James Ord – First Lieutenant, United States Army

The father of General Edward O. C. Ord, he died on January 25, 1873 at the home of his son in Omaha, Nebraska. He was first buried in the Catholic Cemetery in that city and his remains were reinterred in the family plot at Arlington National Cemetery on October 3, 1931.He is buried with other family members in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.




  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/01/1873
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 06/15/1917

James Ord of Maryland. Appointed from Maryland, First Lieutenant, 36th United States Infantry, 30 April 1813; Resigned 14 February 1815

From the Ord Family Papers:James Ord's background is somewhat mysterious, if not controversial. The following biographical sketch is drawn from material currently in the Georgetown University Archives Alumni Files. Sources include a xerox copy of a manuscript entitled “History of James Ord as related by himself with other facts collected by his sons”; and a xerox copy of a privately printed pamphlet entitled, “Memoranda Concerning James Ord who died January 25th, 1873 by his granddaughter Mary Ord Preston 1896” [original publication in Georgetown University Library, Special Collections, call number 90A469.

James Ord never knew the identities of his true parents, but 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 King George IV of England.

Ord's first recollection is that of living with his so-called uncle James Ord and the latter's sister Mary. James Ord, Sr., had apparently emigrated from England in 1790. He resided at Great Bridge near Norfolk, Viginia, and was employed by John Brent as ship builder.

James Ord remembers that his uncle “always gave me to understand that I was his nephew, the child of Ralph Ord and his sister Mary” [from MSS: History of James Ord…]. Ralph Ord was already deceased at the time of the Norfolk residence, and his wife Mary died in 1796. After her death, James Ord, Sr., moved to Charles County, Maryland, to a residence of John Brent's, and lived there until 1799, still in the ship building business. At the end of 1799, the family moved again, to Washington, D.C., where they resided on a farm called “Non Such” near the city. The farm belonged to a Rev. Notley Young, a Catholic priest and teacher at Georgetown College.

According to Georgetown University records, James Ord was entered as a student at the college on April 24, 1800. He eventually joined the Society of Jesus in 1806, intending to become a Jesuit priest. From 1810 to 1811 he taught at the college. In 1810, his uncle died, and in 1811, James Ord left the Society, “it being decided that it was not my vocation” [from MSS: History of James Ord…]. He then joined the navy as midshipman from 1811 through 1813, and later, the army as first lieutenant of the 36th Infantry from 1813 to 1815, serving in the War of 1812. He was eventually promoted to army general.

In 1815, James Ord married Rebecca Ruth Cresap, the daughter of Colonel Daniel Cresap of the Revolutionary War. On February 14, 1815, Ord resigned his commission in the army and went to live with his wife and her family in Allegheny County, Maryland until 1819. From 1819 to 1837, Ord lived in Washington, D.C., holding various government positions. He was a magistrate from 1821 to 1837. In April 1837, he traveled to Chicago with General John Garland as an Indian disbursing agent, and subsequently, to Sault St. Marie as an Indian agent until April 1850. He then returned home to Washington until July 1855, when he embarked for California.

James Ord died at the home of his son Gen. Edward Otho Cresap Ord in Omaha, Nebraska, on January 25, 1872. He was first buried in a Catholic cemetery there, but was later reinterred at Arlington Cemetery, Virginia, October 3, 1931.

Regarding his parentage, James Ord states that his uncle was always very reticent in speaking about the subject. In spite of the fact that he was to believe that he was the son of Mary and Ralph Ord, James Ord recounts instances when his uncle made impressive and mysterious comments about his heritage: “…shortly after the death of my reputed mother, as he was walking with me in the streets of Norfolk holding me by the hand, he said, “James, if you had your rights you would be something very great” [from MSS: “History of James Ord)

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