JAMES L. WELLS was a son of William Wells, who came to Pennsylvania from Virginia in 1800, and settled in Woodstock, Ohio, in 1852, from whence he moved to Zanesville, where he died. William Wells was a Methodist in religion, a Whig in politics, and a chair maker by trade. His children were as follows: sons--James L., Joseph, Dennis B., William, Benjamin and Westley; and his six daughters were: Martha, Eliza, Christiana, Jane, Matilda and Mary Ann. James L., the subject of this sketch, was born June 26, 1815, in Williamsport (now Monongahela), Penn., where he passed his early life.
He learned the brick and stone mason trade in Pittsburgh, Penn., and possessing a natural inclination for mechanical work became an expert boat builder. Politically he was a leading member of the Whig and Abolition parties, having materially assisted in the famous "Underground Railway." He was equally interested in educational matters, and served as president of the school board until the time of his death. When a young man Mr. Wells was united in marriage with Mary, daughter of Robert Mason, and their children were Sarah F., William W., R. M., Julius L. and Martha A. The father was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church until that organization dissolved, when he became a zealous worker in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He died in September, 1888, and was buried in the cemetery at California, beside his wife, who had been laid to rest in 1874, leaving a memory sweet with the fragnance of every virtue.
Mr. Wells, in his younger days, was an active and powerful man, and possessed the courage to engage in any honorable calling promising adequate reward. He appears not to have started in life with a desire to become rich, but simply with an inflexible determination to achieve honorable independence, and that he succeeded none who knew him will deny. If he possessed one characteristic that dwarfed and overshadowed all others, it was personal independence--that trait in man's character that forbids him to "crook the supple hinges of the knee that thrift may follow fawning." From early manhood he conformed his life to the teachings of practical Christianity by that open-handed charity which brings hope and comfort to misfortune. His family relations were of the most pleasing and agreeable character, and his cosy home in Coal Centre (formerly Greenfield) marked him as a man of taste, and an advocate of system in all the details of life. In manner Mr. Wells was serious; by some he was even regarded as severe; yet beneath that thoughtful and meditative exterior there was a stratum of quiet humor, which came to the surface in conversation, and rendered him a most agreeable and entertaining companion. In the evening of his life, enthroned in the affections of his children, and enjoying the well-earned respect of his neighbors, Mr. Wells could review the events of his long and busy life without a blush.
His son, R. M. WELLS, M. D., the only male representative of the family now residing in Washington county, is a well-known physician of Coal Centre, of which place he is a native, having been born there June 22, 1846.
Dr. Wells received his elementary education in the public schools of Coal Centre, this county. In 1864 he enlisted in Company D, Fifty-seventh Regiment, P. V. I., and served with the army of the Potomac until the close of the war. He commenced the study of medicine in 1870. In September, 1872, he began a course in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1874 entered the College of Medicine and Surgery at Cincinnati, Ohio, from which institution he graduated. He first began to practice his profession at Dawson Station, Fayette Co., Penn., later moved to Greenfield, now Coal Centre, and in 1889 moved to Davenport, Iowa. In 1890 he returned to his present home in Coal Centre (on account of ill health of Mrs. Wells), where he enjoys a large and constantly increasing practice. On May 8, 1879, Dr. Wells was married to Susanna, daughter of John Wood. His brothers, William W., and Julius Lemoine, are in business at Moline, Illinois.
Text taken from page 371 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed March 1997 by Paula Talbert of Caldwell, OH as part of the Beers Project.
Published March 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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