|Ware Family Origins
Daniel & Maria Taylor Ware Lee:
Settling in Kansas
by Bill D. Oakley
|Only two years after the Daniel and Maria Ware Lee moved to Caldwell, in Sumner County, Kansas, there was a shootout in one of the saloons, downtown. The following are the details: “On July 7, 1879, in the Moreland Saloon, Deputy Constable John Wilson and a citizen, George Flatt, cornered two cowboys named Woods and Adams. They had been firing their guns outside in celebration of being paid for a Texas cattle drive earlier in the day. A shootout followed leaving both cowboys dead, an innocent bystander named Kiser wounded, and George Flatt with a reputation that led the new city of Caldwell to hire Flatt as its first city Marshal. Flatt gladly took credit for shooting the cowboys but no one ever came forward to accept responsibility for wounding Mr. Kiser.”
The elder Lees were not so much fearful of being harmed as they were repulsed by the disgusting conduct of that segment of the community. Of course, there were many decent, law abiding citizens in Caldwell in 1877. In addition to stores where people could buy clothing and food, there were a livery stable, blacksmith shop, a Methodist church and public schools. In 1879, Caldwell had its first newspaper and soon after came banks, hotels and an opera house.
Daniel Lee’s Ministry
Daniel Lee was 70 years old when he gave up his Methodist “station” in Illinois and moved to southern Kansas, but the fact that he was not a minister in the official capacity didn’t prevent him from using his ability and influence. Florence Smith Lee wrote that Daniel and Maria: “. . . held Sunday school in their home. He preached at all of the funerals and the weddings in the community, and in fact was so active that the stationed preacher who came later took notice of it. Daniel visited and prayed with people for miles around, walking if the distance wasn’t more than two or three miles.”
Daniel and his wife “were revered throughout the community as Father and Mother Lee. When he went to church he always wore his ministerial coat of black broadcloth and looked every bit a preacher, as he was. In the winter, when he went away from home on calls, he wore a large shawl, doubled crosswise in the style worn by old gentlemen of that time, pinned together across his chest with a large safety pin about three and one half inches long.”
Freda Lee Hayes wrote, “When Daniel Lee walked down the crowded sidewalks his long gray locks glistening in the sunlight; no man was ever so drunk or depraved, who did not treat him with impressive veneration. . . [He] was in town every day and in all the bustle of a frontier town he never failed in or neglected his apparent life’s purpose—to help some soul and in his efforts he never offended an individual. He was as welcome in the saloon as the best patron it had and while he stood around a gambling table not an offensive word was said. He often stopped the game to give advice to the patrons of the table and it has never been recorded or known that he was given either a surly or insulting word although it was as much as another man’s life was worth to interfere [with the game].”
Daniel and Maria’s Sons Marry Kansas Girls
The year was 1877. Florence Smith, 18, her sister Viola, 25, and her visiting cousin, 19, had met Jason Douglas, 24, and William Henry Lee, 22, a few months earlier when the young men had stopped at Florence’s home. The occasion for that call had been to give her father, Mr. Benjamin F. Smith, “a hind quarter of buffalo meat they had bagged on the range.” It must have been love at first sight because the following year Jason Douglas Lee married Viola D. Smith and two years after that William Henry Lee married her sister, Florence G. Smith.
Florence G. Smith Meets Maria Lee
Florence recalls the first time she met Maria Ware Lee. She and her visiting cousin decided to make a visit to the Lee farm home, to call on “an old lady who perhaps was lonely.” It was actually Maria’s sons that they hoped to see. Maria, age 64, “. . . greeted them dressed in a dark gown with a gingham apron. On her head she wore a black silk lace cap, with a small shoulder shawl about her shoulders. Maria, “was so reticent to the young visitors that they thought perhaps she believed they had come more to get a glimpse of her sons, than herself.”
In later years, Florence Smith Lee discovered that Maria’s quiet and reserved manner “was her natural demeanor; she thought twice before she spoke. In this way, any utterance carried a great deal of weight.”
Florence and William lived with, or near, Daniel and Maria, for several years and Florence grew very close to them. The following are her reflections:
“I think her husband [Daniel] was as attentive to her then as he had been in their early married life. They were so congenial. I remember a routine which they went through every time he dressed to go [out]. She would always tie his neck tie and in the process they would talk and when she was finished they both had a good laugh. I don’t know as I ever knew what the laughter was about, but they always ended the ceremony with it. I thought it pretty fine to see them so good natured with each other when they were so old.”
Maria “was a devoted Christian, faithful in her duties to the Church. She took charge of the tithe and when meeting time came, divided it with her husband before they started [for worship]. Sometimes it wasn’t much, but they were sure that the tithe belonged to the Lord and kept it separate as such. At family prayer they would often break into singing songs in Indian language and both got blessed through them.”
Times of Joy and Sorrow
From the letters and journal of Daniel and Maria, it appears that their 15 years in Caldwell were among their happiest. They made many friends and were active in the church and community. Much of the time they were near their three sons and grandchildren. But, during this period eight of their grandchildren died from diseases. Albert B. and Mary lost five of their twelve children: Charles, Joshua, Hattie, Sarah and Ella; Jason D. and Viola gave up little Bessie; William H. and Florence buried their first two boys, George A. and Walter D. Lee.
The Residences of Sons: Albert, Jason and William Lee
During the years that Daniel and Maria lived in Caldwell, their son Albert also lived in or near Caldwell for about nine years; but Albert returned to Arkansas from 1878 until 1882. He returned returned to Caldwell again, but then moved to the Oklahoma Territory in late 1889 or early 1890, where he lived until 1903. Jason D. Lee and his wife Viola had the longest successive tenure of residence in Sumner County, Kansas, staying from 1877 until 1885 (nine years). Jason’s job with the railroad took him to Trinidad, Colorado, but he was in the Oklahoma Territory in 1889 where he lived near William and Albert.
William was gone most of the time from 1880-1884 doing ranch work in Major County, Oklahoma. Florence resided in Caldwell much of that time, except for nine months in 1882. William was back in Caldwell from 1884 to 1889, serving as deputy sheriff of Sumner County and as Town Marshall in Caldwell. He and Florence then staked a claim in Oklahoma in late 1889 and never returned to Caldwell, except to visit or hold mission meetings.
From 1889 until her death in 1892, Maria Ware Lee dearly missed her sons and grandchildren. The exchange of letters, between them and their sons, and between Maria and her family and friends in Illinois helped fill the void; and the aging couple were encouraged by their friends, church brethren and country neighbors.
Daniel and Maria’s 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration:
Florence Smith Lee later wrote about the Lee’s anniversary. “On Sunday 11 Jun 1890 they observed their 50th wedding anniversary, and as they walked into the church, they were amazed to see it completely decorated with flowers. A huge arch of evergreens interspersed with colorful flowers was at the front of the church, and other flowers and greenery decorated every available space. . . they were both dressed in their very best clothes. The[y] ….walked slowly up the aisle to the music of the wedding march. They stopped under the lovely floral arch, and there Rev. Ganaway, the pastor, performed the usual wedding ceremony, renewing the vows the Lees had taken 11 Jun 1840 at Vancouver. Mrs. Lee wore the same dress she had worn at that long ago wedding at Vancouver when she was a bride just entering the mission work. The dress had changed color and now in place of a frosty tint of pink tan, it was a plum color. Instead of the voluminous skirt, it had only about two and one half yards around, with a seven inch pleated flounce at the hem. This is the dress she wore on all special occasions. The Lees received some very nice presents on their anniversary, among them eighty-five dollars in gold. Someone gave Rev. Lee a gold-headed cane, although he was never known to use a cane. Perhaps the doner [sic] thought he should [or would].”
The Caldwell newspaper printed a summary of the “Golden Wedding” and the following excerpt was not included in Florence Lee’s summary above. “Father Lee arose and in a voice choked with emotion thanked them for the unexpected and genuine surprise and asked God’s blessing upon them for the joy and the pleasure they had received during the evening. He then pronounced the benediction and thus ended one of the most pleasant and impressive occasions ever held in this city.”
Maria T. Ware Lee Dies at Caldwell: July 4, 1892
After fifty-two years of happy married life in which Daniel and Maria Lee shared many challenges, hardships and sadness, as well as celebrations, rewards and joys, the Lees time together finally came to an end. Only two years after they had observed their 50th wedding anniversary, Maria died. Florence Smith Lee described Maria’s death in her book about the Lees.
“Maria became ill and talked freely of her coming death—making temporal arrangements for it. After a short illness she died on 4 Jul 1892 [at age 79]. Her son, Jason, had prayer with her just before her death. She said, ‘The way is clear, I know in whom I have believed.’ Those were the last words uttered by a noble woman whose entire life had been one of self-sacrifice to the greater cause. Her burial robe was her wedding dress, which she had worn at Vancouver 52 years earlier and again at their 50th wedding anniversary. Her husband and her youngest son, William, took her body [by train] back to Illinois, where she was buried in her family’s plot at Ware’s Grove Cemetery next to her daughters, Mary and Sarah.”
The Lee Family gravestone, shown above, is in Ware’s Grove Cemetery, Montgomery County, Illinois. In 2003, WFA member Jan McKay, a descendant of the Rev. Daniel and Maria (Ware) Lee, placed a bronze marker on Maria’s grave. The plaque reads as follows: “Real Daughter, War of 1812, Maria T. Ware (Lee), Ancestor, Soldier of 1812.”