Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

28 Sept 2015: Hopkinton, RI Fall Festival September 28, 2015

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I thought I’d pass on to those of you who live in the RI/CT border area that the Hopkinton Land Trust is sponsoring a Fall Festival in Hopkinton on October 10th.

Since I’ve donated to the Land Trust I guess I’m on their email mailing list.  Sure wish I was up there to go, but living in Florida, it would be a but much of a trip for the day.  However, it’s a wonderful cause and if you can attend, I’m sure you’ll have fun and also be supporting a good organization, not to mention spending some time in Hopkinton, the ancestral home of the Wells family here in America.


Have fun for me!  I sure wish I could go as I wrote a Fall Festival into my novel, The Purity of Blood, which is the book with Randall Wells and Lois (Maxson) Wells as characters in it.  Fall Festivals here in Florida just aren’t the same.  After all, palm trees don’t change color in the fall :-(



26 Sept 2015: The Marriage Certificate September 26, 2015

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Not that it has anything to do with Wells Family Genealogy, but today I thought I’d share with you a great book I read this past week.  It’s called The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molyneaux.


Why am I recommending it?  Because it’s a lot of fun to read if you’re a die-hard genealogist as I am.  Here’s what it’s about:

What prompts amateur family historian Peter Sefton to buy the marriage certificate he sees on display in an antiques arcade? Is it because he thinks it should be private and he wants to remove it from public view? Is it the prospect of researching the individuals named upon it? Or is it something else, happenstance perhaps, which leads him towards a potentially lucrative discovery and a long forgotten family secret?

When John and Louisa marry in January 1900, who could foretell how their lives and those of ambitious Rose, the bridesmaid, and confident Frank, the best man, would be changed that day?

Follow their story, through Peter’s research and find out how, with investigative skill and a certain amount of luck, Peter finds himself pulled along to uncover a series of sad and tragic events … events, which connect the marriage certificate to a modern day mystery. But … there’s a complication. In his quest to complete the family tree he learns that he has competition. It’s not just a matter of pride; there’s money at stake too. Should he the amateur give up, or can he really beat the professionals at their own game? 

I read it as an ebook on my Kindle, (Click here for link to book on Amazon) but the author has a website and it looks like you can buy hard copies of the books as well.


The novel takes place in England which was an added bonus for me.  It was really interesting to get the inside scoop on how the English trace a family tree.  What resources they consult, etc.

Check it out!



20 Sept 2015: Rev. John Maxson 1714-1778 September 20, 2015

I’ve been spending my morning cleaning out my email inbox.  Between emails about my books and genealogy stuff, I tend to get backed up and have to spend a day untangling the web that is my in and to do boxes.  While weeding through my emails from findagrave.com, I found that someone had fulfilled a photo request for a great family member of mine, the Reverend John Maxson, born 1714 and died 1778.

Here’s the photo they kindly provided:

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

Isn’t it a lovely example of the carving used at the time?  John is buried in the Common Burying Ground in Newport, RI.  He is my First Cousin 7 times removed (Being the son of Johnathan Maxson and Content Rogers.)  John married Tacy Lucy Rogers (1715-1753) who was my 5th Great Grandaunt (being the daughter of Jonathan Rogers Jr and Judith Potter)

Here’s a link to John’s memorial page on Findagrave.com:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

On the Rogers sides of their families John and Tacy were not only husband and wife, but first cousins as well.  I keep telling my friends that marrying your first cousin wasn’t uncommon back in the 1700’s but they don’t believe me.  I site that in Jane Austen’s books it happens quite a bit, but still … they think it’s weird.  Weird it is today, but back then, not so much.

Anyway, as I said above, I got this photo through findagrave.com.  If you’re familiar with this site, as a member (which is free) you can go on a memorial of a person and if there is no photo of their headstone posted, you can request a photo.  when you do this, it sends the request out to other members on the site who live in the area of that cemetery.  If you’re lucky, one of them will trot on over to the cemetery and take a photo that they will then post on the site for you.  You then get an email alerting you that your request has ben fulfilled.  Hence my cleaning out my email inbox and find old John there.



19 Sept 2015: Visiting a Texas Cemetery on Vacation September 19, 2015

I went on a research trip/vacation to Texas last week.  It was research for my latest book project.  As I’ve mentioned before I write novels as a side job.  Despite the fact that this was a working vacation, I couldn’t help but drive into a cool looking cemetery when I happened upon one in Bandera, Texas.  Located in Bandera County in Texas Hill country, Bandera claims that it is the Cowboy Capital of the World.  So naturally when I pulled into the cemetery I was kinda hoping for some headstones in the shape of cowboy hats, boots or maybe even some horses.  I was sadly disappointed.

The first thing you notice driving onto the cemetery is that there isn’t a spec of green grass to be seen.  It’s all dead, but that isn’t surprising given the heat.

Bandera Cemetery, Bandera Texas

Bandera Cemetery, Bandera Texas

I did see some peculiar things in this my first Texas cemetery.  Like this poor stone strangled out by a cactus bush!  Don’t see this a whole lot in New England!

A prickly situation ....

A prickly situation ….

Here was an interesting stone.  From a distance I thought it was an odd-looking boulder, but upon closer inspection, it turns out it’s a headstone, but the stone says it’s from Maunalei Lanai Hawaii.



Here was a neat little enclosure.  I’m still not sure if the chain is supposed to be purely decorative of it it’s supposed to serve a purpose.  Still interesting though.


Here was an interesting juxtaposition between the rustic and refined.


I’d never seen this sort of half barrel over a plot before.  Saw a bunch of them here though.


I’d never seen this where the main Surname stone for a plot rested on top of the stones naming the individuals in the plot.  Saw this a few times as well.


Just thought I’d share these pictures from my vacation.  It was interesting to see how similar and yet how different a cemetery in a different part of the country can be from what we’re so familiar with in New England.



8 August 2015: Cemetery Tourism — We’re Not Alone!! August 8, 2015

I finally felt vindicated a few weeks ago when this appeared in the Travel Section of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

Cemetery Tourism

OMG!  I have a classification now.  Apparently I’m a Taphophile.  Whoda Thunk!

I like how the article says that not only us genealogist headstone lovers visit cemeteries, but also those interested in history, bird-watching, landscape design, history, gardening, art, etc. visit as well.  I have to say, I’ve taken quite a bit of odd looks from my friends over the years because of my odd travelling habits as they call them.  Yes, my name is Jennifer, and I visit cemeteries on vacation.


PS: The first novel in my series is available for FREE this weekend only on Amazon.  Check it out, and find out what Randall Wells and his wife Lois Maxson might really have been like!  Click on the image below for a link to the page on Amazon.

Free Weekend 3


13 July 2015: Ashaway Dr. Asks “Are You Too Fat?” July 13, 2015

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I wish I had a higher quality photo of this newspaper advertisement.  I saw it for sale on EBAY some years back and got a hoot out of it.  Can you imagine if they put that in the papers today?!?!?!

Are you too fat

Rev. Charles J. Budlong of Ashaway, RI apparently lost 40 pounds and you too can have a sample box free!  Makes you really wonder what it was the Rev. Budlong was helping them sell!



5 July 2015: Randall Wells: Making a Fictional Character out of a Real Person July 5, 2015

If you didn’t already know, I have two blogs.  This one and one that is dedicated to my career as a writer.  (https://jennifergeoghannovels.wordpress.com) It’s about what I’ve learned on my journey to becoming the world-famous novelist I’m destined to be (Keep your fingers crossed on that one :-) )  This morning, I was working on my post for my writing blog, and as finished, I realized I could just as easily use that post on this blog about the family.  So here’s a preview of tomorrow’s post on my writing blog:

Yesterday I talked about how I used my family tree on Ancestry.com to promote my book series.  Today I thought I’d talk about exactly how you take a person long dead and gone and pull them into the living.  No, I’m not making zombies in my spare time, I’m too busy writing for that nonsense.

Zombies?  Who’s got time to fiddle with that?

In my book series, The Purity of Blood, the general gist is that Sara, my protagonist, is a pure.  A pure is someone whose blood is especially appealing to vampires because of the lack of genetic impurities in  their blood.  This makes them tastier than your average human.  Because they’re pure, people in these families enjoy exceptionally good health, actually they never get sick at all and usually only die of old age.   I go into this more in the books, but suffice it to say, Sara’s family is one of these rare families.

because I’m a genealogist on the side, I love to study the members of my family tree in detail.  It was that dream of meeting some of my long dead ancestors that inspired me to write my novels to begin with.  Problem is, how do you talk to someone who died well over a hundred years ago???  Easy, make them a vampire.  :-)  So in my novels, I give Sara my exact family tree.  Same names, same dates, same everything.  I only changed the names of my actual parents, but other than that, everything I mention in my novels if pretty close to all the research I’ve done on my family tree for the last 25 years.

Exactly how do you do that?

So when I started creating the ideas that would be the crux of my novels, Randall Wells and his wife Lois Maxson were at the heart of it all.  Randall and Lois are my 4th Great-Grandparents.  For unknown reasons, I’ve always had a fondness for them.  Maybe it’s because the house that Randle built still exists today.  Maybe it’s because he’s a patriot ancestor of mine.  Who knows, but for whatever reason, if I could meet any of my ancestors face to face to have a sit down and get the real story of their lives, it would be Randall and Lois.

So enter The Purity of Blood novels …

The Purity of Blood Volume I by Jennifer Geoghan

How do you take real people like Randall and Lois and make them believable characters in a novel?  I mean, what do I really know about who they were as people?  These are the things that puzzle me, that I ponder when I work on my family tree.  Were my ancestors good and kind people?  Were they jerks?  Were they good husbands and wives?

Well, to start with, you start at the beginning, what we know for fact.

Randall Wells Sr.:  Born 30 Sept 1747 In Hopkinton, RI … Died the Fall of 1821 in Hopkinton, RI … Married Lois Maxson (1748-1819) in 1770.  Randall was the son of Edward Wells and Elizabeth Randall, also of Hopkinton for many generations.  Lois and Randall had 6 children.  History books of the area list Randall as a successful farmer with at least 148 acres.  He served in the Rhode Island assembly for a few years and was the Hopkinton Town Treasurer as well as a Justice of the Peace.  Military records show he served many years in the Hopkinton Militia during the Revolutionary War rising at least to the rank of Captain. In his will, he remembers all his children.

But there are more interesting facts that have made their way through time as well. Hopkinton town records books also say that “Voted that Randall Wells have License to sell all sorts of spiritous liquors in his now dwelling house for the space of 6 months from this day (November 1, 1773)”  Him and some other also formed the “Hopkinton Horse Insurance Company,” where you could insure your horse for $1 against theft.  I’m guessing that was the car insurance of the day.

So when I sat down and wondered how all this could tell me what kind of a man Randall was, I took into account the legacy of what he left behind with his children.   The most direct account I have of the legacy Randall left behind is from my Great Aunt Dot.  In here memoirs, she writes of her grandfather Jonathan Wells, who was Randall’s grandson.  She writes Jonathan was a kind considerate courageous man from my father’s point of view and judging from the strict way my father brought us up, yet tender and loving and full of care especially to the ill or competent.”  I like to think that since this tradition of child rearing was passed down to me through my mother and she was a Wells, that perhaps this was how Randall raised his children.  Is this true?  How’s to say, but I chose to believe so and made Randall that way in my novels.

So in my novels, Randall is a young man growing up in Hopkinton.  His father and brothers are all in the farming trade.  The same with Lois’ family.  But how would they have met?  Well, Hopkinton is a small town and probably would have been a small town back then.  However, they were a religious bunch and I have to assume probably didn’t socialize much with the neighboring families outside of church functions.   With this in mind, I wrote it that Randall had only been formally introduced to Lois on one occasion, but that he’d had a crush on her for years.  When he was old enough to marry, he and his father rode over in their carriage to the Maxson house and his father proposed the idea of an arranged marriage between Lois and Randall to Mr. Maxson.  Lois agrees, but she’s not in love with Randall.  She thinks Randall’s very handsome and a man with good prospects, but she only agrees to marry him because it’s a good match for her and she thinks Randall will be good to her.  Love?  Did too many folks marry for love back then?  I don’t know, but I have to imagine that many married in a small town like Hopkinton because it was a “good match.”  Besides, it makes for a better story if the learn to love each other.  Well, in this case, if Lois learns to love Randall, because he’s already head over heals for her.

In my novels, I try to progress the back story of Randall and Lois a little in each book.  When we first meet them, they have a strained and somewhat bizarre relationship.  How did they get this way?  What happened since they met, married, died, became vampires, and the next couple hundred years?  This is what you slowly find out.

What was the hardest part of writing the truth into the books?  Truthfully, it was writing around the fact that Lois dies first!   I hadn’t factored that into my original outline, but if I wanted to be faithful to the realities of their real lives, I had to do some creative thinking.  I have to say, given what I had to work with, I came up with some great reasons why the family WOULD THINK … Lois died first.  But did she???    Actually, in my books, Randall died and became a vampire before Lois did, but the family never knew it.

I really loved how I wrote scenes where Randall would reminisce for his fourth great-granddaughter about live in Hopkinton back in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s.  He tells stories about fighting in the Revolution,  about what life was like on the farm with Lois.  Lois tells the story of how she agreed to marry Randall and how she eventually fell in love with him.  She talks about raising their children and watching them grow, seeing them die, and then watching the next and the next generation of progeny bloom and wither.  Until she’s there talking to Sara, her 4th great-granddaughter.  What would that do to a person, to experience the joy of birth and to know you’d see that baby die?  That would have to take an emotional toll on even a vampire.

So these are some of the thing I thought about when brining Lois and Randall to life.  It’s a lot to consider and I pray that I did them justice.


I Am Randall




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