Matthias N. Wells, 1845 on Wed, 14 Feb 2001


Source: 1918 History of Clark Co., WI, by Franklyn, Curtiss-Wedge

MATTHIAS N. WELLS, now living retired in Neillsville after many years of activity along agricultural lines, his labors in which branch of industry were crowned with success, was born in Stowe, Lamoile County, Vt., at the foot of Green Mountain, June 5, 1845, son of Hawley and Susan (Harlow) Wells. The father, Hawley Wells, was born, reared and married in Vermont, and there he and his wife had six children born: Rowena, Alonzo, Cordelia, Mary, Matthias N., and Lydia. In 1848 he joined the westward tide of emigration, locating first in Vernon, Waukesha County, Wis., where he rented a farm and stayed two years. He then removed to another farm in the same county, and two years later to a third. Again he moved, this time to the township of Hustisford, Dodge County, where he bought a partly improved farm of eighty acres, which he cultivated for a few years. Then, after some further wandering, he settled in 1864 in Ashburn Township, Dodge County, where he died. Matthias N. Wells remained with his parents until he was 15 years of age. He had attended school in Dodge County and then worked out for about three years. Nov. 12, 1863, he enlisted in the Seventh Wisconsin Battery of Light Artillery, at Milwaukee, where he was mustered on Jan. 12. Joining his company at Memphis, Tenn., he took part subsequently in the operations against the Confederate General Forrest, helping to repel the latter's raid on Memphis in August, 1864, and taking part in the battle of Guntown, Miss. His command then returned to Memphis and was held there on garrison and scouting duty. Mr. Wells was discharged July 20, 1865, at Milwaukee, and then returned to Dodge County.

There he bought a farm, and on Oct. 23, 1867, he was married to Alberta M. Pettengill, their wedding ceremony taking place at Neosho. She was born at Morristown, Vt., but her father was then a farmer and shoemaker in Dodge County. After Mr. Wells and his wife had resided on their farm four years they came to Neillsville, where Mr. Wells bought a tract of 120 acres of wild land in sections 28 and 21, Pine Valley Township, Clark County. There was a logging stable on the place, in which they lived the first summer, while he built a log house and barn. He had obtained his land by trading for it a team of horses, and they being gone, he had nothing left to start with. For seven years he carried supplies home on his back from Neillsville, except on those rare occasions when a neighbor would help him. He had oxen in the summer but had to sell them in the winter, as he had no feed for them. The winters he spent in the woods and the summers on his farm, working out much of the time to support his family, and clearing his land in his spare time. His work in the woods was continued for eight winters. His possessions were acquired slowly and with difficulty. At one time he bought a cow for which he paid $40, earning the money by working for $1.25 a day and having to walk eight miles to his work. For thirty-one years he lived in the old log house and then erected a seven-room frame house and a basement barn, 34 by 56 feet. He cleared about forty acres of his land, using the rest for pasture and raising graded Guernsey cattle and Poland-China hogs. On that farm Mr. Wells spent forty-five years of his life and then, in 1915, he and his wife moved to Neillsville and bought a comfortable home, where they are enjoying a well-earned rest. He owns 100 shares in the Pine Valley Butter Company of Neillsville. While on the farm he served four years as school director, and was a man of influence in his township, respected by all.

He and his wife are the parents of three children: Willis C., now in Kalispell, Mont., who married Theoline Solon, and has two children, Mabel and Lawrence; Berton H., who married Jeanette Charles, resides in Neillsville, and Hattie May, now Mrs. Edwin Lloyd of Pine Valley Township, and who has eleven children, Louie, Eunice, Vera, Tina, Byno, Ray, May, Guy, Thomas, Calver and Elva. Mr. Wells is a member of Chas. E. Brown Post, No. 48, G. A. R., of which he is also chaplain. He also belongs to the Guardians of Liberty. Mrs. Wells is president of the Woman's Relief Corps, No. 10, of Neillsville. On Oct. 23, 1917, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, and on Saturday afternoon and evening of Nov. 17, they were tendered a reception by the G. A. R. and W. R. C., the post presenting Mr. Wells with a gold G. A. R. badge, and the relief Corps presenting Mrs. Wells with a gold recognition badge of that body.



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