COL. E. A. WELLS, an enterprising and progressive citizen of
Murphysboro, and Treasurer of the Egyptian Real Estate and Collecting
Agency, has the honor of being a native of Illinois. He was born August 13,
1858, near Du Quoin, which locality was the birthplace of his father,
Ferdinand Wells. His grandfather, Lewis Wells, was born in North Carolina,
and in 1815, with his father, Lewis Wells, Sr., settled in Perry County. He
became one of its honored pioneers and a prominent and successful farmer. He
served in the War of 1812, and died in Perry County. His wife was a relative
of Zachary Taylor.
The father of our subject was reared in his native county, and in 1862 entered the country's service as Sergeant of Company K, Eighty-first Infantry. He participated in eighteen battles, including the siege of Vicksburg, the Red River expedition and the Mobile campaign. When the war was over, he resumed farming in Perry County, and in 1872 went to Grand Tower, where he engaged in the hotel business in connection with agricultural pursuits until 1885. He then embarked in merchandising in Ava, and in 1887 came to Murphysboro. Here his wife died in that year, and in 1889 he married a lady from Kankakee. In 1891 he was appointed a guard of the Southern Illinois Penitentiary, where he remained until March, 1893. He is now living in Kankakee. He is a highly respected man and takes a prominent part in the work of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Ferdinand Wells first wedded Mary C. Rees, a native of Perry County, and a daughter of Judge E. T. Rees, one of the pioneers of that county, who removed thither from Kentucky. He served in the Black Hawk War, and became an extensive and successful farmer. For many years he was Justice of the Peace; and was also Associate Judge of Perry County. His death occurred there in 1877. His son Lyeurgus, of Du Quoin, was a Captain in the late war, and his brother R. G., now of Idaho, was a Lieutenant; another brother, John, was a Colonel and was killed while leading his men at the siege of Vicksburg. He was also in the Mexican War. The great-grandfather of our subject, Hampton Rees, was one of the early settlers of Perry County, and for him Rees Creek was named. The family was of Welsh descent, and the Wells family was of Scotch lineage.
Colonel Wells has one brother, W. D., now City Marshal of Ava. Our subject was reared m Perry County and Grand Tower, and after attending the common schools was a student in the De Soto Teachers' Institute. He received a teacher's certificate in 1876, but did not begin teaching until two years later. In January, 1879, he won the highest standing for cadetship in a class of seventeen competitors and immediately entered West Point, where he continued for a year. He then returned home, and for three terms taught school near Du Quoin. In December, 1882, he was appointed Deputy Sheriff by M. A. Ross, and after a four years' term was elected on the Republican ticket as Sheriff by the largest majority that had been given for years. He did faithful service in the office and had some arduous duties to perform.
In 1886 Mr. Wells wedded Miss Sudie Childs, daughter of James Childs, of Kansas City, Mo. They have four children, Joseph V., Edward A., Lulu and Emma. In December, 1890, Mr. Wells became connected with the Egyptian Real Estate, Collection and Investment Company, of which he has since been Treasurer. He is also interested in farming lands in Carbondale and Pomona Townships, and owns considerable city property in Murphysboro.
Colonel Wells takes great interest in civic societies. In 1883 he joined the Odd Fellows' lodge at Mt. Carbon, and has filled all its offices. He was one of the organizers of Jackson Camp No. 113, S. V., served as its Captain during the first two terms, and in August, 1890, attended the state encampment, where he was appointed Major to fill a vacancy. He was then elected a member of the Division Council of Illinois, and at the encampment in Jacksonville, in 1890, was elected a delegate to the national encampment by a very flattering majority. At the encampment in Decatur, in 1891, he was elected without opposition as delegate-at-large to the national encampment at Minneapolis, was Chairman of the delegation, and had the honor of seconding the nomination of Marvin E. Hall for commander-in-chief. In 1892, at the state encampment in Bushnell, he was elected Division Commander of Illinois, and attended the national encampment at Helena, Mont., where he took a prominent stand to uphold the Sons of Veterans' Guards. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Uniformed Rank, and at the organization of the Sixth Regiment of the Illinois Brigade in East St. Louis, in 1889, was elected its Colonel, and has served as such continuously since. He attended the Supreme Lodge in Milwaukee in 1890, and the brigade encampment in Springfield, Ill., in 1891. In 1890 he became Senior Colonel of the Illinois Brigade, and in 1892 he attended the Supreme Lodge at Kansas City, Mo., at the head of his regiment. He has risen in rank through zeal and efficiency and has become prominent throughout the country in connection with his work in the various civic organizations. For years he has been a member of the County Republican Committee, has been Chairman of the executive committee, and has three times served as a delegate to the state conventions.
Extracted 01 Aug 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry, and Monroe Counties, Illinois, pages 687-688.
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