Biography of Thomas H. Wells
Mahoning County, OH Biographies

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
Representative Citizens,
Edited and compiled by Gen. Thos. W. Sanderson
Youngstown, Ohio
Biographical Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1897

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