Before humans began to write, storytellers kept history alive. Not too long ago in Windham, there was a man who was a great storyteller as well as a writer. Ken Cole Jr. wrote about a variety of topics, ranging from animals and plants to the history of Windham.

In 1991, he wrote about Ware’s Ledges, an area on the Land of Nod Road in South Windham. In his words,

“Just off the Land of Nod Road, after you descend the steep hill which goes by the two names Clark’s Hill or Leighton’s Hill, you will see 50-foot high ledges on the right. For more than 200 years these have been called Ware’s Ledges. They were named for Joe Ware (often spelled Weare), a man from Yarmouth known as an Indian fighter.

“My grandfather and a man named Llewellyn Austin, who spent his life at the foot of the ledges, used to tell stories about Joe Ware. Austin died in 1954, still living on the Land of Nod Road.

“During King Philip’s War (1675-78) Joe’s parents were killed during an Indian raid on their farm in North Yarmouth. He vowed to get revenge and became a scout for the new settlers, tracking down the Native Americans.

“The ledges were named after him because of one of his adventures in South Windham. He happened on a group of Indians camped on the island in Duck Pond, now called Highland Lake. As he observed, he noticed they had two captive girls, non-Indian. He waited until the party split up and the remainder had bedded down and crept in close, untying the two girls who were Manchester girls from Windham (then New Marblehead).

“Joe decided to take the girls to the Province Fort on River Road, but as they started over the hill, he heard the Indians in pursuit. The girls were slow and scared so he told them to lay down in a crevasse at foot of the ledges and covered them up with dead leaves.

“He then led the pursuers north and east away from the girls. After he had gained some distance, he circled back and went to the Fort for help. An armed party went back to the ledges and rescued the girls. Capt. Anderson who was in charge of rescuers declared the ledges should be named for Joe and so they were.”

There are many stories about Joe Weare (Ware) and his escapades in Windham and towns nearby in southern Maine, and history lovers appreciate storyteller Ken Cole Jr. for preserving this one.

This old house on Land of Nod Road was the home of Llewellyn Austin until he died in 1954. Austin lived next to Ware’s Ledge, also called Clark’s or Leighton’s Ledge.This very old photo shows Llewellyn Austin’s barn on Land of Nod Road. The barn was taken down in 1957 and was located next to Ware’s Ledge, also called Clark’s or Leighton’s Ledge.

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