Ira R. Wells, M.D

Ira R. Wells, M.D., has been a practicing physician at Geneseo since 1860 and of the county since 1850. He was born Feb. 18, 1820 , at Shawneetown , Ill. , and is the son of Joel and Mary (Edwards) Wells. His father, Joel Wells, removed his family to Illinois in the last of its Territorial days and the same year in which it was made a State. The father was born Aug. 1, 1775 , at Deerfield , Mass.

   He was married in his native State May 8, 1797 , and his wife was a descendant of the celebrated divine, Jonathan Edwards. She was born at Deerfield , Mass. Feb. 9. 1778. Soon after their marriage they removed to Windham Co., Vt. , and were among the pioneers of the Green Mountain State . They went thence to the (then) village of Buffalo , whence they were driven by the burning of the place during the progress of the War of 1812, their entire personal belongings being at the time destroyed. They went to Cincinnati , and were there residents until 1818, when they came to Illinois and located at Shawneetown in Gallatin County . In 1827 they moved to Galena , whither they traveled overland, crossing the Illinois River at the point where Peoria now stands, and where there was then only a single log house. An Indian ferryman took the party over the Rock River , crossing where Dixon is now located. After a stay of a year at Galena they went to Moline , where the family was the first to make a permanent settlement. The father died there Sept. 3, 1838 . The mother’s death transpired Dec. 4, 1846 . At the time they located at Moline the family included four sons and three daughters.

   Dr. Wells was a child of eight years when his parents settled in Moline . He received his primary education in the common school and in 1838, when he was 18 years old, he fulfilled a long-cherished intention to enter upon the study of medicine and he began his reading in the office and under the preceptorship of Dr. Gregory, or Rock Island . Subsequently, he took a course of lectures at the Medical College at New Orleans and finished his studies at the University of the City of New York . He was graduated at the latter institution with the class of 1846, and received the authority of one of the most prominent of the medical colleges of this country to enter upon the career of a practitioner. He had established his business at Polo, in Ogle Co., Ill. , in 1840, and after operating there two years he went to Missouri , where he remained seven years. While there he attended the University of the City of New York . After receiving his credentials as a Doctor of Medicine, he opened an office at Moline , and prosecuted the duties of his profession three years. In 1849 he went to California , and during his stay there of one year he practiced among the miners. He then came to Henry County and commenced the practice of his profession in Green River . He remained there ten years, and in 1860 came to Geneseo. Since the beginning of his relations as a physician and surgeon with the people of that place, he has had an uninterrupted career of success and has firmly established himself in the confidence of his patrons.

   In political faith and connections he has been a Democrat since he began to vote. He has been County Supervisor two years, and has officiated one term as Mayor of Geneseo. He was Postmaster at Moline three years—from 1846 to 1849—and after his removal to Petersburg , Mo. , he held the same position there five years. During the progress of the war he operated as Hospital Surgeon at Mound City some time. He has been active in the interests of the Medical Societies of Iowa and Illinois , and has been the presiding officer of those bodies as well as a member of the American Medical Association. He has acted as County Physician 12 years.

   Dr. Wells has been twice married. He became the husband of Susan L. Wells in October, 1840, at Rock Island . She was born in Massena, St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., and was the daughter of Elihu Wells. The issue of this marriage was five children: all of whom are living but one. George V. married Jennie McCurdy and they live in Chicago , where he is occupied in the business of a commission merchant. Helen is the wife of Geo. W. Baker, of Geneseo. They have four children; Phebe married Dr. H. T. Antes and is the mother of two children; Joseph E., married Elizabeth Sheriff, of Geneseo, and they are residents of Galena . They have two children, both sons; Henry V. was killed by a runaway horse when he was seven years old. The mother died Jan. 13, 1857 ; and the second marriage of Dr. Wells to Martha J. Graham, took place at Rock Island , July 25, 1857 . Two children have been born to them. Henry, the eldest, died when he was four years of age. Mary is a teacher by profession. Mrs. Wells is the daughter of Joseph and Phebe (Madison) Graham, and, in the maternal line of descent is a descendant of President Madison. She was born in Gainesville , N.Y. The family are communicants of the Episcopal Church.

   While the Black Hawk War was in progress, Dr. Wells, then a boy of 13, enlisted in the cavalry, and served during the war; was honorably discharged at its close and “as honestly paid” he says, “by the Government.”


1885 Portrait & Biographical Album of Henry Co., Illinois   page 471


Transcribed by Jan Roggy

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Illinois Ancestors