Rev. Thomas Alexander Ware (1830 – )

“DISEASE hold captive this eloquent preacher and Christian gentleman.  With even moderate robustness of body, few could have matched him before an audience.  In his earlier years the thongs that attended his ministry and the applause that followed him, gave evidence of rare endowments for popular speaking.  For years the malaria that poisoned him while a boy circuit rider in Mississippi, has slowly sapped the vigor of his constitution and clipped the wings of his royal powers as an elevated orator.  At times, in spite of physical fetters, he rises to imperial heights.  His social life is replete with the courtesies of good breeding.  His Christian record is without a stain.  He was the child of Dabney and Elizabeth Ware, and was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, September 1st, 1830. His ancestors were from England, and originally settled in Ware parish, Gloucester county, Virginia.  The first convert from among them to Methodism was the Rev. Thomas Ware, who became on of the most zealous and efficient pioneer preaches in New England, and one of the first agents in charge of the Methodist Publishing House in New York.

The subject of this sketch was converted at the age of twelve years, and in his nineteenth year, in obedience to his  life-long convictions of duty, entered as a licentiate, and soon after was received in the Memphis Conference at its session in Aberdeen, Mississippi, November, 1848.  His first appointment was Chulahoma circuit, where God blessed the labors of the ‘boy preacher’ with many conversions.  The next year he was appointed to Somerville circuit, where during the year, there were about three hundred conversion–eighty-five in Macon, the village where two years before he was a student in the Academy.  Coahoma circuit lay in the Mississippi swamp, and was regarded as the purgatory of the Memphis Conference.  Some of the preachers had resisted appointment to it, even to location.  Regarding this as so inconsistent with the spirit of the itinerant ministry, in his indiscreet zeal, at the session of the 1850 he volunteered for that charge.  He was gratified.  But amid the hardships and exposures in a heavy malaria, he was prostrated, and his system suffered a shock from which it seems never to have fully recovered.  Thence in November, 1851, he was sent to Itawamba circuit.  The following year was stationed in Pontotoc, Mississippi, and afterwards, in successive years, in the following cities of Tennessee; Brownsville, Jackson, and Memphis.  The pews of Wesley church, at which he was stationed in Memphis, rented that year for $2,250.  He received $500, and the remainder went towards the building of  parsonage.  Being then unmarried, it sufficed for his support, and he has never asked for more.  Amid ardous labors that year in Memphis he was again prostrated.  Under medical advice to rest, he accompanied his mother and sister on a visit to Virginia.  During his stay in the mountains his health rallied beyond all precedent in his experience.  Hence he wrote to to the Memphis Conference in the fall of 1856, asking a transfer for one year to Virginia, in the hops that in one of the mountain circuits his health might be fully restored.  He proposed, as he then fully intended, to return at the expiration of that period.  The end not fully met the first year, he remained the second, and so on, until the ties to Virginia, its preachers and people have made it, in all likelihood, his home for life and his resting-place in death.  His appointment in the Virginia Conference have been made as follows: November, 1856, Chaplain to Randolph Macon College; the two years following, Loudoun circuit; then Fredericksburg station.  In the early part of the year 1857, the health of Rev. E.P. Wilson failing, the subject pf this sketch was appointed by Bishop Early in his stead Presiding Elder of the Fredericksburg district; the next year stationed at Clay-Street church, Richmond; November, 1861, Presiding Elder on Henry district.  At Conference, November, 1862, at his earnest solicitation, he was granted a nominal relation, that he might travel in the South as soliciting agent for the Soldiers’ Tract Society.  His success was a happy comment on the liberality of the South in sending Bibles and religious literature to its soldiers.  In November, 1863 , he was appointed Chaplain to the 18th Virginia regiment.  During the winter of 1864 ’65, at the urgency of Dr. Bennett, President of the Soldiers’ Tract Society, he consented to resign the chaplaincy to resume that agency, from the close of the war, in the spring of 1865, to the end of the year he served at Cumberland-Street church, Norfolk.  He had the happiness there of seeing the peeled and scattered flock rally to the crowding of that immense edifice and many souls added to the membership.  In November of that year he was sent to Charlottesville for two years.  During his parsonage there the church building was completed at a cost of $2,300 cash, and bonded subscription of $1,600 secured for old debt;  the Sunday school increased from 62 to 272, and the membership so strengthened as that thenceforward they have been able to support a minister with a family.  From that work he was appointed to Murfreesboro, North Carolina, one year.  In November, 1868, he was again appointed to Clay-Street  Church, Richmond, where he  remained two years.  On the 28th of January 1869, he was united in marriage to Jeannie D., daughter of Dr. Thomas J. Pretlow, of Southampton county,Virginia.  In 1870 and in 1871 he was appointed to Salisbury, Maryland.  In November, 1872, he was sent again to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he remained two years; thence to Amherst circuit one year.  In November, 1875, he was made Financial Agent of Randolph Macon College and continued in 1876.  In 1877 and in 1878 he was appointed to Scottsville circuit.  His failing health has rendered supernumerary relation necessary.”

Source:   Sketches of the Virginia Conference, Methodist Episcopal, Church, South, by Rev. John J. Lafferty, Christian Advocate Office, Richmond, VA, 1880, pages 60-61


Rev. Thomas Alexander Ware (1830 – ) — 1 Comment

  1. Interesting article. I have this man in my family tree, but was unable to find any information on him until now with this article. Very timely and appreciative. Thank you,

    C. Wayne Ware
    Cedar Falls, IS

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