William Edward Ware (1850 – )

“WILLIAM EDWARD WARE.  One of the albest and most successful members of the Battle Creek bar, Mr. Ware may be said to have begun his practical career as a hard-working and self-supporting student more than forty years ago in a law office at Marshall.  He was not sent to college as the son of a prosperous father, but his education like everything else he has obtained, was the result of his determined purpose and industrious labor.  Mr. Ware has gained numerous important distinctions both at the bar and in public affairs, is one of the best known men in Southern Michigan, has been identified at different times with the bar and public affairs of Coldwater, Jackson, Battle Creek and other places, and through his career represents many of the fine qualities of his profession and of civic life in Michigan.

A lifelong Michigan man, born in Allegan county, December 19, 1850, William Edward Ware is a son of Sylvester S. and Judith E. (Watkins) Ware.  His father was born in Vermont and his mother near Watkins Glen in New York.  The founder of the Ware family was Mr. Ware’s  grandfather who located in Michigan before 1836, and was a pioneer settler and one of the first ministers of the Presbyterian church in the state.  Sylvester Ware and wife were married in Indiana, lived for several years in Allegan county, had their home in Athens in Calhoun county until 1861, and after two years residence at Colon returned to Athens.  The father, though a man of frail constitution, had wonderful energy was a man of business leadership.  At Colon he built a mil for the manufacture of interior furnishings, and on returning to Athens improved the water power and constructed a similar factory.  He was a builder, and many of the substantial structures erected by him in the vicinity of Athens are still standing as proof of his reliable workmanship.  He finally left Michigan and went  out to the new country of North Dakota and took up land, was unable to endure the rigors of the climate, and died there January 23, 1873.  During the war, though unable to go to the front on account of physical disabilities, he preformed effective service for the Union in raising troops and funds for the cause.  He was a strong anti-slavery man, and early Whig in politics, and later a Republican.  He was a member of the Masonic order, and belonged to the Methodist church.  His wife died at Union City, Michigan, February 8, 1877.  Of the four children, one died in infancy, William E.is the oldest; Charles Clark Ware has for many years been prominent in charitable work, was an organizer and officer of the State Federation of Humane Society of Ohio, is at the head of the Toledo Humane Society at the present time; the daughter Carrie Belle married Charles Gunthorpe, and she died near Mendon in September, 1909.

With an education acquired in the village schools of Athens and Colon,  William E. Ware in June 1872,left the farm and began to study law in the office of James A. Minor, one of the ablest lawyers of Marshall, and who later served as a Federal judge in Utah Territory.  Young Ware on entering Mr. Minor’s office had a salt-and-pepper suit two sizes too large, and was what might be called a verdant boy, with only ambition and inexhaustible energy to carry him forward.  In a few months he ceased to rel upon his father to support him, and soon begun to make a name for himself.  In January, 1875, he moved to Union City, and continued his studies under the direction of Marc A. Merrifield, and was admitted to the bar upon examination in open court at Coldwater in June, 1876.  In the meantime he had served as city attorney at Union City, and in the fall of 1879 moved to Coldwater and became junior member of the firm of Thompson & Ware, the senior partner being Judge Thompson, now deceased, who for many years was one of he leaders of the Branch count bar.  In the spring of 1880, Mr. Ware opened an office of his own at Coldwater, and was son in the enjoyment of a large and profitable practice.  In 1887 he formed a partnership with Elmer E. Palmer, now one of the ablest lawyers of southern Michigan.  In the fall of 1891, Mr. Ware moved to Jackson, practices as head of the firm of Ware & Price, for a time, and in September, 1892, became a partner of Charles H. Smith,who for some years past has been a Federal judge in the Philippines.   He was with Mr. Smith about four years, and in 1896 their partnership was dissolved and Mr. Ware continued to practice alone at Jackson, until 1903, when he moved to Battle Creek.  Since then he has had offices in the Post building and has a splendid practice.  He is especially well known for his skill as a trial lawyer and has few equals in the field of his profession.

In the vicissitudes of politics from the early ’70s until recent years, Mr. Ware has had an ample and important share.  While a student of law at Union City he became interested in the currency question, then vexing the country, and made himself an authority on many phases of financial and political economy.  A keen and able debate, he early gained a reputation for cogency and clearness of argument, and in the spring of 1876 began his public career as a speaker before country political meetings in the vicinity of Union City.  During the summer of 1876, in the presidential campaign, he was called upon for campaign addresses all over Southern Michigan and Northern Indiana, his main subject being the currency.  Foe more than twenty years Mr. Ware was one of the best known campaign orators and political thinkers in Southern Michigan.  At the same time he was a worker in practical politics and held a number of offices of trust and responsibility.  From 1876 to 1879 he was city attorney of Union City, and in the campaign of 1878 was nominated on the greenback ticket for prosecuting attorney of Branch county.  There wee three tickets in the field, Republican, Democratic and Greenback.  The Republicans carried most of the offices, and Mr. Ware was defeated by sixty-seven votes.  As the Australian ballot system was not yet in use, election officials had much more power over elections than they have at present, and a number of years later it was learned that Mr. Ware had been counted out of his election.  During his residence at Coldwater, Mr.Ware continued busy with politics.  In 1880 he was not in sympathy with the coalition between Democratic and Greenback parties, though his own name was placed on the joint ticket for the office of prosecuting attorney.  As the fusion between The Greenbacks and Democrats continued.  Mr. Ware in 1882 left his old affiliation, and became an active worker in behalf of the Republicans, and continued to give his support to the Republican interests until 1896.  In all the succeeding campaigns during that time he was one of the most popular speakers and often spent many days and nights in the arduous labor of campaigning and stump speaking, at a time when political addresses were a more important means of reaching the people, than they are at present, when newspapers and other literature are more generally employed.  All the national leaders of his time Mr.Ware probably gave most unqualified support to James G. Elaine, whom he stills looks upon as one of the greatest statesmen of the last half century.

On the currency problem, until it was definitely settled, Mr.Ware was emphatically in favor of the double standard and also of greenback currency.  However, it should be noted that he was opposed to ‘flat money,’ but held the endorsement and stamp of the Federal Government was sufficient guarantee of the integrity of all currency used by the the world of business.  Mr. Ware, during those years, was much in advance of the times in many political policies.  He favored the postal savings bank years before it was established, the conservation of natural resources, the holding of public lands for actual settlers, a tariff system, either on the basis of protection nor of free trade, but such as to equalize the difference between the cost of labor here and in foreign countries, and was especially an advocate of the doctrine of reciprocity, which James G. Elaine for so many years brilliantly propounded.

During his residence in Coldwater, Mr. Ware was a member of the city Board of Education in 1881-82.  In the campaign of 1886 he was elected by the Republicans as prosecuting attorney of Branch county, an office he held two terms. He declined a third nomination in order to move to Jackson.  While he and Mr. Smith were partners at Jackson, their office was Republican Headquarters in that city.  Both were silver Republicans, and in1896 his views on the financial question led Mr. Ware to support Bryan instead of McKinley.  He has never considered this a real split with his party, since the Michigan Republicans in the state for a number of years previously had advocated the bi-metallic policy.  At the Republican convention in Lansing that year, Mr. Ware ‘walked out’ returning to Jackson called a Silver Republican county convention.  In response a number of silver old-line Republicans responded, and the party was fully organized in the county, with Mr. Ware as chairman of the county committee.  Subsequently in the conventions of the Populist, Democratic and Silver Republicans at Jackson, Mr. Ware’s name was placed on the fusion ticket for the office of register of deeds.  At that time he was serving as city attorney of Jackson, and made a splendid and effective campaign through the county and received a substantial plurality for hi s office.  The state convention of the Silver Republicans that year was attended by more than seven-hundred and fifty Republican members, and Mr. Ware, on the conference committee, became the author of the party vignette which was placed at the head of the ticket, consisting of the silver dollar with the word, ‘sixteen to one.’  Mr. Ware served as register of deeds of Jackson county from 1896 to 1898, but after 1900 was seldom prominent in political campaigns.  In 1909-10 he was city attorney of Battle Creek.

Mr. Ware has affiliations with A.T. Metcalf Lodge No, 419, A.F. & M., of Battle Creek; Jackson Chapter No. 3, R.A.M.; also the Knights of Pythias and the Knights of the Modern Maccabees of Jackson.  He and his family have long been identified with the Presbyterian church.  On October 2, 1879, Mr. Ware married Miss Elva V. Wood.  Her father F.H. Wood, for many years was proprietor of the ‘Old Pine Creek House,’ a popular early hotel on the Battle Creek Road four miles north of Athens, a popular stopping place for farmers and other travelers along that highway.   Mr. Wood was also a prominent stock buyer.  Mrs. Ware was born in the old hotel, was educated in the county schools and the Union City high school, of which she is a graduate.  The only son of Mr. and Mrs. Ware is Donald R. Ware, who was born at Coldwater, September 7, 1884, was educated in the Jackson schools, and is now in the insurance and stock and bond business at battle Creek .  In August, 1910, Donald R. Ware married Miss Maud McTaggart.”

Source:  History of Michigan, Vol. 3, by Charles Moore, The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, 1915, pages 1745-48


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