Longacoming, (now known as Berlin,) New Jersey, 1870

Parricide, the act of murdering one’s parents.

The most famous case involved Lizzy Borden’s axe murder of both her parents in 1892, Fall River, Mass.

I read recently that her case is being reopened.


There are “cides” for most any kind of murder, such as, Cain might have been charged with Fratricide, in the murder of his brother.


Our case involves the murder of John Ware by his son, John C. Ware, in August of 1870.

Newspaper accounts of this tragedy, were somewhat misleading in the relationship between some of the characters. After reading and re-reading, I think I have it all doped out.


Main Characters,

John Ware, the victim, and father of John C,

Louisa, John’s wife, mother of John C.

Mrs. Williams, sister to John C.


Trial witnesses, testifying to John C’s mental state, and character;

Mary Champion, Louise Ware’s housekeeper

Benjamin Cheesman, Louise’s half brother.

Mary Simpson, Louise’s mother, mother-in-law to John C.


On the evening of August 16, 1870, Mrs. Williams, along with her husband, called on Louise with the intent of asking the loan of a piece of cookware.

Louise refused and a heated argument occurred.

As the discussion heated, John C entered and took his mother’s side.

During the debate, John C struck his sister.

Mr. Williams knocked John C. down, Mr. Williams and wife were leaving the house when John C grabbed a rifle, took two shots at his sister, missed both times.

Had he succeeded, we would also have a case of Sorocide. Murder of one’s sister.



On their way home they met John C’s father, and told him of the incident that just occurred.


When John got home, he was confronted by John C, demanding money that his father supposedly owed him.

John promised his son that he would pay up as soon as possible, times being hard.

This satisfied John C none.

Whereupon John C took up the rifle again and shot his father where he stood, killing him instantly.

John C threw down the weapon, began searched his father’s pockets, taking a small amount of cash, and ran out the door.


On his flight from the scene, he met Mary Champion, his mother’s housekeeper. John C. told her to close her eyes and keep quiet, then ran off into the woods.


John C. was arrested the next day as he was trying to book passage to Philadelphia. Among his possessions was found the $100 belonging to his father.

John C. admitted killing his father, and showed no remorse.

His first trial January 1871, consisted of persons  relating tales of John C’ s mental capacity and, giving details of his lack of schooling, etc. Supposedly attempting to establish an insanity motive.


Mary Champion gave her account of her meeting John C , stating he was in no way excited, in a hurry, nor concerned over the event.


Ben Cheesman gave his view of John C. as he knew him. A 24 year old mental case, ignorant and without purpose.


Mary Simpson, John Cs mother-in-law echoed the same tidings.


Louisa, wife of the victim, let it be known that the deceased was a very hard person to get along with, abusive, crude and given to violence and was, at times, cruel to the children. The only bright spot in John C’s defense, was his mother’s characterization of his father.

The first trial, January 1871, ended in guilty and death penalty imposed.


A second trial was obtained due to evidence being omitted at the first trial.

The result was the same, guilty, and execution by hanging.


There follows in the item, the details of the conditions in which this man was kept while awaiting execution. I will not go into that, but imagine the worst conditions of animals in cages. Even his execution was carried out in a most unusual manner. I let that rest, also.


John C. Ware died on the “gallows” December 17. 1871, after most a full year in a wire cage.


All this was  “skimmed” from a chapter in the book by Kerry Seagrave, titled  “PARRICIDE IN THE USA, 1840-1899, Google Books.


All while I am doing this bit, I kept thinking of another New Jersey Ware family, that lost a son while working a fire in Camden around 1900.

There were several John Wares in that story.

Could there be kinship here?  Hmmm!







  1. Good article Ray. I love a good mystery, but I believe that Ben Matlock would have got him off. 🙂

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