The Death of Robert “Ed ” Ware of Paducah, KY

Robert Edward Ware

Robert Edward Ware

Ed ware was the first son of Thomas E. Ware and my great-uncle. Much of the information about him and his family had been lost, so I was quite surprised when I received an e-mail from John Stein the other day sending me a page from the Paducah Evening Sun, dated Sept. 19, 1906. The page had a lengthy article detailing the verdict of a Coroner’s Jury.  Ed had committed suicide!

As I read the article I became more curious as to his reasons for taking his own life.  The article gave details of how he had been found in the afternoon in his buggy, vomiting.  When he was asked about his condition, he stated he had a “congestive chill.”  He was taken to a local store and laid upon some hay.  He continued to vomit and retch in agony for another half hour.  The doctor was sent for and though he arrived in time, there was nothing that could be done for him.  It was determined that he had drunk wood alcohol.  Mr. Ware was not a drinker, according to testimony given at the inquest .

Okay, so now I am really curious, and for the past few days have been looking for the rest of the story.  John Stein  had also e-mailed me about a counter- lawsuit filed by Jessie  Maxon Ware against her sister Daisy Maxon Bennett and Green Bennett.  What was the original lawsuit about? And today I found it in the Paducah Sun newspaper.

Ed Ware married Jessie Maxon, approximately 20 years previous to his death and they had one daughter Cassandra.   Jessie was the oldest daughter of Morris I Maxon and Sallie Kennedy of Maxon Mills, KY,  a few miles west of Paducah.  Morris established a mill there in 1872 and had large land holdings in the surrounding area.  When he passed away in July of 1903, his estate is divided amongst his wife Sallie, and his two daughters, Jessie and Daisy.  An older son Orville, by his first wife, was not written into the bequests.  Orville brought suit against the estate and he was deeded a piece of land and received $1000.

Daisy, Morris, and Jesse Maxon

Daisy, Morris, and Jesse Maxon

The next February, Sallie Maxon died of pneumonia, and Jessie and Daisy inherited the balance of the estate.  Ed Ware was court appointed executor.  Not only was he a member of the family, but a well-respected businessman in Paducah.  He had a home and property in Maxon Mills.  He had been engaged in several businesses and at the time of the death of Mrs. Maxon, was a bookkeeper for a tobacco company.

Now, this is where is gets very interesting and I have to back-track a bit.  Daisy married  Green Bennett.  Prior to their marriage, Green and a man named U.A. Peters purchased some property together.  Peters owned 1/4 and Bennett, 3/4.   Their mortgage was with Morris Maxon.  Peters and Bennett were not able to come to terms with their partnership and Bennett told Maxon to foreclose on the property and hold it in trust for him.  The balance owed was $850.  That was to be paid from the estate out of Daisy’s portion of her impending inheritance.  Morris agreed to hold the property in trust for Bennett, and Bennett “may continue to rent, manipulate or sells portions as he sees fit.”  Bennett had only paid Maxon $500 on the property.  This amounted to a lien against the property and the Judge who was executor at the time, stated the property would have to be sold to satisfy the lien.  Any proceeds would to go Bennett, but after payment to the estate and court costs, the amount would be less.  The property at that time was valued between $2000 and $2500.

Jessie, Daisy and Green agreed on a compromise. When Sallie Maxon died, this property became part of the estate, because Bennett did not hold clear title to it.  Jessie stated that the property could be rented back to Daisy and Green for a yearly sum of  $150.  Daisy and Green paid Jessie $600 for her share in the “farm implements, live stock and food now on the Maxon Farm…. We promise as part of the rent in addition to the said $150.00 to take good care of said farm and fences and houses thereon, and return same at the expiration of  said year in as good order as when received, natural tear and wear only excepted, and we promise not to cut nor permit to be cut any timber now on said place, unless done by mutual consent of Mrs. Ware and ourselves….. It is agreed that all the flowers shall remain where they are and shall receive proper care, cultivation and protection. It is agreed that part of the fencing lately burned shall be repaired at the joint and equal expense of Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Ware….”  Signed 26th day of December 1904 by Daisy Maxon Bennett, Green W Bennett, Jessie Maxon Ware and Ed Ware.

In Ed Ware’s books, which were later totally scrutinized, Jessie was listed as receiving $900, $600 for farm equipment, etc, and $150, a years rent and $150 another years rent.  She only received $150 which Ed took as administrator and she “reaped the benefits of.”  On the day of his death Ed wrote her a check for the balance, $750.  She took it to the bank after his death and they refused to honor it.

In Oct. of 1909, approximately 3 years after Ed Ware’s death, Daisy brought suit against Ed Ware for misappropriating $5000 in the settlement of the estate of her mother Sallie and sought to hold his bondsman, American Bonding of Baltimore, Jessie Maxon, and the first administrator of the estate, R.J. Barber, liable.  She alleged that upon her mother’s death and when Ed became administrator, he was given $ 7500.  She stated he used $5000 for his own purposes.  $979.66 was accounted for out of the total amount at that time.

After Morris Maxon’s death in 1902, his ward and the nephew of Sallie Maxon, Howard Robinson, had put a $600 claim on the estate.  It was believed his sister, Elizabeth, also had a like claim.  Ed had been appointed Trustee for these children.

A few days before his death, Ed, was fined in county court as the administrator of Sallie Maxon’s estate, “for failure to settle at the proper time.”  This is now 2 years after her death.  According to an article in the Paducah Sun dated Mon, Sept. 17, 1906, the day of his death, “It is believed he was financially involved and despondent…. Ware was ruled to settle the Maxon affair in county court today.  The amount involved is $1,100.  He was in Wheeler, Hughes & Berry’s Office this morning.”

Jessie’s counter-suit to Daisy and Green Bennett found that she was entitled to recover the $750 owed her, and Ed was cleared of all previous allegations.

I believe that Jessie filed the counter-suit not so much to recover the money that was owed to her, but to clear her husband’s name.  There are still some unanswered question, however with regards to the rented property, if Green and Daisy continued to live there.  Did the sisters remain estranged?  What became of the Robinson children?  I hope someone in reading this may give the answers.

Sources: John Stein, The Paducah Evening Sun, (later The Paducah Sun) and The Southwestern Reporter.


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