Cyrus Ware ( 1769 – 1849)

“… Cyrus Ware of Johnathan Ware of Wrentham, Mass, was born May 8, 1769.   Though left fatherless at the age of three years, he continued with his family, attending the common schools of the place, till somewhere near the age of fourteen, when he went to Hartford, Vt., to learn the blacksmith’s trade, in the shop of a Mr. Billings, who was married to his sister.  In this shop he worked faithfully at the trade till he was twenty-one; and then, with no other education that what he received at the common schools in his boyhood, and the general knowledge he had contrived to pick up by reading during his apprenticeship, he soon went to studying law with once well-known Hon. Charles Marsh of Woodstock.  After remaining here a year or two, he went to Royalton and completed the prescribed course of legal studies with Jacob Smith, Esq., of that town.  He was here admitted to the bar in 1799, and the same year came to Montpelier and opened an office in the village.  His capacities appear to have early attracted the attention of his townsmen; for within about one year after he came into town,we find him figuring in town offices, in some of which, he retained until the September State election, 1805, when he was elected to represent Montpelier in the General Assembly; and so acceptably did he acquit himself, and so much to the satisfaction of his constituents, that they gave him five annual successive elections, a number never exceeded in the case of any Montpelier representative, and never equaled except in the case of Colonel Davis.  While still representative of his town he was, in 1808 made chief Judge of Caledonia County Court, to which office he received three successive elections, being continued in that responsible and highly honorable public trust, until the organization of the new County of Jefferson, which on account of his residence with it , made him ineligible to any further elections to the bench of Caledonia County.  And in addition to these offices , he was annually appointed what is called the law and trail justice of the peace, for the last forty years of his life, doing, through a large portion of that period, the greater share of the justice business of the place, and making its profits the main means of his livelihood.

There can be no doubt that Judge Ware, at the time he was Judge of the Caledonia County Court and the Representative of Montpelier, and for many yeas afterwards, was one of the most influential men in the State.  That his rulings and decisions while Judge, met the approbation of the bar and the people, is perhaps sufficiently attested in the fact, he was annually elected to the bench, as long as he was eligible, at the instance of the people of the county where his judicial ministrations were best known.  Thar his general course as town representative, was approved by his constituents, is shown by the same token; and that he secured them, by his talents and skillful management, at the time of the location of the seat of government here particular and untold advantages, need not rest on his testimony, nor that of his family traditions.  The late Hon. John Mattocks, who was an active participant in what was called the ‘first State House struggle,’ was , in his life time, heard by more than one person in this village to declare that, however strongly right and policy demanded the location of the seat of government here at the centre of the State, yet so keen in the rivalry for the honor of the older villages of the State, that it would never been conferred on Montpelier but for the unwearied exertions, and able and exceedingly skillful management of its Representative, Judge Ware.

For the last twenty years of his life, through improvidence, careless management of his affairs, and the growing expenses of a large family, but not through personal vices, he appears to have sunk into comparative poverty, and into the public neglect that too often accompanies it.  But even in his lowest state of poverty, he was always a philosopher.

‘I hope you don’t call me poor,’ he would say to those who attempted to commiserate him on his poor circumstances.  ‘I consider it settled that a white child is worth two negro children, which are held at five hundred dollars apiece.  And therefore as fast as I had children born, I put them down on my inventory, at one thousand dollars each, till my estate reached the handsome amount of six thousand dollars.  And thank Heaven, I have the same property yet on hand.’

In structure of mind, in thought, words and ways, Judge Ware was probably the most perfectly original character we ever had in Montpelier.   And his shrewd observations, and quaint and witty sayings were, in his day, more quoted than those of any other man in all this section of the country.  Though clear, discriminating and patient in investigating all important cases, which he conducted by a silent process of mind, yet the result was generally made known in terms and phrases which nobody else would think of using.  His brain was most singularly creative and futile; and it seemed to be his greatest recreation, if not happiness, to indulge in its half serious, half sportive frolics.  We have it from a lady of this village that, when a small girl, and her mate used to resort to his house, night after night, to hear him improvise an original novel, which, for their gratification, he would begin one evening, take up the next where he left it, and so carry it on, in good keeping, through a succession of hearings, till it was finished, making probably a more instructive and amusing tale than many have been published.

Judge Ware married Miss Patty Wheeler, daughter of Gardner Wheeler, Esq., of Barre, May the 26th, 1803,who still survives him.  They had six children–Gardner W. Ware, now deceased; Patty Militiah, now wife of Samuel Caldwell, of St. Johns, Canada East; Cyrus Leonard Ware, of the vicinity of New York; Henry Ware, of Ohio; George Ware, of parts unknown; Mary Ware, the wife of Joel Foster, Jr., of the firm of Hyde & Foster; and Louisa Ware, now residing with her mother and sister at Mr. Foster’s.

Judge Ware died at Montpelier, February 17, 1849, at the age of nearly eighty.”

Source:  The History of the town of Montpelier, 1781 to 1860, by B.P. Thompson, E.P. Walton, Printer, Montpelier, 1860, pages 221-4


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