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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Wells

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 125-128 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

Professor William Wells, Ph.D., LL.D., was born in New York City, 1820, died at Schenectady, New York, December 12, 1907. His boyhood and youth were passed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his parents removed when he was nine years of age. His academic education was obtained in Philadelphia, where he made good progress toward that mastery of foreign tongues which later made him famous. In 1846 he made his first visit to Europe. He spent a year in Vienna, as an unofficial attachee of the American legation, also pursuing studies at the University. Then he went to Berlin, where he matriculated at the University and entered upon a course of study which led in due time to the degree of Ph.D. in 1848. Those were the days of revolution in Europe, when Louis Phillipe was driven from the throne of France, when the Crown Prince of Prussia, afterwards the Emperor of Germany, William I, was compelled by popular hatred to leave his country for a time; when Hungary was in open revolt against Austria, and when the Chartist agitation threatened revolution even in England. Professor Wells was deeply interested in these great events happening around him. He had an interesting experience in the Berlin riots that taught him that he was not able to cope with the Prussian cavalry. He next went to the German parliament at Frankfort-on-the-Main, as secretary to the special American embassy to that body. He remained during the entire session as correspondent of the New York Herald, then went to Paris, where he spent a college year as a student at the Sorbonne and the College de France. Afterwards he traveled over a large part of Europe, returning to the United States in 1851. He spent a year in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he had the honor and pleasure of making the address of welcome to Louis Kossuth, on the occasion of the Hungarian patriot's visit to that city.

In 1852 he was elected professor of modern languages in Genesee College, Lima, New York. There he remained twelve years, during part of the time acting also as principal of the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary. In 1865 he was called to the Chair of Modern Language and Literature at Union College, Schenectady, New York, thus beginning the connection that was maintained unbroken for over forty years. In 1872 he received the degree of LL.D. from the Indiana Asbury University, now known as De Pauw University. In 1887 the professorship at Union College was enlarged by the addition of the lectureship on current history. In the interest of that work he visited the southern states of the Union, the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, Alaska, California, the Rocky Mountain region, and later made an extended tour comprising every country of Europe from the North Cape, with its strange vision of the midnight sun, to Greece and Constantinople, Asia Minor, Egypt, to the Cataracts of the Nile and the other countries of Northern Africa. On his return from this, his fourth visit to the Old World, he was welcomed home by the alumni of Union College with a hearty demonstration in New York harbor, which attested the deep respect and affection with which he was regarded by Union College men. The results of his observations and reflection during his tours were embodied in a series of lectures, delivered annually to the senior class and the general public. In the spring of 1890 Dr. Wells celebrated his seventieth birthday and the fiftieth anniversary of his entrance upon the profession of teaching, the same year marking the completion of a quarter-century's work at Union College. Fifteen years longer he continued his connection, when the burden of years proved too heavy and he was retired professor emeritus. His beautiful home was on the college grounds and there he celebrated his eighty-seventh birthday, April 4, 1907. He was beloved of the students to whom he had endearingly become "Uncle Billy." At a meeting of the Chicago Alumni Association twenty-five alumni of the college banqueting at Chicago sent him this telegram: "Twenty-five nephews from Chicago and the Northwest extend heartiest greeting, and best wishes for many years more with Old Union." His activities were not confined by college walls. By voice and pen he was long known as one of the foremost educators. He lectured in all the great cities of the United States from Boston to San Francisco. He was the first European correspondent of the New York Herald, and during his last great tour abroad was special correspondent of the New York Mail and Express. For over twenty years he was in charge of the foreign department of the Methodist Review, and was a frequent editorial and general contributor to all the leading papers of the Methodist Episcopal church. Able articles from his pen also appeared in the Independent, Scribner's Monthly and the Century Magazine. He was associated with Dr. Taylor Lewis in the preparation of the "Book of Genesis for Lange's Commentary," and translated the Book of Ecclesiastes for the same work. When the philanthropist, Daniel Drew, had in contemplation the founding of Drew Theological Seminary, Professor Wells was one of the men who were called upon for advice and assistance. He took an active part in the foundation of the seminary and was ever after on the board of trustees. He was a devoted Methodist and for twenty-five years superintendent of the Sunday school of State Street Methodist Episcopal Church at Schenectady. He was elected and served as lay delegate to the general conference of his church in 1872, the first year laymen were admitted as delegates. He was again elected to the general conference of 1876 and served as one of the secretaries of that conference. At his death fitting memorials were passed by different bodies, from which we quote the faculty in part:

"He was not only immensely useful to the college by his scholarship and attainment, but made for himself a place in the hearts of the students, which he kept long after graduation. For nearly half a century he has been closely and affectionately connected with every one's thought of the college. As a personal friend Professor Wells, was loved and honored not only by the faculty, students and alumni of Union, but far more widely; for his sympathy and interests had brought him into connection with many persons and many institutions and he came to no work or occupation where he did not attain the affection as well as the respect of those with whom he was associated."

again:

"The passing years but added to the kindliness of his nature, to his devotion to the College, and to his love for his pupils of the past and present."' Not inappropriately was he called "The Grand Old Man of Union College."

Professor Wells married, July, 1854, Alice Yeckley, born at Gorham, Ontario county, New York, March 15, 1836, died at Schenectady, April 26, 1906. She was educated at Genesee Wesleyan Seminary and Genesee College (afterwards Syracuse University): They removed to Schenectady in 1865, and there resided until death. Like her husband, Mrs. Wells was a devoted Christian worker in the Methodist Episcopal church, especially in missions and work among the young. She was for many years president of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the First (State Street) Church and for twelve years president of the Woman's Auxiliary of the Young Men's Christian Association. She organized and was president of the Mother's Club connected with the Young Women's Christian Association. She was closely identified with the social life of the college, and in all respects was a worthy helpmeet and companion. One child, Alice M. Wells, survives her parents, residing in Schenectady, New York.

(The Arnold Line)

Alice Yeckley (Mrs. Professor William Wells) was a descendant through her mother, Mary Arnold Yeckley, from the famous Arnold family of England, who traced their descent and origin to the ancient Princes of Wales.

The Arnold family is one of great antiquity and honorable mention in the early annals. The descent is traced to Ynir, King of Gwentland, who flourished about the middle of the twelfth century. King Ynir descended through a second son from Cadwalader, last King of the Britons. The ancient Castle of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, England, built by Cadwalader, may yet be seen, although in ruins. The line briefly told is traced from a son of each generation.

(I) Ynir, King of Gwentland, married Nesta, daughter of Justin, King of Glamorgan.

(II) Meiric, King of Gwentland, married Eleanor of the house of Trevor.

(III) Ynir Vichan, King of Gwentland, married Gladice, daughter of the Lord of Ystradyw.

(IV) Carador, Lord of Gwent, married Nesta, daughter of Sir Rydereck le Gros.

(V) Dyenwall, Lord of Gwent, married Joyes, daughter of Hamlet, son of Sir Druce, Duke of Balladon of France.

(VI) Systal, Lord of Upper Gwent, married Annest, daughter of Sir Peter Russell, Lord of Kentchinch in Hereford.

(VII) Arthur, married Jane, daughter of Lein, Lord of Cantrosblyn.

(VIII) Meiric, married Annest, daughter of Cradock.

(IX) Gwillim, married Jane, daughter of Ivon, Lord of Lighs-Taby-vont.

(X) Arnholt Esq., married Janet, daughter of Phillip Fleming, Esq.

(XI) Arnholt (2) Esq., married Sibyl, daughter of Madoc.

(XII) Roger Arnold, of Llanthony in Monmouthshire, first of the family to adopt a surname, married Joan, daughter of Sir Thomas Gamage.

(XIII) Thomas Arnold, successor to the estates in Monmouthshire, married Agnes, daughter of Sir Richard Warnstead.

(XIV) Richard Arnold, married Emmate, daughter of Pearce Young.

(XV) Richard Arnold (2), born in Somersetshire, removed to Dorsetshire, England, became seated at Bagbere, and was Lord of the Manor. His name appears on the "Subsidy Rolls" of the county of Dorset, 1549. He was patron of the churches of Blanford and Bingham Melcombe. His manor house at Bagbere was standing until 1870, when it was demolished. His will was probated July 9, 1595. He desires "To be buried in the Parishe Church of Millton, in the Ile called Jesus Ile as we go to the Lower."

(XVI) Thomas, second son of Richard Arnold, of Bagbere, Dorsetshire, England, is mentioned in his father's will. He removed to Cheselbourne and seated himself on an estate, formerly the property of his father. He was twice married. His first wife Alice bore him six sons. By his second wife he had three children.

(XVII) Thomas (2), son of Thomas (1) Arnold, was born in Cheselbourne, Dorset county, England, baptized April 18, 1599, died in Providence, Rhode Island, September, 1674. He was the founder of this branch of the Arnold family in America. He came to the New World in the ship, "Plain Joan," in May, 1635, and soon settled at Watertown, Massachusetts. May 13, 1640, he was made freeman. April 2, 1654, he was fined five pounds for neglecting public worship for twenty days. April 2, 1655, was fined ten pounds for neglecting public worship for forty days. He had lands allotted him on the several distributions and seems to have been a man of means. He was deputy, 1666-67-70-71-72, and a member of the town council. He married twice; by first wife he had: Thomas, Nicholas and Susanna. His second wife Phoebe, daughter of George and Susanna Parkhurst, died in 1688. Children: Ichabod, Richard, see forward, Thomas, John, Eleazer and Elizabeth.

(XVIII) Richard, son of Thomas (2) and Phoebe (Parkhurst) Arnold, was born at Watertown, Massachusetts, March 22, 1642-43, died April 22, 1710. He was a man of superior ability; held many official positions; member of the general assembly and assistant governor of Sir Edmond Andros at Boston: He was repeatedly chosen to act with committees in the adjustment of boundary disputes, with neighboring colonies and to settle differences among fellow townsmen. He was deputy twelve sessions between 1671 and 1708, assistant in the intervening years when not deputy. In 1707-08 he was speaker of the house of deputies. He married (first) Mary, died 1695, daughter of Thomas and Alice Angell. He married (second) Sarah ————, died 1712. Children; all by first wife: Richard; John, see forward; Thomas; Mary, married Thomas Steere.

(XIX) John, son of Richard and Mary (Angell) Arnold, was born in Providence; Rhode Island, November 1, 1670, died October 27, 1756. He was the first settler of Woonsocket, Connecticut; one of the organizers of the Society of Friends in Northern Rhode Island, and built their first meetinghouse. When Smithfield became a town in 1731, he was the first president of the council. He was one of the committee who ran the northern boundary line in 1718. In 1712 he built his corn and flouring mill on the Island near Woonsocket Falls. He was a miller by trade and became a very wealthy man for his day. He married (first) Mary, born 1675, daughter of Nathaniel and Joana (Inman) Mowry, (second) October 31, 1742, Hannah Hayward. Children, all by first wife: William, John, Daniel, Anthony, see forward; Seth, Israel, Anna, Susanna and Abigail.

(XX) Anthony, son of John and Mary (Mowry) Arnold, was born March 12, 1704. By will of his father he received sixty acres of land near the Falls, Woonsocket, Connecticut. This included "An Island, with two corn mills, and a fulling mill thereon." He sold this property and removed to Cromwell, Dutchess county, New York. He also received from his father "five pounds, current money." He married and left two children, David and Sarah.

(XXI) David, son of Anthony Arnold, was born May 27, 1733, died 1822. He had four sons and three daughters.

(XXII) Jonathan, son of David Arnold, was born March 1, 1771, died November 13, 1851. He left two sons and three daughters: Seth, Anthony, Mary, Hannah and Sarah.

(XXIII) Mary, daughter of Jonathan Arnold, was born February 9, 1811, died March 26, 1883. Married Josiah Yeckley, June 3, 1833, and had two children: Alice, see forward; and Jonathan Arnold Yeckley, born April 6, 1841, died September 16, 1903, without issue.

(XXIV) Alice, only daughter of Josiah and Mary (Arnold) Yeckley, was born in Gorham, Ontario county, New York, March 15, 1836, died April 26, 1906; married, July, 1854, Professor William Wells. (See Wells.)

(XXV) Alice M., only child of Professor William and Alice (Yeckley) Wells, was born in Schenectady, New York, where she still resides (1909), the only surviving member of the family. She was educated at Syracuse University. She is a communicant of the Methodist Episcopal church. Member of the Young Women's Christian Association, of which she is president (1910), and a member of the Woman's Glub, Mohawk Golf Club.

NOTE. — The mystery as to the origin of the "Old Stone Mill," at Newport, doubtless created the legend that it was constructed by the Norsemen in the tenth or twelfth century. Longfellow gave it immortality in "The Lofty Tower," in his "Skeleton in Armor," and much time has been wasted upon it by savants. The mill stood on Governor Benedict Arnold's farm, and in his will he clearly indicates the purpose for which it was intended and used: "My body I desire and appoint to be buried at ye Northeast corner of a parcel of ground, containing three rods square, being of and lying in my land, in or near the line or path from my dwelling house, leading to my Stone Wind Mill in ye town of Newport." The bones of the first governor of Rhode Island under Charles IV (1633) rest within the grounds belonging to Hon. Charles C. Van Zant, governor of Rhode Island in 1870. The stone that marks the spot is so mossgrown that it is impossible to decipher the inscription.

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