This gentleman was one of the many who spent the greater portion of their lives in developing the country, that their children and grandchildren might enjoy the advantages of a high state of civilization. Mr. Wells was born in Newburyport, Mass., March 23, 1813, a son of Samuel W. and Elizabeth (Swasey) Wells, both of whom were born in the Bay State, and were in every respect thrifty and practical New Englanders. The paternal grandfather, Daniel Wells, was of Welsh descent, while the maternal grandfather Edward Swasey, was of English lineage, his ancestors having been among the very first settlers of Massachusetts.
Edward Wells, like many Yankee boys, started out to make his own living with a determination to succeed, and during his long apprenticeship at the cooper's trade, he obtained a thorough insight into the details of business. The common schools of Newburyport afforded him a practical education, which he found of great benefit to him later in life. After learning and following the cooper's trade in Boston until 1834, he turned his footsteps Westward, to seek a home in new fields. He reached Quincy in the latter part of October of that year, and his worldly possessions at that time consisted of one silver half-dollar, he having been obliged to spend considerable money on his thirty-seven days' journey to this section by stage and water. Although his financial resources had sunk to a very low ebb indeed, he possessed great pluck, energy and ambition, and in the spring of 1835, having in the meantime saved some means, he in partnership with James D. Morgan, embarked in the cooper business, which connection continued for a few years.
Succeeding this, Mr. Wells drifted into the pork business, in which he continued for a quarter of a century, his success in this branch of business not being due to any factitious circumstances, but to the fact that he applied himself closely to his business, grasped at every opportunity for improving his financial condition, and was the soul of honesty in his dealings with his patrons. It is thus seen that his silver half-dollar was not bound up in a napkin, but multiplied itself into a comfortable fortune. Retiring from that business, he rested from his labors for some time and then began dealing in real estate in Chicago and elsewhere. Where he again manifested sound business judgment and views of a most practical and progressive nature. He was for many years a stockholder and director of the First National Bank.
Mr. Wells was much interested in railroad affairs throughout life, and succeeded in getting the Pennsylvania Central to agree to come to Quincy. The road was to come in over the Quincy & Warsaw road, now the Carthage branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and thereby they lost the Pennsylvania Central. In various other ways Mr. Wells showed his public spirit and his earnest desire to build up his section. He took a great interest in the railroad bridge matter and spent weeks in Washington, D. C., securing a charter. In company with James Woodruff, he went to Baltimore and interviewed President Garrett of the Baltimore & Ohio Railway, but a short time afterward Mr. Garrett became insane and this prevented further negotiations. In politics, he was an uncompromising Republican and served one term as Alderman from the Third Ward. He was also at one time a member of the Volunteer Fire Department and served one term as Chief of the department.
March 19, 1837, Mr. Wells married Mary B. Evans, the eldest daughter of Capt. Robert Evans, of Quincy, and their union resulted in the birth of eight children, of whom the four youngest are living: George, of this city; Frank, of Chicago; Ella, wife of James R. Smith, of Wheatland, N. Dak., and Miss Kate, the youngest, who is at home.
In the domestic circle, Mr. Wells was devoted to his family and he possessed very social and hospitable instincts, a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was one of the oldest members of the Unitarian Church, which was organized in Quincy fifty years ago. He died at his home, No. 421 Jersey Street, May 16, 1892, his wife and two children, George and Kate, being present at his bed-side. His death was caused by congestion of the lungs, and was widely and deeply mourned. In him Quincy lost a pioneer resident, a successful business man and a valuable citizen.
[source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Adams County, Illinois
containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens,
Chicago: Chapman Bros. 1892]
[transcribed by Debbie Gibson 2009]
The Quincy Daily Journal
Monday, May 16, 1892
EDWARD WELLS DEAD
The Venerable Pioneer, Prominent Citizen and Successful Business man, Passes Away Suddenly Early This Morning – Congestion of the Lungs the Cause of Death.
A Brief Sketch of Mr. Wells' Life by General James D. Morgan, His Life, Long Associate and Friend.
Edward Wells died at his home, and that of Gen. James D. Morgan, No. 421 Jersey street, this morning, about 3:30 o'clock.
Hearing the surprising news a JOURNAL reporter called at the residence and Gen. James D. Morgan kindly gave the particulars and also a brief sketch of Mr. Wells' life.
Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Wells are sister. The men have been life-long friends and were at one time business partners.
"The cause of death,” said Gen. Morgan, “was congestion of the lungs. The attack was sudden. Mr. Wells was out yesterday and, for him, was feeling unusually well. This morning about 1 o'clock, he was taken with congestion of the lungs. Dr. Robbins, the family physician, was summoned and arrived at once, but the patient's case was hopeless. He died about 3:30 o'clock. Mrs. Wells, their son George, their daughter Miss Kate, Dr. Robbins, Mrs. Morgan and I were present when death came."
After a pause the venerable general continued.
A PIONEER OF QUINCY
(SAME AS BIO ABOVE)
"I have known Edward Wells,” concluded General Morgan, "since 1826, he has lived in Quincy for fifty-eight years."
It is not known at this writing when the funeral will be held.
The Quincy Daily Journal
Wednesday, May 25, 1892
EDWARD WELLS' WILL
The Property Is Left to the Widow and the Four Children, Save Requests to the Unitarian Church and Woodland Home.
The will of the late Edward Wells was filed for and admitted to probate last Saturday evening about 6 o'clock. It was filed by George Wells. He filed the instrument late so that the press would miss getting it.
The testator leaved to his wife, the homestead, 421 Jersey street, and $50,000 in lieu of dower, and also the income of $50,000 during her life. The rest of his estate he divides equally among his four children – George Wells and Kate Wells, of this city, Frank Wells, of Chicago, and Mrs. James R. Smith, of Wheatland, North Dakota.
Following are the provisions of the lengthy will, which does not state the value of the estate:
The testator first directs that all his just debts and funeral expenses be paid, and in this includes a request that his executors keep his cemetery lot in good order, place suitable headstones or monument and make all needed repairs, at an expense not exceeding $2,000. He then makes the following bequests:
Third - To his wife, Mary B. Wells, the house and lot where he lived, and also all household goods, fixtures and books thereto belonging, including all horses, carriages, buggies and harness and all personal property pertaining to said house and lot. Also $50,000 in other real estate, money, stocks or bonds to be selected by her out of his whole estate, to be taken at their market value at the time, and in case his wife and executors can not agree as to the market value of said real estate, bonds, etc., the same is to be determined by the then president and cashier of the First National bank of Quincy. All of the property devised to his wife is to be her exclusive property, forever and in lieu of her dower in the estate. He also bequeaths to his wife that income of $50,000, to be retained in the hands of the executors and kept invested by them, and the income to be paid over to his wife semi-annually during her life. At her death the $50,000 is to be equally divided and paid to the testator's four children, George Wells, Frank Wells, Ella Wells, (now Mrs. Ella Smith) and Kate Wells, if living, and if not living each one's share shall be paid to their heirs. Whatever, at his death, his books show to be due his wife is to be a valid debt against the estate and paid her in addition to the bequests.
Fourth – To the Second Congregational church, sometimes called the Unitarian church, of Quincy, $2,000, to be paid within two years or sooner if practicable.
Fifth – To Woodland home, $500, to be paid within two years or sooner if practicable.
Sixth – George Wells, Frank Wells, Ella Wells (now Mrs. Ella Smith) and Kate Wells, share and share alike, and to their heirs forever.
Seventh – To his son George Wells, he gives as part of his share of the estate the south 25 feet of the north half of block 19 and the building thereon (west side of Fifth between Maine and jersey), the amount to be deducted out of his share therefor being $7,000.
Eighth – To his son Frank Wells, he gives as part of his share of the estate the west 24 feet of the east 48 feet of lot 1 block 19 and building thereon (now occupied by the gas company) the amount to be deducted out of his share therefor being $17,000.
Ninth – To his daughter, Ella Wells, (now Mrs. Ella Smith) he gives a farm in Cass county, North Dakota, sometimes called the Quincy farm, and she shall have in her own right all claims which testator may have against her husband, James R. Smith. The amount to be taken out of her share of the estate shall be two-thirds of the amount charged on testator's Locks against James R. Smith and George Wells for advances made to them on said farm.
Tenth – To his daughter Kate Wells he gives in her own right as part of her share of the estate, the east 24 feet to the corner of Maine and Fifth streets of lot 1, Block 19 (now occupied by Bull's Bank). The amount deducted from her share therefor shall be $23,000.
Twelfth – He appoints his sons George Wells and Frank Wells executors, and fixes their bond at $25,000. In case of the death of either of them or in case one or either of them do not qualify, he names William McFadon as executor or co-executor. Testator requests that his sons do not make any charge for settling his estate in excess of $1,500, but in case they do he gives to each of his two daughter, in addition to their share, a sum equal to the amount charged in excess of $1,500.
In the last section the testator provides that is any of his heirs are not satisfied with his will, and either directly or indirectly commence action in the courts to try and break the will, the party or parties so doing shall forfeit all and every part of the estate willed to them, and their share or shares shall be divided among the other heirs that do not try to break the will.
The will is dated Oct. 22, 1891, and is witnessed by Frederick W. Meyer and William S. Warfield.
Marriage of Adams County, Illinois Vol I 1825-1860 Vol I
Wells, Edward married Evans, Mary B. 19 Mar. 1837 (Code 542) Turner, Asa Jr. (A.) MG
Marriages of Adams County, Illinois 1876-1890 Vol III
Smith, James R. Married Wells, Miss Ella 18 Jan. 1877 (Code 273) Hosmer, Fred'k L. (F. L.) MG
Marriages of Adams County, Illinois 1891-1899 Vol IV
Cert. # 11625
Lockwood, William R. married Wells, Kate 26 Oct. 1898
Transcribed by: Debbie Gibson
Source: Marriage Books of Adams County Vol I, III, & IV
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