Author and politician. Born: May 29, 1841, Hartford, Connecticut. Died: July 1, 1911, Cascade, Colorado.
Eugene Fitch Ware, also known as "Ironquill," is scarcely known to Kansans of today. Yet, during his lifetime he was considered one of the state's most illustrious citizens, having gained fame as a soldier, lawyer, politician, and author.
Ware was born May 29, 1841, in Hartford, Connecticut. A few years later his family moved to Burlington, Iowa, where he grew to manhood during that state's frontier days, At the age of 19, he volunteered as a private in the Union army and was mustered out as a captain in June 1866.
Following the Civil War, he took up newspaper work and in 1867 he moved to Fort Scott to work on The Monitor. He also studied law at Fort Scott, was admitted to the bar, and later moved to Topeka to practice law.
Ware was prominent in the Republican Party, being twice a delegate to its national convention. He served two terms in the Kansas legislature and President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to the U. S. Pension Commission where he served three years. He served as president of the Kansas Historical Society in 1899.
It was his writing, especially his poems, however, that gained him the most fame. Although his identity was never a secret, he used the pseudonym "Ironquill" and he regularly contributed his prose and poetry to Kansas newspapers and magazines. He regarded writing as a hobby only and, consequently, never copyrighted any of his works. His most popular book, The Rhymes of Ironquill, was issued in 15 editions. His poetry ranged from the serious to the humorous. One of his first widely known poems, "The Washerwoman's Song," may have even damaged his political career because it revealed him as a Freethinker and agnostic. Other poems were catchy and light-hearted, such as one about Admiral George Dewey in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.
O dewey was the morning
Upon the first of May.
And Dewey was the Admiral
Down in Manilla Bay.
And dewey were the Regent's eyes,
"Them" orbs of royal blue!
And do we feel discouraged?
I Dew not think we Dew.
Ware died at the age of 70 on July 1, 1911, in Cascade, Colorado.
Entry: Ware, Eugene
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: February 2011
Date Modified: May 2012
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