about the history of the land where he spent his childhood in Bernardsville. He speaks before groups, plans to teach American history again next year and hopes to complete yet another leg of Lewis and Clark's famed journey. Ward has, quite obviously, many more trails to blaze.

    For more information on Gordon T. Ward and Life on the Shoulder, visit www.gtwservices.com.

 

THE DAILY RECORD, Monday, November 14, 2005
Walking in the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark.  Area Writer Compares His Trek to Historic Journey Completed 200 Years Ago.
By MEG HUELSMAN, Daily Record

 

THE COURIER NEWS, Monday, November 14, 2005
Two Teachers Retrace Steps of Lewis and Clark.
By MEG HUELSMAN, Gannett New Jersey

BEDMINSTER -- Lewis and Clark wouldn't be able to canoe down the Missouri River today; too many dams.

    That was one of the many things Gordon Ward learned when he and a colleague retraced the 1,800-mile trek that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark made in 1805.

    "It was a life-changing experience," said Ward, who is 46.

    And now it's become a book, "Life on the Shoulder: Rediscovering Inspiration Along the Lewis and Clark Trail."

    "It's taken me a long time to write the book and now its publication coincides with the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's trip," Ward said.

    Ward and a colleague, Todd Paige, planned the trip for more than a year before they departed for Bismarck, N.D., with their bikes, tents, canoes and supplies. They used Lewis and Clark's original 19th-century journals to plan their trip.

    In his own book, Ward compares images and events between the two journeys and notes how the landscape had changed.

    "They spoke of wild herds of antelope and the wild life, but that has changed," Ward said. "The river used to be wild and free and now it has dams and reservoirs along the route. If someone wanted to travel up or down the Missouri River by boat, he'd have to get by the dams."

    The trip was 10 years ago, and at the time both men were teaching at Far Hills Country Day School. The pair involved their school and raised money for both their expedition and $80,000 for a scholarship that rewards students who perform well academically and have an interest in adventure.

    The men spent six weeks traversing grassy plains, the Rocky Mountains, traveling through rivers in North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Oregon trying to follow as closely as possible the same steps that Lewis and Clark made during their journey.

    During the trip, Ward and Paige noticed that there were some experiences that were eerily similar to Lewis and Clark's experience. Just like Clark in 1805, Ward became very ill with a high fever, chills and pains. He discovered a red ring on his side that told him he had Lyme Disease and went to the hospital for antibiotics, but there had never been a case of Lyme Disease in Montana at that time. Clark also recovered but his illness was never diagnosed.

    "The book has different layers to it," Ward said. "It can be read as a travel guide or as a historical book, but what I think is the most interesting part is the spiritual aspect. During the trip, we had some things happen to us that made me think that coincidences don't just happen."

 

THE BERNARDSVILLE NEWS, Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Bedminster Man Writes Book about Historic Trip.  Gordon Ward Followed Route of Lewis and Clark Journey.
By SANDY STUART, Staff Writer

    In Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's era, a shoulder was a body part, not the edge of a paved roadway where slower traffic travels.

    But Lewis and Clark might have appreciated the sentiment behind "Life on the Shoulder," a book by Bedminster resident and Bernardsville native Gordon Ward.

    Published this fall to coincide with the bicentennial anniversary of Lewis and Clark's historic expedition through the American Northwest, "Life on the Shoulder" details Ward's 1994 recreation of the journey.

    The title was chosen, said Ward, both as a reference to bicycling along highway shoulders while retracing the route of the Lewis and Clark Trail, and as a nod toward a slower and more reflective way of life.

    "The book has different layers to it," said Ward, a history teacher who's taking a year off to promote his book and work on another.  "It's part travel guide, part historical reference, and part book about a spiritual journey."

    Ward made the 1,800-mile bicycle, canoe and hiking journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail with Todd Paige of Pennington when both were teachers at Far Hills Country Day School.

    They were inspired by the late Louis Starr of Bedminster Township, who inherited William Clark's personal diaries after they were discovered in 1952 in a roll-top desk that belonged to his grandfather.  Starr, whose family has a long association with Far Hills Country Day School, donated the diaries to the Yale University library.

    Ward described the journey as a "life changing experience."

    Written in journal form, "Life on the Shoulder" intersperses Ward's personal observations during the trip with passages from the diaries of Lewis and Clark.

Facing Adversity

    Although Ward and Paige's journey was made during the era of paved highways, cell phones and support vehicles, it was by no means easy.  As with Lewis and Clark's voyage, there were factors like illness, storms and wildlife to contend with.

    "We had read Lewis and Clark's journals before we left, so we knew the kinds of things they experienced," said Ward.  "The more time that went by, the more parallels we found."

    For instance, Lewis' diary entry on July 27, 1805 refers to Clark being "very sick with a high fever on him and much fatigued and exhausted."

    Ward also became weak, dizzy and nauseous at one point while canoeing in Montana.  "Todd had to paddle me out." he recalled.  "After I got out of the canoe, I just lay there, I couldn't move."

    Ward was taken to a hospital emergency room, where he was originally diagnosed as being dehydrated.

    The fever and weakness persisted, however, and finally Ward noticed a rash on his side in a bull's eye shape - a telltale sign of Lyme Disease.  After convincing Montana doctors, who had never seen a case of Lyme before, Ward was able to get the antibiotics he needed.

    In Lewis' diary, he refers to an incident in which a buffalo bull, apparently alarmed by the sight of campfires, charged through an area where expedition members were sleeping, its hooves missing some men's heads by only 18 inches.

    Ward and Paige had their own brush with bovine creatures.

    On part of their trip, Ward and Paige awoke in their tent one morning to find themselves surrounded by a large herd of free-range cattle.

    "We didn't want to spook them.  We didn't want to cause a stampede," remembered Ward.  "We moved very, very slowly out of the tent."

Help From 'Angels'

    Although Ward and Paige's trip took place 11 years ago, Ward said he continues to derive spiritual lessons from it.

    "The side of the book I'm most excited about is the spiritual aspect," said Ward.  "Some of the things that happened really made us think someone was watching out for us."

    For instance, during one of the wilderness hiking portions of the trip, Ward and Paige found themselves severely dehydrated while bushwhacking up the side of a mountain in search of a main trail.

    They had a map showing local water sources, but it turned out that the streams were seasonal, present only during times of snow melt.  This was mid-summer, and all of the streams were dry gulches.

    As Ward and Paige reached the main trail along the mountain ridge, along came a motor vehicle, seemingly out of nowhere.  The couple handed them a bottle of water and told them of a natural spring three miles away.

    "They seemed like angels to us at that point," said Ward, who noted that this section of the trail is traveled by only about three vehicles per day.  "It makes you think a lot about coincidences and the things that happen."

    It wasn't Ward and Paige's first encounter with "angels."

    Earlier, while bicycling in a nearly unpopulated section of Montana, a man they encountered told them about a one-day detour they would have to take around an impassable stretch of road they had planned to travel.

    They were not within cell phone range, so they had no way to contact family members in the support vehicle to inform them that they would not be on the agreed-upon route.  Meanwhile, a local weather report called for a major storm with the possibility of grapefruit-sized hail.

    Miraculously, the support vehicle crew encountered the same man - hours apart - and were able to find Ward and Paige.

    The full title of Ward's book is "Life on the Shoulder: Rediscovery and Inspiration along the Lewis and Clark Trail," and it was published by Lucky Press.  It is dedicated to Ward's two children, Melina, 18, and Cory, 9.

    Ward is hoping the same publisher will be interested in his second book, "A Bit of Earth," about growing up on the former Lloyd estate on the Bernardsville Mountain in the 1960s.

    "It's just a recapturing of the childhood I experiences, growing up in a semi-rural area," he said.  "Everything's totally changed now.  Bernardsville is nothing like what it was then."

    While Ward is working on the final edit of "A Bit of Earth," he's busy promoting "Life on the Shoulder."

    He has a lecture scheduled at the Bernardsville Library on Jan. 12, additional lectures planned at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a number of book signings planned at area stores.  He's also hoping to speak to school, church and youth groups.

    Ward left Far Hills Country Day School several years ago and most recently taught at Mount Saint Mary's Academy in Watchung.  He's still considering where to teach next year.

    Paige also left Far Hills Country Day School and is now head of the middle school program at the Pennington School in Pennington.  Ward said Paige also kept diaries on their trip, but not for publication.

    For more information about "Life on the Shoulder" and Ward's schedule of appearances, visit his website at www.gtwservices.com.

 

NORTH HUNTERDON WEEKENDER, Friday, October 28, 2005
Lewis and
Clark Book Author to Sign Copies at Califon Shop

    Bedminster author Gordon Ward will sign copies of his book, Life on the Shoulder: Rediscovery and Inspiration along the Lewis and Clark Trail from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at Califon Book Shop on Main Street.

    Ward, who grew up in Bernardsville, tells of his adventures following the Lewis and Clark Trail by bicycle, foot and canoe.  For inquiries or to reserve copies, call the bookstore at (908) 832-6686.

    Ward is a writer, educator and group development specialist.  He has worked as a history teacher in the classroom and as a group transformation facilitator in the experiential education field where he has offered teambuilding programs through his own company since 1994.  Clients have ranged from major corporations to international conferences, government groups, schools, athletic teams, community groups, and individuals.  His writing has included speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, and poetry.

    Ward is author also of Windows, a self-published book of original poetry and currently is working on a local history manuscript called “A Bit of Earth,” which details the history of the land where he spent his childhood.  He has a daughter and a son and pursues also songwriting and running.

    Life on the Shoulder is about a journey on many levels. It is one that travels back through time, experiencing the places known and recorded in the pages of history and the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.  It is also a journey through the current American West, an area of diverse environments, staggering beauty and powerful natural forces.  The landscape also proved to be one of emotional hills and valleys, mountains of elation, pits of exhaustion, prairies of boredom, storms of fear, anger and frustration, and stunning sun flashes of inspiration.

    “It was a discovery of self and my connection with everything outside of my being,” Ward said.  “The spiritual lessons taught on this journey made me understand how narrow our scope of life can be, how much energy is wasted on worry, and how, at the moment when we feel we are most alone, we are truly in the company of our most trusted and dependable guides.”

    “As a great deal of time was spent literally riding ‘on the shoulder’ of many roads and passing many sights, I, in turn, was passed by many other travelers, be they in cars, trains or logging trucks.  The analogy to life became quickly apparent. By living a ‘life on the shoulder,’ one allows oneself to step back and permit life's events to unfold naturally, at their own pace, with acceptance and without force.  While Lewis and Clark have been credited with exploring the western wilderness, I believe the exploration of the greatest wilderness lies just beneath the skin in the hearts and minds of us all,” he said.

 

FDU MAGAZINE, Volume 14, Number 1, Summer/Fall 2006
In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark

    Two centuries ago, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark completed a famous and inspiring trek that would change the course of American history. The expedition, called the Corps of Discovery, set out from St. Louis, Mo., on May 14, 1804, to explore the vast wilderness of the Louisiana Territory, which had just been acquired from France, and beyond to the western coast of the new nation.

    Penetrating a territory known only through rumor and conjecture, Lewis and Clark’s team embarked on a perilous journey that would last 28 months, bring them up the Missouri River and lead over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and back. The 1803 Louisiana Purchase had doubled the physical size of the young country, but it was the explorers’ return on September 23, 1806, that truly opened up the territory for American expansion.*****In the 200 years since that historic trip, many have crossed the continent, but perhaps no one has retraced the footsteps as faithfully as FDU graduate Gordon Ward, BA’81 (M). Ward completed a 1,800-mile retracing of Lewis and Clark ’s trail from Bismarck , N.D. , to the mouth of the Columbia River at the Pacific Ocean , the boundary dividing Washington and Oregon . He and his expedition partner, Todd Paige, cycled, backpacked and canoed a winding ribbon of modern highways, gravel roads, wild and scenic rivers and mountain trails.

    While their journey took place in the mid-1990s, their adventures have now been chronicled in the recent publication of Ward’s Life on the Shoulder: Rediscovery and Inspiration along the Lewis and Clark Trail.

    Ward, whose father, Warren, was a professor of biological sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson’s campus in Madison from 1959 to 1981, describes himself as an experiential education specialist who “values the power of direct experience.” Combine that trait with a great passion for the outdoors, a worthwhile cause and a personal connection, and the allure of the trip was too great to resist.

    Ward explains, “Our journey was dubbed Quest West, and its original purpose was to raise funds for a school scholarship at an independent school in New Jersey where Todd and I taught, something we succeeded in doing. Inspired by our friend Louis Starr, we selected the Lewis and Clark Trail because of his personal association with William Clark’s personal diaries. Starr inherited the documents after they were discovered in December of 1952 in a roll-top desk that belonged to his grandfather.” The papers today can be found at the Beineke Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

    Lewis and Clark preserved their thoughts and exploration experiences in journals that are still read and enjoyed today as one of this country’s first written descriptions of the land west of the Mississippi River. Following this same formula, Ward wrote a detailed travel journal. In fact, Life on the Shoulder is presented in its original journal format, as a modern record of a journey completed in the very footsteps of the rugged Corps of Discovery.

    “This approach allowed me to best capture the flavor of the trip,” says Gordon, “and I feel it also serves as one of the few common bonds between the two expeditions. To further highlight the similarities and the differences, all of my daily entries include passages from the Lewis and Clark journals that remark upon similar events and situations.”

    Ward says that his journey took place on different levels. On one level, he was traveling back through time, experiencing the places known and recorded in the pages of history and the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. But at the same time, he was also journeying through the modern-day American West, “an area of diverse environments, staggering beauty and powerful, natural forces.”

    While he had worked hard and was prepared to connect with history, Ward says he gained so much more from the experience. “The landscape through which we traveled proved to be one of emotional hills and valleys, mountains of elation, pits of exhaustion, prairies of boredom, storms of fear, anger and frustration and stunning sun flashes of inspiration. It was a discovery of self and my connection with everything outside of my being.”

    He adds that the trip was filled with many spectacular highlights, all of which were balanced with intense and unforeseen challenges. “There was a violent storm that halted our progress in central Montana ,” Ward recalls. “Huddled in a tent on open rangeland, the only other person we saw for two days was a man who had the job of grading the weeds off the middle of the dirt road.

    “We learned from him that one of the roads we intended to take was impassable, and we had to alter our route. Making our way through vicious winds and away from the river, we found ourselves in an area with little water, and we were quickly becoming dehydrated.

    “To make matters worse, our cell phones had no service, and our new water purifier broke when we attempted to filter water from a drainage ditch, the only water source we had encountered in two days. No one knew where we were, and we were in a serious situation. To our amazement, our support vehicle driver, who was concerned about how we weathered the storm, went looking for us and found us only by coming upon the same road grader, the only other person in that extent of country!”

    From the lush, northwest rain forests of the Cascades and the Oregon coast to the deserts of eastern Washington , Ward says he was in awe of the diversity of the West. It also became crystal clear how powerful the forces of nature really are. He remarks, “One can plan for a trip, but there are always unforeseen events that will punctuate and upset expectations and itineraries.

    “The White Rocks section of the Missouri River, with all its fantastic rock formations, was something we anticipated because we were going to be on the river in the same manner that Lewis and Clark had been. Little did I know that it was the place where I was to become very ill, and Todd would have to paddle me out and get me to a hospital. It turned out I had Lyme Disease, and, I was told, the first documented case in Montana .

    “My favorite memory from the six-week trip is sitting in a meadow along the Lolo Trail in the Bitterroot Mountains of northern Idaho. Staring off at ridge after ridge of mountains, graying out into the distance made me extremely aware of how small we are as individuals, and I remember how serene and peaceful it was. We had just finished our second day of backpacking. The first day had taken us up a trail, with a 3,200-foot total elevation gain, which was impossible to follow due to its lack of use. We ended up running out of water. I had stopped sweating in the 96-degree heat, and Todd’s legs were shaking uncontrollably. After bushwhacking up the ridge and locating the Lolo Trail, a remote route that is accessible in places by four-wheel-drive vehicles, we collapsed on the side of the trail to rest. At that very moment we heard an engine. Remarkably, a car carrying a man and a woman stopped, and they gave us water, told us where to find a spring and simply drove away.”

    As the title of his book indicates, Ward says that a great deal of his time was spent literally riding “on the shoulder” of many roads and passing many sights “while we, in turn, were passed by many other travelers. It provided many opportunities for observation and reflection. The analogy to life became quickly apparent. By living a ‘life on the shoulder,’ one allows oneself to step back, become more aware and permit life’s events to unfold naturally, at their own pace, with acceptance, and without force. In doing so, by trusting the natural order, one is given the opportunity to realize, with a clearer understanding, the connections and interrelationships that exist between and among all things.”

    Since the trip, Ward has been busy writing and lecturing about his experiences (he’s spoken to FDU students at both the College at Florham and the Metropolitan Campus), and has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines. His next book A Bit of Earth: Preserving Childhood, History, and a Sense of Place, is scheduled to be published in December.  This collection of stories focuses on a small area of land where Ward was raised in Bernardsville, N.J., and emphasizes the importance of re-establishing roots by connecting personal lives with local history.

    Ward also has worked as a history teacher in the classroom and as a group transformation facilitator in the experiential education field, where he has offered teambuilding and motivational programs through his own company for 12 years. For more information on his books and presentations, see www.gtwservices.com.

    Wherever his future takes him, Ward is sure to carry with him the profound lessons he learned walking in shadow of Lewis and Clark. He says that through his journey, he came to understand “how narrow our scope of life can be, how much energy is wasted on worry, and how, at the moment when we feel we are most alone, we are truly in the company of our most trusted and dependable guides. While Lewis and Clark have been credited with exploring the western wilderness, I believe the exploration of the greatest wilderness lies just beneath the skin in the hearts and minds of us all.”  

 

THE BERNARDSVILLE NEWS, Wednesday, December 5, 2006
Love of Land Prompts Local Writer's Memoir; 'A Bit of Earth' Tells of Boyhood in B'ville.
By SANDY STUART, Staff Writer

    Gordon Ward can still remember the precise moment more than 40 years ago when he "fell in love" with the Bernardsville land on which he then lived.
It was 1964, and a man named Norman Hankinson had just published in the "New Yorker" his recollections of growing up as the kennelman's son on a Bernardsville mountain estate.

    As his mother read the magazine story to him, Ward, then 6, was amazed to learn that Hankinson grew up on the same estate off Lloyd Road and had even lived in the same cottage.

    "A light went on in my head," recalled Ward, now 47 and a resident of The Hills housing complex in Bedminster. Suddenly he was able to "connect the dots" between his life and that of an old man whose childhood had been spent playing in the same fields and woods.

    Physical features of the property instantly made sense to Ward: Rotting pieces of lumber in a tree were the remnants of Hankinson's old tree house. Abandoned buildings were once the estate's chicken coops.

    "I remember distinctly my mother reading that story to me," said Ward. "I fell in love with the place at that moment. The whole idea of being a link in history became prominent in my mind."

    Now a writer and educator, Ward has captured this sense of history in a new book, "A Bit of Earth: Preserving Childhood, History and a Sense of Place," which has just been published.

    Copies will be available at a book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 2, at The Bookworm book shop in Bernardsville.

    "A Bit of Earth" defies easy categorization, as it is equal parts memoir, local history, collection of area folklore and guide to natural sciences. It contains childhood memories, obscure historical tidbits, snippets of poetry, information about geology and indigenous wildlife, local ghost stories and even Ward's mother's apple coffee cake recipe.

    The book deals specifically with the northern corner of Bernardsville known as Somersetin, the approximate area where George Seney more than 100 years ago built a grand country estate that was later purchased by Francis G. Lloyd.

    But "A Bit of Earth" is not written only for people who may live in Bernardsville and vicinity.

    "While it may be a local history book, it's also something that could be read by people in California or Europe," said Ward. "No matter where you grew up, there's a history of that particular piece of land."

    In fact, Ward hopes that his book will be used as "a template" to help readers, no matter where they live, preserve their own pasts.

'Amazing Stories'

    Every piece of land has a history and Ward said it takes only a small effort and bit of imagination to uncover it.

    "Everyone lives in an area that has amazing stories and anecdotes, but not many people are writing it down," he said.

    In his current neighborhood in the Parkside section of The Hills, for example, Ward isn't sure how many people know about the old lookout and signal towers that once dotted the mountain ridge.

    "Nobody stops to think about what was there before the condos, the parking lots, the swimming pools and tennis courts," he said.

    Similarly, he said, many residents of the lower section of The Hills are unaware that their homes are built atop a Revolutionary War encampment.

    "You could be in your condo and think, 'I'm sitting on the same area where Revolutionary War soldiers sat in a hut 225 years ago,' " he said.

    Ward encourages readers, whether they are professional writers or not, to jot down their own personal memories and anecdotes for future generations, even if they don't seem particularly special.

    "We may think they're commonplace, but years from now they won't be commonplace," he said.

    "Your town's going to change, and people (in the future) will want to know what it was like, what were the everyday events," he added.

Enchanted Childhood

    Much of "A Bit of Earth" has to do with Ward's idyllic childhood experiences on the Lloyd estate: fishing in the pond, catching crayfish in the streams, playing with his friend's pet raccoon, having apple fights in the orchard, and skating and sledding in the winter.

    Other memories were more unsettling then happy: finding a neighborhood woman slumped in a chair and getting help, but later learning she had died of a heart attack; watching a nearby mansion burn to the ground.

    While some of Ward's childhood memories - playing in the woods and exploring, for example - are shared by millions of Americans of the same generation, others are uniquely Bernardsville, like going to buy sweets at Jerolaman's Store on Claremont Road.

    Ward was among the many local children intimidated by late shop owner Karl Jerolaman's gruff manner and aversion to counting handfuls of pennies dropped onto his counter. Ward mistakenly brings pennies, but survives his first candy-buying mission.

    A "collector's edition" of Ward's book is being published by the Ohio-based Lucky Press. The book is expected to be available in local bookstores.
Ward is also hoping to market "A Bit of Earth" to a larger publisher as a general interest memoir.

    In addition to the book signing this weekend at The Bookworm, Ward also has appearances scheduled at the Clinton Book Shop on Dec. 9, at Mendham Books and the Califon Book Shop on Dec. 16.

    From 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, he will offer a workshop at the Bernardsville Library to teach interested residents how to preserve their own "bit of earth" for themselves and future generations.

    The book is dedicated to Ward's late father, Warren, and mother, Mildred Ward, and to his godparents, Bill and Betty Feldman, who owned a house on the same estate.
Ward is the father of two children, Melina, 19, and Cory, 10; and the author of last year's "Life on the Shoulder," a book about his trip retracing the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

 

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