Dr. James A. Ware (1826 – 1907)

“Dr. Ware was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on September 26, 1826.  His first job was that of a clerk in a post office in Columbus, Ohio.  At 21 he was one of the operators of the O’Reilly Telegraph Company’s office, the first telegraph company west of the Alleghany Mountain.  In 1849 he went ti Cincinnati as a telegraph operator and gave valuable aid to the stricken city during the famous cholera epidemic of that year.

Remaining in that town until 1852, he decided to go to the Starling Medical College at Columbus, Ohio, possibly because his experience during the cholera epidemic aroused his interest in the field of medicine.

From the school he graduated as a physician in 1855, and moved to western Illinois to practice his profession.  The following  year he came to Louisiana, settling Avoyelles Parish.  Years later he said he came to Louisiana to get rid of two things – cold weather and abolitionists!

At the opening of the Civil War he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in the 16th Louisiana Infantry, serving under General Braxton Bragg, Joseph E. Johnston, and Hood.  Soon after enlistment he was made surgeon of his regiment.

He delighted in the telling of and incident that occurred toward the end of the War, when his company was forced to surrender to the enemy at Meridian, Mississippi.  The commander of the Federal troops at Meridian happened to be a boyhood friend of his.  General McMillian, and he received Dr. Ware with warm friendliness  and invited him to join the staff at dinner, a kindness  that the half-starved Confederate soldier was glad to accept.  They all felt the relief from the terrible strain of four years of fighting.  Jokes were exchanged at the expense of both sides.  After awhile, although Dr. Ware was doing his best to uphold the South, there were too many against him and the Southerners were on the loosing end.  Dr. Ware decided to put and end to it, so he said,`Gentlemen, I have a conundrum for you to answer.  Why is the Southern Confederacy like Lazarus?’  No one could see the affinity. `Because,’ said Dr. Ware,`’both were licked by dogs”’  The Yankee officers proved themselves good sports and laughed heartily, but the Brigade Chaplain  of McMillians’s army never spoke to Ware again.  He took the joke seriously.

Dr. Ware loved joked and I can recall his twinkling gray eyes as he retold this story.  He described himself as a ‘Reconstructed Yankee.’  And he was – he presented the perfect picture of a typical Southern gentleman of the old regime.  I have seen him escort a country woman from his office to her wagon and assist the sun-bonneted patient from his office with the courtesy and deference he might have shown the President’s wife.

After the War, returning to Avoyelles Parish, he found his little hometown, Holmesville, practically depopulated.  He decided to move to Lake Charles and he came here to a press convention, and attracted by its beauty and the prospect of future growth, he remained here permanently.

He was interested of the affairs of the town, especially public schools and was later on the school board for eight years.   Many present-day men and women will recall the courtly old doctor, who as a member of the school board presented the diploma to each young graduate with a graceful speech and a warm handshake at Commencement.

Those were the days when school board members made regular visits to the school and conducted oral examinations to determine progress of the pupil.  Dr. Ware’s speeches always contained many references to the classics and much poetry.  I particularly recall his oft-repeated statement that no one could consider himself educated who had not read Gibbon’s ‘Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire.’

Dr. Ware passed away long ago, but his is yet remembered in Lake Charles as a kindly, courtly, gentleman of the old school who had much success in treating the ills of little children.

He compounded a medicine known as ‘Ware’s Baby Powder’ and `Ware’s Black Powder’ that had and immense sale.  He prepared the medicine, the formula of which was closely guarded, in the little back room of his office on Pujo Street(it would be next to the Charleston Hotel now.)  He ordered his supplies from New Orleans so that local druggists might not learn the ingredients. With mortar and pestle, he prepared the powders that proved so helpful in intestinal disturbances.  After his death, a relative from Texas secured the formula and sold it to a commercial concern.

Dr. John Mathieu, a druggist in Lake Charles and an old friend of Dr. Ware, tells me that the chief of the famous `powders’ were charcoal and bismuth.

After eighty useful years on earth, Dr. James Ware, the wise, kindly gentleman, breathed his last May 10, 1907.”

Source:  Lake Charles Echo







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