Nehemiah G. Ordway

Nehemiah G. Ordway, (1828 – 1907)

Born in Warner, Merrimack County, New Hampshire on November 10, 1828. Ordway engaged in the mercantile and banking business. He rose in politics and was chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Committee during the election of Lincoln in 1860. The year before he was the Chief of Police for Concord N. H.

In 1862 Ordway was appointed General Agent of the Post Office Department for the New England States. In July of 1863 Ordway interviews with President Lincoln about New Hampshire and the draft – and in regard to Col. Walter Harriman whose military career was being corrupted by certain New Hampshire Copperheads. Members of Congress from New Hampshire began successfully to lobby for Ordway to become Sergeant of Arms of the House of Representatives.

Ordway served as Sergeant of Arms of the House of Representatives from 1875 until 1880. It was in this capacity that Ordway rode the Lincoln Funeral Train from Washington to Springfield – as his duty as Sergeant of Arms was to attend to the needs of the members of the House of Representatives.

From 1875 to 1880 Ordway served several terms in the New Hampshire Legislature as a Senator. Members of the New Hampshire national congress began to lobby for Ordway to be nominated for the office of Governor of the Dakota Territory. In May, 1880, he was appointed by President Hayes. By early June he was confirmed and by late June arrived in Yankton with his wife and son.

Governor Ordway’s administration was highlighted by tremendous growth in population, towns, and railroads. From 1879 to 1884 the population more than doubled as Euro-Americans rushed into Dakota Territory. Ordway’s administration was plagued by favoritism and corrupt practices. The territorial capital was moved from Yankton to Bismarck during Ordway’s tenure. This action angered political leaders in Yankton and Sioux Falls – who viewed Ordway as being corrupt.

Charges were leveled against Ordway for questionable dealings as when the capital was moved with the assistance of Alexander McKenzie, an agent for the Northern Pacific Railway. Complaints continued until President Arthur replaced him with Gilbert A. Pierce. After leaving office, Ordway remained in Bismarck for a number of years because of investments. He was with the Northern Pacific Railroad as a lobbyist. During the 1890’s Ordway returned to New Hampshire where he died on July 1, 1907 – and is buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Warner, New Hampshire.

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