Robert  S. Wells

          That was a typical outfit which might have been seen on a beautiful fall day wending its way from Virginia to the land of promise offered to immigrants in the territory northwest of the Ohio.  There were some twenty men in the caravan besides their wives and children, and as the only means of trans- portation was by wagon there were four of them, each family having a cow, making the live stock dis- play not inconsiderable.  Being strict Methodists these pious pioneers refused to travel on Sunday, and laid up in camp, when the Sabbath day interrupted their journeyings.  At the head of this party was Samuel Wells, a native of Wales.  His wife was born in Scotland.  They settled in Maryland and afterwards moved to Virginia, and there followed his trade of tailoring.  With him were his wife and unmarried son, a daughter and a nephew reared in the family.  The objective point of these wayfarers was Dayton, Ohio, then a village of some three or four hundred population, and four stores.   They reached their destination on October 31st, and settled on the farm of  Thomas Skinner, which was located near the Miami and Mad rivers, ten miles north of Dayton.  Skinner was a North Carolinian, who came to Ohio in 1816, bought a large tract of land. Samuel Wells bought two hundred seventy- three and a fraction acres, which was subsequently divided into fifty-acre tracts, and given to his children.  The old pioneer, who was born June 11, 1755, and died December 13, 1830, had six children:  Levi, William, Silas, John W., Elizabeth, who married a Mr. Nailor, and Willey, who married a Skinner.  Silas, who was born in Maryland November 7, 1785, married Elsie, daughter of Thomas Skinner and farmed in Miami county, Ohio, until his death, which occurred April 17, 1867.  His wife, who was born in Davie county, North Carolina, January 11, 1791, went with her parents to Virginia, and subsequently to Ohio, where she died, April 28, 1843.  They were the parents of the following children:  Thomas S., the oldest, who was born in Virginia July 15, 1815, died February 29, 1892, became a man of note in Ohio, where for more than forty years he was a minister of the Christian church.  Richard P., the second child, was born October 31, 1816.  William G., third on the list, was born December 6, 1818, and was for forty years a minister of the United Brethren church, his death occurring July 24, 1896.  Samuel S., the fourth of the family, was born February 8, 1821, and is still living.  James F., born April 13, 1823, is now deceased.  John W., now dead, was born February 4, 1825;  Levi A., and Eli O. (twins) died in infancy; Martha J., born September 10, 1829, is still living;  David, deceased, was born February 1, 1833;  Sarah I., born February 28, 1835, is living;  Levi W., born April 27, 1828, died March 11, 1894.
          Robert S. Wells, the tenth child, was born in Miami county, Ohio, December 30, 1830, and went through the experiences of a genuine pioneer boy.  After he grew up, he became a farmer and followed the occupation for many years.  This life was diversified by teaching during the winters and altogether he had charge of twenty-one schools in various parts of the state of Ohio. In 1855 he re- moved to Shelby county, in the same state, where he located on a farm but still continued to teach.  August 21, 1862, he enlisted in Company C, Ninety-ninth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Knapp and Colonel Cummins.  He was in camp at Lima until September, then in Kentucky near Paris, and was discharged March 7, 1863.  He was nine months in hospitals, six months at Louis- ville and three at Camp Chase.  Being discharged as a corporal he draws a pension of twenty dollars a month.  After leaving the army Mr. Wells farmed in Ohio until 1866, when he came to Shelby coun- ty, Indiana, bought a farm, but subsequently engaged in the grocery business at Shelbyville.  Selling out, he first went to Hendricks, and then to Marion township, where he resided for many years.  In November, 1888, he located permanently at Shelbyville, where for many years until recently he was collector and Justice of the Peace.  Formerly a Whig, Mr. Wells cast his first vote for Gen. Winfield Scott, but after the organization of the Republican party, he became a charter member, and has since voted for every one of its Presidential candidates.
          August 28, 1851, Mr. Wells married  Eliza, daughter of Michael and Susan (Kutz) Saunders, who came from Pennsylvania, where Mrs. Wells was born January 30, 1831, and came to Miami county, Ohio, with her parents, when four years of age.  Her mother, Susan Kutz, died February 16, 1905, at the extreme age of ninety-six years.  To Mr. and Mrs. Wells four children were born:  Edward F., now a physician in Chicago, was born May 14, 1853, married  Maria J. Billman, in 1876, and has a son, Michael B., born in 1877.  Susan E., born February 3, 1857, in Shelby county, Ohio, married  Robert Gordon in 1881, and has had six children, of whom four are living.  Sarah J., born November 29, 1860, in Shelby county, Ohio, died there before her fath- er's removal to Indiana.  John B., born April 13, 1864, married  Sadie D. Clark at Indianapolis, in 1885, and is a miller at Alton, Illinois, his two sons being Clark C. and   Orville D., still with their parents.  Mr. and Mrs. Wells reside in a comfortable home at 36 St. Mary's street, Shelbyville, and are spending the evening of their lives in serene retirement, enjoying excellent health, and glad at any time to welcome their many friends.  Mr. Wells is a man of good judgment in business affairs, alert to all public questions and full of interesting reminiscences of the older times, when the pioneers were making their great fight to conquer the wilderness for their descendants.
Chadwick's History of Shelby County, Indiana, by Edward H. Chadwick, B.A., assisted by well known local talent, B.F. Bowen & Co, Publishers: Indianapolis, IN, 1909, pages 355-357.
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