Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

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.

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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.

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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….”

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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.

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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)

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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.

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