Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

Jan. 21, 2011..Family History Detectives is now OnLine! January 21, 2011

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Today I launched the website for my company, Family History Detectives.  Using my years of experience as a professional genealogist, I am happy to help you trace your family tree or hammer down those brick walls that have been holding back your research for years.   We offer a variety of services and reasonable rates.  Check out our new site at www.FamilyHistoryDetectives.net

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


Jan. 20th, 2011 www.WorldVitalRecords.com January 20, 2011

So I signed up for a free 7 day trial of www.worldvitalrecords.com yesterday.  I did a little searching on the site but came up with nothing useful that I hadn’t already found on ancestry, google and familysearch.  So I’m curious if anyone out there has had good enough luck with the site to make if worth the $35+ a year membership.  Let me hear from you folks out there.  Right now, I can’t see joining the site so if you feel differently, let me know.

FOLLOW UP TO THIS POST:  Feb 7, 2011.  I cancelled by subscription to world vital records today.  Their basic plan which I had subscribed to is not “World” but only American.  What’s up with that???  All the results were also from free sites like google books, findagrave and Ellis Island.  Per my conversation with customer service, I needed to get their upgraded “World” plan for an extra $30 bucks.  What a rip!   By the way if you call to cancel, don’t push the “Cancel” option on their calling menu.  I did and waited over an hour and then it disconnected me.  I called back the next day and pushed another option and someone picked right up. hummmm…..

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


Jan 15, 2010 – The Kranz Family January 15, 2011

If you’d asked me this time last year if I ever thought I’d make any further progress on researching my father’s side of the family, I’d have said it was a lost cause.   Conflicting information and lack of immigration records and names that were difficult to research had discouraged me greatly.  Then last summer my cousin sent me a box of old family papers that pertained to my paternal grandmother’s side of the family, the Kranz family.   With that I was able to make some really good progress over the pond.  They came from Arzheim, Bavaria, Germany.  I knew my Great Grandfathers brothers names and parents names.  I found information on familysearch.org on his mother’s family (the Hahn’s) and to be honest I was pretty content with that as I had thought I’d never get anything on them anyway.

Then right around Thanksgiving last year, I got it into my head that Arzheim was in German wine country.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get a bottle of wine from grapes from Arzheim for Christmas dinner.  I went to my big local wine store and asked if they had any wine from the one little vineyard tha I had found on-line that had wine that was grapes grown exclusively in Arzheim.  The answer was no, they didn’t.  They looked up the winery and it looked like they didn’t sell their wine in America.  So I went home and emailed the vineyard directly and asked if they sold in America because I wanted to get a few bottles because that was where my family was from.  A few weeks went by with no response.  Then I get an email from them saying, no, they are a small vineyard and they dont’ sell outside of Germany, but what was the name of my family that lived in Arzheim?  So I emailed them back with some info on my Kranz family.  So a few more weeks go by and I get a response.  They said that they knew some Kranz’s and they owned a vineyard in the next village over and they were forwarding my email to them.  A few minutes later I get an email from them saying “we always wondered what happened to Johann” (my great-grandfather!)  Turns out the vineyard is owned by Robert Kranz who is the grandson of Robert Kranz who was brothers with my great grandfather John/Johann.  Basically he is second cousins with my father.   Robert emailed me some great info on the Kranz family that stayed in Germany and also gave me info on a line of Kranz’s here in America, the descendants of Stephen Kranz, another brother who had come to America after my great grandfather.  I did a little googling and found an email address and emailed my cousin Jack in Reno, NV and have no connected with him as well.  Jack had connected with Robert a few years back while visiting Arzheim.  He ran into on of the Kranz cousins while there and was now in touch with them.  Hard to believe after all these years we’re finally starting to find each other!

So my message today is never give up hope!  You never know how looking for a bottle of wine will lead you to the discovery of long-lost family.


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


January 13, 2011 – Stillmans of Plainfield, NJ January 13, 2011

Here are a couple of obits that I’ve come across for the Stillmans of Plainfield, NJ.

The Trenton Evening Times, March 3, 1937:

Plainfield, NJ, March 3.- Word has been received here of he death Monday of William Maxson Stillman, of this city, at a hospital in Naples, Italy. Mr. Stillman was dean of the Plainfield Bar Association and third oldest member of the Union County Bar Association. His age was 81, and death was due to pneumonia.

Mr. Stillman, was accompanied by his wife, Ethel Stillman and her sister, Mrs. Frank J. Hubbard, sailed February 10 on a Mediterranean cruise, planning to be away six weeks.

He was born in Plainfield, a son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Charles H. Stillman. His father, a physician, was founder of the Plainfield public school system. Mr. Stillman practiced law here fifty-seven years. He was graduated from Plainfield High School in 1872, received an engineering degree from Rutgers in 1877 and was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1880, three years after receiving his law degree at Columbia University.




The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Vol. 7, No. 9, Page 804:



Thomas B. Stillman, late Professor of Engineering Chemistry at the Stevens Institute of Technology, died at his home in Jersey City, NJ on August 10, 1915, from heart disease after an illness of about four weeks.

Dr. Stillman was born in Plainfield, NJ on May 24, 1852, and was a son of the late Dr. Charles H. and Mary Elizabeth Stillman. His early training was obtained in Plainfield, and after attending Alfred University, Alfred, NY for a short time, he entered Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ and was graduated in June, 1873, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. His graduating thesis on “The Composition of the Ashes of Plants” was awarded a thesis prize, and was published in the “Report of the State Geologist of New Jersey, 1873,” He then entered a post-graduate course in chemistry at the New Jersey State Scientific School, and at the same time was connected with the New Jersey State Geologic Survey, with practical work at the zinc mines of Sussex County.

In 1874, Dr. Stillman was appointed private assistant to the late professor Albert R. Leeds, of Stevens Institute of Technology, remaining in this position until October, 1876. In the latter year he received the degree of Master in Science from Rutgers College, and in November of the same year he entered the chemical laboratory of Dr. R. Fresenius of Wiesbaden, Germany, as a student of analytical chemical research. While in this laboratory he laid the solid foundations for his future very successful and splendid analytical and engineering work, and as a recognition of some investigations upon the salts of uranium carried out in this laboratory, Dr. Stillman was elected a foreign corresponding member of the Edinburgh Society of Arts and Sciences.

In 1879, he opened an office in New York City for the practice of analytical chemistry. In connection with his professional….

Rest is on another page that was not available online.


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


Jan. 6, 2010 – 100th Post!! Ashaway Mills January 6, 2011

So according to my blog dashboard, this is my 100th post on my blog.  Congratulations to me!   I wasn’t really sure how this was going to work out when I started but I’ve enjoyed getting comments from other folks researching my different family branches.  So on to today’s post….

While home at my folks place last fall, I came across this photograph of a mill.  It was together with the photo of Williams Rogers Wells and the workers at the mill he was owner and or superintendent of.  I noticed that the building in the back fo the photo of the men was the same building at the side of the mill.  They are mounted identically on heavy card stock like cardboard/paper and I’m going to hazard to guess they were taken at the same time.     I also realized that I’d seen this mill before and went digging in my postcard collection and came across the postcard of the Wolff Worsted Mill.  I’ve been doing some detailed research on Williams R Wells as of late and have come across the names of many mills that he was identified with but never the Wolff Worsted Mill so I’m guessing that the mill changed names after the time that Williams was there.  The postcard looks to be much newer than the photo so that seems plausible. 

Here I’m going to refer back to the article I talked about in my block on DECEMBER 30, 2010 detailing the history of the Bethel Mill of Ashaway, RI.  The article was from the newspaper “The Pawtucket Times” and was dated Nov. 3rd, 1899.  I’m not going to repost the whole article.  If you want to read it, go look at the 12-10-2010 post for that.  What I’m interested in here is this excerpt:

“This firm was succeeded by T.R. Wells & Co, who were later succeeded by W.R. Wells, who made extensive alterations and improvements, putting in an electric light plant and erecting a commodious office building.”

Is this “commodious office building” the building that they are standing in front of in the picture, the one next to the mill????  If so, that would make this the Bethel Mill.

This is where I reach out to you.  Do you have any pictures of the Bethel Mill? or do you know what mill is pictured below?  If so, please leave a comment and let me know. 


Jan. 3, 2010 – Xavier, Robert, John & Franz Xavier Kranz January 3, 2011

 In continuation of yesterday’s post… It was actually ancestry.com where I found the German Military Records.   I did another search yesterday and came up with another record of Franz Xavier Kranz.   Here it is.  it was listed on ancestry as: Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 Record for Franz Xaver Kranz:

While looking through the records under a search on Ancestry.com for only the last name of Kranz in Arzheim, Germany, I came across the military records of Xavier’s brother and another uncle of mine, Robert Kranz.  Robert was born on January 17, 1891 in Arzheim.   Here are his records:

Bavaria Germany WWI Personnel Rosters 1914-1918 Record for Robert Kranz:  2 different records found under same collection

While continuing to pour over the results from my search on Ancestry, I came across the following.  It was listed as Commercial handels and trade directory of the German Reich 1930-1931 4th volume.  Under the listing for the town of Arzheim it lists:

Gasthöfe     Hahn    R.

Schlossereien     Kranz, Robert

A Gasthöfe translates as Hotel.  R. Hahn was probably a relation of Robert Kranz’s mother, Elizabeth Hahn.   A Schlosserein translates as a Locksmiths Shop.  Which makes sense as that was Robert’s father’s profession.

Here is another similar listing I found for the Kranz family in the Ancestry .com collection: R Mosse  Deutsches Reichs-Adressbuch für Industrie, Gewerbe und Handel, 1902-1903, 1. Band  (Record for German realm Reich for industry trade and trade 1902-1903 1 volume)  This one lists under Arzheim:

Schlosser:  Kranz    X.

Schlosser translates on babelfish as “Fitter” but I’m guessing that is incorrect. as it’s awfully close to Schlossereien which was Locksmith’s Shop.  X. Kranz would be Xavier Kranz, father of Robert, Xavier and my great Grandfather, John Kranz.  We know Xavier was a Locksmith from his son Franz Xavier’s Military Paperwork from yesterday’s post.   It would see that being a Blacksmith of sorts was the family business.  We know Xavier Kranz, the father was one who worked on making locks.  From the military records here we know that both his sons Robert and Franz Xavier were also locksmiths and from my family papers we know that John was a blacksmith who worked on making Wagon Wheel parts in America.


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


Jan 1, 2011 – Franz Haver (Xavier) Kranz January 1, 2011

A while ago I came across the record below.  I think it found it on familysearch.org   It was listed as “Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 Record for Franz Xaver Kranz”.   I got excited as I thought he must be an uncle of mine, brother of John Kranz my immigrant ancestor from Arzheim Germany as the fellow here, Franz had the same names for his parents.  John or Johannes was born in Arzheim on December 10, 1872.  When I was up at the Family History Expo in Atlanta this past fall I had the opportunity to show the document to a great gal who worked for the Family History Library in the German section and she gave me the translation in the second picture.  So yes, this is my uncle Franz (or Haver/Xavier).  I knew I had an uncle Xavier as he was listed in the handwritten family history written by John pictured below.

So what does all this tell me?  Well it tells me that Franz/Xavier served in the Germany Military for quite some time and probably served in World War I by the dates.  It says he was single so I don’t know if he ever married or had children or if he even lived through World War I.   I can only hope so.  What it also tells me is that he propbably didn’t immegrate to America as he brothers John and Stefan did so I need to keep looking in German records for more info on him.


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