THOMAS H. WELLS. Few among the earlier inhabitants of Youngstown whose life histories have been intimately connected
with the rise and progress of the city from its early condition, twenty years before the Civil War, as a small
and somewhat commonplace village, to its present day inportance as a great and world famed manufacturing center,
have cut so striking a figure as he whose name begins this sketch.
Though not of native birth, Mr. Wells possessed in a high degree those characteristic American qualities which
make for success in whatsoever field their possessor may choose to seek it, and by virtue of which he may be justly
regarded as one of the makers and builders of Youngstown as it is today.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, December 12, 1814, he was a true son of that land whence sprang the poet Moore and freedom's
martyr, Emmet, and which has added many a glittering name to history's page. Of a superb physique and commanding
presence, he was especially noted for that peculiar charm of manner, approaching personal magnetism, that belongs
as of right to the true Irish gentleman, wherever he may be found.
He came of a good family, through whose influential connections he obtained and held for some time in early manhood
a position in the Government service at Dublin: This, however, he resigned after a few years to come to America.
A civil engineer and architect by profession, he entered the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad, his headquarters
being located at Newark, New Jersey. The railroad at that time extended only to New Brunswick, that state. Mr.
Wells made the original survey from Trenton, New Jersey, to New York. In his capacity of architect he designed
the Pennsylvania station at Philadelphia. Subsequently giving tip his professional life to enter the commercial
field, he settled in Youngstown, and began in a modest way as a merchant on East Federal street. Later he removed
to a store on West Federal street, and was afterwards located for some time in the Merchant's block, of which he
was part owner.
Successful in business, he grew up with the city, and with its expansion there came to him opportunities for legitimate
investment of which he was not slow to avail himself. He was intimately connected with the development of the coal
industry, for a number of years operating mines in Mineral Ridge, Austintown township and elsewhere. Later he became
one of the largest owners of the Youngstown Rolling Mill Company, which developed subsequently into what is now
the Carnegie Union works of the United States Steel Corporation. He was also interested in numerous other business
and financial enterprises, and erected some of the principal business blocks in the city of Youngstown. In 1863
he was elected mayor of Youngstown. His wealth increased and in his latter years he paid, it is said, the largest
personal tax of any man in the city.
Yet with all this triumphal achievement along business and commercial lines he was no mere man of dollars. Of intellect
above the ordinary, he never prostrated himself before the Golden Calf. He was money's master, not its slave. The
rich and the poor, the worthy of all classes, ever received at his hands that ungrudging justice, that refined
courtesy which was perhaps his most striking characteristic. His years were long in the land in which Providence
had cast his lot, and on September I, 1905, at the venerable age of nearly ninety one, he passed away, respected
by his fellow citizens and deeply mourned by all those with whom he had been on terms of intimate association.
Mr. Wells was married in 1878 to Miss Grace Jewett, of Greenville, Pennsylvania. With her he joined the First Presbyterian
Church of this city, which had subsequently a large share of his numerous benefactions. Mrs. Wells died suddenly
in 1891, after having been the mother of four children, who were as follows: Mary, born in 188o, who is now the
wife of Richard Garlick, of Youngstown; Thomas H., Jr., who died when quite young; Grace, born in 1883, who married
William Seigfried, of Youngstown; and Thomas H., Jr. (2d), who is now a student at Sanford School, Bethel, Connecticut,
preparing to enter Yale College.
20th Century History of Youngstown
and Mahoning County, Ohio and
Edited and compiled by Gen. Thos. W. Sanderson
Biographical Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1897
Mahoning County, Ohio Biographies
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