Thomas WARE was one whose life record constituted an important element in the pioneer history of Putnam county. He is now numbered among the honored dead, but the influence of his life and labor still remains. A native of Massachusetts, he was born in Conway on the 6th of January, 1806, and his early years were spent in the state of his nativity, where after entering the field of business he was engaged in the manufacture of combs until his removal to the west. While still living in the Bay state Mr. WARE was married at Worcester, Massachusetts, March 19, 1833, to Miss Nancy Lauretta SHEPHERD, and the following summer, accompanied by his brother Ralph, he came to Putnam county and entered a large tract of government land in the vicinity of Granville, where he continued to make his home until his death. They were among the earliest settlers of the township. The Black Hawk war had occurred only the year previous and some Indians still lingered in Illinois. Great tracts of land were still unclaimed and uncultivated, being covered with the native prairie grasses and crossed with many sloughs, which made travel across the prairie somewhat difficult. Deer were still seen and lesser wild game could be had in abundance. The homes of the early settlers were widely scattered, the nearest neighbor being frequently miles away. Most of the pioneer dwellings were built of logs and the cooking was done over the fireplace, while the work of the fields was largely performed by hand. The usual experiences of frontier life confronted Mr. WARE and his bride when they came to Putnam county, but he resolutely set to work to establish a home and develop a farm.
On the 9th of October, 1846, he was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife. There had been five children born by that marriage, namely: Thomas S., a resident of Manhattan. Kansas: Cynthia McEOWEN and Nancy FARWELL, both deceased: Charles K., of Downs, Kansas: and Henry M., who died in infancy. On the 6th of May, 1847, Mr. WARE was again married, near Florid, Illinois, his second union being with Miss Mary Ann STEWART, who was born in Bond county, Illinois, November 6, 1819, and still lives at the old home. She is one of the oldest native residents of the state and one of the earliest pioneers of Putnam county. There is not a resident of Granville who was here at the time of her arrival. She is a daughter of William and Elizabeth (WILLIS) STEWART. Her father, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1793, and reared in Ohio, died near Florid at the age of fifty-seven years, while the mother, whose birth occurred in North Carolina, passed away when Mrs. WARE was only seven years of age. William STEWART and his family removed from Ohio to Bond county, Illinois, in 1818 the year in which the state was admitted to the Union and in May, 1832, they arrived in Putnam county, settling on government land near Florid. His first home here was a log cabin, and he later built another joining it, it being the first "double log cabin" in the locality. In 1840 he erected a brick house, which is still standing, the brick being made upon the place. It is one of the old landmarks of the county and a mute witness of the many changes that have occurred, bringing about a wonderful transformation. James WILLIS, an uncle of Mrs. WARE, built the corn cribs which were used as a protection against the Indians and won for the locality the name of Fort Cribs.
Unto the second marriage of Mr. WARE there were born eight children, namely: William S., who is carrying on the home farm in connection with his brother James; Mary A., who for several years engaged in teaching and is now with her mother; Sarah, the wife of G. A. WHITNEY, a resident of Pasadena, California; Henry M., who is living near Blairsburg, Iowa; James W., at home; Joseph E., who died at the age of twenty-five years; Lucy HULLINGER, living in Granville; and Justin P., who is living in Weaubleau, Missouri. The family home is one of the finest residences in Granville, and was built by Mr. WARE. He also left to his family an excellent farm of three hundred and ninety acres.
Throughout the greater part of his life Mr. WARE devoted his time and energies to general agricultural pursuits and he transformed his tract of raw land which he secured from the government into fields of rich fertility and added many modern equipments to his farm in the way of good buildings and improved machinery. He was a man of diligence and enterprise and brooked no obstacles that barred his path to success when they could be overcome by persistent and honorable effort. Moreover, he was prominently identified with the establishment of schools and churches and was an active and cheerful worker in providing suitable accommodations for those indispensable adjuncts of civilization. For years he was a member of the Presbyterian church, but in later life joined the Congregational church and at all times was an earnest, consistent Christian gentleman. His political allegiance was given to the republican party but he never aspired to office, although for some years he filled the position of justice of the peace. His life was at all times actuated by high principles and characterized by manly conduct and his record forms an integral chapter in the pioneer history of the county. He passed away December 6, 1886, honored and respected by all who knew him. Mrs. WARE is an exceptionally well preserved woman for one of her years and recalls and relates in interesting manner many incidents of early pioneer life. She has now passed the eighty-seventh milestone on life's journey and is therefore one of the oldest citizens of Putnam county, while the years of her residence in Illinois are scarcely surpassed by that of any native citizen.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.