The land which now makes up the Town of Ware was originally granted to John Read in 1716. He named the district “The Manour of Peace”and established an early settlement here. As the town grew and flourished, the current name of Ware was adopted. It is believed to have its roots in the Native American word “Nenameseck” for the weirs or fish traps that were used at the base of the falls on the Ware River. The town’s seal commemorates this, depicting salmon fishing from a bountiful location just below the falls.
Early settlement of the district was focused in Ware Center (located on Route 9), west of where the Main Street shopping district is today. As the colonies expanded west, commercial travelers along the Bay Path found Ware to be a convenient stopping point. A vigorous service economy, replete with numerous inns and taverns, was soon established. By the early 18th century, attention shifted to industrial development. The abundant waters of the Ware River, as it rushed over the falls near the eastern edge of town, were ideal to power future mills. Jabez Olmstead and Judah Marsh are named among the early industrialists who built saw and grist mills on the river and its tributaries.
With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, the center of commerce shifted to the factory village where it exists today. The upper dam of the Ware River was built in 1824 to run the manufacturing complex. Ware was home to three major manufacturers: Otis, Stevens and the Gilbert companies, who were noted for their production of textiles, clothing and shoes. Their demand for labor brought numerous immigrant families, primarily French, Irish and Polish, to this rich job market. By the early 20th century the Ware mills employed nearly 6,000 people.
The Great Depression era nearly signaled the demise of the mills, but the citizens of Ware banded together to buy shares in the companies. The purchase was the first employee buy-out of a major manufacturer in America. Life Magazine heralded the event with a new slogan for Ware, calling it “The Town that can’t be licked!”
Today, Ware stands proudly rooted in its history, and looks forward to its future. Our central location, commercial activity and unique rural features make this community an ideal place to visit, live, work and enjoy. Come see for yourself what we have to offer!
Ware has an area of 25,570 acres (~40 square miles). It is bordered by Belchertown, New Salem, Petersham, Hardwick, New Braintree, West Brookfield, Warren and Palmer. We are located ~27 miles from Springfield to the west and Worcester to the east.