Thursday, February 22, 2007


Calvin Wells
December 26, 1827 - August 2, 1909

Calvin Wells was born in Genessee County NY on December 26, 1827. Wells came from sturdy New England stock, from which he derived those sterling qualities which have distinguished him through life. His father and mother were both of New England birth. His maternal grandfather Rev. Samuel Taggart, a Presbyterian minister, was a man of mark in his day, wielding a strong influence upon the political as well as the religious affairs of the community. He represented the western district of Massachusetts in Congress for thirteen years. Mr. Wells’ father’s family was very prominent in Greenfield. His grandfather was Col. Daniel Wells, on of whose sons Calvin Wells the father of the subject of this sketch, settled in Western New York, and bought a half interest in a mill and also engaged in farming. Calvin Wells, Sr. was a justice of the peace for many years and was an elder in the Congregational Church and afterward of the Presbyterian Church. His wife was a woman of strong mental powers and deep religious convictions and her teachings and influence did much to shape the future of her children. She died when her son Calvin was but fourteen years of age. In 1842 the latter entered the store of his brother-in-law, P. S. Church, a Detroit merchant, and two years later he went back to Batavia NY where he remained until 1847. He had always wished for a better education than had been afforded to him, and for this reason wrote to a brother in Pittsburgh, Rec. Samuel Taggart Wells, a Presbyterian clergyman, who responded with an invitation to come hither, and make a home with him and attend the Western University. This invitation he gladly accepted and packing his goods in a pine box, took a boat to Erie PA going thence by canal to Beaver, and then by boat to Pittsburgh. Here he landed November 19, 1847, his worldly possessions being worth probably twenty-five dollars.

Mr. Wells entered the Western University and remained there until the winter of 1848-49. Early in the latter year he entered the dry goods store of Benjamin Glyde as bookkeeper. The next year (1850) Mr. Wells was thrown into connection with Dr. C. G. Hussey, who had then commenced the copper business, having a mill and warehouse in Pittsburgh. Mr. Wells continued in this line until 1852, when Dr. Hussey started him in a bacon and pork business, the firm name being Hussey & Wells. This was continued until 1858 or 1859,when the firm became Hussey, Wells & Co. engaged in the manufacture of steel, and this was laid the foundation of one of the great industries that have done so much to build up the city of Pittsburgh. Mr. Wells was made manager of the new business and went east to learn all he could regarding the manufacture of steel. On his return he gave his entire attention to the enterprise which grew rapidly receiving a wonderful impetus during the rebellion, and demonstrated that England had at last found a competitor in the manufacture of steel.

Mr. Wells sold out his interest in this concern in 1876 and thus ended his long association with Dr. Hussey. in 1865 Mr. Wells became interested in railway elliptic springs and owned a half interest in the firm of A. French & Co., then engaged in their manufacture. This business was a success and grew to large proportions. On leaving the firm of Hussey, Wells & Co., Mr. Wells gave his entire attention for a year or two to the spring company. In January 1878, he was chosen president and treasurer of the Pittsburgh Forge & Iron Company and yet holds these positions. In 1884 he sold out his interest in the firm of A. French & Co. In 1877 Mr. Wells was induced to join in the purchase of the Philadelphia Press, founded by the late John W. Forney. At first he expected that his associates would manage the affairs of the concern, but a couple of year’s experience convinced him of the necessity for a change, and he took hold of the paper with the same good judgment, business tact and energy that have distinguished him in other enterprises. The result is that the Press is now not only one of the ablest but one of the strongest and most influential newspapers in the country. It is especially noteworthy for its advocacy of a protective tariff, for Mr. Wells is thoroughly convinced that protection is a great blessing to all parts of the country as well as to Pennsylvania.

He has other interests engaging his attention. In 1888 he was led to investigate the subject of spelter. His practical knowledge of metals and his study of this branch of metallurgy led him to unite with some friends in the establishment of the Illinois Zinc Company, at Peru, LaSalle County, Illinois, with a capital of $50,000. From the inception of the enterprise Mr. Wells has been president and treasurer of the company which has grown to $400,000. He has been for a number of years and is now a director in the Exchange National Bank of Pittsburgh. He was at one time a director in the Consolidated Gas Company, and was also connected with the Chartiers Natural Gas Company.

All that Mr. Wells has and is are the products of his natural forces. He possesses special skill as an organizer, in systematic management, and in his ability to read and understand men and to put the right man in the right place. He is a man of strong will, resolute courage, and in great tenacity of purpose, fertile in resources, alert to take advantage of circumstances as they occur. With all these advantages in business life, he has proven himself of kindly disposition and generous purposes. Though keeping himself posted upon political questions he has been too busy to take an active part in partisan politics or enter public life. His father was a Henry Clay Whig and the son is a consistent Republican.

Mr. Wells was married on July 5, 1854, to Annie Glyde, daughter of Benjamin Glyde. She died in 1859 and in 1861 he was married to Mary Chaffey, a sister of his first wife. Tow sons and two daughters have been born to him. His eldest son was born in 186? And died in the same year. His two daughters are married, laving him, his wife and his youngest son to constitute the family. Mr. Wells is a member of the Third Presbyterian Church, of which he has been a trustee for a number of years.

Calvin Wells married twice as noted below:

1. Anne Glyde (Jan. 23, 1835 - March 13, 1859); married, July 5, 1854.

Daughter of Calvin Wells and Anne Glyde Wells:

Anne Glyde Wells; born May 6, 1855;


Robert Johnson Cook; born March 21, 1849 in Fayette Co, PA.;

Robert Johnson "Bob" Cook, born March 21, 1849. He was graduated from Yale in 1876, was captain of the Yale boat crew from 1873 to 1876. He was sent by Yale to England in 1873 to learn the English stroke. Cook read law in Greesburg, PA, with A. M. Fulton, Esq., in 1877, and completed his course in the office of Hon. John H. Baily, of Pittsburgh. He was admitted to the Pittsburgh bar in 1878. He marrried Miss Annie Wells of Pittsburgh, April 26, 1881, and in 1882 took a special course in a German university. The 1924 Yale Boathouse was dedicated in his honor.

1870 was the year that Bob Cook, then a sophomore and captain of the Yale crew, went to England for three months to study rowing at London, Cambridge and Oxford. Returning, he brought with him an understanding of the English Orthodox style of rowing, which he introduced to Yale and to America at large. Cook would later become head crew coach at Yale and produce an extraordinary record of success from 1872 until his departure in 1899. During the time that he coached at Yale the team was bested only four times, in ‘75, ‘78, ‘79, and ‘91. To this day, no other college in America has produced an amateur alumnus crew coach with such an outstanding record of success. In 1924 Yale opened a new boathouse at Derby, abandoning crew on New Haven Harbor. Designed by famed architect James Gamble Rogers and named after legendary Bob Cook, the boathouse was used by Yale until 1999 and is now demolished. But for 75 years, the Bob Cook boathouse on the Housatonic River stood as a monument to his significant contribution to American collegiate crew. Bob Cook, Yale's grand old man of rowing, once called Averell Harriman "easily the most promising crew coach in America." According to Chauncey Depew, while at Yale, Bob Cook was assaulted with an ax wielding ruffian who plunged the ax into Cook’s head. Cook seized his assailant, nearly knocked the life out of him, carried him a prisoner to the police station and only thereafter pulled the ax out of his head and called for a doctor.

The children of Robert Johnson Cook and Anne Glyde Wells Cook:

Elsa COOK b: 17 FEB 1882 in Leipsic, Germany (married Charles Edward Greenfield)

This is probably Charles Edward Greenfield, and isn't the only connection that the Club members have to the sinking of the Titanic:

Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1912
Can't Collect For Lives Lost
Titanic Owners Not Liable For Deaths on Sea.

If Precedent is Followed Company Will Probably Settle for Property Loss Without Dispute, but Admiralty Lawyer Says It Cannot Be Held Further
Chicago, APRIL 16—[Exclusive Dispatch.] Relatives of the 1232 passengers who lost their lives in the wreck of the Titanic will be unable to collect a single dollar in damages according to Charles E. Greenfield of Kremer and Greenfield, admiralty attorneys, with offices in the Fort Dearborn building.
If the White Star line follows precedent it will settle without legal dispute for the loss of property, but as this was insured the company will lose nothing on that score.
“There is no law which fixes liability for loss of life on the high seas,” said Attorney Greenfield today. “About ten years ago several suits were filed in the Federal court here, but they were dismissed because of the lack of any statute fixing liability.
“Suits for loss of property very seldom follow disasters of this kind. The steamship companies are usually covered by insurance, and in the past nil have generally settled without going to court.”
Mr. Greenfield added that some States and nations have laws fixing liability for loss of life in wrecks, but they are not applicable to the high seas. The Titanic was on the “high seas” at the time it foundered.
It is estimated that the passengers on the Titanic carried in money, bonds, jewelry, and other securities approximately $6,000,000.

Helen Chaffey COOK b: 1 JAN 1885 in Philadelphia, PA (married Daniel Stephenson)

He was born in Sharon, PA.

Dorothy Glyde COOK b: 20 JUL 1890 in Bryn Mawr, PA (married Harry Grant)

After an unhappy marriage, Harry Grant became manager and Chairman of the Board of the "Milwaukee Journal". Here is information about Harry Johnson Grant and Dorothy Glyde Cook:

Society Wedding: The fiber of Harry Grant's independence threads back through his entire life. He was born in Chillicothe, Mo., the son and grandson of stable owners. The family moved to St. Louis, and when Grant was 15, his father killed himself, leaving Grant's mother to make ends meet by teaching dancing. Harry Grant quit high school after his freshman year, went to work as a $5-a-week railway messenger. He was earning $60 a month as a ticket clerk when he quit to make more as a bookkeeper and cattle checker in Swift & Co.'s stockyards. He bought schoolbooks and studied at night, and by the time he was 22, he had saved enough money to enter Harvard as a special student.
In his first year, with his usual energy, Grant took seven courses (four was standard), lived in an attic, wore secondhand clothes and did odd jobs to add to his savings. By the end of the year, his money ran out, so Grant took a job selling roofing in the Southwest until he saved enough for a second try at Harvard. After struggling through the second year, he gave up and moved to a cheap room in Hoboken, having lost his "illusions about what an education could do for me." By limiting himself to 11¢ a day for lunch and not much else, he held out until he found a job he liked, working for N. W. Ayer advertising agency in Manhattan. Grant moved through every department, was so able at whatever he turned his hand to that in three years he was sent to London to represent the agency.
In Europe he met Dorothy Cook, a wealthy American girl, whom he married the same year at what he describes as a "goddamned society wedding." Grant felt that his in-laws wanted him to be "a gentleman of leisure." He had different ideas, and his marriage was unhappy. (Mrs. Grant died in 1923.) Grant went to Chicago to work for O'Mara & Ormsbee, Inc., the Journal's advertising representative. There he quickly rose to vice president and caught the eye of Lucius W. Nieman, owner of the Journal. Nieman hired Grant for $250 a week as business manager, with a promise of stock in the paper if things went well.

Source: "The Fair Lady of Milwaukee", Time Magazine, February 1, 1954

Additional information exists on ths Cook line of the Wells family.

2. Mary Glyde (March 8, 1836 - May 31, 1904)

Married: 13 Sep 1861 in Christ Methodist Episcopal Church Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Their children:

George Duncan Wells born Jan. 20, 1866 died July 27, 1866

Benjamin Glyde Wells born Nov. 8, 1868; died May 6, 1929
Louise Dewey born August 11, 1873; died October 12, 1939

The children of Benjamin Glyde Wells and Louise Dewey Wells:

Mary Glyde Wells (1897)

Calvin Wells II (1898)

FYI Descendent Calvin Wells III is a NASCAR owner, Bobby Hamilton Jr. drives his "Tide" Chevy.

Lois Badger Wells ()

Elizabeth Dewey Wells (1903-1988); married Rowland Erving.

More on Elizabeth Dewey Wells:
Rowland Erving died Dec. 18, 1995, at his home in Fox Chapel, Pittsburgh, Penn. He was born Apr. 22, 1905, and was a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh. Before Princeton, Rowly prepped at Choate School and Babson Institute. He married Elizabeth Dewey Wells in June 1930. She died in June 1988. He retired from the McKay Co. as a v.p. in 1968 after nearly 40 years with the company. Rowly spent his summers with his family in Beaumaris in Ontario, where his family has vacationed since the turn of the century. He maintained friendships throughout the years with classmate Doug Hannah and others. Rowly was a boatsman, accomplished painter, and golfer. He was a member of the Fox Chapel Golf Club. Rowly was above all a family man and a consummate gentleman. He was kind, considerate, very positive, and had a cheerful word for everyone. He will be missed by his family and friends. The class extends its sympathy to Rowly's family: sons Rowland Jr. and Rev. William D. and his wife, Mimi; grandsons Richard T. and David Y.; granddaughter Mary E. Humenik; and two great-grandchildren.
Princeton: The Class of 1930PAW March 6th, 1996

Husband of Mary E Humenik is Dr. Mark J. Humenik DDS of Northbrook, IL. The Rev. William D. Erving is serving / living in Portersville, near Grove City.

Note that the new vacation spot at Beaumaris, Ontario, was the choice of more than one Club member.

More on that:

Mr. Edward Prowse started the Beaumaris Hotel and in 1890 was attracting wealthy visitors from America and Europe who would later purchase properties close to the hotel and build large summer homes there. The Beaumaris Yacht Club is a strictly private, family-oriented club located on Lake Muskoka, in Ontario, Canada. It has its roots in the early 1900's. The Beaumaris Golf and Tennis Association was formed in 1911 by local cottagers (mostly from Pennsylvania at the time) to lease a 5-hole golf course and tennis courts from the nearby Beaumaris Hotel. A new clubhouse was built in 1912, and the golf course was expanded to 9 holes. New tennis courts were completed in 1916, and by 1919, the golf course had expanded to 18 holes.
At about the same time, the Beaumaris Yacht Club got its start. Originally founded (in about 1912) by US Congressman James Francis Burke, it operated as a sailing club until 1921. The BYC's present building was purchased in 1921, and the Club became a centre for social activities for the surrounding summer community.
Despite ups and downs resulting from changes in ownership, two world wars, and the Great Depression, the two "clubs" were consolidated in 1946, and today, the Beaumaris Yacht Club offers its membership a variety of activities including golf, tennis, weekly sailing races, and social entertainment. In addition to top-notch golf and tennis teaching professionals, the Club staff also provides instruction in sailing, swimming, and lifesaving.
The Beaumaris Yacht Club 1197 Beaumaris Road Beaumaris, Ontario

Mary Chaffey Wells born June 1862 or 1863 in Pennsylvania
Married 15 OCT 1885 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Chauncey Milton Griggs born 19 FEB 1860 in Minnesota (St. Paul)

The children of Chauncey Milton Griggs and Mary Chafee Wells Griggs are:

Calvin Wells GRIGGS b: 13 NOV 1886 in Minnesota
Milton Wright GRIGGS b: 15 NOV 1888 in Minnesota
Katherine Glyde GRIGGS b: 10 JUN 1890 in Minnesota
Mary S. GRIGGS b: MAR 1893 OR 21 APR 1893 in Minnesota
Everett Gallup GRIGGS b: 17 DEC 1894 in Minnesota
Benjamin Glyde GRIGGS b: 1 JAN 1898 in Minnesota
Elizabeth GRIGGS b: 3 MAR 1901 in Minnesota
Chauncey Wright GRIGGS b: 3 NOV 1902 in Minnesota

(Note that this Griggs branch of the Wells family line extends to the present)

Calvin Wells and his wives, sisters Anne Wells and Mary Wells, are buried in Allegheny Cemetery Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Here is a description of some of Calvin Wells' buisness interests...

It is said that an institution is but the lengthened shadow of a man. The man most responsible for the success, repute and prosperity of the Pittsburgh Forge & Iron Co. unquestionably is Calvin Wells, who since 1878 has been the president of the corporation. After graduating from the Western University of Pennsylvania, Calvin Wells began his business career as a bookkeeper for C. G. Hussey. His work was performed so acceptably that in I852 the firm of Hussey & Wells was organized. In i859 the title of the partnership was changed to Hussey, Wells & Co. (For those days they were rather important steel manufacturers.) Calvin Wells was general manager of the business of Hussey, Wells & Co. until I876. when he sold his interest in the firm to Dr. Hussey. In i865 he acquired a membership in the firm of A. C. French & Co., car spring manufacturers. He was an active participant in the affairs of this concern until 1884 when he disposed of his holdings in the car springs establishment to Mr. French. Another manufacturing enterprises with which Calvin Wells has long been interested in is the Illinois Zinc Company, noted for its manufactures of sheet zinc, spelter and sulfuric acid.
Of the Illinois Zinc Company, Calvin Wells has been President and Treasurer for thirty-seven years. Established by John W. Forney, on of the most influential dailies in Philadelphia was purchased by Calvin Wells in 1878. The ownership of this great newspaper property Mr. Wells still retains. Despite the importance and value of his other holdings, the affairs of the Pittsburgh Forge and Iron Co. continue to receive the careful attention of Calvin Wells. He still takes upon himself the task of President and Treasurer. F. E. Richardson is Secretary of the company, and between the two are divided the arduous duties pertaining to the management. The offices of the company are on the corner of Penn Avenue and Tenth Street Pittsburgh; the works of the Pittsburgh Forge and Iron Co. are located in Allegheny, four miles away, on the “Fort Wayne” railroad. At the company’s plant are employed about 1,000 men. (Thereafter follows a lengthy description of the products and value of the company’s annual output).

Source: The Story of Pittsburgh [available on line from PSU].

Here is a snapshot of Mrs. Calvin Wells:

Mrs Calvin Wells of Lincoln Avenue is one of the intellectual women. In person, she is rather under the medium size, inclined to enbonpoint and verging on the brunette style of coloring. Their house is large and furnished more with a view to comfort than style. Mr. Wells owns the Philadelphia Press and is a millionaire. One of their daughters maried R. J. Cook, the famous captian of the Yale boat crew and the other a gentleman of St. Paul. Mrs. Wells was a Miss Glyde, her father who was quite well off being a member of the firm Shaklett and Glyde. (The Social Mirror, page 93)

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