Added by: HJ
RALPH WARE was one of the five founders of the Buel Institute, believed to be the oldest agricultural society in the Midwest. He also played a major role in the legislation that established land grant colleges.
The father of my paternal grandmother, Ralph Ware was born in Conway, Massachusetts, in 1804. Soon after his marriage to Lucinda Clark in 1833, they started for the West, along with his brother Thomas, to establish a general store. They traveled overland from Massachusetts to New York, and from Buffalo they came by steamer to Chicago, then a village of only 150 inhabitants. Believing that there was no opportunity there for another store, they decided to continue their journey to St. Louis. Along the way, they were enchanted by the beautiful prairies of Putnam County,
some 250 miles southwest of Chicago, and, hearing of a quarantine for cholera in St. Louis, decided to remain in that part of Illinois. They settled on a site near a wooded area, named it Granville, and took up farming and livestock-raising.
Ware was described by his daughter as being a large man and a hard worker. Like most Yankees, he was strongly opposed to slavery. He helped organize the Presbyterian church in Granville, and, in 1846, was a founder of the Buel Institute in neighboring La Salle County. The institute was named for Judge Jesse Buel, editor of the Albany Cultivator and an advocate of scientific agricultural education.
By the late 1840’s Putnam and La Salle counties were beginning to emerge from frontier conditions. The days of barter and exchange were about over, and central Illinois was entering an era of growth and commerce.
By 1848, Ralph Ware’s farm comprised two hundred acres near Granville and an additional 190 acres in Hennepin Prairie. One of the editors of Prairie Farmer stopped at Putnam County during an 1848 trip down the newly opened Illinois and Michigan Canal and described Granville as the finest area he had ever seen. A full account of his travels was published in the July and August issues of the Prairie Farmer.
The editor gave a lengthy description of Ware’s property, which, he said, was “divided between grass, grain , and orcharding … . every foot of his farm having been brought into the production of some crop. . . . The kinds of grass grown are timothy, the clovers, and red top.”
The stock on the farm consists of five hundred and fifty sheep, thirty swine, a dozen cows, with a small stock of young cattle, and horses….
His flock of sheep is a good one, somewhat mixed. It has considerable infusion of Merino, and the Bakewell, to which Mr. Ware seems more partial than to any other part of his flock…. The fleeces from half blood ewes of this variety weigh from five to six pounds. … He has also 200 feet of shedding, made of posts, rails, and straw, for the shelter of his flock….
His swine consist of mixed stock, in which the large Ohio Berkshire and the Russian predominate. They are of large size, with long broad sides and heavy shoulders. Mr. W. has now a barrow which with ordinary fatting would easily weigh 600 to 700-. .. . Mr. Ware speys all his sows, with the exception of breeders, and is of late practicing it upon his heifers. .. .
Of his cows . . . we noticed a cross of 7/8 Shorthorn with 1/8 Longhorn. The cow is as perfect as a picture, in respect to outline.. . . She is very large, and full and continuous milker, not having been out of milk in three years, though she has had as many calves in the mean time….
The horses, not only on this farm but in all this section, are very distinct from those seen fifty miles north . The corn region is fairly begun here, and no stock shows it so plain ly as the horse. He is universally large, square, smooth and fat; and to the eye far finer than his oat fed and gaunter brethren of Chicago latitude…. Our northern farmers have very little idea of the enormous crops of this grain to be found in all the south of Illinois, extending as far north as the Illinois [River], and to a line drawn from Ottawa west to the Mississippi….
Mr. Ware makes considerable account of his potato crop, of which he grows annually about 1,000 bushels, which he calculates cost him in the cellar three cents per bushel, or rather less.. .. Mr. W. thinks it nearly useless to attempt this crop to profit without manure . . . . and unlike ‘rich-enough-soil’ farmers, finds use for all he has. His custom is to apply it to his corn and potato crops. These are succeeded by grass in regular rotation.
About implements used on the Ware farm, the Prairie Farmer editor reported:
Mr. McCormick’s reaper is used here, and proves entirely satisfactory. Mr. Ware thinks it saves nearly grain enough to pay for the cutting.
I find also one of the dish corn crackers, of Osborn’s patent, of Cincinnati. It is propelled by a stationary horse power, and with six horses will crack about eight bushels of corn and cobs together , or twenty bushels of shelled corn, per hour.
Summing up his impressions of the Ware farm, the editor wrote: “I consider it a good one, and its proprietor a successful farmer . . . . who, with no help except one hired man for the year, and a couple of extra hands in harvest, and two sons, mere lads, turns off one thousand two hundred dollars worth of stuff from his farm in a year in the present low state of the markets and at his distance from them.” During the thirty years Ware farmed , according to his daughter, he accumulated a fortune of $50,000, which was considered a substantial amount in those days.
Ralph Ware was president of the Buel Institute in 1849 and 1853. Throughout his term he supported better education for farmers and mechanics, who, he said, were “a vast majority of the human race.” On October 29 , 1851, as corresponding secretary,he wrote to Professor Jonathan B. Turner of Jacksonville, inviting him to address a meeting at Granville on November 18, for the purpose of adopting measures leading to the establishment of a department of agriculture in some college. At that historic meeting, Turner outlined his plans for a land grant college. Ware did not live to see a university established under that program, but he was a tireless worker in winning approval for it.
On a warm day in June, 1863, Ralph Ware was repairing a fence on his Hennepin Prairie land when he became overheated. Driving home in the cool of the evening, he caught a hard cold that turned into pneumonia. He died on June 8,1863.
On Illinois Route 71, just west of Illinois 89 and facing the junction of the road into Granville, stands a large, square house, built in the 1850’s, that was the home of the Ware family. The land on which the house stands is now owned by Mrs. George Hopkins Bent of Kenilworth, Illinois, who is a descendant of a pioneer Granville family.