Amelia Wescott

Ware Family Origins
Amelia Dale Westcott: Ware Genealogist Extraordinaire
by Ann Mullins Tindall

Amelia Dale Westcott, known as “Millie,” is famous among the descendants of the six Ware family brothers and sisters who settled in Montgomery County, Illinois, because she devoted countless hours of her life to compiling a genealogical record of the Wares. What made her effort unusual was that she was not born to the Ware family but married into it. In addition to the Ware genealogy, she also compiled histories of the Osborn family, her own Cram lineage (from Philetus Hartt and Thomas Webster) and her own Dale lineage (from William Spurr).

Millie, whose other nickname was “Baboo,” was born April 4, 1868, in or near the town of Pana, Illinois, in Christian County, just north of Montgomery County. Millie married Thomas Knowlton Westcott on November 23, 1891. Thomas was the grandson of one of the earliest settlers of Montgomery County, Obadiah Ware, and the great-grandson of Captain Benjamin Ware of Gilsum, New Hampshire.

Thomas’ mother, Betsey Ware, met her husband, Charles Maurice Westcott, when he traveled from his home in Scituate, Rhode, Island, to visit relatives in the Ware’s Grove and Butler area. After their marriage, Charles and Betsey lived in Rhode Island for a few years where Thomas and his younger sister, Eliza, were born. By 1869, however, the couple had permanently settled on a farm in Butler Grove Township, just south of Obadiah Ware’s farm. Obadiah, who had only one son, obviously managed to convince his sons-in-law and various nieces and nephews to settle in his neighborhood, often selling them part of the 2500 or so acres of land grants that he obtained in the 1820’s and 1830’s.

Millie and Thomas had six children, five of whom grew to adulthood. Two of their sons married cousins who were also descended from Wares. Nathan Hartt Westcott married Grace Lestina Osborn (Grace Osborn/Jesse Ware Osborn/Lydia Kendrick Osborn/Rebecca Ware Kendrick/Benjamin Ware). Charles Maurice Westcott, Sr., married Olive Osborn, (Olive Osborn/Lewis Osborn/Lydia Kendrick Osborn/Rebecca Ware Kendrick/Benjamin Ware). Charles and Olive’s grandsons, Kendrick Westcott and Charles Westcott, Jr., attended the 2003 Ware Family Association meeting.

Millie’s life became intertwined with Wares and there were dozens of descendants in central Illinois to share their stories and lineage. In July of 1936, with three children aged 19, 12 and 11, Millie began to collect material. She wrote in the Preface to her Ware genealogy: “I commenced to gather material for a Ware family record, intending to make a small pamphlet giving names, birth, marriage, and death dates of the seventeen children and their descendants of Captain Benjamin Ware of Dedham [sic], Mass., who was of the 6th Generation from Robert Ware “The Aged” of the 1st generation.” At that time she probably did not realize how many descendants Benjamin had. Her task became a “patience cultivator,” she wrote, but “there has been much pleasure connected with it.”

For Part I of her “pamphlet,” Millie gleaned Ware records from the Emma Forbes Ware’s compilation of early Wares, the Ware Family Genealogy, published by Charles H. Pope in 1901, and Sylvanus Hayward’s History of the Town of Gilsum, New Hampshire, published by John B. Clarke in 1881. Millie hand-copied this early genealogy information and made a chart of all of the Wares from the immigrant, Robert, through Benjamin’s children. The chart is more condensed than one might expect because Captain Benjamin Ware’s parents were first cousins, both grandchildren of Robert Ware’s grandson, John Ware.

In Part II, Millie recorded the descendants of the 17 children of Benjamin Ware from the information returned to her as a result of her correspondence with dozens of known Ware descendants, both in the Midwest and in New England. As sources for her information, she also listed “family Bibles, family and Town Histories, private diaries, gravestones, memory of aged, and photo of family monument.” She found family members scattered over 40 states and Mexico, and in 275 cities and communities.

Millie developed an outline for recording the generations, which she explained in detail in the Preface to her Ware Genealogy. In Part II, she divided the work into seventeen “Branches,” one for each child of Captain Benjamin Ware. Within each branch, she outlined the generations, using a combination of colorcoding, Roman and Arabic numbers, and abbreviations. In outline form, the generations for each branch are easy to follow, so long as you remember to look for the next Roman or Arabic number in the same color.

Millie also included an Appendix, which consisted of two different indices of all of the names. She divided the first index (9 handwritten pages) by generations descending from Robert Ware. Her original work extended through eleven generations. She further subdivided each generation by Branch. So, for example, in the first index you will find my (Ann Mullins) mother, Mary Elizabeth Ware, listed in 11th generation of Branch 3. She organized all of the names in the second index alphabetically by last name with each name followed by a generation number, branch number, and, in red, a page number (7 handwritten pages).

Millie completed the Ware Genealogy in Chicago, Illinois, on October 1, 1937. Over the next twelve years, she provided handwritten copies of the book to Ware descendants upon request and for a nominal fee. My copy has 89 pages, so she far exceeded her “small pamphlet.” Cindy Joy has a copy with 99 pages and a 100th page entitled, “A page for future Alphabetical Index.” Emily Osborn has a copy made at the time of her birth in October of 1945, which totals 126 pages, including several blank pages for making future notes. The last two pages list “Inter-Marriages” in chronological order – there are 41, beginning with the marriage of Benjamin’s parents, first cousins Moses Ware and Rebecca Puffer, down through the marriages in 1921 of two brothers to two cousins. These last two pages also include a list of children born after the deaths of their fathers and a list of nine sets of twins born into the family.

The exact number of copies Amelia Westcott made is unknown, but in a note sent to Lena Ware DeWitt, she stated “I am started on my 27th copy now.” We suspect that she may have copied the book as many as 40 times! Many branches of the family purchased a copy, then handed it down for each generation to treasure. In addition to her Ware Genealogy, Millie also compiled a Butler Grove Township Genealogy in 1947 (while she lived in Chicago) with at least one copy handwritten in Aug. 1949 when she was 80 years old. Also indexed, it is 94 pages in length. Pat Olmstead relates that Amelia also compiled an Osborn genealogy titled Levi Osborn. Pat’s copy, dated December 1940, is 48 pages, handwritten in blue and red ink. It is much the same as the Ware Genealogy with a preface page and an extensive index.

Millie wrote about the lives of earlier generations, but mentioned herself only as “the compiler of this (and other) genealogies.” Based on pictures in an old Westcott album, I believe that she attended college and taught school at some time. She died on October 20, 1961, at the age of 93. She is buried beside her husband in Ware’s Grove Cemetery, Butler Township, Illinois.

WFA member Patricia Olmstead has expressed the gratitude that is shared by the Ward descendants of Captain Benjamin Ware, scattered across the country and throughout the world:

“Millie certainly has given a great deal to all of us, and to mankind, by recording all the names and dates so meticulously, facts we might not have if it weren’t for her. I well remember my grandparents Charles J. and Iva Osborn, reading the genealogies, and discussing them. They did add names and dates, and after their deaths my Aunt Viola Osborn continued to do so. I think Amelia (and my grandparents’ interest), along with Dr. Harold Osborn’s sharing his genealogical information, is what has inspired me to do genealogy—I feel it is my calling.”

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