Henry Ware Hale was born in Maine on October 7, 1843. After graduating from Colby College in 1867, he attended the Baptist Union Theological Seminary in Chicago (1871-1872) and the Newton Theological Institution (now Andover Newton Theological School), in Newton Massachusetts (1872-1874). He was ordained on August 20, 1874, and shortly thereafter moved to Burma, where he served as a missionary for the American Baptist Missionary Union in Shwegyin and, after 1894, in Tavoy. He returned to the United States between 1902 and 1910, and lived in Chatham County, Georgia. He married Susanna Norton Coffin (b. February 7, 1849) on April 21, 1870, in Berrien County, Michigan, and they had 5 children, all born in Burma: Emma Norton (b. October 1875), John Alden (b. June 1877), William Freedman (b. February 1879), Lucy Helen Hancock, and Charles E. A. The eldest children, Emma, John, and William, lived in Hebron and Waterville, Maine, between 1894 and 1902, while their parents and younger siblings lived in Asia.