George B. Wells and his family tragedy

George B. Wells was my father’s 1st cousin 3x removed. George was the son of Tabitha Wells, who was the sister of Joel Wells. Joel was my dad’s great-great grandfather.

George mentioned in his grandfather Matthew’s will from 1828. George would have been 7, and his mother had already died (perhaps in childbirth?). George was left 52 acres.

By 1848, George was in Buchanan, Missouri where he married Catharine Page on January 7, 1848. In the 1850 census, George and Catharine were living with their 2-year-old daughter Mary in Rush Township, Buchanan County, Missouri. In the 1855 Kansas State Census, there is a George B. Wells enumerated in the 15th district with his wife, C. F., and 3 daughters – M. A., L. J., and M. J. I believe this is George and his family even though the ages for George and Catharine don’t match up.

George and Catharine eventually had 4 daughters (Mary Ann, Louisa, Martha, and Alice) and 1 son (Benjamin). On October 10, 1870, George and his family were enumerated in Rush Township. George was listed as a common laborer with $100 in personal estate. He was 49. His wife Catharine was 40. Mary was out of the house, having married Winfrey Mitchell in April 1870. Louisa was 19. Martha was 16, while Alice was 14. Their son Benjamin was 11. Louisa married Thomas Cox, aged 18, later in the month of October. She was enumerated again with Thomas on November 11th. They were living next to her sister Mary and her husband Winfrey, also in Rush Township. Louisa and Thomas had 4 children during their short marriage: William (born September 1872), Charles (born May 1874), Edward (born 1876), and Georgia (born 1878).

Sadly, typhoid fever swept through the family in late 1879. George died December 23. His daughter Louisa died December 31. Catharine, George’s wife, died on January 3, 1880. His son-in-law Thomas Cox also died on January 3rd.

The Atchison (Kansas) Daily Champion, 1/4/1880, pg. 4
The Atchison (Kansas) Daily Globe, 1/5/1880, pg. 1

The four children of Thomas and Louisa were raised by different families around the area. In the 1880 census, William was living with their uncle William Cox, a doctor in Green Township, Worth County, Missouri. Charles was listed as the adopted son of G.G. and Emma Henderson in Iron Township, Missouri. Edward was listed as a boarder of George and Martha Newton in Rushville, Buchanan County, Missouri. They raised him and he took their last name. In 1880, Georgia was also living in Rushville, with her adopted parents Benjamin Culver, a doctor, and his wife Nancy.

Children of Thomas and Louisa (Wells) Cox, c1940
[From left: Georgia, Edward, Charles, and William]
contributed to by user dlt3d

William married Clara McNelly on January 9, 1903 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They had three children. William died July 2, 1942 as a result of a farming accident. According to the Randolph (Nebraska) Times-Enterprise from July 9, 1942, he was injured on June 29th “when a steer, being led at the back of a wagon, upset the vehicle and it fell on him.”

Charles married Nora Wilson on September 24, 1895 in Buchanan County, Missouri. They had 9 children. Charles died February 12, 1952. Edward married Fannie Pulley on September 28, 1897. They had 7 children. Edward was a blacksmith. He died Setember 26, 1947. Georgia was married at least 4 times and had at least 2 children but none that survived. She died November 10, 1953.

I like to think Thomas and Louisa would be happy that their four children lived long lives and gave them many grandchildren.

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