John Eugene Ware – The Grandfather I Never Knew

Note:  John Ware had died long before I was born and when my mother was eleven, so many details of his life were not known to her and therefore were not passed on to me.  Most of the information I have learned about him has come from a partial family history my mother wrote, trips to Paducah, KY, and speculation.

John Eugene Ware was born October 12, 1867 in Todd Co., KY.  John’s father Thomas, had left Todd Co., sometime prior to 1860 and moved north and west to McCracken Co., near what is known today as West Paducah.  He married Sara Elizabeth Lane, November 5, 1860.

Thomas Edward Ware and Sara Elizabeth Lane

Thomas’ younger brother John Payne Ware and a cousin Samuel Ware were living in a part of McCraken county, which became Ballard Co.

John Payne Ware

Three children were born here, but only one boy survived and the family moved back to Todd Co., possibly to farm either near or with his father, Robert Payne Ware.  Two other sons were born here, William Everett and James Elwood.  (The middle names of most of the children began with the letter E.)

My grandfather was the sixth child, born the year before his grandfather Robert died.  (A few years ago I obtained a copy of a newspaper death notice for Robert’s younger brother William, who may have lived near Hopkinsville, KY.  William died on June 12, 1868 at the farm of his brother Robert, who had died a week earlier on June 5.  The notice did not list the cause of either brother’s deaths.  I have often wondered if there had been a plague in the area.  A couple of weeks ago I received a photo of a cousin to that family by marriage.  This young man had died a month later in July.  Curious.)

Martha (Pattie) Shelton Sanders Ware

The seventh child, Mary Elizabeth was born in 1869.  Thomas’ mother Martha passed on the next year, and the Ware family moved back to Maxon Mills, west of Paducah, where he cleared and farmed 80 acres.  In 1876 he opened a  general store.  Thomas was magistrate of the Fifth District for at least two terms, and was postmaster for Maxon Mills in 1884, a few years after the mill was sold to a German couple named Temple.  Seven more children were born at Maxon Mills, the last a daughter named Minnie Pain.  She was born March 9, 1818 and died November of 1818.  Sara died March 28, 1881.  She was only forty years of age.   Altogether she birthed 14 children; 10 who lived to adulthood.

Photo of the Bethel Christian Church taken about the time the Wares were members.

There were two doors, one for the women and one for the men.

A friend in Kevil, which is near the Maxon Mills area, sent me a membership list for her church, Bethel Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ denomination.  Thomas, John (my grandfather) and the wife and children of Thomas’ cousin Samuel were members.  I do not know where Sara and the other children worshiped.  (The third child born 1863 to Thomas and Sara, Lucy Ellen was buried in the Church cemetery in 1864.)

Paducah was a railroad center.  My grandmother, Lulu and her sister Nancy moved to Paducah, after their father died in Evansville, Indiana, in 1891 and rented a little house in order to take care of three of their brothers who worked for the road.   Nancy met Frank Wolfe, who worked for the railroad, and whom she married in 1891.  I believe Lulu met John in Padaucah.  They were married November 22, 1892 at the home of Mr. E.O. Yancy.  Both couples moved to Massachusetts.

John’s brother-in-law, Frank, worked for a newspaper in Boston and John worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. beginning in 1894.  The families were very close and remained so the rest of their lives.

Frank and Marguerite Ware

Frank Hadden Ware was born October 11, 1893 in Somervile Massachusetts.  A daughter, Marguerite Gordon Ware was born June 22, 1895.  And my mother, Aileen May Baker Ware was  born April 26, 1902 on her mother’s birthday, in Cambridge, MA.

Aileen Ware with her Aunt Nancy Wolfe and Cousin Veola Wolfe

At that time the family was living in an apartment at 56 Norfolk Street, Cambridge.  (The children received their middle names from the last name of the doctor who delivered them.)

A man is coming down the steps of 56 Norfolk St. Cambridge MA.

About six months after my mother was born, John was sent to California by the insurance company he worked for to help establish offices throughout the state and to take the position of Superintendent.  The family traveled by train and  stopped in Paducah to attend the wedding of his younger sister Mary Elizabeth.

Mary Elizabeth Ware

According to an article in the Paducah Sun, they stayed “at his boyhood home.”  It was the first time he had returned in thirteen years.

Ware family Home, Maxon Mills KY

Probably taken after the death of Thomas Edward Ware.

They lived in San Diego for almost three years and were then transferred to San Jose.

1904 in San Diego

His offices were in San Francisco. (There is a story attached to this blog site entitled the Great San Francisco Earthquake, describing the details of that day for the family in 1906.)

From my mother’s family history after the earthquake:

“A short time later my mother, brother, sister and I went by train down to Los Angeles and we stayed with my maternal Aunt and Uncle, the Wolfe’s, until my parents could find a house to rent.  It was a two story house on south Normandie Ave. in Los Angeles… I started kindergarten from that house, I think I was five years old, going to the Vermont Ave. School and went into the fist grade there too.  Later we moved further west on West Adams to another larger house.  This one had a tennis court…

West Adams House, Los Angeles, 1907

My father being offered a lucrative job, lease manager for the Cleveland Oil Co., later to be known as the Continental Oil Co., we moved up to the oil lease in the Elk Hills, near the little town of Fellows, California…  I was put in a one room school, the proverbial red school…  Each morning my Dad and Mom would take me to school in a fringed-top buggy pulled by a pair of small horses.

I being a very active, mischievous child about eight years old, secreted a small bullet in the bowl of my father’s pipe and he lit the pipe.  We hadn’t gone too far when the bullet exploded and went straight up through the top of that buggy. My mother was so mad she was livid; she could have killed me, but my easy going Pop took it as a huge joke.  I was the only one of his children he ever spanked and that was in San Diego.  He had laboriously spent hours sorting out in piles, his insurance contracts.  He left the room briefly and I literally shuffled those papers all together.  It was then he woped me, but the bullet incident didn’t phase him, much to my mother’s bewilderment, she didn’t think it at all funny.

John Eugene Ware

It was much too hot living on the lease in the summer so Mom and I would go down to Hollywood where my Aunt and Uncle lived and stay with them till early September then return so I could start the new school semester.  In mid-October, 1910, the oil lease closed down all operation for some unknown reason.

Oil Derrick, Fellows CA

I vividly recall seeing my first gusher come in with such force it blew the crown block off and I was sprayed with oil.  The well was close to the bunk house where the rig builders stayed.  There besides our small two-room house where my father had his office was a cook house and a mess hall…

After my father closed down the operation he took a job as a bookkeeper in a supply store in Fellows, (called O.P. Goode, Teaming and Blacksmithing).  My parents bought a three-room house just two blocks from the main part of the little town; living-room, bed-room and kitchen, no bathroom…

When I was eleven years old m father became ill.  We were living in the little three-room cottage then and summer was coming on.  His faithful rig-builders added on the the front of the house a large screened-in porch and moved a bed out there for him as now he was totally bed-ridden.  As there were no doctors in Fellows, one came by train from Taft, California to treat and prescribe for him.  He became progressively worse and a nurse was sent from Taft.  A tent was put up in our back yard for her.  Marguerite was graduating in June  from the L.A. High School and was coming to Fellows the day after graduation.  A window in the bedroom looked into the screened porch and I was standing looking at my father with my mother seated on a chair bedside and my father asked, ‘Has sister come yet,’ and before my mother could answer he died.  My mother let out a blood-curdling yell.  ‘No, Jack you can’t leave me!’  He came back momentarily and I heard him say, ‘Lulu you promised me you wouldn’t do this,’ and he was gone.  I saw him die.

By selling $1.00 raffle tickets my mother sold the Fellows, California house, but after my father’s death, a casket, they were called coffins then, was brought from Taft.  My mother and I accompanied the casket to Los Angeles by train…  The funeral was held at the Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles and he was one of the first bodies to be cremated there.   His ashes are now buried at the foot of of Uncle Julius Jorgenson’s grave in the Hollywood Cemetery on Santa Monica Blvd.”

Photo taken of Lulu J. Ware a few years after the death of John.

John Eugene “Jack” Ware died June 29, 1913 in Fellows, Kern Co., CA.  He was 46 years old.


John Eugene Ware – The Grandfather I Never Knew — 2 Comments

  1. What a great story. The “bullet in the pipe” antic is probably a family favorite that will be passed on for years. Thanks for sharing!
    Judy Ware

  2. This is an excellent article with interesting detail. The photos are priceless and fit so well. Thank you for this.

    C. Wayne Ware
    Cedar Falls, IA

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