Arthur Wells

M, #10008, b. 13 October 1824, d. 31 August 1900
Father*Lt Col Joseph Wells b. 19 Jun 1773, d. 4 Jul 1853
Mother*Harriet Mary King b. 14 Jul 1794, d. 18 Mar 1851
ChartsPedigree - John's father John Barnard Wells
Reference1G Grf, W8
Birth*13 October 1824 Arthur Wells was born on 13 October 1824 at Davenport, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; He was born in Toronto and educated in Avignon France, according to a letter his son wrote in 1938. 
Marriage*13 October 1845 He married Georgina Dora Ridout, daughter of George Dorn Ridout and Dororthy McCuaig, on 13 October 1845 at Toronto Cathedral, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 
(InHomeOf) Census18511851 Arthur Wells appeared on the 1851 census in #38 Thirken district 75, Shipton, Sherbrooke Co., Quebec, Canada. His info on the census included - Arthur Wells, c(ivil) engineer age next birthday 28 b.Canada, Christian Adventist. In same home are John Barnard and Gertrude Harvey, before their marriage. 
Residence*1860 He lived in 1860 at Guelph, Ontario, Canada; Arthur Wells moved his family into a large stone house in Guelph, facing Speed River. Arthur's brother Robert dubbed thehouse "Wells's Folly". It was also known as "Ediburgh House."1 
Occupation*between 1862 and 1876 He was He served much of this time as deputy Postmaster of Guelph for Colonel William Kingsmill. Arthur had come to Guelph as a civil engineer in connection with the construction of the Grand Trunk Railroad, having charge of the work between Guelph and Rockwood, including contruction of the railway bridges in both places. In 1867 his son Richard was a clerk in the Post Office (per Historic Guelph, vol XXI, July 1982 and Guelph Gazeteer of 1867). between 1862 and 1876 at Guelph, Ontario, Canada.1 
Census1871 He appeared on the census of 1871 at Guelph, Ontario, Canada; Arthur, Georgina and their 11 children as well as Mary Ann (born in England in 1836 and adopted sometime) lived in Guelph. Their religion was listed as Plymouth Brethren and son Robert, age 19, was a "railway official".1 
Residence1872 He lived in 1872 at Guelph, Ontario, Canada; In 1872, first record of a mortgage: Grantor Arthur Wells and wife - 2600 pounds and other considerations - Register of Deeds, Book A13 #2388
     1873 Arthur was Acting Postmaster, residing on Water, west of Edinburgh Rd. Sons Joseph, John, and William C were clerks at the Post Office. In 1875-6-7, son Richard also seved as a postal clerk (per city directories). 
Occupation1876 He was Mr David Stirton became postmaster on June 1 (Historic Guelph vol XXI pg 15). Arthur may have resumed working for the railroad. in 1876 at Guelph, Ontario, Canada.1 
Marriage*1880 He married Martha Mary Glover in 1880; married 20 years per 1900 census. Did Arthur divorce or abandon Georgina? She was listed in Pueblo CO up thru 1920 census. The story goes that Arthur got the house maid pregnant and left town and started the second family. But the question remains, was there ultimately a divorce? Did he marry Martha or just live with her? The 1900 census indicates married. His will says "to my beloved wife Martha" but no marriage has been found. If he did marry her, did he lie about the status of his marriage to Georgina? Georgina shows herself as divorced in the 1900 census. The Wellington Advisor article says there was a divorce, but where? 
Census*1885 Arthur Wells appeared on the census of 1885 at Pueblo Co., Colorado; The 1885 census lists him as a retired merchant with his wife and two young children as well as two sons from his marriage to Georgina.1 
Land1887 He was land Arthur Wells, Grantee, sold SE part of 10 acres (release & conveyance) - Register of Deeds Book 9 #4339 in 1887 at Guelph, Ontario, Canada.1 
CityDir*1891 He was citydir r 17th & Grand; 1892: civil Eng; 1897, 98, 1900 - 404 W 17th St; (1900 listing Arthur D. employed by Am. Smelting & Refining ? - only 1 with Initial in 1891 at Pueblo, Pueblo Co., Colorado.1 
Land*1894 He was land Grantor Arthur Wells and wife Martha to the Trusts Corp of Ontario ($18,000), SE part of 10 acres - Register of Deeds Book 13 #6158 in 1894 at Ontario, Canada.1 
Census1900*1900 He appeared on the 1900 census as the head of household, ED 94 sht 10b #333-254 404 W 11th St, Pueblo, Pueblo Co., Colorado, Wells, Arthur (indexed Authur which is does look like) 75 b.Canada Oct 1824, Civil Engineer, he immigrated in 1860 (wrong) alien (not naturalized) and he owns home, married 20 years. 
Will*17 March 1900 He left a will on 17 March 1900 at Pueblo, Pueblo Co., Colorado; His will gives some good information. It would be good to find the will in Guelph.
     Know all men by these presents, that I, Arthur Wells, formerly of Guelph in the County of South Wellington in the Province of Ontario and Dominion of Canada, but now of the City of Pueblo in the County of Pueblo and State of Colorado, Civil Engineer, considering the uncertainty of this life and being of sound mind and memory do make, declare and publish this last Will and Testament, hereby specially revoking a former will made in Guelph in Canada, the date of which I have no record, witnessed by Jonathan and Edward Stovel, the former a confectioner, the latter a pump-maker, said will having been lost or stolen from me in Pueblo, and also revoking a former will made by me in Pueblo on the fourteenth day of November, 1885, and witnessed by Oliver W. Mallaby and M. Williams.
     Pertinent relationships are mentioned:
... to my beloved wife Martha (nee Glover)...,
...Having already made what I consider an equitable proision by gift of certain realties for my present wife Martha and our children...,
...[the trustee may] convert into money all the real estate... either in Canada or the United States...,
... to my children by my former wife Georgina Dora (nee Ridout)... namely...,
... [he names the following children with 1/11th each] Richard Harter Wells, Harriet Mary Smith, William C Wells, Joseph Wells, John Wells, Georgina Caroline Alexander, Clarence Wells, Arthur George Wells, the lawful issue of Theophilius Craig Wells, Ralph Evans Wells, and the remaining 1/11th "to be invested in stock of the Dominion of Canada and the interest ther from to be paid regularly to my adopted daughter Mary Ann (nee Dunn) during her natural life"...,
Witnessed by Wm H. Roberts & Edmond J Crockett
Will Record A, pg 282, entered 20 Nov 1900.2
Death*31 August 1900 He died on 31 August 1900 at Pueblo, Pueblo Co., Colorado, at age 75; Death record shows born 13 Oct 1824 Toronto Canada age 75y 10m 18d. Parents Joseph Wells & Harriet Mary (no last name given), both born England. Cause of death cancer of stomach, duration 20 years. Died at 17th & Grand Ave where he had resided for 18 1/2 years. Undertaker McCarthy.3 
Obituary3 September 1900 His obituary was on 3 September 1900 (Newspaper not named). Arthur's obituary reads:
One by one the pioneers of the west are passing away. Friday evening, last, Arthur Wells, and old resident of Pueblo, and one of the pioneers in railroad surveying went to the great beyond. Mr Wells was born in 1824, at Toronto, Canada. He graduated from college in that city and took a post graduate course in engineering in France.
     For fifteen years he was postmaster at Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He did the surveying on the construction of the Canadian Pacific, and for a long time was connected with the engineering department of the Santa Fe. He came to Pueblo 20 years ago and laid out part of Central Pueblo and Brown's addition. He leaves a wife and fifteen children to mourn his loss. The funeral will occur tomorrow and Rev Robert Grant of Los Angeles, Cal, by the request of Mr Wells will officiate at the funeral services. The sons of the deceased will be the pall bearers and he will be buried by the side of two of his children in Riverview. For over fifty years Mr Wells had been a Christian and his death came as easy as sleep to a little child. He longed to go for he knew his sufferings would be over and he was preparted to go. Although a very reserved man he made many friends who will be deeply pained to learn of his death.
     Anne Gahn said that Robert Grant also officiated at Theo's funeral the previous year. She also sent a xerox of photo of tombstone, and wrote down a date of 3 Sep 1900 on the obituary.1,4 
Burial4 September 1900 He was buried on 4 September 1900 at Roselawn Cemetery, Pueblo, Pueblo Co., Colorado; Burial found via Internet - Lot 189, Block 30 (Owner Mrs Arthur Wells) Roselawn Cemetery, graves of David & Frederick moved to same lot. See copy of obit rec'd 5/1999 - see photo.1 [need to get copy of obit & photo from Anne
Land1909 He was land Deed from Toronto General Trust to Arthur and Martha Wells - Register of Deeds Instrument #6647. (How can this be the same Arthur since Arthur died 9 years earlier? Or is this just a recording date with the actual instrument dated earlier?) In 1909 at Ontario, Canada.1 
Background* He has the following backgound information available There is a lot of other information on the Wells-Ridout family available at the following locations:
. . Ontarian families - genealogies of United-Empire-loyalists and other pioneer families of Upper Canada V.1 pgs 36-43
Available on Ancestry (subscription)
. . Ontarian families - genealogies of United-Empire-loyalists and other pioneer families of Upper Canada v.2 pgs 144-148,+Of+Davenport%22+Ontarian&source=bl&ots=Euf58vjKiI&sig=xyys2HAiUU8bN4FX-TEIO5B7G58&hl=en&ei=gRgCSpeiEqS-tAO-nYn2BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1
also available on Ancestry (subscription)
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Do a search on THt WELLSJJESIDENCE to find the right area. This is an OCR, hence the mistakes. 
Background23 March 2007 He and Ralph Evans Wells have the following backgound information available Local man managed major rail line to California by Stephen Thorning - copyright, used by permission of the author
     Patience has its rewards in the realm of historical work. More than a quarter century ago I looked at a railway map of the southwestern United States. On the Union Pacific line from Salt Lake City to Southern California were two interesting station names: Guelph and Elora.
     Obviously, I suspected that someone from Wellington County was responsible for these names. I wrote to a couple of authors who had researched and written about that line. They both agreed that my suspicion was probably correct, but they could offer no clue to the identity of the person who did the naming.
     Over the years I was never able to find any definite information. Even the Union Pacific Railroad, which maintains a full-time archivist and extensive files at its Omaha head office, could offer no further help.
     A few weeks ago, while working on another project, I stumbled on the key to the puzzle in a Guelph Evening Mercury dated September 4, 1907. Railway Magnate Visiting City, read the headline. Two sub-headlines reported, R.E. Wells Once of Guelph Now Gen. Manager In West," and "Arrives in State in his Special Car.
     The story reported that Wells was the general manager of the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake, as the line was originally known. The route, connecting Salt Lake City with southern California, had been completed only 18 months prior to Wells’s return to Guelph. It was owned jointly by E.H. Harriman, president of the Union Pacific, and Sen. William Clark, who had extensive mining interests. Union Pacific took over completely in 1929.
     I had run across the name of Ralph Wells before, but had no idea he was from Guelph. Wells worked for several railroads over the years. He spent considerable time with the Santa Fe as a surveyor and manager before joining the Harriman interests about 1902.
     The Wells family is an interesting one. Ralph’s father, Arthur Wells, was born in Toronto in 1824, to a colonel in the militia. As a young man he studied engineering in France. At 21 he married Georgina Ridout, a granddaughter of Thomas Ridout, a leading member of Upper Canada’s old Family Compact.
     In the 1850s Arthur Wells worked as a surveyor and project manager for Gzowski & Co., the contractor for the Grand Trunk Railway line from Toronto to Sarnia.
     Arthur Wells supervised the construction of the two railway bridges immediately east of Rockwood, and Allan’s Bridge, the viaduct that carries the rail line high above the Speed River in Guelph. He seemed to like Guelph: he remained in town at the conclusion of the contract, and built a substantial house, named "Manor Park," at 25 Manor Park Crescent, east of Edinburgh Road and south of the Speed River, in 1857. The property was then a considerable distance from the settled part of the town.
     Arthur and Georgina Wells had 13 children, 11 of whom survived into adulthood. Ralph, born in 1866, was the youngest of them. Three of his brothers also had successful careers on American Railways. Albert later worked on several construction projects, but spent most of his time at Guelph’s post office, where he was the senior clerk and deputy postmaster.
     In 1882, at the age of 58, Arthur Wells had a serious case of mid-life crisis. He abandoned his wife, and took flight to the United States with the housekeeper, Martha Glover. He soon secured a divorce and remarried. He and Martha raised a second family of eight children.
     Ralph was 16 at the time of his father’s move. He and several of his brothers eventually followed Arthur to Colorado, which was then in the midst of a mining boom. Arthur and his sons easily found work there.
     Ralph Wells immediately showed a natural ability for railway work. At the age of 30 he was manager of a Santa Fe branch linking Phoenix with the railway’s main line. Later, the Harriman interests lured him to the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake as the general manager during its construction.
     Ralph Wells was a brilliant and efficient manager, completing, between 1902 and 1905, a difficult mainline project that crossed hundreds of miles of uninhabited desert. There were very few towns. The line had passing sidings every five miles or so, and those were originally numbered.
     In 1904 Wells came up with the idea of naming 62 of them with names suggested by the men who actually built the line. It proved to be a good way to build enthusiasm in the construction crews. Wells himself suggested two of the names: Elora and Guelph.
     The last spike on the route was hammered into a tie on Jan. 30, 1905. Members of the press were there, but the railway did not make a big celebration of the event. A reporter for the Los Angeles Times filed a story that noted the role played by Ralph’s wife: "Had it not been for the wife of General Manager Wells, it all would have been as devoid of sentiment as buying stale bread. She sent on a tiny spike of gold, not larger than a man's thumb nail. After a workman had the last rail whacked into place, Mr. Tilton (the chief engineer) guiltily fished the gold trinket out of his vest pocket, and punched it into the last tie."
     The route quickly became, and remains, a major freight route to and from Southern California. Ralph Wells continued as general manager of what became known as "The Salt Lake Route" until he resigned in 1911. In 1917 he took on the management of a special railway project in Cuba. He died in Los Angeles in 1936. His mother, Georgina, moved to California in 1898; she died there in 1906. Ralph’s father, Arthur, died in Pueblo, Colorado, in1900.
     Ralph’s brother, Arthur Jr., served for a time as president of the Santa Fe Railway. Another brother, William, rose to be a vice president of the Southern Pacific, and was appointed manager of west coast lines when the Wilson administration briefly nationalized the American Railroads in 1917.
     A third brother, John Wells, joined the staff of Phillip Armour & Co., the largest meat packing firm in the United States. That firm pioneered the use of refrigerated freight cars. John Wells became manager of the Armour fleet of privately owned cars, which numbered 12,000 cars in 1900.
     On Jan. 30, 1975, exactly 70 years after the driving of the last spike on that day early in 1905, the State of Nevada repeated the ceremony and erected a commemorative plaque. The little gold spike donated by Mrs Ralph Wells was on view that day.
     Today, Guelph, Nevada still exists as a small town, but it is no longer on the railway map. The siding there has been removed.
     Elora, California fared slightly better. It is still appears on railway maps, with its siding, but the population is zero unless scorpions and rattlesnakes are counted. The switches are now remotely controlled by the dispatcher in Omaha.
     The most important point on the line turned out to be Las Vegas, Nevada. Ralph Wells accepted the assessments of the engineers that the location, then part of the Las Vegas Ranch, would make a suitable division point. It was one of the few places with water suitable for locomotives. A surveyor purchased 80 acres from the ranch for a townsite there. Of course, no one in 1904 could envisage that small railway town becoming a tourist mecca.
     Ralph Wells’s 1907 visit to his hometown was a unique event. He told reporters calling at his private car that "I am just here on a brief visit for the purpose of letting my boys see the old place."
     He had not been back since leaving for the west 25 years earlier, and was amazed that the city had changed so much in that time that he hardly recognized it. As well as his wife, three sons and a daughter, Ralph’s older brother John was on the car.
     They took a tour of the city, and quite a few childhood friends dropped by for a brief reunion when they heard he was in town.
     Ralph Wells’s car went out that evening on the 6pm train to Toronto. I have no idea if he, or his three railroading brothers, ever returned again. on 23 March 2007 at Wellington Advertiser, Ontario, Canada.5 

Family 1

Georgina Dora Ridout b. 21 Jun 1824, d. 3 Feb 1906
Marriage*13 October 1845 Arthur Wells married Georgina Dora Ridout, daughter of George Dorn Ridout and Dororthy McCuaig, on 13 October 1845 at Toronto Cathedral, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

Family 2

Martha Mary Glover b. Jul 1858
Marriage*1880 Arthur Wells married Martha Mary Glover in 1880; married 20 years per 1900 census. Did Arthur divorce or abandon Georgina? She was listed in Pueblo CO up thru 1920 census. The story goes that Arthur got the house maid pregnant and left town and started the second family. But the question remains, was there ultimately a divorce? Did he marry Martha or just live with her? The 1900 census indicates married. His will says "to my beloved wife Martha" but no marriage has been found. If he did marry her, did he lie about the status of his marriage to Georgina? Georgina shows herself as divorced in the 1900 census. The Wellington Advisor article says there was a divorce, but where? 
Last Edited8 Aug 2009


  1. [S113] Correspondence from cousin Anne Graves Gahn, My Evd # 113.
  2. [S118] Will of Arthur Wells, My Evd # 118.
  3. [S114] Death Record of Arthur Wells, My Evd # 114.
  4. [S117] Obituary for Arthur Wells from unknown, undated newspaper, My Evd # 117.
  5. [S247] Wellington Advertiser (newspaper Ontario Canada) 23 Mar 2007 "Local man managed major rail line to California" by Stephen Thorning.