The descendants of the late John Rudolph Ware (1864-1925) and his second wife Margaret “Maggie” Lister (1871-1912), held their annual family reunion on 8 August this year in Nebraska City, Nebraska. An article was written about John R earlier this year (See credits below). There were seven children born in this marriage and family reunions have been held nearly every year since. As I continued my research into this about four years ago, I started making phone calls and finally ran across Willard Wayne Ware and his wife Karen. I was interested in Wayne because his name is almost identical to mine. After contacting him, we became good friends. It turns out that Wayne and I are first cousins, once removed. He also had recently researched his ancestors and was extremely interested in hearing from me.
The reunion was held this year at the Lied Lodge & Conference Center, Nebraska City, Nebraska It was here where I met up with Wayne and his wife Karen at the motel we were staying at and we attended the reunion together. The magnificent Lied Lodge is almost like a palace in the desert. It is a massive place offering lodging and large conference meeting rooms. There were approximately 60 family members in attendance. John R and Maggie’s seven children have all passed on now, but their grandchildren and their families keep the tradition alive. Each year, a family member is chosen to host the next reunion and this person decides where to hold the event usually in the month of August.
A great time was had with greetings and hugs by all and conversations buzzed all day. Many old photographs were displayed of past reunions and these treasured articles were viewed by some with laughter, some with tears by viewing photos of family members who had passed away, but precious to all. A great meal was catered and was thoroughly enjoyed. There were individual family member photos taken to be added to the memorabilia of records for future generations. A full group photo was not taken, but many individual families had their photos taken by others. It was great to see so many young family members present to keep this family reunion tradition alive for years to come.
Personally, I brought away many great memories of getting to meet my family members again, a family I didn’t know about until four years ago. I didn’t know about my great-grandfather’s second marriage after my great-grandmother, John R’s first wife, died shortly after the birth of their third child, the family of which I descended from. I am grateful to know this family and their great love and respect for one another. I feel honored. I will be there again next year and each year afterward as long as God is willing.
In this day and age, family reunions seemed to have fallen to the wayside. I fully recommend that anyone reading this that has not attended their family reunion for several years or never been, to get a few members of your family together, get them involved in making plans. Work hard to get as many family members as you can to attend and take photographs. It will rekindle your life and bring memories to last you a lifetime. It’s never too late to start. Get the children involved. Somewhere downs the line, your descendants will be glad that you did.
Side View of Wildwood Historic Home Photo by Conrad W Ware, 9 Aug 2010
I first heard of Wildwood when I was researching the Ware family online, came across and read a wonderful publication by Judy Ware named; New Land/New Nation. I thought at the time that this would be a great place to visit and visit I did. I made Arrangements of my visit to Wildwood well in advance of my arrival, so I was expected.
The next day following the Ware family reunion, I visited this place named Wildwood. Wildwood is the former home of Jasper Anderson Ware (1831-1900). Jasper was a wealthy banker and land speculator who purchased this farm acreage in Nebraska City. It became known as Wildwood because when Jasper’s wife Ellen first laid eyes upon all the beautiful old trees that surrounded the place, she said; “How will ever live in this wildwood?” The name stuck and Wildwood it became to be known.
I was met at the door of the Wildwood house by Gail Wurtele, a very charming lady who is the manager of the Wildwood Historic Home. She was smartly dressed in time period attire of the mid 1800’s. She took me on a 3 hour tour of the home and of the old cow barn, which has been remodeled into an arts and craft store. I was amazed at Gail’s amazing knowledge of the Jasper A. Ware family and their life style. She had also done her research on the Jasper Anderson Ware family line. The property was eventually sold to the city of Nebraska City and a new municipal golf course now stands on the grounds. The beautiful grape vineyard what once adorned the front of the property is now fairways and greens. Many of the beautiful old trees remain. The city maintains the Wildwood Home and does a magnificent job under the management of Gail. Since Gail knew of my arrival and said that I was the first Ware to visit Wildwood, she had arranged for a reporter of the local newspaper to be present to interview me and take a photograph or two. I thought this was very thoughtful of Gail to do this.
Conrad Ware presenting donation to Gail Wurtele
After the death of Jasper and his wife Ellen Hall Kinney, the surviving family members removed much of the original furnishings, but much of it still remained and is maintained today. Many period pieces of furniture and articles of the time have been added to bring the home to be as fully furnished as possible. A remarkable job keeping this historic home has been undertaken by Gail and her staff and they are to be commended. This year, exterior paint scrapings revealed the original color and it has been repainted to that effect. Also new period rain gutters were installed.
Also Gail showed me where the youngest child of the family, Norton Ware had etched his initials on the windows and other places within the house. It seemed to add character to the house.
I fully recommend this Historic tour to everyone who is interested in history and how families lived over a century ago. Turn off your cell phones and enjoy the tour. The staff is well informed and you will come away with a greater understanding of the everyday life back then and appreciate your modern conveniences.
Credit: Judy Ware’s publication; “New Land/New Nation,” to whom I owe special thanks.
I affectionately credit Vicki Cheesman for urging me to write about these events.
”The Life and Times of John Rudolph Ware 4 Aug 1864 – 11 Jul 1925,” written by yours truly Conrad Wayne Ware and posted to this site earlier this year.
”Who Were the Wares of Wildwood,” written by L Gail Wurtele and published in 2009.