Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

April 6, 2010 – Jonathan Russell Wells April 6, 2010

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I got home this evening to find an envelope from my Aunt Dorothy.  I haven’t heard from her in over 20 years I’d guess.  I sent her a Christmas Card this past holiday in an attempt to reconnect with my Dad’s side of the family.  She sent me some family info.  Most of it I already had but among the bits and bobs was the death date of my great grandfather Thomas H. Geoghan – May 11, 1947.   No know I’d talked to knew the date so this will help me I’m sure, somehow.    The Geoghan’s are the elusive side of the family.  Irish immigrants who I think avoided census takes for decades (not unlike my father, so maybe it’s a family thing).  They first show up on the census in 1920 living at  #38 Ten Eyct Street, Brooklyn, NY.  We know they immigrated from Ireland to the us about 1866-69 and ended up in Unionville, CT where he met his wife and married her and had all their kids.  Their marriage record and some birth records are on file there but then all of a sudden they show up in NYC.  I’m guessing it was for economic reasons.  Must have been better job opportunities there than in rural CT.  They moved to a big irish neighborhood and may have known people there or had family.  But it’s a big gap in the census records from when they arrived til the 1920’s.  They missed the 1870, 80, 1900 and 10 census’.  I’ve scoured ancestry.com for info in Unionville and Brooklyn for them but no luck. 

So instead of a cemetery of the day today, I’ve decided to do a RELATIVE OF THE DAY.  Today’s relative of the day is my Great, Great Grandfather, Jonathan Russell Wells.  Jonathan was born Feb 26, 1819 in Hopkinton, RI and died Dec 8, 1864 also in Hopkinton.  On August 21, 1845, he married Martha Ann Rogers in Waterford, CT.  Martha’s family had been living in the Waterford/Montville area for many generations.  Both are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway, RI.   I’ll post a couple of pictures I have of Jonathan and Martha as well of pictures of the house mentioned below.  Here are my notes out on my genealogy program on good old Grandpa Jon.

From: Washington County, Rhode Island Births 1770-1850, By Alden G. Beaman, Ph.D.  1976  Page 177…”Wells, Jonathan R. of Russel & Lydia  24 Feb 1819  Ho”
1850 Federal Census, August 1850, Hopkinton, RI

Jonathan R. Wells ….. Age: 31 ….. Occupation: Farmer ….. Place of Birth: RI
Others living in same household: Martha A (wife), Mellisa J. (daughter), Sylvia E (daughter),  Matilda M Holdredge (? Martha’s sister Sarah married a Holdredge),
1860 Federal Census, June 19, 1860, Hopkinton, RI

Jonathan R. Wells ….. Age: 41
Occupation: Manufacturer ….. Value of Real Estate: 1000 (might be different hard to read)
Value of Personal Estate: 4000 ….. Place of Birth: RI
Others living in same household: Martha A (wife), Mellisa J. (daughter), Sylvia E (daughter),  Everett J (son), William R. (son), Sarah Holdridge (?), Chester B. Stillman (?), Two other people that look like Henry and Lydia Cooey.
1863 Tax Records for Division No. 6 of Collection District number two of the state of Rhode Island.

Sept 1 ….. Name: Wells Jonathan R.  …. Location: Hopkinton
Quantity: 1 ….  Article: Carriage …Rate: 1.0  ….  Valuation: 70 (or 75)
Claim A, B or C: C …Total amount of Tax: 1

Sept 1 ….. Name: Wells Jonathan R. ….. Location: Hopkinton
Article: Income … Valuation: 7800.18
Claim A, B or C: A …Total amount of Tax: 234

Sept 1 ….. Name: Wells Jonathan R. ….. Location: Hopkinton
Article: Income … Valuation: 7881.04
Claim A, B or C: A …Total amount of Tax: 236.43

Right above Jonathan on this tax list is: Wells A.S. and Company…Manufacturer….
1864 Tax Records for Division No. 6 of Collection District number two of the state of Rhode Island.

May 1 ….. Name: Wells Jonathan R.  ….. Location: Hopkinton
Article: Income … Valuation: 9308.00
Claim A, B or C: A …Total amount of Tax: 279.24

May 1 ….. Name: Wells Jonathan R. ….. Location: Hopkinton
Quantity: 1 ….  Article: Carriage …Rate: 1.0  ….  Valuation: 75
Claim A, B or C: C …Total amount of Tax: 1

Right below Jonathan on this tax list is: Wells A.S. and Company…Manufacturer….
1864 Tax Records for Division No. 6 of Collection District number two of the state of Rhode Island.
(this is a different page than the above 1864 records)

No Date ….. Name: Wells Jonathan R. ….. Location: Hopkinton
Article: Income … Valuation: 9512.00 ….. Tax Rate: 5 …Total amount of Tax: 475.60
History of Washington and Kent Counties, Page 841-842

Jonathan R. Wells was born February 26th, 1819 in Wellstown, and after his school days were concluded, entered the Bethel Mill where he became thoroughly conversant with the appliances connected with the spinning department.  Later, in company with his uncle Lester Crandall, he became lesee of the Laure Dale Mill, and afterward operated the Ashaway mill.  He then formed a business association with his brother Randall, and with him assumed control of the Bethel mill, which he successfully managed for several years.  Mr. Wells soon extended his milling operations, and with his brother controlled at various times mills in Washington county and points adjacent, including those already mentioned, the Woodville and Oakland mills, and the Clark Falls mill in North Stonington, in Connecticut.   He was ranked among the representative manufacturers of the state, evinced great sagacity in business operations, and possessed a happy faculty of controlling and winning the loyalty of those in his employ.  As a diversion from the arduous labors involved in a life of active business, he gave much attention to a farm he owned and improved, in the town, known as the Grinman farm.
Mr. Wells formerly a director of the Niantic Bank and president of the Ashaway National bank.  A whig in his political affiliations and later a republican, he represented his district in the state legislature, and bore a leading part in all measures affecting the development of his town.  In religion a Seventh Day Baptist, he was a member of the church of that denomination at Hopkinton City.
Mr. Wells was married August 21st, 1845, to Martha A., daughter of Daniel Rogers, of Waterford, Conn.  Their children are: Melissa Jane, Sylvia E., Everett J., William Rogers and Martha Lillian.  William R., the only survivor of this number, married Pauline R., daughter of Phineas Stillman, of Alfred Centre, N.Y. and has four children: Everett S., Sylvia A., Orpha and Willie R.
From the Sabbath Recorder, December 15, 1864
“In Hopkinton, Dec. 8th, 1864, of pulmonary disease, Col. J.R. Wells, President of the Ashaway Bank, in the 46th year of his age.  A man of great energy  of character, whose loss will be seriously felt, not only by his own family, but by the community at large.”
The Westerly Sun, November 7, 1966
Ashaway to Lose One of its Historic Homes

The Jonathan B. Wells residence on Broad Street, Ashaway, one of the palatial homes in the early history of the community, is being removed from the scene.   The home, now the property of the Ashaway Line and Twine Manufacturing Company, will fall under the wrecker’s big hammer tomorrow when William Latter starts to tear the three-story structure to pieces.
Once it is removed from the site across the road from Our Lady of Victory Church, the area will be leveled and landscaped, and strangers passing through the village will never know a grand old house once stood on the spot.
L. Robert Crandall, an executive of the Ashaway Line and Twine Manufacturing Company, said the aged condition of the house and the high cost of maintenance has led the company to take the removal action.
The Wells house today still holds some of the great architecture of the past, but it is a far cry from the magnificent house the late Jonathan R. Wells built in 1857. There was a huge piazza all the way around the square type building, and on its roof rested a cupola, similar to the lookouts from which anxious wives watched and waited for their seafaring husbands to come back from the sea.
A fancy wooden fence encircled the property, and the Wells Family, a most prominent family of its time, owned stables and horses and had hired help to care for them.
The late Jonathan R. Wells in his day, was an illustrious and   highly   regarded   man,   a banker   and   businessman   who owned the largest house in town.   He   was   president and cashier of the National Bank in Ashaway, and owned   three mills, the   Ashaway   Mill, the Bethel Mill and the mill in Clark Falls.

Mrs. Sylvia Eccleston, Jonathan R. Wells’ grandaughter; remembers the house very well; She was born in it and lived there for many years. Her father was the late William R, Wells, and she said he was two years old when her grandfather built the home.
William R. Wells, like his father, was a mill man too and was active and prosperous in the industry for years.
Mrs. Eccleston recalled the many rooms, the wonderful stairways and the strong construction, and of the many rooms she said, “I used to clean and take care of them” She now resides at 8 Spring I Street here in town. According to the family history, she said the first Wells to come to America was a friend of Roger Williams, and it was Roger Williams who obtained for him a grant of land from the Indians in Hopkinton where Well’s resided for years.  Wellstown in Hopkinton was named after the family, and not far from Wellestown Road near the Cottrell Farm is a Wells Burial Grounds.
Mrs. Eccleston recalls the plans for the doomed house were copied from the southern homes, and while it lacked the columns so characteristic of the south, there were smaller columns on the porch that encircled the building.
The Ashaway Line and Twine Manufacturing Company has owned the residence for nearly 20 years.
But now its number is up and tomorrow there will be the pounding of heavy hammers as time takes its toll of another landmark of the past.
(Our Lady of Victory Church: 169B Main St. Ashaway, RI 02804 (401) 377-8830)
DEATH: From: http://www.geocities.com/sneezykat2003/NewEnglandWells/RhodeIslandWells.html

HOPKINTON, RI. DEATH RECORDS: 1-Jonathan R.:~1819, Hopkinton-Dec 8 1864, 45 yrs., 9 mos., 12 days, Ashaway, RI. White. Mar. Manufacturer. Consumption. HO 1:10.  Mar: Martha A. (nee?)
A Modern History of New London County, CT, edited by Benjamin Tinkham Marshall, Lewis Historical Pub.Comp., 1922, v.3, Page 215

CHARLES HENRY HOLDREDGE, “Mr Holdredge is a son of Hibbard Henry and Sarah (Rogers) Holdredge, and comes of one of the old familes of New London county.”
“He died in Waterford in 1853, and is buried there.  Of the nine children of his union two are now living; Amanda, now Mrs. Greene, who since her husband’s death has made her home with her two children in Springfield, Massachusetts; and Charles Henry.”
“After the close of the Civil War, Mr. Holdredge returned to Ashaway, Rhode Island, where he was in the employ of Colonel Wells, in the woolen mills, for some time associated with A.L. Wells, in the wagon shop, which the latter conducted there, working also for a short time”

–Personal Note: I’m wondering if “Colonel Wells” might be Jonathan Russell Wells.  Jonathan was a manufacturer in Ashaway and would have been Charles’ Uncle.  Charles’ mother Sarah was the sister of Jonathan Wells’ wife (Martha Ann Rogers)


Come visit my website at www.FamilyHistoryDetectives.net and let us help you trace your family tree!


5 Responses to “April 6, 2010 – Jonathan Russell Wells”

  1. Jamin Wells Says:

    Hi! I stumbled upon your fantastic site while trying to figure out my family history. I’m a descendant of Benjamin Wells (1813-1819) who was married (2/25/1838) to Nancy Dyer Slocum. I am stuck at Benjamin’s parents, listed in the Slocum Family History as John and Mary (Whitford) Wells, longtime residents of Exeter, Rhode Island. Any help would be much appreciated!

    Thank you.


    • jgeoghan Says:

      Hi, I did a little looking around and didn’t see that Benjamin was immediatly part of my Wells family. It may be that I didn’t look hard enough but he may be part of one of the other Wells’ lines in America. Good luck with your research.

  2. Michael Ford Says:

    Jamin, I am related to Benjamin and Nancy Wells and have a lot of info to share if you contact me at michaelstevenford@gmail.com

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