Joel Ware was a pioneer of Lane County, Oregon, and although he did not attain statewide celebrity, his local distinction and worth were such as to entitle him to worthy mention in the annuls of the state.
Joel Ware was living in Eugene when the writer of this sketch came to that place in the fall of 1858. He was a compositor by vocation and at that time was employed on the Peoples Press* a free soil paper, which had been established during the previous summer. As the writer recollects it, in addition to being a typesetter for that paper he was proof reader and pressman as well; he also had charge of the local column and occasionally did editorial writing. Mr. Ware had a fine mental poise, sound judgment and a dry humor which enlivened whatever he said or wrote. His editorials were models of clearness and directness. I do not suppose he ever attempted to compose an ornate or eloquent sentence. To express his thoughts in plain vigorous language was always his aim. This was manifest not only in his occasional editorial writing but also in the reports he prepared for the Surveyor General when chief clerk in his office.
How long he remained with People’s Press is not remembered by the writer, but probably until the midsummer of 1861, when he was appointed to position in the U.S. Surveyor General’s office by B. J. Pengra, Surveyor General, one of the founders of the People’s Press, who consequently had personal knowledge of Ware’s capability for any line of service he engaged to preform. The Surveyor General made no mistake in inducting him into his official family when it is remembered that he continued with the Surveyor General’s office nine years, the grater part of the time as chief draftsman and chief clerk, when he voluntarily resigned in order to answer the call of his fellow-citizens to come up higher. This call may be truly considered a reward of merit.
*The People’s Press was lineal parent of the State Journal, to long and ably constructed by Harrison R. Kincaid.
In the Spring of 1870 Mr. Ware was prevailed upon by his party of friends to become a candidate for County Clerk of Lane County, and although the county was strongly Democratic, and he a candidate of the Republican ticket, he was elected by handsome plurality. The result was not entirely due to Ware’s popularity, but largely to the fact that there were two rival candidates voted for by the opposite party.
That Ware was the right man in the right place is manifest, for he was re-elected nine times consecutively, thus having an unbroken tenure of the office for the fifth of a century, and for the greater part of that time the county was Democratic. This certainly was a tribute to his capability and trustworthiness in his office.
Ware’s clarity of mind, and close application to the duties of the positions he occupied will be realized by the fact that he attained a through mastership in them all. When in the Surveyor General’s office he became a recognized authority on every feature of the U.S. Land Laws and departmental regulations thereunder. As a draftsman in the Surveyor Generals’ office he attained such proficiency in all branches of the work pertaining to such position as to rival James Curly, his illustrious co-laborer in that department; as a compositor he gave eminent satisfaction to his employers; and his long tenure of office as County Clerk is proof of his thoroghness and efficiency as a such functionary.
After retiring from the County Clerk’s office he engaged in the abstract and real state business, for which no one was better qualified. He continued in this business until the infirmity incident upon old age necessitated retirement from life’s activities.
Ware was married to Miss ‘Bettie’ Cochran, of Mohawk, Oregon, in 1859, and raised quite a family. He was an unusually kind and indulgent father. He died in the spring of 1901 aged seventy-one years.
Mr. Ware was a native of Ohio, of Quaker parentage. Although he discarded the most of the peculiarities of that sect, he rigidly adherred to its cardinal tenets, namely, industry, honesty and morality, for he professed those ethnic and civic virtues to a marked degree. He was a genial companion, a loyal friend and an upright generous citizen, and the lingering relics of a generation to which he belonged and which had the good fortune to enjoy his friendship will cherish the memory of him while life lasts.
Source: Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19, by Oregon Historical Society, 1918, pages 69-71