Benjamin F. Wells

When I first started researching my family history, the Internet did not exist. Thus, my research depended on sources available at the Kansas State Historical Society, letter writing or travel. Since my tree has deep Kansas roots, the historical society’s collection of Kansas census and newspaper records were of a great help. For my earlier generations, the book collection at the historical society provided a wealth of information.

Many of those books were county histories or mug books. While that collection of books still exists in Topeka, Internet resources such as bring those same books into my home. One of those books, Portrait and Biographical Album of Barry and Eaton Counties, Michigan, contains an excellent biography of one of my Wells cousins, Benjamin F. Wells.

Benjamin F. Wells is a practical and
enterprising farmer residing on section 2
in Kalamo Township, Eaton County, and
is the eldest in a family of seven children.
His father, Ozias, and mother, Mary (Kennedy)
Wells were natives of the State of New York. The
grandfather, Green Wells, died in Orleans County,
N. Y .. at the advanced age of eighty-eight years.
The father was a farmer in Madison County, N. Y ..
where he engaged in agricultural pursuit, for some
years and then removed to Princeton, N. J., where
he worked for an uncle as overseer in the digging
of the canal. The mother was born at Half Moon,
Saratoga County, N, Y. Her father, John Kennedy,

also engaged in farming in Madison County. The
mother of our subject resided in New York State
until 1837, when she came to Michigan and spent
the rest of her days among her children and died at
the home of our subject, March 20, 1885, being at
that time over eighty-six years old. She was a
member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and
was the mother of seven children, namely: B. F.;
Thurston, living at Yates Center, Kan.; William,
a resident of Albion Township, Calhoun County,
Mich.; Mrs. Ann Perry, a resident of Madison
County, N. Y.; Mrs. Jane Hummeston, who died at
Vermontville, this county; Mrs. Lucinda Hall,
residing at Chittenango, Madison County, N.Y.,
and Mrs. Nancy Doolittle, residing in Clarendon,
Calhoun County.
Our subject was born in Chittenango, Madison
County, N. Y., March 27, 1819, and· was reared on
a farm. He attended the district school through
the winter season and worked on the home farm
during the summer. He remained at home after
his father’s death and in company with his brother
ran the farm. Two of the brothers made their
home with uncles in Orleans County. The mother
finally sold her share and came to Michigan in

She purchased about one hundred and
twenty acres of land, it being just as the Indians
had left it. Our subject was induced to come to
Michigan to make a home and came by canal to
Buffalo, and thence to Toledo by the steamer, “New
England,” an by rail to Adrian, accomplishing the
rest of the journey by stage. He then engaged in
work for an uncle. The first summer and fall he
built a log house and moved in to it December 8,

The land surrounding this cabin abounded
in deer, wild turkeys and game of all kinds. He
then began breaking ground, having brought a
plow from New York. He used an ox-team that
he purchased in Adrian to draw the plow. After
working and clearing up this land until I 840, he
returned to New York, and remained in Madison
County for two years. At the end of that time he
returned to Clarendon Township and purchased
one hundred and sixty acres. In 1860 he traded
this tract of land for one hundred and sixty acres
on section 2. This property was but partly im-
­proved. He moved his family there by team and

page 279

has since steadily continued in the work of improv-·
ing the estate.
On this farm the land is all tillable with no waste
such as swamps would occasion. Over five ares
is spread a fruitful orchard, and each year good
crops of grain, wheat, etc. are raised. Mr. Wells
raises a good grade of cattle and stock and has
a fine flock of Merino sheep. His farm is situ-
ated three miles from Vermonotville. In 1874 Mr.
Wells erected a handsome brick house and has since
built two barns, one 40×70 and the other 40×36
feet in dimensions. Besides many natural springs
on this farm there is a windmill and tank that
furnishes water for the cattle.

Mr. Wells has been twice married, the first time
to Miss Ann M. Benham, in 1838. Mrs. Wells
was born in Hopewell, Ontario County, N.Y. Her
father, Lewis Benham, was one of the early settlers
in Clarendon Township, this State, where he re-
sided until his death, which occurred in Albion
Mich., May 25, 1886. By this marriage Mr. Wells
has four children: Alice, wife of M. G. Parker,
residing in Jackson, this State; George F., a farmer
in Roxana Township, living on a farm containing
forty acres; Clark E., married, residing at Vermont-
ville, and the owner of a farm of one hundred
acres; and Perry B., married to Tina Boyd, and
residing in Vermontville on a large and fertile farm
containing one hundred acres. Our subject was a
second time married at Peterboro, Madison County,
N.Y., March 26, 1857, to Miss Melissa R. Hamil-
­ton. Mrs. Wells was born in Nelson, Madison
County, N. Y., and is the daughter of John Ham-
­ilton, a farmer of that county. She is the mother
of two children-Clinton K. and Clayton H., twins,
the first residing at home and the second in Chau-
­tauqua County, Kan., where he is engaged in agri-
­cultural pursuits.

Mr. Wells, the gentleman of whom we write, has
filled many prominent positions in the county,
holding the office or Commissioner of Highways
for fifteen years, Justice of the Peace twelve years,
Supervisor five years, and School Director and
Pathmaster for several years. He has also served
on different committees in county work. Socially,
he is connected with some of the prominent orders,
holding high positions in each. He is member of

the Free and Accepted Masons at Vermontville, the
Royal Arch Masons at Charlotte, and the Knights
Templar at the same place. In politics, Mr. Wells
votes the Republican ticket and in 1854 served as
a delegate to one of the conventions. Three of his
sons are members of the two Masonic orders to
which the father belongs. Mrs. Wells is one of
the consistent working members of the Methodist
episcopal Church. Mr. Wells is unusually well
informed, and his public spirit and enterprise cor-
respond with his intelligence. He has always labored
earnestly to promote the cause of education and to
advance the agricultural interests in his township.
His farm of one hundred and sixty acres is one of
the finest in the township, and his home is supplied
with all the comforts of life and made cheerful and
attractive by the good taste of himself and his esti-
mable wife. His social qualities are such as to
render him extremely popular, especially among
his brother Masons and he is looked upon as a man
whose future promises to be very useful.