WELLS, George 1821-1906
Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 9/24/2010 at 15:04:34
GEORGE WELLS CALLED HOME
Grundy Center, Aug. 4.—Hon. George Wells died at his residence one mile south of Wellsburg, Ia., Thursday evening at 8 o'clock.
Mr. Wells had been failing for some time, so much so that guardians of his property had been appointed by the court. He was one of the oldest settlers in this county, and was 85 years old. He left surviving him three sisters, Mrs. Nelson of Minnesota, Mrs. Briggs of Chicago, Mrs. Robinson of Bristol, Conn., and one brother who resides in Minnesota, and also several nephews and nieces. Mr. Wells served one term in the Iowa legislature.
George Wells was one of Iowa's wealthiest men. He has been a resident of Grundy county for half a century. He came from Connecticut and still owns the old family estate in the "Nutmeg State." At one time he owned 9,000 acres of Grundy soil, and in the early days it could virtually be had for the asking, but of the vast estate of 1,500 acres that he now owns, not an acre is obtainable for less than $150, and it has only been within the last ten years he has consented to part with any of the real estate at that high figure. In addition to his extensive interests at Wellsburg he has vast tracts of valuable lands in Palo Alto and Kossuth counties, and in many banks. There are no children of direct issue and the heirs are either brothers, sisters or more distantly connected.
More Than a Million.
The total value of Mr. Wells' estate is estimated at upward of $1,000,000, and it is expected that his death will precipitate one of the biggest legal fights over an estate that has ever occurred in this part of Iowa. Two wills, with several years intervening, seem to be the basis for the impending contest, and even during his last sickness there were evidences that his relatives would institute proceedings as soon as his death occurred.
It is understood that fifteen years ago a will was made by which his earthly possessions were willed to his wife. She being several years his junior, the natural supposition was that she would survive her husband, but a few years ago the wife died, and within the past year another will was signed by Mr. Wells, at the age of 85. It is declared to be a very interesting document, the property this time being distributed on Mr. Wells' side of the house to his relatives. The contest is expected to originate with relatives of the deceased wife.
--Waterloo Semi Weekly Courier (Waterloo, Iowa), 7 August 1906
IOWA'S WEALTHIEST FARMER DEAD
Geo. Wells Grundy County's Millionaire Died Thursday Night
WILLS FORTUNE TO 10 HEIRS
Notice Given That Will is to Be Contested
George Wells, Iowa's wealthiest farmer and Grundy County's only millionaire died at his home near Wellsburg last Thursday evening at 8 o'clock. His death came as a gradual snuffing out of life's candle. For several years he has been failing both physically and mentally and during the past year his death was expected to come at any time.
Mr. Wells was born in Connecticut, at a place known as the "Ten Rod Farm" which he owned at the time of his death.
CAME TO GRUNDY COUNTY 50 YEARS AGO
Mr. Wells came to Grundy County in 1855. His keen insight told him that this was one of the best spots in the world to invest in real estate and he began his land speculations at once and at one time owned about 9000 acres of Grundy County land.
Mr. Wells' wealth is estimated at a million dollars. It is represented by real estate, bank stock and bank deposits. At the time of his death he owned about 8000 acres of Iowa land.
An inventory of his wealth was filed in the county clerk's office the 27th day of last September and the following figures are taken from that report.
Emmet County, 2840 acres
Kossuth County, 3500 acres
Grundy County, 1560 acres
In town Wellsburg, 40 lots
In town Germania, 2 lots
In town Steamboat Rock, 2 lots
Wells Homestead near Bristol, Connecticut, known as the "Ten Rod" farm, 100 acres.
There are $72,074 in notes secured by chattle mortgages.
First National, Grundy Center ... $2675.44
Wellsburg Savings Bank ... $5188.22
Continental National Bank of Chicago ... $127595.68
First Trust & Savings Bank of Chicago ... $71612.85
CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT
First National Bank, Grundy Center ... $55075.00
Wellsburg Savings Bank ... $12000.00
Farmers & Drovers State of Germania ... $33427.51
Total ... $317574.70
First National, Grundy Center ... $32700.00
Wellsburg Savings Bank ... $1000.00
Farmers & Drovers of Germania ... $17000.00
Total ... $52700.00
Mr. Wells leaves no children therefore five per cent of his property or about $50,000 is claimed by the state as inheritance tax.
His last will was made in 1903, in this he leaves $50,000 to Mrs. Comstock, his wife's sister, and of the remainder he makes an equal division among ten heirs, his sisters or his sister's children.
Mr. Wells had five sisters. Three of these are living and the two who are dead have left children who are allowed the mother's portion in the will.
The heirs are as follows:
Mrs. Mary Nelson, Fairbault, Minn., a sister.
Mrs. Sophia Robinson, Bristol, Conn., a sister.
Mrs. Elizabeth Briggs, Chicago, a sister.
One of the deceased sister's, Mrs. Sara Wells Atkens, left but one daughter, Mrs. Harriett McMahon of Colorado Springs.
Julia Wells Atkens, the other deceased sister, left a son and a daughter. The daughter is Mrs. J. Ellen Perkins of Medford, Oregon. Mr. Atkens is dead. He has left four children and each of these as heir is entitled to an equal portion of their father's share in the will. These four heirs are Flora G. Atkens, Will Atkens and Mrs. Lillian Faggart of Indianapolis, Ind., and Frank Atkens of Seattle, Washington.
WILL TO BE CONTESTED
Notice has been given that Mr. Wells last will will be contested by the relatives of Mr. Wells' wife. These relatives are Mrs. Comstock of Wellsburg, Mrs. G. H. Wheelock and Geo. Murray of Germania. The first named is a sister of Mr. Wells and the last two are children of Mrs. Wells' sister.
Before Mrs. Wells' death a will was made by Mr. Wells bequeathing all of his fortune to his wife.
The wife's relatives now claim that Mr. Wells was not sound in mind when he signed his last will in 1903.
The wife's relatives have retained as their attorneys Sullivan & McMahon of Algona and Judge M. J. Wade of Iowa City. The contest promises to bring on a legal battle such as we have not had before in this county.
George Wells was born in Newington, Conn., May 14, 1821. His opportunities for education were limited to the first eighteen years of his life. When but seventeen he met with the loss of his mother and his father died the year following.
He entered at once upon the activities of a business career which continued during the many years of his life, revealing exceptional ability and keen foresight, based upon principles of sterling integrity and uprightness.
In an early day he saw the great opportunities which the then new West offered to the pioneer, and with large faith in Iowa, laid the foundation for his financial success by investing in the land which he knew was sure to become more valuable from year to year.
He located first in Ohio and on November 27, 1848, was married at Montville to Miss Sarah Underwood. One son, George Frank, was born to them in 1853 and the first great sorrow came to the father's heart in the death of his boy which occurred July 10, 1861.
His active interest in Iowa began in about the year 1856 when he commenced breaking the land which he has owned and cultivated ever since.
In 1867 he brought his family to the home which has always been his comfort and pride where he ever had a warm and hearty welcome for his friends. Nov. 9, 1895 the companion of his joys and sorrows was taken from his side by death and he never fully recovered from the loss sustained by the separation. Some time before the death of Mrs. Wells, her sister Mrs. Comstock had come to make her home with them and she has remained in charge of the house, thus providing for the comfort of Mr. Wells in his declining years, ministering to his every want with the tenderness and devotion due the husband of her lamented sister.
In March 1902 Mr. Wells was taken seriously ill from which he never fully recovered and gradually declining, the end came in the evening of Aug. 2, 1906 at the good old age of 85 years, two months and eighteen days.
When the railroad was built through Grundy county, Mr. Wells took an active interest in its location and it was for him that the village of Wellsburg was named.
Nov. 4, 1898, a Presbyterian church was organized at Wellsburg at which time Mr. Wells publicly confessed Christ and was baptized. At various times since he expressed to his pastor his faith in God's mercy, and his assurance of his personal salvation through the merits of Jesus Christ. He was always interested in everything that was for the betterment of society and progress and development of the commonwealth.
He served one term as representative in the legislature of Iowa and there as elsewhere, his public service was invoked by excellent judgment and desire for a wise administration of law and justice for the best interests of the common people.
He had a wide acquaintance in the business world but was always unassuming in hearing and manner and those who knew him best loved him most. No better proof of his kindness of heart can be given than is shown by the deep grief of those who have been for many years in his employ.
As citizen, neighbor, and friend he will be missed for his seat will be empty. His death casts a gloom over the lives of three sisters, one brother and many near relatives.
The funeral service was held Monday afternoon Aug. 5, at the late residence conducted by Rev. L. M. Beebe, pastor for the Presbyterian church of Seymoor, Iowa, assisted by Rev. Dye and Theilken. Interment was in the family lot in the cemetery at Grundy Center, Iowa.
--Grundy County Democrat (Grundy Center, Iowa), 9 August 1906, pg 1
Grundy Obituaries maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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