Orrin O. Ware (1847 – )

“It was nearly forty years go that Orrin O. Ware, then a bashful lad of fourteen, came to Wilmington as a clerk for Walker and Dexter.

He was a farm-bred boy, with a common school education, a sturdy constitution and resolute will and with-all a true appreciation of the cost and value of a dollar.  He has risen from the position of  boy clerk to that of a leading merchant–has stood behind the counter almost tw0-score years and catered to two generations of Wilmingtonians.

Orrin O. Ware was born in Wilmington in 1847 son of Schnyler and Harriet E. (Gaines) Ware.  His grandfather was Ariel Ware and maternal grandfather Marshall Gaines.  His father was a four-horse teamster from Troy to Boston, and later a sailor–before the mast–on a whaling vessel.  He finally settled down on a farm in the east part of the town where he was reared a family of six, vix:  Orrin O., L. Adelbert, a baker of Baltimore, Md., Mrs. Harriet Ware Merrill of Brattleboro, Herbert A., a farmer of Wilmington, Harvey S., formerly a baker of New York City, William M., who died early in manhood.

Orrin as the eldest son.  ‘Early learned the power to pay, His cheerful self-reliant way.’

When he was twelve years old he went to work in a hotel at Colermin, where he remained two years then returned to Wilmington s clerk for Walker & Dexter.

After four years experience in this capacity he formed with F.W. Fairbanks the firm of Fairbanks & Ware, which subsisted about two years, since which time he has been alone in the business.

Mr. Ware was in trade in the store where C.D. Spencer now is until  1880, when he built his present block, 40 by 65 feet two stories with mansard roof.

The second floor is used for tenements and the third floor is the Masonic hall.

The ground floor of Ware’s contains an extensive stock of dry goods, ladies garments, gents’ clothing and furnishings, canned goods and groceries: a side room contains a stock of wall paper, boots and shoes.  The back store store is filled with heavy groceries, paints and oils, hardware and agricultural implements.

Mr. Ware has by long experience discerned the wants of the public and endeavors to supply them with reliable goods at reasonable rates and has found the path to success.  He make a specialty of best maple syrup and kinds of farm produce.  He sends fine maple goods from Wilmington, not only to nearly every state in the United States, but also to the Bermudas, France, etc. — a valuable trade he has built up by twenty-five years experience.  He hastily sent a small exhibit to the Chicago World’s Fair to help fill up the stat’s quota and was awarded a medal and diploma for the purity, color and flavor of his exhibit.

Mr. Ware’s reminiscences of his long mercantile career are very interesting and instructive.  He remembers when a ‘tenderfoot’ in trade of contracting with a farmer to pay fourteen or fifteen cents per pound for all the sugar he could make: other customers followed until he found his store the receptacle of a big  stock for it proved to be an immensely productive year.  Of course the price fell and he was left.  He promptly paid every customer in goods or cash, but it was a ‘sweetener.’  He worked nights the ensuing winter in rendering the sugar into small cakes and at last closed it out in New York City.

The war prices of goods were something dizzy.  Butter 50 cents, wool $1.00, tea $2.00 per pound, flour $15.00 to $20.00 per barrel, cotton cloth 75 cents per yard, common prints 40 cents, etc.  He well remembers selling a web of fifty yards of Atlantic A sheeting to a customer, Mr. H.H. Winchester, at 75 cents per yard.  He was in the store during nearly all of the war period and vividly remembers how it used to be packed with citizens, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the stage, which was due about midnight and how letters from the ‘boys in blue’ at the front and the war news in the dailies were read aloud to the anxious listening crowds.

Mr. Ware was postmaster, unassisted, durign a score of years up to President Cleveland’s term, when he was rated as an ‘offensive partisan.’

His mother died in 1884, at the age of sixty-six an his father, active and vigorous to the last passed away last March at the ripe age of eight-eight.

Mr. Ware married Lucy Richardson of Brattleboro in Lune, 1872: they have tow daughter Ellen Lucy and Katharine Stuart.”

Source:  Wilmington Vermont, by John Hall Walbridge, The Times Press, Wilmington, VT., 1900, pages 26-7


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