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WELLS, William C. (1827-1923)


Posted By: Hancock Co Genealogical Society
Date: 1/28/2024 at 14:24:10

Near the Century Mark – W. C. Wells Died Sunday. Was Past 96 Years Old

Fifty three years ago, W. C. Wells, a young man in the prime of life, and his bride of a few months, located in Garner. Sunday morning, just as the day was dawning, he passed to his reward at the advanced age of nearly 96 years. In the passing of Mr. Wells, the life book of one of the really interesting characters of Garner, closes. He was of sturdy Maine stock, having been born at West Buxton, in that state, on the 16th day of April 1827. In early life, he came west as far as Wisconsin, and for a number of years, was engaged in the lumber business at Fon du Lac and Appleton. It was while a resident of the latter place that he became acquainted with Miss Eliza Fitch. Late in 1869 or early in 1870, Mr. Wells left Wisconsin, and came to Iowa. At the time, the Milwaukee railway had been built only to Mason City, however; the survey for the road had extended westward, and the town of Garner had been platted. Mr. Wells, with the keen foresight which all through his life, had been characteristic of him, saw a real opportunity for lumber merchandising in Garner, and accordingly, opened a yard here. In September, 1870, Eliza Fitch, the young woman whom he had woed in Wisconsin, was prevailed upon to come west, and upon her arrival at Mason City, they were married and immediately came to Garner and established a home. One son, George, now a practicing attorney of Washington, D. C., and one daughter, Alice, now Mrs. Fred Ford, of Manchester, Iowa, were the children born into the home. Of the Garner and Concord pioneers of that day we can recall but a very few now remaining in this vicinity, who were here when Mr. Wells located in Garner. We can, however, call to mind many descendants of those pioneers, but Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Bailey and Mrs. Polly Christie are the only elderly people whom we know of, who still claim this place as their home. In Mr. Well’s class in pioneering, we have the Elders, the Finchs, H. N. Brockway, John Christie, L. B. Bailey, Chet Moak, Ham Maben, Wm.Yoter, Dr. Byers, the parents of Herb Wood and Mrs. L. D. Byers. Mr. Dixon, whom we remember as a village blacksmith, the Bush family, A. B. Elliott, Royal Lovel, J. J. Upton, and a few others, whom we do not at this time recall.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Wells was for a long term of years an exceedingly happy one. With the lot of the pioneer, they were contented. For a number of years previous to her death in January, 1916, Mrs. Wells was an invalid, but she had the blessed, consolation of a devoted husband and family to make her days as pleasant as it was possible for them to be. Mr. Wells was a man much attached to his home, and the frivolities of life, in which so many find pleasure, never appealed to him. He was one of the best posted men on current topics whom we have ever known. When a boy, serving an apprenticeship in the Signal office, we have listened to hours of discussion of topics of general interest in that day, and as we grew older and would recall the sound logic advanced by Mr. Wells, Royal Lovell, Capt. Collins and others who daily met there to settle such matters as needed immediate attention, we learned to appreciate the wisdom of many of their utterances.

Perhaps much that is being written here, may appear out of place in an obituary, but we are writing of Mr. Wells as we remember him. He was a stern man, with an extra ordinarily strong, forceful character. He was a complete success as a business man, and about thirty-five years ago, he retired from active business, devoting all his time to caring for his investments. For a number of years he was vice-president of what was the Farmers Saving Bank, and his connection with this institution gave the enterprise added confidence and stability.

In the early days, money was a scarce article with the pioneer, and Mr. Wells assisted a great many of those early settlers by advancing credit at a time it was much needed. And advancing credit in those days was a somewhat precarious business. Not long since, we had a talk with Joseph Hejlik Sr. and Mr. Hejlik related to us at that time how obligated he had always felt to Mr. Wells for the courteous treatment he received at a time when he needed it, and were it possible to interview others who fought the chinzbug and grass hopper, they would have a like story to relate. Mr. Wells was a Christian man, and the story of many deeds of kindnesses he preformed, are buried with him. It was not his temperament to do a kindness and then boast of it, but rather to keep entirely to himself, his actions.

In connection with the development of Garner and this territory, Mr. Wells played a very important part. The first work train ever pulled into Garner brought with it two carloads of lumber for his yard. The lumber had been shipped as far as Clear Lake, but the company would bring it no further. For the extra service of having the lumber delivered to this point, Mr. Wells gave the conductor a five dollar bill.

After the death of Mrs. Wells, his [text gone in bend of paper] father, making a home for him. About two years, she became Mrs. Ford and moved to Manchester. Mr. Wells wished to remain in Garner, knowing that he would be more contented here among his old time friends. Accordingly, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Stork bought the Wells home, and he was made a member of their household. Neither his daughter nor his son could have given him more attention nor better care then have Mr. and Mrs. Stork. His every need has been attended to, his every want satisfied. Yesterday afternoon, February 28th at 2:30 o’clock, a funeral service was held over the remains of Mr. Wells at the Congregational Church. Rev. Newell, the pastor, was in charge.

Besides his son and daughter, both of whom were present at the funeral, Mr. Wells is survived by one brother and a sister. They both live in the old family home town of West Buxton, Maine. His son, George, of Washington, D. C., and his son-in-law, Mr. Ford of Manchester, both arrived yesterday morning. The local Masonic fraternity attended the funeral in a body and the ritualistic service was given at the grave.

The ranks of the real pioneers of Hancock County are thinning. Those whose privilege it was to know them can well regard them as the sturdiest of men and women – honest, conscientious, charitable, truthful, and well to the top of this list of people of this class, we would place the name of W. C. Wells.

source: Garner Leader, Garner, Iowa, 1 March 1923, page 1 column 1


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