Ware, Massachusetts Today
Photo taken by Mark Ware
Note: Some information given my not be relevant in today’s down-turned economy with regard to businesses listed.
Ware, is located in the county of Hampshire, Massachusetts. It was first settled in 1717 and named after the town of Ware in Hertfordshire, England.
“In 1716 a tract of land which was a little more than 11,000 in size was granted to John Read. He named it ‘The Manour of Peace’ and had in mind to develop it in the style of an English manor anticipating that it would later become a very valuable country estate. He leased out the land and did not sell 1-acre until after his death when he gave a gift of 200 acres to serve as a ministry lot. As time passed, the town of Ware grew up around the old Congregational meeting house and late became a small center of local manufacturing and commerce.
The actual origin of the name, Ware, is thought to be derived from a translation of the Native American word ‘Nenameseck.’ meaning fishing weir (pronounced Ware). The weirs were used to capture salmon that were once abundant in New England waterways.
In 1729, the first grist mill and saw mills were built on the banks of the Weir River by Jabez Olmstead. During the American Revolution there were at least eight taverns and several inns in the ares. Two of the most famous were Ebenezer Nye’s tavern and John Downing’s. After town meetings were held they would often adjourn to the latter establishment. By the 1830’s it was not uncommon to see textile mills dotted along the various rivers. At this point Ware community was making the transition from an agarian economy to an industrially based society. The post Civil War era (1850’s – 1900’s) brought a new prosperity to the now established textile mill town. ‘Ware factory village,’ as it was known, sprang up overnight and formed the basis for new growth and development.
For nearly 100 years the Otis company had been the largest single Ware employer. Cotton had been the primary product and by 1937, denims, awnings and tickings were the principal output. It had been very prosperous until World War I when its employees numbered close to 2,500. By the 1920’s however, the company began to decline due to southern competition and lack of modern machinery.
By the mid thirties, the Directors decided to liquidate although no public announcement was made. Shortly thereafter, the company had sold its interests to 3 ‘cotton men’ – Lawrence W. Roberts Jr., Edward J. Heitzeberg, and Paul A. Redmond – all with close connections to Alabama Mills which owned factories in the South.
Instantly, the townspeople rallied to the cause. One thousand posters were put up around the community … A public mass meeting was called that evening and plans to raise the necessary cash in order to save what appeared to be the ruin of the town was formulated. The citizens of Ware were able to purchase the mills together with the backing of the Ware Trust Company. The mills became Ware Industries Inc.,and Ware came to be known nation-wide as ‘The Town That Can’t be Licked.’
Although the factories have long since closed (with exception of Kanzaki Specialty Papers which still runs a mill in the town), Ware is now primarily a bedroom community to Springfield. It is the home of outlet stores (revitalized old mill sites) Berkshire Blanket, Quabbin Wire and Cable (ISO producer) and Granlund Engineering Co. just to name a few. The town itself, situated in Western Massachusetts, is nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by rolling pasture land, rivers and noted Quabbin Reservoir nearby (water source for the city of Boston). Ware’s history remains apparent like many quintessential New England mill towns. The story if one of faded grandeur reflected in the beautiful Victorian architecture of the houses that still line Church street today.”
Source: Wikipedia on-line http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Ware,_Massachusetts