Compiled by Jerry Smith
Guy Waring in 1881 age 23
Waring's ranch in the Okanogan Valley around 1884
He was born in New York, January 1859, son of Col. George Waring.
On July 1, 1884, a Boston-bred and Harvard educated gentlemen named Guy Waring at a young age of 26 set out from New York with five hundred dollars, a wife and three step-children, determined to find success and happiness in the Far West.
He first settled in Portland Oregon holding down a job as clerk in the Comptroller's office of the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. After a short period of six weeks, Waring lost his job. He decided to abandoned business entirely and try his hand at farming inasmuch as he had sprung from a long line of Connecticut farmers on his father's side of the family. Waring thought that perhaps he possessed some small hereditary advantage in his direction.
So the die was cast. Waring borrowed five thousand dollars from a friend back east and, leaving his family behind in Portland started out to explore the country. After exploring the Puget Sound region without much success Waring returned to his family who at this time were wintering in Port Townsend.
Fortunately Waring found a boyhood friend, Charles E. Peabody, stationed at Port Townsend as a special agent of the Treasury Department with the entire Territory of Washington as his field. Charles had told Waring of a region lying east of the Cascade Mountains, a land of wonderful climate, with cold winters and hot dry summers. It was the region of Okanogan. This was no finer cattle country to be found in any part of the west, and he assured Waring he would be making a great mistake not to take a look. This engaging description of this wonderland he had discovered gave Waring's curiosity no rest. Again and again, he plied his memory for further details until finally, overcome with a desire to see for himself, Waring set out for the Okanogan country.
Waring purchased a ranch in the Okanogan Valley from a gentlemen by the name of Wellington. Here he settled down with his family raising cattle. After a few years at farming Waring met Julius Allen Loomis who convinced Waring to form a partnership with him and go into storekeeping business. Waring was respected for his puritanical standards, his inflexible honesty, and his outspoken remarks. By the less worthy, he was less well liked, because of precisely these same qualities. It was unusual to deal with a storekeeper who warned you against what you were proposing to buy as being inferior in quality and not worth its price. He sold groceries, dry goods, hardware, candy, and ammunition; and he was capable of telling a customer what he thought of him.
Shootings among the new settlers and miners became more and more common. It was Waring's belief that it would be necessary for him to take his family away from Okanogan before something serious happened. Loomis agreed to stay and look after the ranch and store, and Waring, in turn, assured him that he was willing to retain a financial interest in the ranch and store if he so desired. Promising Loomis that, if the situation should ever improve, and the land is safe once again, he would return. In 1887 Waring with his family moved back to Boston.
It only required Waring a short four years of renewed living in Boston to convince him that the simplicity of life on the frontier was more desirable and more wholesome, and, finally, more rewarding. And so, in 1891, Waring returned to the west, which would not set him free, and in the Methow Valley, forty miles to the west of his old ranch, he built his new home in a region which happily had not been corrupted by the miners.
On September 26th of that year, he established a "squatters right" on the fork where the Chewack River flowed into the Methow River. Only about 60 pioneers lived near the forks and the entire population of the Methow Valley was only about 150. Quick to recognize a potential market, Waring contacted friends in Boston who loaned him $4,000. Waring spent $3,500 on goods for the community and another $500 on building a dwelling for his wife and young children. On October 10, 1891, Waring began selling and trading merchandise from his wagon. Not until 1897 in Boston, however, did he actually incorporate his business, the Methow Trading Company.
In his first year 1891, Waring actually managed to make his venture pay, but in 1893 a fire destroyed most of his inventory. With $728 worth of goods saved from the fire another settler named Earl Johnson became manager. He made a profit for the Methow Trading Company for the next 16 years.
In the years following 1894, Guy Waring diversified his interests throughout the Methow Valley. His business included a small sawmill capable of milling 10,000 feet of lumber daily, an orchard, a water power system, the Duck Brand Saloon, and a freight company.
In 1897 Guy Waring built a rugged, sturdy, hand-hewn log cabin which overlooked Winthrop and was dubbed "Waring's Castle." The cabin and its outbuildings are now the home of the Shafer Museum. The Simon Shafer family maintained Waring's cabin until it was taken over by the Okanogan County Historical Society in 1976. In 1982, it was placed in the National Register of historical places, as one of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation.
Among Guy Waring's eastern friends was a Harvard classmate, Owen Wister. In 1898 Waring convinced Wister to spend his honeymoon in the Methow Valley. Some say he found the inspiration here for the nation's first thoroughly western novel, "The Virginian", which Wister wrote four years later, and still being one of the best western novels today.
Guy Waring, died at his home in Hyde Park, near Boston on March 27, 1936. He had been in poor health, but died of a stroke.