In 1716 a tract of land which was a little more than 11,000 acres (45 km²) in size was granted to John Read. He named it "The Manour Of Peace" and had it in mind to develop it in the style of an English manor anticipating that it would later become a very valuable country estate. He leased out the land and did not sell one acre until after his death when he gave a gift of 200 acres to serve as a ministry lot. As time passed, the town of Ware grew up around the old Congregational meeting house and later became a small center of local manufacturing and commerce.
The actual origin of the name, Ware, is thought to be derived from a translation of the Native American word "Nenameseck," meaning fishing weir (pronounced Ware). The weirs were used to capture salmon that were once abundant in New England waterways.
In 1729, the first grist and saw mills were built on the banks of the Weir River by Jabez Olmstead. During the American Revolution there were at least eight taverns and several inns in the area. Two of the most famous were Ebenezer Nye’s tavern and John Downing’s. After town meetings were held they would often adjourn to the latter establishment. By the 1830s it was not uncommon to see textile mills dotted along the various local rivers. At this point Ware community was making the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrially based society. The post Civil War era (1850s - 1900s) brought a new prosperity to the now established textile mill town. "Ware factory village," as it was known, sprung up overnight and formed the basis for new growth and development.
For nearly 100 years the Otis company had been the largest single Ware employer. Cotton had been the primary product and by 1937, denims, awnings and tickings were the principal output. It had been very prosperous until World War I when its employees numbered close to 2,500. By the 1920s however, the company began to decline due to southern competition and lack of modern machinery.
By the mid thirties, the Directors decided to liquidate although no public announcement was made. Shortly thereafter, the company had sold its interests to 3 "cotton men" – Lawrence W. Robert Jr., Edward J. Heitzeberg, and Paul A. Redmond – all with close connections to Alabama Mills which owned factories in the South.
Instantly, the townspeople rallied to the cause. One thousand posters were put up around the community reading:
A public mass meeting was called that evening and plans to raise the necessary cash in order to save what appeared to be the ruin of the town were formulated. The citizens of Ware were able to purchase the mills together with the backing of the Ware Trust Company. The mills became Ware Industries Inc., and Ware came to be known nation-wide as "The Town That Can’t Be Licked."
There were 4,027 households out of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $36,875, and the median income for a family was $45,505. Males had a median income of $37,462 versus $25,733 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,908. About 8.4% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.8% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.