Among Henry county's most prosperous and influential citizens are many whose early home was on the other side of the Atlantic. Joseph Wells, now one of the leading agriculturists of Cornwall township, is a native of England, his birth having occurred in Billinghay, Lincolnshire, in 1836. His parents, William B. and Elizabeth (Bee) Wells, were life-long residents of that country. In their family were seven children.
Bidding good-by to home and native land in 1861, Mr. Wells took passage on the North Britain, a steamer of the Allen line, and after a voyage of eleven days, landed in Portland, Maine. From that place he went to Rochester, New York, and after remaining there for two weeks, came to Henry County, Illinois, taking up his residence in Atkinson township at the age of twenty-nine. For three years he worked on a farm and then went to Montana. He was three months in making the trip, traveling five hundred miles over a new road, and spending the 4th of July, 1864 on the banks of the Yellowstone river. One night indians attacked the camp and stole fifty horses and one man was hurt in the shoulder with a bow and arrow.
At another time a party en route to California was a short distance in advance of the train our subject was with, and had over a hundred head of horses stolen. For five years he was successfully engaged in prospecting and mining for gold in that State, and then returned to this county. He purchased one hundred and twenty acres of partially improved land on section 9, Cornwall township, and to its further improvement and cultivation has since devoted his energies with most gratifying results. He has also added eight acres of cultivated land to the original tract, while his landed possessions in Cornwall township now aggregate three hundred and thirty-three acres of very valuable and productive land, all of which property has been acquired through his own industry, indefatigable energy, and good business ability, guided by sound judgment.
In his political views Mr. Wells is a stalwart Republican, and he takes a commendable interest in the affairs of his adopted country. In August 1874 he returned to England on a visit, sailing from New York on the 7th of that month and landing at Liverpool after a very pleasant voyage of ten days. He remained in his native land until March, 1875, and then returned to this country on the steamer Republic of the White Star line. The weather was quite stormy coming back.
With Mr. Wells resides his nephew, John Wells, who was also born in Billinghay, Lincolnshire, England, October 2, 1860, a son of James and Ann (Parker) Wells, natives of the same county where the father followed the occupation of a farmer throughout life. John is one of fourteen children and has two brothers who came to America after (here there is a missing two or three lines, cut off at the top of the page) crossed the Atlantic from Liverpool to New York, and came immediately to Atkinson, Illinois. Since then he has engaged in farming in this county, and now makes his home with his uncle. On the 20th of February, 1890 he married Miss Francinia Barber, a daughter of C. S. Barber, an old settler of Burns township and they now have one child, Charles Parker, who was born March 27, 1892. John Wells is also a Republican in politics, and has efficiently filled the office of school director.
Submitted by Chris Wells and a thanks to Flavia Hodges.