Banner.jpg (54143 bytes)

Chapter 14

A Good Tree Bears Good Fruit

Once settled in their new home, the Wares soon began to see the benefit of moving further west.  The separate colonies of pre-Revolutionary America would soon bear little resemblance to the United States after the Revolution.  The 1800s would see both the family and the entire country growing by leaps and bounds.

Early map from after the Revolutionary War

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson, in what was a history- making settlement, secured for the United States the huge expanse of land known as the Louisiana Purchase.  As Robert Livingston was quoted as saying, “From this day, the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank.”

Map of The Louisiana Purchase

This land acquisition would forever change the face of America.


The expanding country had great need of good food, and “almost every agricultural crop, with the exception of cotton and tropical fruits, could be grown successful in Kentucky.  Here, more than in any other state, the opportunity to become self-sufficient was taken advantage of to the fullest.” (Ref. 2254) James and his sons did exactly that- - planting crops that would secure their futures.

One of the major products that Kentucky became known for was hemp.  Since 1775, the planters of Kentucky had been growing hemp, but it was not until later that they discovered a profitable use for its long stingy fibers.  When the shipping industry on the western rivers developed, there was a keen demand for roping and the hemp growers began to manufacture rope and course sail cloth. (Ref. 2254)  When the Wares planted their first crops of hemp, they had no idea how truly profitable it would become.  There was no machinery in existence for the manufacturing of hempen goods until 1796 when a machine for cleaning the raw stock was invented by Nathan Burrows. (Ref. 2254) With the new machinery, “it is not surprising that from 1780 to 1811, the hempen industry increased forty-fold.”  (Ref. 2254) 


Taken from New Nation/New Home by Judy C. Ware © 2009

Brief explanation of the crop Hemp 

Hemp is the tough, coarse fiber of the cannabis plant, often used to make rope. It is the oldest cultivated fiber plant in the world. It contains no toxins as it does not require pesticides.

The first Gutenberg bible was printed on hemp paper.  Christopher Columbus' sails and ropes were made from hemp and the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were printed on hemp paper.

Hemp demands a rich, well-drained soil such as is found in the Blue Grass region of Kentucky.  It must be loose and rich in organic matter.  Soil that will grow good corn will usually grow hemp.  There is much history about spinning American hemp into rope, yarn or twine in the old Kentucky River mill at Frankfort, Kentucky.  During the first third of the nineteenth century most of the rope made in Kentucky was spun and twisted by hand and by the use of horse power at one end of the walk.


Also from New Nation/New Home

The following was published in The Lexington Herald-Leader by Dick Burdette on March 20, 2000)

VERSAILLES, Ky. - Near the east edge of town, along U.S. 60 at Payne’s Mill Road, there's a bronze marker commemorating the important role hemp once played in Kentucky agriculture.  It isn't unique.  There are similar signs in Boyle, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Mason, Scott, Shelby and Clark counties. of its rich soil and mild, ideal climate, "Woodford County was the hemp seedbed of Kentucky," Gifford said. "Hemp seed from here was shipped all over the country."

In another article published in the The Woodford Sun  (Versailles, Kentucky) on June 10, 1999, Stephen Peterson states that, “at one time, Woodford County produced more hemp seed than any other single location in the United States.” In the past, hemp was the source of a vast array of products from oil to textiles to foodstuffs.

Brief explanation of the crop Flax

This plant, from which linen is derived, never rivaled tobacco as a cash crop in the Chesapeake area, but most farmers and plantation owners grew small amounts well into the 1800's for their own use.  Flax is an ‘annual’ which grows two to three feet high on a slim, little-branching stem. It is this woody stalk, hollow when dried, which is harvested and ultimately manufactured into linen.  Additional properties of flax make it a desirable finished product, and even the seeds can be harvested and made into linseed oil (used in wood treatments).          The World Book Encyclopedias ©1953


In letters back to James III in Virginia, his brother and father often wrote about how the crops were doing.  One letter from Charles Ware, in 1811, stated, Thompson has (for the first time) a little hemp agrowing; by the way of speculation.” (Ref. 35B)

It was not just crops that provided the prosperity for James and Caty though.  The love of fine horses, that seemed to be such a longtime family trait in Virginia, found its way into Kentucky too.  James wrote in one letter to his son, “I have got a large young horse here, two years old this spring.  He’s nearly 15 hands high now and will make a fine wagon horse in a year or two more.  You may have him if you want.

Charles Ware has got one [that is] three years past that old and nearly 16 hands [high].  He will fit a wagon to a tea.  He intends to send him to you if he has an opportunity.”  (Ref. 298)


Charles wrote in his own letter, “Your buzzard colt is very large and promising.  I neglected to halter break her last Fall but will do it soon and shall do it with great caution as I know the danger.  I have a very stout three year old (and well broke) wagon horse that I think is just another horse as [good as] Rainbow.” (Ref. 35B) 

James’ grandson, Josiah Ware, would continue this love affair with horses by becoming one of the leading breeders of thoroughbred race horses in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1800s, winning many awards and prizes for his remarkable stock.  Jeb Stuart rode one of Josiah’s horses in the Civil War.

James and his family worked hard to stay close to the rest of the family still in Virginia.  On the rare occasion when James traveled back there, the condition of the roads was always a concern.  In one letter to his son James III (in 1811) he wrote, “We got safe home to this place in 16 days.  All well - horses held out well, the colt performed well.  We had a very good time; the roads were good and fine weather.” (Ref. 341)  He probably did not do it very often, however, because travel was still no easy feat in the 1800s.  Not only did traders return to the East and South by the Wilderness Road, but hundreds of travelers followed this route to Virginia on official business or on visits to relatives.  Dozens of notices appeared in the Kentucky Gazette inviting parties returning to Virginia to assemble at Crab Orchard with proper arms and supplies for the journey.  The Wilderness Road still remained little more than a pack road until 1818 when definite legislative steps were taken to widen the roadway and improve the fords. (Ref. 2254)

In one of James’ letter, dated 1811, he mentioned that he “stopped at Washington H. [possibly Washington Court House, the county seat for Fayette County] and stayed two nights and a day.  [We] got there late in the evening . . . We intended going on, but it was very hot & Mrs. Taylor persuaded us to stay.  We all went up to Thomas Marshal’s & dined with him & was very agreeably entertained.  It cost us 5 dollars there & we neither ate nor drank at the Public House; but the first night [we] had supper.  This trip has cost me sixty- two dollars. (Ref.298)   That was quite a bit of money in those days considering that the Fayette Kentucky Court Order Book of 1830 lists the following prices for some items:

Breakfast at the tavern -- $0.33 Cents

Dinner At The Tavern -- $0.66 Cents

Board For A Horse per Night -- $0.50 Cents

Board for A Man Per Night -- $1.00

These trips for James came sometime after 1809, and from what we know, even though she so wanted to, Caty Todd Ware never got the chance to see her son, James III, again.  She and James settled into their new life in Kentucky and became active members in the community and the Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church.  It must have thrilled Caty when, “in May 1801, on Saturday evening, the church met and after divine worship, proceeded to business and received by experience James Ware Jr.”  (Ref. 1028)

Historical Marker (Lexington, Kentucky)


Forks of Elkhorn Church 2009

By this time, in 1801, Caty had seen the birth of 18 of the more than 53 grandchildren that her sons and daughters would bring into this world.  Thompson had 12, James nine (although many would die very young), Polly eight, Lucy nine, Kitty five, and George had 10.  Only her son, Charles, remained childless.  Even though Grandma Caty wrote to James’s daughter, Sally, in 1799, expressing her desire to see them, she must not have ever met Sally in person because even as late as 1825, Thompson wrote to his niece:

Josiah William Ware is the first and only one of the family that I ever saw.  And, in seeing him, I see your father more so than any painter could represent.  It has given me great pleasure to see Josiah at my house and if all my family could only see Sigismunda at my house – what rejoicing!  But I fear that is not to be; the distance is too great and to come in to Virginia is not impossible but very improbable as I am getting to be an old man.” (Ref. 35E)

On a spring day, Virginia Catherine Todd Ware died.  She never got to see her 50th birthday.  We do not know the cause of her death, but it must have been agonizing for James to lose his marriage partner of 35 years.  He was 61 and would have18 years to live without her, until his own death on May 7, 1820 at the age of 79.  A letter written to President Hayes states that, “James Ware died about 1820 in Fayette County.” (Ref.174)  Somehow it seems fitting that James would die the very same year that Daniel Boone, the man responsible for “spreading the word” about the wonders of Kentucky, would also die.

It is interesting to read the will of James.  He clearly had decided to give a lot of his land away to his children before his death as “gifts” to them.  George, who was the executor of the will, inherited the “plantation on which the testator now resides,” but James made it clear that each one of his children would equally benefit from his estate.  The will was probated two months after his death and there was a public sale to liquidate some of his personal property.

Last Will and Testament of James Ware II

The following shows the inventory value of the remaining part of his estate and also the profits made from the public sale:  

“Inventory of the personal property of the estate of James Ware deceased, total of $2,010.12 ½ , by John Barton, D. Barton, and Jacob Troutman.  Recorded May court 1821.  Also list of property (value $125.00) given to Isaac Webb and Mary T. Webb “to take the two old negroes Tenor and Peter for their support, by the consent of the heirs.” Shows George Ware as executor.  Included is list of property sold at public sale ($2,353.00).  (Ref. 1043B 1089)

George took over the estate of James and Caty and lived there himself until his death in 1849.  At that point, the land, which had initially been purchased prior to 1785, passed into his son, Abram Ware’s, hands.  Abram resided there until his death in 1890, making the property over 100 years old at the time.  At some point after 1890, most of the property was lost to the Wares.  We know that George and his wife, Nancy, were buried in Lexington Cemetery, but as of now, no grave has ever been found for Caty or James Ware.  It is most likely, as was the custom at the time, that they were buried somewhere on the property itself, and the winds of time slowly erased their existence.  It doesn’t matter if the actual tombstones are never found, though.  The important thing is that we know, without a doubt, that the man with Virginia roots ultimately became part of the Kentucky soil.  He forged a legacy that will continue to live on through his offspring for many generations to come. 



I have endeavored, to the best of my ability, to insure my facts are correct and supported by credible sources. There is always room for error, however, along with the possibility of wonderful new information surfacing from documents not available at this time. JCW


Chapter 15

Return to Home Page

This site maintained by John Reagan and last updated