Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

15 Nov 2017: A mill with a Wells history November 15, 2017

I was just working on the project of filling in the gaps in the notes in my genealogy program database when I happened upon this reference below. It was in the notes I’d gathered for Ruth Wells, daughter of Thomas Wells and Naomi Marshall. Thomas and Naomi are my 7th great grandparents, Ruth my 6th great grand aunt. The funny part is I visited the Gilbert Stuart birthplace while on my vacation last month! …. but had no idea that Ruth and husband James Kenyon worked the grist mill next to the Gilbert Stuart house!

Thankfully, I took lots of pictures!

Here’s the reference:

Matthew James of New Hampshire and his known descendants: with the related families of Pugsley, Ivers, Wells, Davis, Rasmus, Alford, and Weller, by Markley, Janet James; Burnett, Mary Lou James, 2002, Page 211

RUTH 2 WELLS (Thomas 1), b. ______ mentioned in her father’s Will. Ruth mar. ca 1692 James Kenyon, Jr., of Kingstown and Westerly, RI. He was b. 4 July, and bp. 12 July, 1657 at Oldham Parish Church, Lancashire, England, the son of James (Sr.) and Ester (Smith) Kenyon.

Both James Sr. and Jr. were millers. James, Sr., had the first grant to the mill privilege in Washington Co., RI, a place where the artist Gilbert Stuart was born in 1755. James, Jr., was taxed in RI in 1687. In 1700 an earmark was granted him for his sheep. James, Jr., and Ruth were in possession of the mill in 1702 when they conveyed it to Joseph Smith. In 1706, “James Kenyon, Sr.” and wife Ruth deeded to George Thomas of “Conanicut” 36 acres for 25 pounds.

In 1722 James and wife Ruth deeded to Jeffery Hazard 300 acres and housing in South Kingstown for 800 pounds.He bought land in Westerly in 1723. He wrote his Will 18 March 1720 and it was proved in Westerly 4 May 1724. In it he mentions his wife Ruth and makes her and son Peter executors. [Howard N. Kenyon, English Connections and Genealogy of American Kenyons of Rhode Island, (1935), hereafter”Kenyon,” pp. 47-56.]

The gray wooden building to the right is the mill

Selfie with the sun in my eyes. Red house is the G.S. birthplace. Gray is the Mill

Awesome photo I took of the Mill.

Photo taken across the mill-pond created by the dam. Mill on left. House on right.

Looking down on the wheel from the bridge over the damn

An old mill stone.

Sorry, they don’t allow you to take photos on the inside of the mill.



22 Oct 2017: Charles A. Erbig: Not all that volunteered came home. October 22, 2017

While on my vacation up in Ashaway, RI, I came across these newspaper clippings about my first cousin twice removed, Charles A Erbig (1915-1942,) who died in the service of his country. Sadly, this story is probably similar for many other families. Charles had died but it took many long months for the family to be notified that missing in action really meant that he had died. I’ve seen movies about Japanese prisoner of war camps, but can they really compare to the reality of what Charles lived through? It seems unlikely.

Charles A Erbig

Charles’ father was my great grand-uncle, William Edward Erbig (1888-1961.) Charles, like so many of the Erbigs, was born in New Jersey (probably Jersey City.) The family shows up on the 1920 census in Jersey City, but by 1930, they had already relocated to Ashaway, RI to join the rest of the Erbig clan.

In 1937, Charles is mentioned in an article in the New London Day for his being a witness to a friend’s accident.

The Day (New London, CT) 9 Apr 1937
Paper Distributor Badly Hurt:
Reaching over the rear fender to take a paper from the rumble seat, Ellsworth Hall, 21, of Ashaway, who was delivering papers in White Rock, Westerly,fell from the running board of a friend’s automobile yesterday morning and was critically hurt.  Hall was delivering papers in Main street,White Rock, at 9:30 o’clock, on the running board of a roadster operated by Charles A. Erbig, 22, of Box 99, Ashaway, who told police that as the car passed Spring Brook road, he felt a shifting weight on the car’s springs and looking back, saw Hall sitting in the road.  Erbig told police that before he could reach the man, Hall got up and staggered to the roadside, where he collapsed.  Erbig and Alexander Dinwoodie, 16, of West Street, Ashaway, a passenger in the car, placed Hall in the machine and drove to the hospital. Dr. Michael H. Scanlon and Dr. Linwood H. Johnson found severe head injuries and cuts on both hands.  Hall was unconscious for more than three hours. Hospital authorities said this morning that his condition was slightly improved although his name is still on the danger list.  Erbig was questioned at police headquarters by Police Chief Robert Kessel, Sergt. LeRoy H Norman and Patrolman Benjamin R Vredenburg of Westerly and Inspector Walter F. Kendall of the state motor vehicle department.  He was released to appear again if summoned.

According to the enlistment records I found on Ancestry.com, Charles enlisted in the military a full year before WWII began:

US World War II Army Enlistment Records: (ancestry.com)
Charles A. Erbig … Birth year: 1914 … Born in: NJ … Residence: Washington Co., RI … Enlistment Date/Location: 23 Sep 1940, Providence, RI … Brance: Air Corps, Grade: Private … Terms of Enlistment: Enlistment for the Philippine Dept … Education: 3 years high school … Civil Occupation: Semiskilled inspectors, n.e.c. … Marital Status: Single, without dependents … Height: 64, Weight: 118

Sadly, he would be dead less than two years later.  Here’s the first article I found:

Dies in Jap Prison. Cpl. Erbig, Ashaway boy, died of malaria in a Japanese prison camp July 25, 1942, the War Department recently informed his father, William Erbig of 6 Palmer Street, Ashaway. He was with the Air Force at Nichols Field in the Philippines when the Japs attacked Pearl harbor. Hew as reported missing in 1942 and his family last heard from him in a letter dated Dec. 6, 1941.

For those of you a little foggy on your history, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor the day after they last heard from Charles, December 7, 1941.  Wikipedia had this photo from 1941 of Nichols Field where Charles was stationed:

From what I read online, it seems relations between the US and Japan had been in a downward spiral since 1940 and the US was beginning to position troops in their general vicinity. Charles’ placement in the Philippines was part of that prelude to war.

Here’s the longer article on his death:

Ashaway Boy Dies in Jap Prison Camp – Charles A. Erbig was reported missing in Action in 1942 – Unheard from since the attack on Pearl Harbor, the War Department announced yesterday that Cpl. Charles A. “Tuffy” Erbig, 31, son of William Erbig of 6 Palmer Street, Ashaway, died July 25, 1942 in a Japanese Prison of War Camp as the result of Malaria. 

A volunteer in the Army Air Ford, Cpl. Erbig was at Nichols Field in the Philippines when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. His family last heard from him in a letter dated Dec. 6, 1941, just one day before the attack.  Since then they had received no word from him and in 1942 the War Department announced that he was missing in action.

After three years and six months of hopeful waiting the War Department yesterday confirmed Mr. Erbig’s fears that his son was no longer alive in the following telegram:  “Am deeply distressed to inform you reports just received state your son, Cpl. Charles A. Erbig, who was previously reported missing in action, died July 25, 1942, in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp, as a result of malaria. The Secretary of War asks that I express deep sympathy in your loss and regrets that unavoidable circumstances made necessary the unusual lapse of time in reporting your son’s death to you.” The message was signed by the acting adjutant general of the army. 

Erbig, an outstanding baseball player and all around athlete in Ashaway, volunteered for the army in 1939.  He was with the air force in the Philippines when the situation in the Pacific became tense. After the Japs took the Philippines he was never heard from again and the government listed him as missing in action in 1942, but never was notified that he was a prison of war.

He was a prominent baseball player with Ashaway and Bradford in the Twilight League, being chosen twice as the outstanding third sacker in the circuit.  He was also an amateur boxer and a fine golfer.

Erbig was born in Hudson City, N.J., May 26, 1914.  He moved to Ashaway when only a youngster and was educated in the Ashaway Schools. In addition to his father he leaves his stepmother, Mrs. William Erbig, a brother William Erbig Jr., and Arm transport pilot in China and two sisters, Mrs. Ada Church of 41 School Street, Westerly and Mrs. Elizabeth Kenyon of West Street, Ashaway. 

Here’s the best picture I have of the Twilight League Charles played with. It’s not very high res, so I apologize in advance.  Charles is kneeling in the front row, the second from the far right.



20 Oct 2017: What ever happened to the Carriage Manufactory? October 20, 2017

While on my vacation in Hopkinton, I went in search of the location of A.L. Wells & Co. According to their advertisement, they were the largest carriage manufactory in the state of Rhode Island.

It was located on Clarks Falls Road, just west of Main Street (Route 3) in Hopkinton City.  It was quite large and took up the lots of at least three or four of the current house lots you will walk past.

Here is the site of the manufactory today:

August Lewis Wells Sr. (the A.L. of A.L. Wells and Co.) lived in what we now call the Thurston Wells House, which is this lovely yellow house on Main Street in Hopkinton City.

When you’re standing on Clarks Falls Road looking at the site of the manufactory, if you turn around, you can see a side lane that leads right down to Augustus’ old barn.  You can see it as the yellow building way back there.

From the front page of the Narragansett Weekly 19 May 1859.   It reads: Wells Carriage Factory.  The above is a very correct view of the Carriage Factory of Messrs. A.L. Wells & Co., at Hopkinton City, R.I.  The main building is 112 by 23 feet, two stories high.  The wing is 35 by 19 feet, also two stories.  The sales rooms in the upper story of the main building is 86 by 23 feet and is kept stocked with every kind of wheel vehicle from a democrat wagon to a Prince Albert Rockaway.  The present proprietors have carried on their business in this place since 1850.  They employ generally about a dozen hands.  Their carriages are mostly sold in the vicinity, where a ready market is found.

Here is a new engraving of the factory and house I found.



18 Oct 2017: The Wheel on the Mill goes Round and Round … annoying the groundhog October 18, 2017

You’ll have to pardon my first attempts at video. I’m more of a photographer than a videographer.  Anyway, although the Old Town Mill  in New London is closed, I was able to get the city to open it up for me.  I’d never been inside, but wasn’t expecting much, but when Judy from City Hall met me, I got the grand tour!  She even turned on the wheel for me! Pretty awesome! The Old Town mill was originally operated by my Rogers family ancestor, John Rogers.

The inside is super cool! It has a two grind stones for grinding corn.  I visited two other grist mills on my trip but they were only single grinding operations.

Me in front of the Old Town Mill in New London.

As soon as you come in the front door, off the left is a platform.  Up top are the two grinding stones.  Down below are the gears and the big thing I can only describe as long and barrel-shaped that is the lever the wheel turns on the inside of the building.  (see video of that below)

Just inside the front door of the Old Town Mill

Grindstone #1 is in its housing.

Grindstone #2, not in housing

Judy showing me where they stored the corn that was to be ground in the mill.

Gears below the grind stones. Not operational yet. They’re waiting on a grant to raise the money to fix it next.

Most of the original mill burned down when Benedict Arnold burned New London, but some pieces of the structure they believe are original. If you look at the beam that runs along the ceiling, you can see how originally, it was post and beam construction, but when it was rebuilt, they didn’t use the notches, but laid new beams on top of the beams.

The exterior of the building and the flume have already been rebuilt by grant money.

The Flume

And now for the video.  First is of the wheel where it enters the building below the grind stones.

The mill … on.

Side view of the wheel.

The wheel and my little furry friend. I think he was annoyed we turned it on.

Want to see the mill operating for yourself? Check it out this Saturday. Sure with I was still in town to go.  Looks like a lot of fun.  If you go, let me know how it was.



15 Oct 2017: Vampires in Rhode Island? There’s a grave to prove it. October 15, 2017

Filed under: Cemeteries — jgeoghan @ 4:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

Where does the writer of vampire novels (and a genealogist) go on her vacation? To visit the vampire grave of Rhode Island, of course!

Pilgrimage complete!

While researching odd and interesting places to visit in Rhode Island and Connecticut on roadsideamerica.com, I came across the vampire grave of Simon Whipple in Union Cemetery in North Smithfield, RI.

In memory of Simon Whipple, youngest son of Col. Dexter Aldrich & Margery his wife, who died on May 6, 1841, aged 27 years.  Altho’ consumption’s vampire grasp had seized thy mortal frame, ……. mind …..

We’ll never know exactly how the epitaph ends at some point in the past, his stone was set in concrete?  Why?  Was it because the stone had been knocked over and had to be set again?  Or was it perhaps because to keep something in the ground from getting out?  We’ll never know …

Simon and his siblings … all died aged 27 years …. odd …


******** UPDATE *********

Per the request of a reader, I’m attaching photos of the headstones of Simon’s siblings. Keep in mind that I know nothing about this family. I was only told these were his siblings by a North Smithfield person who was there volunteering with a local clean up crew in that area of the cemetery.  I thought it seemed odd that Simon Whipple would be their sibling since they were Aldrichs. – Jennifer

Marietta Aldrich

Abigail Aldrich Merry


3 Oct 2017: On my Genealogy Vacation … a mural to remember October 3, 2017

I arrived in the Mystic, CT area last night!  Long drive from Orlando! Today I went to New London to visit City Hall in search of Land Grant records for Thomas Wells, the oldest of the known Wells in my family.  According to The History of New London (Page 60) He had a land grant dated Feb 16, 1649/50.

Although the N.L. Historical Society pointed to the City Hall when I asked them for info on land grants, City Hall pointed me to the State Library in Hartford as they sent all the records there.  So, no joy at City Hall … that is until I walked back into the entry hall and spotted this wonderful mural on the wall.

Mural in City Hall

According to the mural, it’s a representation of the city and the plots of land and owners as they were before Benedict Arnold burned the city in 1781.

You can even see the Town Mill that was previously operated by John Rogers.  This is the town mill that still stands today under the I-95 overpass.

The Old Town Mill in New London

Here are some closeups I took of portions of the map:

Lower Mamacock

First Church and Burial Ground

North of Winthrop’s Cove

New London City Hall

Cool map! Hope you enjoy!



23 Sept 2017: Finding the missing link. A Genealogical miracle! September 23, 2017

I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d find it. After all, at this point in time, what more could there possibly be to find. And there it was, staring me in the face on Ancestry.com as if daring me to open it. Could it? Could it possible be him?


My Geoghan family line has been a bone of contention in my family tree for some time. The origins of our roots in Ireland and the UK were a total mystery. Geoghan is an Irish name, but paperwork seemed divided between Scotland and Ireland so far as census records and the old “Where were your parents born” type of questions.

Last year I was able to find a birth record in Glasgow, Scotland that I believed quite strongly was my great grandfather Thomas Geoghan. From the records I was able to find on FamilySearch.org and time spent at my local Family History Center, I found more records on Thomas’ parents and siblings.  Him and his siblings were all born in Govan, Lanarkshire which is part of Glasgow, while his parents (George Geoghan and Ann Donnelly) were listed as born in Ireland.  No city, town or village listed, just Ireland.  Big help, right?

This family shows up on the 1851 and 1861 census of Scotland and then I have ship passenger lists that bring over, first George (the father) and then Ann and the kids. They show up here in America on 1875 Rhode Island State census in East Greenwich, Kent county. They’re also there in 1880 for the US Federal Census.

Then nothing. Crickets chirping …

Now, my great grandfather, Thomas Geoghan, I trace back to Unionville/Farmington, Hartford Count, Ct where the oldest record I had of him was the record of his marriage in the town clerks office dated October 28, 1883. We know the first five of his six children were born in Unionville.  From there the family moved to Westport, CT for a few years before eventually moving on to New York City.

But how to find a definitive connection between the Thomas born in Govan who moved to Rhode Island to the Thomas who married Ellen Stapleton in Unionville, CT?  Now you see my conundrum.

The missing piece of the puzzle turns out to be a copy of the probate papers of my great, great grandfather, George Geoghan, my immigrant ancestor.  Where did he die? FARMINGTON!  The papers list his living next of kin and list son Thomas as living in WESTPORT! So with this one piece of the puzzle, I put George in Unionville from Rhode Island and I put his son living in his next place of residence.

Here is that section of the probate papers that lists George’s children.  It even lists Thomas’ wife, Ellen, as a witness. This is definitely the same family as daughter Catherine is listed with her maiden and married name (Kehoe)

So the next step is to hire a genealogist in Glasgow to see what can be found on the origins of the Geoghans and Donnellys. Somewhere in Govan there has to be at least one record that lists the name of their parents or a clue as to what village in Ireland George and Ann were born. I reached out to a genealogist in Glasgow yesterday online. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them and they won’t charge me two arms and a leg to do the research.

Interesting facts I found out from the probate paperwork:  George had a house on about 1/4 acres of land in Farmington which is listed as “situated on Battle Row.”  There is no street called Battle Row on today’s map of Farmington. I reached out to the Farmington Historical Society for help on this. I have the feeling it may be more of a slang term for a street and not its proper name. Note the value of the land and house are $250.00. Guess real estate was a lot cheaper back in 1894! Here is that section of the papers:

I love how it lists his belongings as:

  • Peanuts: $2.00 (This must have been a lot of peanuts!)
  • Show Case: $3.00
  • Scales: $0.50
  • Cigars and Tobacco: $1.50
  • Lamp: $0.25

Come on, he’s Irish/Scottish, you going to tell me along with those cigars he didn’t have some whisky stashed around the house?  What was that show case listed supposed to be?

In the end, I made the connection and I’m over the moon about it.  The family in Govan is indeed my family. Now I just need to find the clues that will point me to their home town in Ireland.   Before I sign off, here’s the complete probate paperwork for those who want to peruse it in its entirety.

Probate records of George Geoghan 1894

Here is an updated Narrative Report for George and his descendants:

George Geoghan Sr Narrative Report 9-21-2017