Saturday, May 10, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ Wells of New Hampshire

The earliest ancestor I know about on this line is Thomas G. Wells. has trees that spell his surname as Welles and show parents for him, but they don't include sources, so for now, he is still a "brick wall" for me.

Courtesy Wikipedia
Based on his gravestone (died in May 1849, age 70), he was born in 1779 or 1780. I believe he was born, lived, and probably died in New Hampshire. I find him in Hopkinton, New Hampshire in the U.S. Censuses for 1820, 1830, and 1840. In 1820, Hopkinton was in Hillsborough County (next to Massachusetts), but in 1823, a number of towns, including Hopkinton, were removed to become part of Merrimack County (the dark green county in the green image of New Hampshire at right). The red image represents where Hopkinton is located in the current Merrimack County.

Thomas G. Wells married Lucinda Lyman about 1802, as their first child was born in 1803. I estimated the date of this marriage based on the New Hampshire birth records of their children (Elias Lyman, Thomas Goodwin, Lucinda L., Phineas Parkhurst, Maria Emeline, Edwin R., Ruth Lyman, Elias Lyman (born the year his older brother died), Bodwell Emerson, and Elizabeth A.) which include the parents' names.

I know Thomas G. Wells is a physician from the 1820 U.S. Census (which doesn't usually include occupation information).

1820 U.S. Census, Hopkinton, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, record for Thomas G. Wells

Dr. Thomas G. Wells died on May 2, 1849, according to his gravestone at the Old Hopkinton Cemetery. See his Find A Grave Memorial, where I have linked him to the memorials of family members, including nine of his ten children!

I descend from his second son, Thomas Goodwin Wells.

I have done a bit of research on the descendants of this ancestor, but I'm still not sure who his parents are! It's a challenge, as there are several men by the name of Thomas Wells in New England during this time period.

Thomas Goodwin Wells
Generation 2: Thomas Goodwin Wells (1804-1873), whose image I shared on Wednesday (at left) was born in Sutton or Hopkinton, New Hampshire. (Different sources note different locations.) As I discovered several months ago, he first married Mary Eliza Little in September 1835 in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. She died in 1836. As far as I can tell, there were no children from this first marriage.

Thomas later married Elizabeth Sewall Willis (1820-1900) on November 6, 1838 in Newburyport, Massachusetts. They had five children: Eliza May Wells, Henry Willis Wells, Louisa Wells, Benjamin Willis Wells, and Ruth Lyman Wells. I descend from their oldest, Eliza May Wells. This Thomas became a successful merchant in Boston, and he is enumerated in the 1860 U.S. Census in Brookline, with several servants in his household. This couple is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in the Willis family plot with several additional family members.

Eliza May Wells (1839-1880)
Generation 3: Eliza May Wells (1839-1880) married Samuel Sewall Greeley in 1866. (See their marriage record in Massachustts Vital Records.) I wrote about her in a Matrilineal Monday post, which includes her passport application and a death notice. I also shared a few photos of her here. Eliza May Wells moved to Chicago after her marriage, becoming step-mother to Samuel S. Greeley's three sons and giving birth to five children of her own, three of whom pre-deceased her. She was in London, England, when she died in September 1880. I believe she is buried in London, though there is a gravestone for her in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago.

Generation 4: Ethel May Greeley (1875-1931) married Lowell Copeland on January 1, 1900. (See their marriage record in Cook County Marriages.)

Generation 5: Lowell Townsend Copeland (1900-1974)
Generation 6: My mother
Generation 7: Me


  1. Hi Elizabeth. Those middle names for the children of the first Thomas G Wells seem so helpful. I'll bet you'll solve this someday!

    1. Diane, I agree, especially since several of them are used for a couple of generations - Ruth, Lucinda, Elias, but I found reference to a Phineas Parkhurst who was a doctor in New Hampshire, so that son may have been named after a local resident.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.