Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

12 May 2015: Erbig Bros Cigar Company in Erie PA May 12, 2015

A distant Erbig cousin of mine contacted a few weeks ago to gather info on the family and give me info on her branch.  I love it when distant cousins get in touch to trade family facts.  So while adding her some of the info she gave me on my tree on ancestry.com, I came across an interesting tidbit of information.

My great, great grandparents, Charles August Erbig and Catherine (Green) Erbig had 13 children, most of which stayed in the Jersey City, NJ area while my great grandmother (Julia) and her parents moved to Hopkinton, RI.  One of the sons that stayed behind was Robert Phillip Erbig.  Robert had two sons that I was doing a little research on Ancestry to see what happened to.  Strangely enough, it seems they moved with their wives to Erie, Pennsylvania for a while and started a Cigar company.  I know, where did that come from.  A cigar company?  Were they secretly Cuban or something?  How do I know it’s them?  Well, here’s the Erie, PA city directory for 1956:

1956 Erie PA City Directory ERBIG Robert and Herbert Cigar Co

It’s definitely them because it’s Robert “Jr” and also has the right names of their wives.

I just love finding these odd little facts about the family.  They show up in the 1957 Erie PA city directory but nothing after that.  I think they moved back to Jersey City so I’ll assume the business didn’t pan out as they’d hoped.  Still, it makes you wonder what got it in their heads to move to PA and start a cigar company???



10 May 2015: It’s been a long time … May 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jgeoghan @ 8:51 am
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It’s been a long time since I last posted on this blog.  Sorry about that.  I got majorly sidetracked with a few things.  Writing my novels is a big one.  I also had surgery a few months ago and it’s taken me a while to get back into the swing of things.

So anyone from the Hopkinton RI area recognize this house??

Hopkinton Postcard on EABY 5-10-2015I don’t know anything about the house, but found this postcard for sale on EBAY this morning.  It’s dated April 26, 1906 and it looks to say “Does it look old fashioned Out in the Napthar Launch in a hale storm  E.M.H.

Unfortunately there was no photo of the back or further description on the card on EBAY, but the title of the auction listing is “Real Photo Postcard of a House postmarked Ashaway RI.”

I googled “Napthar Launch” and found this on Wikipedia: A naphtha launch, sometimes called a “vapor launch”, was a small motor launch, powered by a naphtha engine. They were a particularly American design, brought into being by a local law that made it impractical to use a steam launch for private use.

But whatever it is, it’s part of Hopkinton’s past, so I throw it out there into cyber space to see if the house looks familiar to anyone in the area.  Just trying to preserve some of the town’s history.



18 Oct 2014: Randall Wells’ Grist Mill on the Ashwog River October 18, 2014

Here is a land transaction I transcribed from photos I took at the Hopkinton Town Clerks office of the sale of a piece of land Randall Wells sold to Theodoty Popple for $225 dollars. The location of the land was somewhere on the “Ashwog River” (Now called the Ashaway River) is about all I know. Somehow I doubt the same White Oak, Black Oak, Red Oak, Maple Tree and pile of stones that marked the other boundaries still stand today for us to reference.

Besides containing a portion of the river, it was also very close to the highway as it ran through Hopkinton back in 1772. It says “bounded as followeth Beginning at a White oak tree standing on the West bank of Ashwog River and from thence running Near South to a Stake + stones by the bank of said river four rods south of the Highway”.  A rod is 16.5 feet, so if the point they are measuring is “four rods south of the Highway” it is only 66 feet from the highway.


Hopkinton Land Evidence Book #2, Page 357

To all people to whom these servants shall come greeting know ye that I Randall Wells of Hopkinton in Kings County yeoman for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred and twenty five good dollars to me in hand will and truly paid by Theodoty Popple of the same town County and Colony aforesaid yeoman the receipt where of I do hereby acknowledge myself there with fully satisfied contended and paid and have given granted and doby (?) these presents freely fully and absolutely given grant + bargain sell alien convey and confirm until him the said Theodoty Popple his heirs executors administrators + assigns forever a certain lot of land situate lying and being in Hopkinton aforesaid containing by estimation half an acre by the same more or less butted and bounded as followeth Beginning at a White oak tree standing on the West bank of Ashwog River and from thence running Near South to a Stake + stones by the bank of said river four rods south of the Highway from thence running Easterly Across said river to a Maple tree standing on the East bank of said river about five rods South of the afore said highway thence Near Southeast about five rods to a White Oak tree marked thence Near Northeast to the afore said Highway thence running across said highway to a stake + stones thence north about four rods to a Black oak tree with the top cut of thence near Northeast about five rods to a white oak tree from thence running near Northwest to a Red oak tree and from thence across said river to the first mentioned bound TO HAVE AND TO HOLD this said granted bargained premises with the Grist Mill + Dam + shop thereon standing + all other privileges and apparted xxxx to the same belonging on in any wise appertaining unto him the said Theodoty Popple his heirs and assigns forever except a highway that runs through said lot furthermore the said Randall Wells for my self my heirs Executors and administrators do covenant promise and grant to and with said Theodoty Popple his heirs and that before and until the ensealing here of I am the true sole and lawful owner of the before granted and bargained premises and am lawfully seized and possessed of the same in my own right as a good perfect and absolute estate of inheritance in xxx simple and have in my self good right full power and lawful authority to grant bargain sell + convey the same afore said and that the bargained premises and every part of the same is free and clear from all manner of incumbrances of what name or nature forever that might in any nature or degree make void this perfect deed — furthermore I the said Randall Wells for myself my heirs executors and administrators do here by covenant and engage all the before bargained premises unto him the said Theodoty Popple his heirs and assigns against the lawful claims or demands of any person or persons whatsoever forever hereafter to warrant secure and defend by the presents and Lois Wells wife to the said Randall Wells both for the consideration afore said giving xxx up and surrender her right of dower and power of thirds as in and unto the before granted and bargained premises unto him the said Theodoty Popple his heirs and assigns forever In witness whereof we have hereunto set out hands and seals the 31st day of March in the twelfth year of his Majesties reign George the Third King of Great Britain 1772.

Signed Sealed and Delivered.

Randall Wells (seal)     Lois Wells (seal)

In the presence of

John Lewis Jur      John Maxson Jur

Kings County xx personally appeared the subscriber Randall Wells in Hopkinton on the day and date above written and acknowledged the above and foregoing xxxx to be his voluntary act and xxx hand and seal thereto affixed before me.

John Maxson Jur Justice of the Peace

The above is a true coppy of the original deed and entered on record the 15th day of June 1772 by John Maxson jur Town Clerk.


I though t this a curious statement:

“Lois Wells wife to the said Randall Wells both for the consideration afore said giving xxx up and surrender her right of dower and power of thirds as in and unto the before granted and bargained premises”

I did a little goggling and found this:  dower n. an old English common law right of a widow to one-third of her late husband’s estate, which is still the law in a few states. In those states the surviving wife can choose either the dower rights or, if more generous, accept the terms of her husband’s will in what is called a widow’s election.

This would seem to be the reason Lois signs this document. It is because with her signature she is relinquishing and future claim she might have on the land after Randall’s death.

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book #2, Page 357

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book #2, Page 357

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book #2

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book #2




17 Oct 2014: Randall Wells’ good will and natural affection October 17, 2014

While on my road trip, I stopped in the Hopkinton, RI Town Clerks office and was allowed to look at some documents in the Land Evidence Books.  Here is the transcription of one of Randall Wells’ land transactions, giving a piece of land to his son Russell.  Randall is my 4th great-grandfather and Russell is my third great-grandfather.  X’s denote words I wasn’t able to make out.


Town of Hopkinton, RI: Land Evidence Book, Volume 6: 1803-1815

To all People to whom these presents shall come greeting. Know ye that I Randall Wells of Hopkinton in Washington County in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation Yeoman for and in consideration of the love and good will and natural affection I have and do XXX my son Russell Wells of Hopkinton in the Town, County & State aforesaid Yeoman Have given and by these presents do give and convey unto him tho said Russell Wells and to his Heirs and assigns forever, a certain tract of land situated in said Hopkinton, Containing fifteen acres butted and bounded as follows. Northerly Easterly and Southerly by land belonging to Peleg Carr, Westerly by the Grantors Land – TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said granted xxx is with all the privileges and Appurtenances belonging thereto to him and his heirs forever to his and them only benefit and use forever. And I the said Randall Wells of Hopkinton, do give and grant the above named premises clear of all incumberances whatsoever and do warrant and secure the afore granted premises unto him the said Russell forever. In witness whereof I have set my hand and seal this third day of December AD 1811

William Tanner                                 Randall Wells (Seal)

Job B. Clarke

Washington Se. At Hopkinton the day and date above written Personally appeared the within named Randall Wells and acknowledged the written instrument to be his voluntary Net & Deed hand & Seal before me —   Job B. Clarke Just Peace

The preceding is a true copy of the original deed and entered on record the 3rd day of December AD 1811 by Caleb Potter, Town Clerk.

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book

Hopkinton Land Evidence Book



15 Oct 2014: Hopkinton, RI Taxes for 1902 October 15, 2014

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the Hopkinton Tax Book and Town Treasurer’s Report for 1902.

Hopkinton Tax Book 1902

Hopkinton Tax Book 1902

Hopkinton Tax Book 1902

Hopkinton Tax Book 1902

Here’s what it had to say about the Wells family:

Hopkinton Tax Book 1902

Hopkinton Tax Book 1902

Williams R. Wells is listed with his mother Martha Ann (Rogers) Wells with holding of real estate valued $4500 for which he paid $36 in taxes.  Martha Ann is also listed separately with real estate valued at $3100 for which she paid $24.80 in taxes.  In 1902, the real estate Williams would have owned (although it might not have been the only real estate) would have been his house that was located in what is now called Crandall Field in Ashaway.

Wells House, Ashaway, RI

Wells House, Ashaway, RI



14 Oct 2014: Rogers Articles from the New London Co Historical Assoc October 14, 2014

While on my road trip, I stopped into the New London Co Historical Society to visit the library and see what other info I could find.  While there I looked through a roll of microfilm that was a collection of articles compiled by Richard B Wall on the history of the county.  I found a few on the Rogers family.  Here is a transcription of one.  xxx’s are parts I can’t read:

Published: 1915, article 231 of the Articles compiled by Richard B Wall.

Stories of Waterford

Some Traditions of the Rogers Family By R.B. Wall

It used to be said in the memory of aged persons now living that everybody in Great Neck was either a Rogers, a Beebe or a Beckwith. For more than 200 years the Rogers family was more numerous in its various branches than any other. Many of the name belonged to the Sabbatarians, while a few were associated with other denominations. The first James Rogers who came from England and settled in New London, where he soon proved to be influential, spent his last days in Great Neck. He was one of the first to show his independence in religious matters by not associated himself with the only church in town where everybody was supposed to go and worship God whether he liked the service or not. For this he was brought into court and fined over and over again. Much of his money went in that way, but it is not the purpose of the writer to dwell on the persecutions that he suffered because he would not accept the doctrines of the Puritan church. It is possible that he removed from the town plot to Great Neck, the whole of which he is said to have owned and fenced in because of persecution. There is a tradition that he was buried at the Strand, a summer place near Long Island Sound.

James Rogers of Stern Mold

James Rogers, a grandson of the first James Rogers, lived in what is now called the Brigham place, and he was the father of a large family of boys and girls. As a rule the boys followed the sea and were notable mariners. Stevens Rogers, sailing master of the Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic belonged to this family. James, grandson of James Rogers who came from England and who as before stated lived on what is now the Brigham place, was a very strict parent and one of his many sons is reported to have said that he never saw his father show any real affection for his children but once. It seems that the boys went to school in a small building that stood on the west side of pepper box hill and to reach it they had to cross the meadow and woodland that lay between it and home.

Lost in a Snow Storm

One winter morning after the Rogers boys had reached the school house the snow began to fall and before the close of the day’s session, it was very deep. The school master was solicitous about them and hope they would reach home in safety. The density of the storm brought on the night before it’s time and in the depths of the woodland the boys could not see their way. After walking hither and thither in vain endeavor to reach the meadows that lay beyond, they became exhausted and sought shelter under the branches of a fallen tree, where they huddled together and were quite comfortable in the shelter. The snow xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx sound of a human voice and they xxxx for its repetition. Again they heard a voice nearer than before and they recognized xxxx to be their father’s. They scrambled out from beneath the branches of the tree and halleed a reply to their parent’s call and they were soon beside him.

James Rogers must have been a powerful man for he carried his three boys home. One bestrode his broad shoulders, another clasped his waist with feet and hand while the third hugged his neck from the front and the father ploughed through the drifts over the wind swept plain and rested not till he reached his home. The sons were always under strict orders to rise in the morning at the first crowing of the cock when they had to begin their day’s work. Some of them at least did not enjoy rising at such at early hour and they conspired to cut the tongue of every rooster so that their father would not hear the signal of the cocks and they could lie in their snug beds a little longer.

The Rogers boys removed the tongues of all the roosters and that night they went to bed and slept later in the morning than had been their wont. Their father was not long in discovering that his sons did not rise from their beds as early as usual and he called them to account for it. Accustomed to getting up early in his younger days he would awake as soon as his sons and knew their movements. Calling them together before they appeared at the breakfast table he demanded to know just why they did not arise when the cock crew in conformity to his orders. The boys replied that the roosters had been silent about announcing the dawn and finally confessed their guilt.

Worked His Sons Without Pay

James Rogers, the father, is said to have kept his sons at work on the farm till they were past their majority without paying them wages. Just how many of his sons went to sea and how many remained at home till the farm tradition failed to specify, but to those who worked the farm until they were grown men tradition tells this story: One day a son past 21 asked his father for a monthly wage, averring that he wished to have some money like other young men. The father said he had not made up his mind on that point and he would not state then what his future intentions were to be. The son was indignant and told his father then and there that he would sue him for back wager and carried his case to court and won it. Thinking his father would disown him for his summary method of obtaining reimbursement for labor the son made up his mind to leave the paternal roof and seek employment elsewhere. He had many traits of his tribe. He had constructive industry, was exact in speech, just in his relations toward God and man, steadiness of character and more sympathetic than his father. He had come home from the court alone and did not see the defendant in his case until he was ready to leave home.

Surprised By His Father

Young Rogers had gently but firmly declined to grant his mother’s entreaties to remain. He had kissed her and his sisters and had embraced his brothers xxxxx he turned into the highway and walked to the northward with scarce an idea as to his destination. As he rounded a curve in the road not many rods from his home he met his father face to face and he was not a little astonished when his parent extended his hand which contained a paper. The son opened xxxx congratulate you my son for winning your case and xxxxxxxx act and will said the father and there was a kindly tone to his words as he spoke. This place is now (1915) owned by E.C. Hammond.

Stevens Rogers, Master Mariner

There are many old and middle aged people in this city who will recall Capt. Stevens Rogers, sailing master of the Savannah, the first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean. He is better remembered as a tax collector and as a Bible carrier in Masonic processions. None know personally of his sailor days because he was master of sailing vessels plying between New York and European ports. His son James was also master of many ocean going merchant ships. As a tax collector, Stevens Rogers used to advertise that he would be at certain stores in the city on specified days when he would be pleased to received taxes and if everybody did not come he would call at their houses.

Stevens Rogers, the son of Stevens Rogers was born in Great Neck on a farm now in the possession of E.S. Harkness. Many of his ancestors had been notable navigators and from his early boyhood he had a craving for the sea. The water of Long Island sound were before him daily from the time he was a toddling child and the sight of ships sailing up and down was the most pleasing spectacle to him when was a rugged lad he worked in the fields along the shore. He would be a sailor but his father and mother strove hard to eliminate the idea from his mind. He was the only boy in the family and his father wanted him to take charge of the place when he got too old to work, while his mother thought the sea had claimed too many of the Rogers family and that if it should now swallow up her son if she could help it.

Sent to Plainfield Academy

Stevens much against his will was sent to Plainfield Academy to get a higher education but he did not get along very well because his mind was on the sea and not in the study of grammar, mathematics and rhetoric. One day he collected his books and without telling the principal he started for New London. When he got off the ferryboat he hastened up Water Street asking every sea captain if he wanted a cabin boy and meeting with no success. As he stood Hallam Street looking northward he spied some smaller vessels than those that were tied up to the Water street wharves. One was being loaded with staves and hoops and baled hay. He straightaway sought the captain who said he would take him along but he must have his father’s verbal consent first.

Hurrying along toward home Stevens wondered how his parents would feel when they saw him and knew what had had done. Reaching the homestead he walked in with a confident stride and after embracing his father and mother he frankly told what he had done and asked for their forgiveness. He pleaded to be allowed to go to sea as he knew that was his calling. After a while he got their consent and the next morning he rode with this father into the city to see Captain Blinn for that was the name of the master of the vessel. Captain Blinn and the father of Stevens proved to be old-time friends and were glad to see each other. “Now Captain,” said Stevens’ father, “I want you to make that boy as sick of the water as is possible. Neither myself nor my wife wishes him to be a sailor and you will do me a great favor to discharge the youngster of the sea habit.”

Meets British Man-o-War’s man

The vessel sailed for Cuba and on the way she was stopped by a British war vessel which had fired a shot across her bow xxxxx a Leutenant xxxxxxxxxxxx officer threatened to impress him, but xxxxxxx Captain Blinn who said that it was his own fault and not the boy’s as he had forgotten to call at the custom house before leaving New London the officer returned to his ship. Stevens had a shipmate print an eagle and an American Flag on his arm before the vessel reached Havana. On the return voyage the ship was again stopped and boarded by an officer from an English warship and as before everyone but Stevens had his papers. “Where are your credentials?” thundered the officer, addressing Stevens. “These are my credentials,” replied the young sailor as he bared his arm and placed his fingers on the flag and eagle.

Rogers Locomotive Builder

Thomas Rogers, founder of the Rogers Locomotive works at Paterson, N.J. was a native of Waterford where he grew up on a farm. He had a relative, Jason Rogers, who was a blacksmith with a shop in Water Street, this city and with him young Thomas learned the trade, boarding with Jason at his home in Main Street. The first night he was told that being the youngest apprentice it was his duty to rise early in the morning and boil the kettle. Thomas was out of bed early and was soon busy making a fire in the kitchen. Jason heard a commotion downstairs a little later and hastily dressing himself he repaired to the kitchen. He laughed heartily as he viewed the situation, while Thomas stood one side as mum as an oyster. The great pot hung on the crane in the fireplace and in it was a small kettle sailing around in the superheated water which boiling over hissed and sputtered on the coals. “What in thunderation are you a-doing?” shouted Jason though vainly trying to suppress his merriment. “I done just as you told me to,” said Thomas.

After serving his time Thomas Rogers drifted to Paterson and in the course of time he founded the locomotive works which still bears his name. He used to come to New London after he made a notable record in the business world and once he said that a thousand men were on his payrolls. He often referred to the happening at Jason’s house on the first morning of his stay there.

Rogers Article 231 Part 1

Rogers Article 231 Part 2


13 Oct 2014: The Mystery Cemetery ….. October 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — jgeoghan @ 7:07 am
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While on my vacation up in Hopkinton, my host and I came across this old negative of an unknown cemetery.  It’s a very old large format negative that I brought home with me to scan on my scanner.  Yes, I bought my scanner because it was the only one I could find that scanned old large format negatives.  Sometimes I think I should have ‘genealogy geek’ stamped on my forehead.

Since we’re unable to identify the cemetery, I thought I’d toss it out into the wide world of the internet to see if anyone can help identify it.  Here it is:

Unknown Cemetery Negative

Unknown Cemetery Negative

All I know is that it is somehow connected with Hopkinton.  It may either be in Hopkinton or connected with a Hopkinton Family.  There are a few clues to go by.  There are hills in the distance.  It has telephone/power poles that run along side it.  They may indicate the presence of a road or possibly railroad tracks.

If anyone has any ideas, let me know.  Keep in mind that this is an old negative and there may be more burials since it was taken so that grassy area may now be filled with other stones.




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