Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

John R. Wells

JOHN R. WELLS, one of the oldest residents of Stockton, is a survivor of the real frontier epoch in Western and Northern Kansas. He knew that part of the state when the prairies were alive with buffaloes and wild Indians, and he has hunted both of them, and his career and character would make a portrait similar to that drawn of many of the famous Indian scouts of the wild west.

Mr. Wells was born and grew up in very peaceful and orderly scenes in New York State. His birth occurred in Cortland County March 6, 1843. His ancestors came from England and were colonial settlers in Massachusetts. His father, Wait Wells, spent all his life in New York State and died at the age of eighty-two. He was a republican, and was always known in his community as Deacon Wells. He married Polly Root, who lived and died in New York State. Of their five children John R. is the only survivor. The others were: Randolph, a farmer in Cortland County; Charles, an Iowa farmer; Harrison, a produce merchant at Cortland, New York; and Lucia.

John R. Wells was educated in the rural schools of his native county and when about twenty-four years of age left his father's farm and reached Junction City, Kansas, in 1867. For three months he was employed in a railroad roundhouse, but then sought more adventurous scenes, going up the Solomon River to Mitchell County. That was in 1868, just half a century ago. He filed on a claim and proved up on it, but left it in 1871 to take another homestead in Rooks County. He was one of the very first permanent settlers there. After proving up his claim he sold it, but for a number of years was identified with the great cattle industry, and gradually entered farming when the country got down to that settled basis of affairs. He was in several fights with the Indians, and during his early residence in Mitchell County he had to live on constant guard against hostile foes, for, while he was there the Indians made a raid and killed twenty of his neighbors. He joined and was a soldier in the expedition against the Indians under Capt. John Potts during the administration of Gov. Samuel J. Crawford. He practically lived out on the plains for twelve years, camping at night under the stars and has feasted on scores of buffalo of his own killing.

His home has been at Stockton continuously since 1878 except for one year spent in the State of Washington. Mr. Wells has some well improved grain and stock farms aggregating 1,180 acres in Rooks County, but is now practically retired from business. He began voting as a republican, but became a democrat when Horace Greeley was the nominee of that party for the presidency. In later years he has exercised his choice of candidates rather independently.

In 1878, in Cortland County, New York, Mr. Wells married Miss Sarah Pierce, daughter of Pike and Mrs. (Calvert) Pierce. Her father died in New York and her mother in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. and Mrs. Wells have two children: John M., a farmer in Stockton, who married Mary Catherine Williams; and Esther, who is unmarried and lives at Topeka, Kansas.

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