James Ord (1789 – 1873)
“Ord Street was named after James Ord. Ord came to Sault Ste. Marie in 1837. When he came from Maryland to Sault Ste. Marie, he was appointed by the Secretary of War in the position of Sub Agent at the Michigan Indian Agency, under Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. He was elected to over half a dozen high positions, such as Judge, Probate Judge, Supervisor, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Highway Commissioner, and many other offices.
Ord Street is three blocks long running in a southwesterly direction from East Portage Avenue to East Spruce Street.
It was first surveyed in 1887. Today (i.e. 1968), it runs a total length at 1,080 feet from East Portage Avenue to East Spruce Street.”
Source: “On the Streets Where We Live”
A history of the streets and avenues of Sault Ste. Marie – A Tercentenary and Michigan Week project of the seventh grade students of Sault Junior High School – 1968.
James Ord was born on January 7, 1789 in England. His background is somewhat mysterious, if not controversial. More insights and allegations shall be divulged later at the end of this article.
He came to Sault Ste. Marie as a Sub Agent for the Michigan Indian Agency in 1837. The Sault Ste. Marie Agency was established in 1822 and was located at the falls of the St. Mary River. It was consolidated with the Mackinac Agency in 1832.
In 1837, a separate Sault Ste. Marie Sub Agency was established to cover the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the eastern border of Wisconsin. This Sub Agency was discontinued on June 30, 1852. The Agent and Sub Agent in Sault Ste. Marie were Henry R. Schoolcraft (1822) and James Ord (1837 – 1850). Ord was paid $750 per year, while Schoolcraft received a remuneration of $1,500.
James Ord was married to Rebecca Ruth Cresap (1794–1860) of Cumberland, Maryland in 1815. Miss Becky was the daughter of Colonel Daniel Cresap who served in the Revolutionary War. Rebecca was an accomplished musician with a lovely voice and a great lover of birds. She was an Episcopalian and in great demand to sing at all social and church functions. They had seven children, all boys: Pacificus, Edward Otho Cresap, Placidus, James Lycurgus Jr., Robert Brent, William Marcellus, and John Stephen Ord. They all held prestigious positions such as doctor, surgeon, Civil War general, Army captain, judge, and member of the Michigan Legislature, to name a few.
James was educated at Georgetown College, District of Columbia and graduated in 1808. He entered the Navy, where he served as midshipman until 1811. He was transferred to the Army and served as First Lieutenant of the 36th Infantry until 1815, serving in the War of 1812. He was eventually promoted to Army General. Once retired from the military, he resided many years in Washington and occupied positions of trust under every administration from Jefferson to Taylor. On June 27, 1837 he was appointed by the Secretary of War, J.R. Poinsett, as the Sub Agent in Sault Ste. Marie. He retired as a Sub Agent and moved to California in 1855 to live with family members. He remained there until he relocated to Omaha, Nebraska with his son, General Edward Otho Cresap Ord. He passed away on January 25, 1873 and was buried at the Catholic Cemetery in Omaha. His remains were reinterred in the family plot at Arlington National Cemetery on October 3, 1931.
James Ord never knew the identity of his true parents. He was led to believe from papers of, as well as comments by, his reputed Uncle James Ord, Sr. that he was in fact the son of Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife of the Duke of York who was later crowned as King George IV of England. His uncle did say “James, I have something of the highest importance for you to communicate to you. If you had your rights you would be something great”. His uncle was on his death bed and he did not state further what it was.
More can be learned about the origins of James Ord from a copy of the Library of Congress document located in the Judge Joseph H. Steere Room at the Bayliss Public Library, Branch of the Superior District Library.
Ord Street is located east of the Antler’s Restaurant, starting at East Portage Avenue and extending to East Spruce Street for a distance of 987.57 feet. This information has been garnered from the City of Sault Ste. Marie Engineering Department, based on 2015 statistics.
SOURCE: Copy of document from Library of Congress “Memoirs of James Ord”