In Search of My Ancestors, by Roger Ware

What an amazing trip I had to Granville, Illinois to visit all the sites of my ancestors. My wife accompanied me and we met with Heidi, our heritage guide, Saturday afternoon in Peru,Ill. We drove to Granville, about 15 minutes away, and met her mother at the First Congregational Church that was built in 1894, where many of the Ware family members worshiped. We toured the Church.


First Congregational Church

The Church prior fell into disrepair and is no longer there.

Our first visit afterward was to the Granville Cemetery to see the grave of Ralph Ware (pictured above) and his brother Thomas’ grave (below) along with many of their family members. The family was interred in three cemeteries depending on when they died. Many of the stones are in great disrepair, but thanks to Heidi we were able to locate most of them.



Then we went to visit the house of Thomas Ware, Ralph’s younger brother of 4 years. The house was in excellent shape and is for sale.



Next to the home of Ralph Ware. It is currently the residence of a family, who purchased it in 1995 along with the farm. We met the owner and despite the impressive farming equipment they own, the home itself is in in significant disrepair.  My wife said if we could just buy the house and not the farm we would do it in a heart beat and bring it back to what it was previously. Hard to tell the current owners that what they have done by letting it go into disrepair, is a travesty.


My wife Agnes and me standing in front of the home of Ralph Ware built in 1850.

I have attached a piece about Lyman Ware, who was Ralph’s son. You will note the relationship between Ralph and Abraham Lincoln. I sent it to Heidi as every place Lincoln has been known to have stayed or visited in Illinois is a part of the historical register. I question if Ralph’s house should be protected on the same registrar.

“Lyman Ware, M. D., was born November 11, 1841, and is a son of Ralph and Lucinda (Clark) Ware, both parents being natives of Massachusetts, where the Ware family located in the 17th century. On the mother’s side the Clarks came to the Colonies in 1621 on the second voyage of the Mayflower and located at what is now Conway, and there members of the family have ever since resided. Ralph, father of Lyman, was born in Conway in 1804 and became a manufacturer of shell combs, continuing until 1833, when he came to Illinois and settled at Granville, Putnam county. There he engaged in farming and stock raising and often drove his cattle, hogs and sheep to the Chicago market. He was active in politics, was a Whig and was well acquainted with Abraham Lincoln whom he often entertained at his home. He was a Presbyterian and the main supporter of the church in his home village. His death occurred in 1863. His children were: Edward (deceased), Caroline. Lucinda (deceased), Lyman, Elisha (deceased 1909), Lincoln (deceased) and Henry.

Dr. Lyman Ware was educated in the public schools of Granville and later attended the University of Michigan. In his second year at that institution he enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and owing to his knowledge of drugs and medicine was taken from the ranks and made hospital steward, being located most of the time at Paducah, Ky. Upon being mustered out in 1865 he entered the Chicago Medical college, now medical department of Northwestern University, and after taking his degree of M. D. entered the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, graduating therefrom in 1868. He returned at once to Chicago and engaged in the general practice of medicine, becoming connected with several hospitals and dispensaries. After spending 1874 and 1875 in post graduate work at Vienna and Paris, he again returned to Chicago and then limited his practice to diseases of the eye and ear at 125 State street. He was thus located until 1893 when he removed his office to the corner of Wabash avenue and Washington street, Marshall Field building, and here he has since remained. For twenty-five years he was surgeon at the Illinois Eye and Ear hospital and for several years was connected with the Cook county hospital. He is a Republican and a Presbyterian ; of the latter oragnization he has been an elder for many years. His life has been active, useful and replete with stirring and important professional scenes. He has translated, by special permission, Von Arlts’ clinical lectures on diseases of the eye. He is the owner of considerable business and flat property in this city. On June 7, 1877, Dr. Ware was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth A. Law, daughter of Robert Law of this city, and to them have been born the following children: Hildegard, born November 20, 1892; Edith, born March 18, 1894; and Elizabeth, born February 20, 1897. The family resides at 4424 Drexel boulevard.”

Source:  History of Cook County, Illinois, Vol. 2, by Weston Arthur Goodspeed and Daniel David Healy,The  Goodspeed Historical Association, Chicago, 1909, page 717.

We to see the plaques in the town for the Granville Convention of 1851 and the Buel Institute that laid the ground work for today’s Land Grant Universities. Ralph was instrumental in both.





Lastly, we visited the cemetery where Anna Ware ( Ralph’s Mother) and older brother John are buried.


Anna Kirkland Ware

I was completely overwhelmed with the entire experience. It was difficult to process the amount of courage it took for Ralph and Thomas to move so far from home in order to set up farms and raise their families in a section of the country that was sparsely inhabited. My emotions ran from everything from pride, knowing that I am a small part of a family with a very long and proud tradition to sadness for the many young Ware’s who died there.

Heidi and her mother, who is 87 years old, are not related to this family but have lived in and loved this community all their lives.  (The following is a part of an e-mail sent to Roger. )

“What a great pleasure it was meeting you both and spending a few hours immersed in the history common to our ancestors. The Ware name has been a part of my consciousness, well, as long as I can remember. You may have felt a bit stunned seeing the home of your ancestors, but for me, it was an honor to meet the descendants of men and women who have always seemed more like mythical figures than people once of flesh an blood. As I had mentioned, it is certainly well-known among those interested in local history that the Wares were the pioneer family of Granville. Although it takes many to make a village, they were first and obviously did a great deal to develop the community. It always strikes me, when delving into the history of those early settlers, how they not only had to work so very hard to merely exist, but went beyond that to initiate improvements for the greater good of everyone–building churches, schools, forming social organizations, and so many other things. One cannot help but wonder how they managed to have the fortitude to do it all. Undoubtedly, Ralph Ware worked long, hard days on his farm, but he still did more. It really is difficult to fathom and impossible to measure, both the historical and extant results of the Buel Institute, and those members who worked so tirelessly.

Conversely, it is also rather poignant how a village with such promise, one from which sprung such great foresight and initiative could, ultimately, just stagnate. Granville thrived as an agricultural community, but obviously did not evolve as industry replaced farming, and consequently, languished. It is a mixed blessing that Granville never grew to great proportions. Many in later years, probably most, of her best and brightest did and do move on. …”




In Search of My Ancestors, by Roger Ware — 2 Comments

  1. My wife and I have recently purchased the home of Thomas Ware, the first home pictured. We are thrilled to own such a rich piece of history. It is our goal to keep this home in tip top shape and preserve the history of the home, and family. We are very interested to find out as much information about the home and family as possible.

  2. A well written article about a remarkable journey. The information and memories you came away with will plant your feet even more solidly on this earth your ancestors so dearly loved. Thank you for sharing Roger.

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