Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

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



4 July 2015: Wells items in the Narragansett Weekly July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July all!  On this day I like to remember Randall Wells, my favorite patriot ancestor, my 4th great-grandfather who served in the Hopkinton Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Now on to today’s post.  Again while cleaning up my computer files this week, I came across a series of articles from the Narragansett Weekly.   To put them in context, I dug up a little information on this publication:

  • Title: The Narragansett weekly (Westerly, R.I.) 1858-1878
  • Place of publication: Westerly, R.I.
  • Geographic coverage: Westerly, Washington, Rhode Island
  • Publisher: J.H. Utter & Co.
  • Dates of publication: 1858-1878
  • Description: Vol. 1, no. 1 (Apr. 29, 1858)-v. 20, no. 51 (Mar. 21, 1878).
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Preceding Titles: The Westerly echo, & Pawcatuck advertiser. (Westerly, R.I.) 1854-1858
  • Succeeding Titles: Westerly Narragansett weekly. (Westerly, Washington Co., R.I.) 1878-1899

Now that we know a little about the paper they come from, here’s the little tidbits I found this week:

From the Narragansett Weekly: March 3 1859

In the year 1757 the road from Potter Hill to Hopkinton City was laid out by a committee appointed by the Colony of Rhode Island. Several houses then standing in this vicinity yet remain. The red house on the corner, known as the “Babcock House,” and the old “Egypt house” now owned by Russell Wells, who is one of our oldest inhabitants… The old “Egypt” house is the same size that it ever was, but in shape a little different as the wind has sagged it to an angle of eighty-five degrees. I should say. I am inclined to think that it is one of the oldest houses in the state… The old house at Bethel was for a time occupied by the miller of the old mill. In laying out the road from the city of Potter Hill, the surveyors found no difficulty until they arrived at where is now a turn in the road, not far from Deacon Daniel Lewis’ before coming to the school house. Here was a field of potatoes, and to keep their course would be to go through them. The deacon’s grandfather Maxson persuaded the surveyor to go around his potato patch, as the distance would hardly be perceivable, but no sooner had they don so, when another obstacle presented itself. John Mascon (grandfather of Russell Wells before referred to,) owned and lived in the “Egypt” house. He was known as “Egypt John Masxon.” He raised large crops of corn, and sold quite large quantities every year; he gave this peculiar name to the place from this fact, and it is quite an appropriate one too, as a man was hardly ever known to go there to corn and come away empty… He met them and in not the smoothest language, gave them to understand that he was the king of Egypt, that the land they were then upon was his, and that he would not consent for a road just to be laid out. Finding that they were somewhat independent, and fixed too in their purpose, he somewhat softened down, and as night was coming on, invited, and rather insisted that they should go home with him and spend the night – they would be welcome, and after a good night’s rest would be better able to resume their duties…In the morning after a hearty breakfast the cloth was removed and the decanter set on. “Egypt John” bade his guests help themselves… there was no question in their mind but what the road should be laid out by Mr. Maxson’s house, and it was so laid out, and has so remained….”Should the reader in passing over this road hereafter, wonder why such a bend should have been made from the red house to the residence of Deacon Daniel Lewis, let him call to mind the bender enjoyed by that committee, one hundred and two years ago, in the old “Egypt” house. “Egypt John” has long been dead. “Peace to his ashes.” But could he have lived in these “degenerate days” what a political leader he would have been.


From the Narragansett Weekly: May 6, 1886

An Historic House is being torn down at Ashaway. A correspondent of the Providence Journal tells the following story about the old house: The oldest house in this immediate vicinity, known as the “Egypt” house, is being torn down, having been vacant for some time, and being in a dilapidated state. It was at the corner where the road to Niantic (now Bradford, RI) turns from the old state road, and was sometimes called the Old Maxson house, from former residents. It is supposed to be 200 years old, as was the only house in this vicinity which had its great stone chimney built partly outside of the house. It is said to have acquired the name of “Egypt” from the fact that in the “Frosty Year,” 1814-15 when nearly all the Indian corn in this section was cut off by early frosts, a good crop was ripened on this farm, and people came from all directions for seed corn, even sending from Newport for it. It was once owned by a John Maxson, who at the time the state road was laid out is said to have induced the surveyors to make a sharp crook in it to clear his potato patch, by the persuasive eloquence of certain black bottles. It was last occupied by Mr. Silas C. Wells, whose son, Wallace, is having it torn down.


From the Narragansett Weekly: 14 Mar 1859

A letter from “Pequot” (a pseudonym for someone) printed in the 14 Mar 1859 issue of The Narragansett Weekly states that this house was sold by Capt. Thomas Wells, brother to Randall Wells (and who moved to Muskingun Co, Ohio in 1789) sold the premises to Mr. Babcock. He quotes the following parody: “We from Egypt’s slavish ground, unto ‘HIO we are bound; But as we journey let us sing Halo-dantum to Musking!”… He further relates that Clark Wells, son of this Capt. Thomas Wells, remained behind: “This Clark Wells lived at the famous Egypt House, having married Betsey Maxson, the daughter of “Esquire Egypt John,” but died in early manhood. His widow went out to Ohio with her nephew, Barton Wells and there perhaps remained until her death.”… “I think I can nearly fix the removal of the old Red House from its first site to its present location. It had stood, as your correspondent remarks, upon the other side of the street leading to Egypt, a little distance from the road, and, as I have understood, with its back to the street, having been built before the road was laid out. The removal of the old house was an event in the history of the town, and called together much of the available cattle-power, curiosity, engineering, and, of course, the children of the neighborhood, to witness it. Mrs. Daniel Babcock, then a child of four or five years, was present, with other spectators, to see the moving. She was born in 1756. This would fix the event about 1770. But from some other evidence we can safely say it was in 1769, the very year George Potter removed to otter Hill… “Let me suggest to your correspondent that Deacon Babcock refused two thousand dollars for the premises more than half a century ago, when it contained less area than it subsequently did by additional purchase….”


From the Narragansett Weekly: 16 Jun 1859

Letters from Ashaway- No. 9: … Randall Wells, who married Egypt John’s daughter {this was Lois Maxson}, was the last one for the family that lived there.


From the Narragansett Weekly: 21 Jul 1859

Letters from Ashaway- No. 10: “Thomas Wells Esq., alias Capt. Tom, alias Rally Tom, after his brilliant and successful exploits in the war, returned to his native town, and pursued the avocation of farming at Wellstown. A few years later, he purchased the estate upon which the red house on the corner is located, where he lived up to the time of his removal to the state of Ohio, in the fall of 1791 (note: Thomas Wells died in 1790 in Ohio and his wife, Sarah (Clarke) died the winter of 1789/90 so this date of 1791 is wrong)


Don’t forget, if you ever have any interesting family history to share, feel free to send it my way and I’ll be happy to do a post about it here on my blog.

Also don’t forget, I’m also an author whose last book was just released yesterday on Amazon.  Check it out!  It’s called “If Love is a Lie, Finding and Losing Love Online.”

If Love is a Lie, by Jennifer Geoghan.  Click on image for a link to the book on Amazon.

If Love is a Lie, by Jennifer Geoghan. Click on image for a link to the book on Amazon.


3 July 2015: Genealogy Humor and Book Launch Day! July 3, 2015

Today’s a big day for me!  My latest novel went on sale on Amazon.com just this morning.  If you love to read, I hope you check it out.  I’ll put a little of what the book is about at the bottom of this post as well as link to check it out on Amazon.

In the meantime, I thought I’d go the lighter side today and share some genealogy humor I’ve collected off the internet over the course of my years.  Here’s a few things to make you smile today:

Pecans in the Cemetery

On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big, old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts. “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me,” said one boy. Several dropped and rolled down toward the fence.

Another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.” He just knew what it was. He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along. “Come here quick” said the boy, “you won’t believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls.”

The man said, ‘Beat it kid, can’t you see it’s hard for me to walk.” When the boy insisted though, the man hobbled slowly to the cemetery.
Standing by the fence they heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.”

The old man whispered, “’Boy, you’ve been telling’ me the truth. Let’s see if we can see the Lord.”

Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of the Lord.
At last they heard, “One for you, one for me. That’s all. Now let’s go get those nuts by the fence and we’ll be done.”

They say the old man made it back to town a full 5 minutes ahead of the kid on the bike.

Why o Why is this not a real thing!!!!

Why o Why is this not a real thing!!!!

It just all depends on how you look at some things.. Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Senator Harry Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory:  On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: ‘Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.’ 

So Judy recently e-mailed Senator Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.  Believe it or not, Harry Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:  “Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.” 




Cartoon 4


Today's The DAY!  My latest novel is now available on Amazon.com

Today’s The DAY! My latest novel is now available on Amazon.com

If Love is a Lie: Finding and Losing Love Online 

By Jennifer Geoghan

Love is never as easy to find as we wish it would be. When Emily started her online romance with Antonio, a man who seemed to be the one she’d been waiting for all her life, she had no idea what sinister motives lied behind the photos of Antonio’s amazing brown eyes. Blinded by her own desires for romance and companionship, she embraced the lie and ignored the truth of her persistent suspicions of his motivations. What will she do when she learns her great love is nothing more than a scammer, not after her heart, but her money? With revenge her only motive, she sets out on an adventure to bring Antonio down and see him punished for what he’s done to her. But when she’s forced to confront him face to face, will she ultimately find love in his arms, or in Evan’s, the sexy but stoic FBI Agent who enlists her to bring Antonio to justice?

Loosely based on the author’s own unfortunate online romance with a scam artist she mistook for the man of her dreams, the first half of this novel mirrors the author’s own journey to the startling truth of her paramour’s guilt. In life it’s true that we can’t all have happy endings, but though we can’t live them, sometimes we can write them for ourselves.

The real question is … in this case, is truth stranger than fiction?

There are two different versions of this novel.  One is the romance, PG-13 version.  The second version I call “The Spicy Version,” and is meant for mature audiences only.

If Love is a Lie, The Spicy Version, by Jennifer Geoghan.  Click on image for a link to the book on Amazon.

If Love is a Lie, The Spicy Version, by Jennifer Geoghan. Click on image for a link to the book on Amazon.

If Love is a Lie, by Jennifer Geoghan.  Click on image for a link to the book on Amazon.

If Love is a Lie, by Jennifer Geoghan. Click on image for a link to the book on Amazon.


2 July 2015: The Rogers family and the Rogerenes July 2, 2015

Today I thought I’d post another interesting Rogers Family item I found while cleaning up my Genealogy files on my hard drive. I keep the vast majority of my genealogy computer files on a portable hard drive, which has come in handy when I’ve bought a new laptop. However, it’s been a while since I’ve backed it up and I’ve been spending a little time every day cleaning and organizing the files. Seems I’ve been a little neglectful of my files over the past year or so. Lots of little items that needed organizing and/or pasting onto profiles in my RootsMagic genealogy program.

In the meantime, here’s a little history of the Rogers family as it relates to the Rogerenes.

The Rogerenes: Some Hitherto Unpublished Annals Belonging to the Colonial History of Connecticut, By John Rogers Bolles, Anna Bolles Williams, 1904. Part II: History of the Rogerenes, starting Page 121

AMONG noticeable young men in the Colony of Connecticut, previous to 1640, is James Rogers.1 His name first appears on record at New Haven, but shortly after, in 1637, he is a soldier from Saybrook in the Pequot war.2 He is next at Stratford, where he acquires considerable real estate and marries Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Rowland, a landed proprietor of that place, who eventually leaves a valuable estate to his grandson, Samuel Rogers, and presumably other property to his daughter, who seems to have been an only child. A few years later, James Rogers appears at Milford. His wife joins the Congregational church there in 1645, and he himself joins this church in 1652.

He has evidently been a baker on a large scale for some time previous to 1655, at which date complaint is made to the General

1 The parentage and native place of James Rogers remain undiscovered. He may, or may not, have been the James Rogers who came over in the Increase (Hotten). There were several of the same name and date in New England. There is a tradition in the New London family, which can be traced as far back as 1750, that James Rogers of New London was a grandson, or greatgrandson, of John Rogers the martyr. Up to this date (1904) no proof has been found to substantiate this claim. The same claim has been made by descendants of other first settlers of the name of Rogers, and their traditions are also proven to have been of early date. These long-standing and very persistent traditions may possibly be explained by some future discovery.

2 1679– James Rogers sells Thos. Parker 50 A. of land that were granted James Rogers of N. London, by the Gen. Court, he being a Pequot soldier. – New London Land Records.

Also in “Memorial History of Hartford,” by J. Hammond Trumbull (pub. 1886), p. 81, is a chapter on the Pequot war, by Rev. Increase N. Tarbox, which names the men from Saybrook, viz. “John Underhill, Edward Pattison, James Rogers, Edward Lay, John Gallup and John Wood.”

Page 122

Court in regard to a quantity of biscuit furnished by him, which was exported to Virginia and the Barbadoes, upon which occasion he states that the flour furnished by the miller for this bread was not properly ground. The miller substantially admits that he did not at that time understand the correct manner of grinding.

In the course of ten years, Milford proves too small a port for the operations of this enterprising and energetic man, whose business includes supplies to seamen and troops. Governor Winthrop is holding out inducements for him to settle at New London. In 1656 he is empowered by the General Court to sell his warehouse at Milford, with his other property, provided said building be used only as a warehouse. He now begins to purchase valuable lands and houses at New London, and so continues for many years, frequently adding some choice house-lot, Indian clearing, meadow-land, pasture or woodland to his possessions. In 1659 he sells to Francis Hall, an attorney of Fairfield, “all” his “lands, commons and houses in Stratford, Milford and New Haven.” – (History of Stratford. )

At New London, in addition to his large baking business, he has charge of the town mill, by lease from Governor Winthrop, at the head of an inlet called Winthrop’s Cove and forming Winthrop’s Neck, which neck comprises the home lot of the governor. That James Rogers may build his house near the mill,1 the Governor conveys to him a piece of his own land adjoining, upon which Mr. Rogers builds a stone dwelling. He also builds a stone bakery by the cove and has a wharf at this point.2

The long Main street of the town takes a sharp turn around the

1 An ancient mill built in 1728, on or very near the site of the first mill, is still standing (see “Hempstead Diary,” page 200). Less than fifty years ago, the cove was a beautiful sheet of water commencing just in front of the mill, separated from it by little more than the width of the winding street, and from thence stretching out in rippling, shining currents to the river. This cove has been so filled in of recent years that considerable imagination must be exercised to reproduce the ancient sweep of clear, blue water known as Winthrop’s Cove.

2 In 1664 he gave his son Samuel land “by the mill” “west side of my wharf.”

Page 123-4

head of the cove, past the mill and to the house of the Governor, the latter standing on the east side of the cove, within a stone’s throw of the mill.

The native forest is all around, broken here and there by a patch of pasture or planting ground. One of the main roads leading into the neighboring country runs southerly five miles to the Great Neck, a large, level tract of land bordering Long Island Sound. Another principal country road runs northerly from the mill, rises a long hill, and, after the first two or three miles, is scarcely more than an Indian trail, extending five miles to Mohegan, the headquarters of Uncas and his tribe. Upon this road are occasional glimpses, through the trees, of the “Great River” (later the Thames).

James Rogers is soon not only the principal business man of this port, but, next to the Governor, the richest man in the colony. His property in the colony much exceeds that of the Governor. He is prominent in town and church affairs, he and his wife having joined the New London church; also frequently an assistant at the Superior Court and deputy at the General Court. His children are receiving a superior education for the time, as becomes their father’s means and station. Life and activity are all about these growing youth, at the bakery, at the mill, at the wharf. Many are the social comings and goings, not only to and from the Governor’s house,1 just beside them, but to and from their own house. His extensive business dealings and his attendance at court have brought James Rogers in contact with intelligent and prosperous men all over the colony, among whom he is a peer. His education is good, if not superior, for the time. He numbers among his personal friends some of the principal planters in this colony and neighboring colonies.


In 1666 James Rogers retires from active business. His sons Samuel and Joseph are capable young men past their majority.

Samuel is well fitted to take charge of the bakery. Joseph inclines to the life of a country gentleman. John, an active youth of eighteen, is the scholar of the family. He writes his father’s deeds and other business documents, which indicates some knowledge of the law. Besides being sons of a rich man, these are exceptionally capable young men. That there is no stain upon their reputations is indicated by the favor with which they are regarded by certain parents of marriageable daughters. In this year occurs the marriage of Samuel to the daughter of Thomas Stanton, who is a prominent man in the colony and interpreter between the General Court and the Indians. The parents of each make a handsome settlement upon the young people, James Rogers giving his son the stone dwelling-house and the bakery. This young man has recently sold the farm received from his grandfather, Samuel Rowland. Having also grants from the town and lands from his father (to say nothing of gifts from Owaneco), together with a flourishing business, Samuel Rogers is a rich man at an early age.

Somewhat before the marriage of Samuel, his father, in anticipation of this event, established himself upon the Great Neck, on a farm bought in 1660, of a prominent settler named Obadiah Bruen. This is one of the old Indian planting grounds so valuable in these forest days. Yet James Rogers does not reside long on the beautiful bank of Robin Hood’s Bay (now Jordan Cove), for in this same year his son Joseph, not yet twenty-one years of age, receives this place, “the farm where I now dwell” and also “all my other lands on the Great Neck,” as a gift from his father. All the “other lands” being valuable, this is a large settlement. (It appears to mark the year of Joseph’s marriage, although the exact date and also the name of the bride are unknown. The residence of James Rogers for the next few years is uncertain; it is not unlikely that he takes up his abode in one of his houses in town, or possibly at the Mamacock farm, on the Mohegan road and the “Great River,” which place was formerly granted by the town to the Rev. Mr. Blinman, and, upon the latter’s removal from New London, was purchased by Mr. Rogers.)

Page 125-126


How far from the mind of the young lover, when, on the night before the happy day when he is to call Elizabeth his bride, he pens the writing1 which is to give her the Mamacock farm, recently presented to him by his father, is a thought of anything that can part them until death itself. To this writing he adds: “I do here farther engage not to carry her out of the colony of Connecticut.” This sentence goes to prove the great fondness of the parents for this daughter, her own loving desire to live always near them, and the ready compliance of the young lover with their wishes. He marries her at Blackhall, October 17, and takes her to the beautiful river farm which upon that day becomes her own. He does not take her to the farmhouse built by Mr. Blinman, but to a new and commodious dwelling, close by the Mohegan road, whose front room is 20 by 20, and whose big fireplaces, in every room, below and above, will rob the wintry blasts of their terror . The marriage settlement upon the young couple, by James Rogers and Matthew Griswold, includes provisions, furniture, horses, sheep, and kine.1

Page 126


Although John Rogers resides at Mamacock farm, he is by no means wholly occupied in the care of that place; a young man of his means has capable servants. As for years past, he is actively interested in business, both for his father and himself. At Newport, in the year 1674, he meets with members of the little Sabbatarian church of that place, recently started by a few devout and earnest students of the Bible, who having, some years before, perceived that certain customs of the Congregational churches have no precedent or authority in Scripture, resolved to follow these customs no longer, but to be guided solely by the example and pre-

1 See same “Book of Crimes and Misdemeanors” for Marriage Settlement.

2 In after life he was accustomed to say that it was the richest cargo he ever shipped and the best bargain he ever made. – History of New London.

It was a frequent custom in those days, for persons emigrating to the colonies to pay the expenses of their passage by selling their services for a term after landing. Such passengers were called “redemptioners.” Thus, Captain James actually purchased, as the term was, his wife Mary.

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cepts of Christ and his apostles. In attempting to carry out this resolve, they renounced and denounced sprinkling and infant baptism and attached themselves to the First Baptist Church of Newport. About 1665, they were led, by the teachings of Stephen Mumford, a Sabbatarian from England, to discern in the first day Sabbath the authority of man and not of God. Under this persuasion, the little company came out of the First Baptist Church, of Newport, and formed the Sabbatarian Church of that place. Mr. Thomas Hiscox is pastor of this little church, and Mr. Samuel Hubbard and his wife (formerly among the founders of the First Congregational Church of Springfield, Mass.) are among its chief members. During this year, under the preaching and teachings of this church, John Rogers is converted.

Hitherto this young man and his wife Elizabeth have been members of the regular church, as ordinary membership is accounted, and their two children have been baptized in that church, at New London. If children of professed Christians, baptized in childhood, lead an outwardly moral life, attend the stated worship and otherwise conform to the various church usages, this is sufficient to constitute them, as young men and young women, members in good and regular standing. The daughter of Elder Matthew Griswold has been as ignorant of the work of regeneration as has been the son of James Rogers.

The conversion of John Rogers was directly preceded by one of those sudden and powerful convictions of sin so frequently exemplified in all ages of the Christian church, and so well agreeing with Scriptural statements regarding the new birth. Although leading a prominently active business life, in a seaport town, from early youth, and thus thrown among all classes of men and subjected to many temptations, this young man has given no outward sign of any lack of entire probity. Whatever his lapses from exact virtue, they have occasioned him no serious thought, until, by the power of this conversion, he perceives himself a sinner. Under this deep conviction the memory of a certain youthful error weighs heavily upon his conscience.

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He has at this time one confidant, his loving, sympathetic and deeply interested young wife, who cordially welcomes the new light from Newport. In the candid fervor of his soul, he tells her all, even the worst he knows of himself, and that he feels in his heart that, by God’s free grace, through the purifying blood of Jesus Christ, even his greatest sin is washed away and forgiven.

Does this young woman turn, with horror and aversion, from the portrayal of this young man’s secret sin? By no means.1 She is not only filled with sympathy for his deep sorrow and contrition, but rejoices with him in his change of heart and quickened conscience. More than this, understanding that even one as pure as herself may be thus convicted of sin and thus forgiven and reborn, she joins with him in prayer that such may be her experience also. They study the New Testament together, and she finds, as he has said, that there is here no mention of a change from a seventh to a first day Sabbath, and no apparent warrant for infant baptism, but the contrary; the command being first to believe and then to be baptized. Other things they find quite contrary to the Congregational way. In her ardor, she joins with him to openly declare these errors in the prevailing belief and customs.

Little is the wonder that to Elder Matthew Griswold and his wife the news that their daughter and her husband are openly condemning the usages of the powerful church of which they, and all their relatives, are such prominent members, comes like a thunderbolt. Their own daughter is condemning even the grand Puritan Sabbath and proposes to work hereafter upon that sacred day and to worship upon Saturday. They find that her husband has led Elizabeth into this madness. They accuse and upbraid him, they reason and plead with him. But all in vain. He declares to them his full conviction that this is the call and enlightenment of the Lord himself. Moreover, was it not the leading resolve of the

1 The account given by their son of this joint conviction of John Rogers and his wife furnishes evidence of a considerable period in which they were in full friendship and accord after the disclosure made to the wife. For account, see Part I, Chapter III.

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first Puritans to be guided and ruled only by the Word of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ? Did they not warn their followers to maintain a jealous watchfulness against any belief, decree or form of worship not founded upon the Scriptures? Did they not urge each to search these Scriptures for himself? He has searched these Scriptures, and Elizabeth with him, and they have found a most astonishing difference between the precepts and example of Christ and the practice and teachings of the Congregational church.

Elder Matthew Griswold is ready with counter arguments on the Presbyterian side. But “the main instrument” by which Elizabeth is restored to her former church allegiance is her mother, the daughter of Henry Wolcott. This lady is sister of Simon Wolcott, who is considered one of the handsomest, most accomplished and most attractive gentlemen of his day. Although she may have similar charms and be a mother whose judgment a daughter would highly respect, yet she is evidently one of the last from whom could be expected any deviation, in belief or practice, from the teachings and customs of her father’s house. That her daughter has been led to adopt the notions of these erratic Baptists is, to her mind, a disgrace unspeakable. She soon succeeds in convincing Elizabeth that this is no influence of the Holy Spirit, as declared by John Rogers, but a device of the Evil One himself. Under such powerful counter representations, on the part of her relatives and acquaintances, as well as by later consideration of the social disgrace attendant upon her singular course, Elizabeth is finally led to publicly recant her recently avowed belief, despite the pleadings of her husband. At the same time, she passionately beseeches him to recant also, declaring that unless he will renounce the evil spirit by which he has been led, she cannot continue to live with him. He, fully persuaded that he has been influenced by the very Spirit of God, declares that he cannot disobey the divine voice within his soul.

One sad day, after such a scene as imagination can well picture, this young wife prepares herself, her little girl of two years and her baby boy, for the journey to Blackhall, with the friends who have

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come to accompany her. Even as she rides away, hope must be hers that, after the happy home is left desolate, her husband will yield to her entreaties. Not so with him as he sees depart the light and joy of Mamacock, aye, Mamacock itself which he has given her. He drinks the very dregs of this cup without recoil. He parts with wife and children and lands, for His name’s sake. Well he knows in his heart, that for him can be no turning. And what can he now expect of the Griswolds?

Although his own home is deserted and he will no more go cheerily to Blackhall, there is still a place where dear faces light at his coming. It is his father’s house. Here are appreciative listeners to the story of his recent experiences and convictions; father and mother, brothers and sisters, are for his sake reading the Bible anew. They find exact Scripture warrant for his sudden, deep conviction of sin and for his certainty that God has heard his fervent prayers, forgiven his sins and bestowed upon him a new heart. They find no Scripture warrant for a Sabbath upon the first day of the week, nor for baptism of other than believers, nor for a specially learned and aristocratic ministry. They, moreover, see no authority for the use of civil power to compel persons to religious observances, and such as were unknown to the early church, and no good excuse for the inculcating of doctrines and practices contrary to the teachings of Christ and his apostles. Shortly, James, the young shipmaster, has an experience similar to that of his brother, as has also an Indian by the name of Japhet. This Indian is an intelligent and esteemed servant in the family of James Rogers, Sr.

At this time, the home of James Rogers is upon the Great Neck. By some business agreement, his son Joseph resigned to his father, in 1670, the lands upon this Neck which had been given him in 1666. In this year (1674), his father reconfirms to him the property bought of Obadiah Bruen, by Robin Hood’s Bay. The younger children, Jonathan and Elizabeth, are still at home with their parents. Bathsheba and her family are living near, on the Great Neck, as are also Captain James and his family.

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Although John may still lay some claim to Mamacock farm, while awaiting legal action on the part of the Griswolds, it can be no home to him in these days of bitter bereavement. Warm hearts welcome him to his father’s house, by the wide blue Sound, and here he takes up his abode. Never a man of his temperament but loved the sea and the wind, the sun and the storm, the field and the wood. All of these are here. Here, too, is his “boat,” evidently as much a part of the man as his horse. No man but has a horse for these primitive distances, and in this family will be none but the best of steeds and boats in plenty.

Near the close of this eventful year, Mr. James Rogers sends for Mr. John Crandall to visit at his house. Mr. Crandall has, for some time, been elder of the Baptist church at Westerly, an offshoot of the Baptist church of Newport. He has recently gone over with his flock to the Sabbatarian church of Newport. If the subject of possible persecution in Connecticut is brought up, who can better inspire the new converts with courage for such an ordeal than he who has been imprisoned and whipped in Boston for daring to avow his disbelief in infant baptism and his adherence to the primitive mode by immersion? The conference is so satisfactory, that Mi. Crandall baptizes John Rogers, his brother James, and the servant Japhet. – (Letter of Mr. Hubbard.)

News of the baptism of these young men into the Anabaptist faith by Mr. Crandall, at their father’s house, increases the comment and excitement already started in the town. The minister, Mr. Simon Bradstreet, expresses a hope that the church will “take a course” with the Rogers family. The Congregational churches at large are greatly alarmed at this startling innovation in Connecticut. The tidings travel fast to Blackhall, dispelling any lingering hope that John Rogers may repent of his erratic course. Immediately after this occurrence, his wife, by the aid of her friends, takes steps towards securing a divorce and the guardianship of her children. From her present standpoint, her feelings and action are simply human, even, in a sense, womanly. He who is to suffer will be the last to upbraid her, his blame will be for

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those who won her from his view to theirs, from the simple word of Scripture to the iron dictates of popular ecclesiasticism. If John Rogers and his friends know anything as yet of the plot on the part of the Griswolds to make the very depth of his repentance for an error of his unregenerate youth an instrument for his utter disgrace and bereavement, their minds are not absorbed at this time with matters of such worldly moment.


In March, 1675, James Rogers, Sr., and his family send for Elder Hiscox, Mr. Samuel Hubbard and his son Clarke, of the Sabbatarian church of Newport, to visit them. Before the completion of this visit, Jonathan Rogers (twenty years of age) is baptized. Following this baptism, John, James, Japhet and Jonathan are received as members of the Sabbatarian church of Newport, by prayer and laying on of hands. (Letter of Mr. Hubbard.)

This consummation of John’s resolves brings matters to a hasty issue on the part of the Griswolds, in lines already planned. There is no law by which a divorce can be granted on account of difference in religious views. In some way this young man’s character must be impugned, and so seriously as to afford plausible grounds for divorcement. How fortunate that, at the time of his conversion, he made so entire a confidant of his wife. Fortunate, also, that his confession was a blot that may easily be darkened, with no hindrance to swearing to the blot. At this time, the young woman’s excited imagination can easily magnify that which did not appear so serious in the calm and loving days at Mamacock, even as with tear-wet eyes he told the sorrowful story of his contrition. Thus are laid before the judges of the General Court, representations to the effect that this is no fit man to be the husband of Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Griswold. The judges, lawmakers and magistrates of Connecticut belong to the Congregational order – the only élite and powerful circle of the time; this, taken in connection with the unfavorable light in which the

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Rogerses are now regarded in such quarters, is greatly to the Griswold advantage.

Yet, despite aversion and alarm on the part of the ruling dignitaries regarding the new departure and the highly colored petition that has been presented to the court by the daughter of Matthew Griswold, there is such evident proof that the petitioner is indulging an intensity of bitterness bordering upon hatred towards the man who has refused, even for her sake, to conform to popular belief and usages, that the judges hesitate to take her testimony, even under oath. Moreover, the only serious charge in this document rests solely upon the alleged declaration of John Rogers against himself, in a private conference with his wife. This charge, however, being represented in the character of a crime 1 (under the early laws), is sufficient for his arrest. Very soon after his reception into the Sabbatarian church, the young man is seized and sent to Hartford for imprisonment, pending the decision of the grand jury.

Although John Rogers has been a member of the Sabbatarian church but a few weeks, he is already pastor of a little church on the Great Neck (under the Newport church) of which his father, mother, brothers and sisters are devout attendants, together with servants of the family and neighbors who have become interested in the new departure. Who will preach to this little congregation, while its young pastor is in Hartford awaiting the issue of the Griswold vengeance? Of those who have received baptism, James is upon the “high seas,” in pursuance of his calling, and Jonathan is but a youth of twenty. Yet Mr. James Rogers does not permit the Seventh Day Sabbath of Christ and His disciples to pass unobserved. The little congregation gather at his house,

1 There were, on the law books, so-called capital crimes which were never punished as such. “Man-stealing” was a so-called capital crime, yet we shall find, further on, that it was punishable by an ordinary fine. No mention is made on the court records or files of the crime of which John Rogers was accused by the Griswolds, on charge of which he was examined at Hartford. No record was made of this matter, and we have only vague mention on the court files of the petition of Elizabeth for this divorce by which to even conjecture the nature of the charge.

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as usual, and sit in reverent silence, as in the presence of the Lord.l Perchance the Holy Spirit will inspire some among them to speak or to pray. They are not thus gathered because this is the Quaker custom, for they are not Quakers; they are simply following a distinct command of the Master and awaiting the fulfilment of one of His promises.

William Edmundson, the Quaker preacher, driven by a storm into New London harbor on a Saturday in May, 1675, goes ashore there and endeavors to gather a meeting, but is prevented by the authorities. Hearing there are some Baptists five miles from town, who hold their meetings upon that day, he feels impressed with a desire to visit them. Meeting with two men of friendly inclinations, who are willing to accompany him, he goes to the Great Neck and finds there this little congregation, assembled as described, “with their servants and negroes,” 2 sitting in silence. At first (according to his account) they appear disturbed at the arrival of such unexpected guests; but, upon finding this stranger only a friendly Quaker, they welcome them cordially.

After sitting with them a short time in silence, the Quaker begins to question them in regard to their belief and to expound to them some of the Quaker doctrines. He sees they are desirous of a knowledge of God and finds them very “ready” in the Scriptures. He endeavors to convince them that after the coming of Christ a Sabbath was no longer enjoined, Christ having ended the law and being the rest of His people; also that the ordinance of water baptism should long ago have ended, being superseded by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Although in no way convinced (as is afterwards fully demonstrated), they listen courteously to his arguments and to the prayer that follows. Not only so, but, by his declaration, they are “very tender and loving.” The next day, this zealous Quaker, having obtained leave of a man in New London, who is well inclined towards the Quakers, to hold a meeting at his

1 Here is an apparent variation, at the outset, from the Newport church.

2 By negroes is meant negro and Indian servants or slaves, of which there were a number in the Rogers family, the slaves being held for a term of years.

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house, finds among his audience several of the little congregation on the Great Neck. In the midst of this meeting, the constable and other officers appear, and break it up forcibly, with rough handling and abuse, much to the indignation of those who have been anxious to give Mr. Edmundson a fair hearing.

The week after his visit to New London, Mr. Edmundson is at an inn in Hartford, where he improves an opportunity to present certain Quaker doctrines to some of those stopping there, and judges that he has offered unanswerable arguments in proof that every man has a measure of the Spirit of Christ. Suddenly, a young man in the audience rises and argues so ably upon the other side as to destroy the effect of Mr. Edmundson’s discourse. This leads the latter to a private interview’ with his opponent, whose name he finds to be John Rogers, and who proves to be “pastor” of the people whose meeting he had attended at New London, on the Great Neck. He also learns from this pastor that he was summoned to Hartford, to appear before the Assembly, for the reason that, since he became a Baptist, the father of his wife, who is of the ruling church, had been violently set against him and was, endeavoring to secure a divorce for his daughter on plea of a confession made to her by himself regarding “an ill fact” in his past life, “before he was her husband and while he was one of their church,” with which, “under sorrow and trouble of mind,” he “had acquainted her” and “which she had divulged to her father.”

Mr. Edmundson informs the young man that he has been with his people at New London and “found them loving and tender.” -(Journal of Mr. Edmundson.)

Since John Rogers remains at the inn for the night, he is evidently just released from custody. So interwoven were truth and misrepresentation in this case, that either admission or denial of the main charge must have been difficult, if not impossible, on the part of the accused. Moreover, there is for this young man, now and henceforth, no law, precedent or example, save such as he finds in the New Testament, through his Lord and Master. That Master, being asked to declare whether he was or was not the King

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of the Jews, a question of many possible phases and requiring such answer as his judges neither could nor would comprehend, answered only by silence. Ought this young man to repeat before these judges the exact statement made to his wife, in the sacred precincts of his own home, even if they would take the word of a despised Anabaptist like himself? It is not difficult to see the young man’s position and respect his entire silence, despite all efforts to make him speak out in regard to the accusation made by his wife in her petition.1

The case before the grand jury having depended solely upon the word of a woman resolved upon divorce and seeking ground for it, they returned that they “find not the bill,” and John Rogers was discharged from custody. Yet, in view of the representations of Elizabeth in her petition regarding her unwillingness, for the alleged reasons, to remain this young man’s wife, backed by powerful influence in her favor, the court gave her permission to remain with her children at her father’s for the present, “for comfort and preservation” until a decision be rendered regarding the divorce, by the General Court in October. No pains will be spared by the friends of Elizabeth to secure a favorable decision from this court.

The Rev. Mr. Bradstreet, bitter in his prejudice against the young man by whose influence has occurred such a departure from the Congregational church as that of James Rogers and his family and such precedent for the spread of anti-presbyterian views outside of Rhode Island, writes in his journal at this date: “He is now at liberty, but I believe he will not escape God’s judgment, though he has man’s.”

Mr. Bradstreet reveals in his journal knowledge that the charge advanced against this young man related to a period previous to

1 That John Rogers could not be induced to either admit or deny the charge presented for the purpose of obtaining the divorce, is from a statement to that effect made by Peter Pratt, in “The Prey Taken from the Strong.” This is one of the few statements made in that pamphlet, which seem likely to be true and are not invalidated by proof to the contrary. It will be seen that, at a later date, this attitude of complete silence is frequent with the Rogerenes, before the court.

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his marriage and conversion, and rested upon a confession that he had made to his wife under conviction of sin and belief in the saving power of Christ, which cleanses the vilest sinner.1 Yet knowing this, he says: “I believe he will not escape God’s judgment.” Truly New England Puritan theology and the theology of the New Testament are strangely at variance in these days.

1 May 25, 1675. ” The testimony against him was his own wife – to whom he told it all with his own mouth, and not in trouble of mind, but in a boasting manner as of free grace, yt he was pardoned. This was much about ye time he fell into yt cursed opinion of anabaptism.” – Journal of Mr. Bradstreet. (See “New England Genealogical and Historical Register,” Vol. 9, p. 47.)

With above compare: –

After it pleased God, through His rich grace in Christ Jesus, to take the guilt of my sins from my conscience and to send the Spirit of His Son into my heart, whereby he did reveal unto me His love and His acceptance of me in Jesus Christ, this unspeakable mercy did greatly engage my heart to love God and diligently to search the Scriptures, that thereby I might know how to serve God acceptably, for then I soon became a seeker how to worship God.” – Epistle of John Rogers to the Seventh Day Baptists.

“And the coming to witness-the truth of those Scriptures, by God’s giving him a new heart and another spirit, and by remitting the guilt of his sins, did greatly engage him to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself.” – John Rogers, Jr. – Reply to Peter Pratt.


Don’t forget my latest novel, If Love is a Lie, is going to be releases on Amazon TOMORROW!!! Check it out if you or anyone you know loves a good romantic Thriller!







1 July 2015: City Directories (a look inside the Wells house of 1924/5) July 1, 2015

So have you discovered cities directories as a great resource into your family history yet?  I love them because you can really track people’s movements on the census off years.  Take this page out of the 1924-1925 Hopkinton, RI city directory.  It lists just about every adult with the last name of Wells in the town.  Handy, no?

1924-1925 Hopkinton RI City Directory

1924-1925 Hopkinton RI City Directory

The first Wells listed is Dorothy Pauline, school teacher.  She’s my Great Aunt and the only Wells of her generation I was ever able to meet.  I love how it says she boards with W.R. Wells.  That’s Williams Rogers Wells, her father.  I’m assuming “Boards” implies she was paying Dad some rent.  🙂

The same is said of my Grandfather, Elliot Wells, boarding with dad.  They must have taken this info for the directory before he got married in May 1925.

Williams, Dad, was probably about 70 when this directory went to press.  It doesn’t list an occupation for him so I’ll assume he’d already retired from being a “manufacturer” as he was usually listed.  He died the next year in 1926.  I’d always heard that my grandfather Elliot and his wife Florence stayed living with him at the Wells House, taking care of him until Williams passed away.  This seems to support that.

Strangely, the other son, my great-uncle Williams Jr. was not living in that BIG old house, but lived elsewhere with his wife.  They moved to California at some point and from what I understand didn’t return very often to RI.  For such a close-knit family, I’ve always found that odd.

So if you haven’t already looked, I highly recommend checking out these city directories.  I’ve found them for every decent sized city when I’ve looked.  Ancestry.com has a lot of them scanned and you can search for them easy enough.

Don’t forget, my latest novel, If Love is a Lie, comes out on Amazon in only TWO DAYS, this Friday.  Check it out!


Only Two Days left until is Love is a Lie is available on Amazon

Only Two Days left until is Love is a Lie is available on Amazon