"The Making of a City" was written by John C. H. Cobb, brother-in-law of Harvey Wells, the founder of Wellston. This article was printed by the Wellston Telegram and appears here thanks to Bernard and Barbara McKinniss.
I was a brother-in-law of Harvey Wells, founder of Wellston, and we had much in common, besides having married sisters, my wife being Lucy Bundy and his wife Eliza Bundy, daughters of former Congressman Hezekiah S. Bundy, who owned the land on which Wellston is built.
Both Harvey and I came from in the Wilkesville neighborhood and both had gone through the Civil War. He was living in my home when he conceived in his mind's eye a city, which he boasted would be the "New Pittsburgh of the West". It was 45 years before the time I am writing this (1906) that I was engaged with Capt. Edwin Keyes and Ransom Griffin in recruiting two companies, B and G, for the old 116th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, to fight for the Union.
We were hardly more than boys when we mustered in at Gallipolis and marched away, through Cheshire and Pomeroy and on to Parkersburg, where we formed our first skirmish line between the city and a force of threatening Rebels.
So we marched and fought, and learned the art of war, until four years later and after seventeen fierce and bloody battles, we soldiers found ourselves west of Richmond, VA., across the Richmond & Danville Ry., and south of Lee's Army on the historic field of Appomattox, a sleepy little village on a slow little stream. And there we came to the end of the war!
How true the old saying that "Few shall part where many have met." We left many brave boys on behind on Virigina battle fields.
I came home and lived and farmed on Williams Run, joining the John Williams farm, which I still own. In 1866 I moved over here to Milton Township, Jackson County, where I now reside.
It is said Harvey Wells located Wellston in a swamp, but that's not quite so. He chose the top of a divide between Meadow Run on the south and Bundy Run on the north, both tributaries of the Little Raccoon creek.
Now Wellston with its 12,000 to 14,000 people owns one fourth of the taxable property of Jackson County. It has swung around me and taken in my land, where I used to drive a mowing machine and feed cattle and sheep. The land is now criss-crossed with brick paved streets.
But let me tell you Harvey Wells was.
He first worked in the carpenter shop of his father, King Agrippa Wells at Wilkesville, learning the carpenter's trade at the age of 12 years. There the father by hand was making windmills to clean grain. Harvey saw the farmers sowing wheat and harvesting it on mills making it into flour. But it was of no value until the chaff was blown out. And soon he had the vision of starting a factory to make windmills.
When he joined the northern Army he was 16 and he was detailed as a messenger, that is a dispatch-bearer. Later he was transferred to the Army's harness shop. Although he knew nothing about harness making, he soon learned and before a year he was foreman of the shop.
Coming home from the war he felt the need of education and went to Ohio University two or three terms, and then to Ohio Wesleyan where he studied mathematics. He came home and after perfecting "Wells' New System of Lightning Calculation," he began selling his books explaining this system, and earned between $8000 and $10,000.
Harvey Wells saw that iron ore and coal and clay and salt were of no value until they were brought out of the ground and by man's skill and labor converted into something people could use. That means mines and blast furnaces which required capital. To get capital, he must turn on the wind and "Whoop 'er up."
So he took his profit from the Lightning Calculation book and went to Jackson. No, there was no Wellston yet. He bought a prominent corner lot and planned to build a big and very fine hotel. He asked several Jackson men who had money to join in the enterprise and take shares. But they would have no hand in it, calling him a fool and speculator. (The old Isham House was good enough for them).
So he wiped the dust of Jackson from his feet and came up here and got an option on 1000 acres of Bundy land underlaid with coal. He had no money to pay for it, but he gave his promise to pay.
Then he went back to Jackson, looked at his lot and started staking off the foundations for six tenement houses that wouldn't be much for looks.
Soon the men who had scoffed at him came to him saying: "We though you were going to build a great hotel. This won't do. These houses will spoil this part of town."
So he sold back to the scoffers at a handsome profit and told them his plans.
"I'm going to found a new town, with the two largest iron furnaces in Ohio. I'll have 40,000 to 50,000 people in 5 years because we have coal, clay, iron ore and everything to make iron and other manufacturers, adding this warnings:
"Then we'll come back to Jackson and move the courthouse to Wellston." And for a generation they feared he would do it.
John C. H. Cobb was a brother-in-law of Harvey Wells, founder of Wellston, and Cobb knew more of the intimate details of the fantastic story of Wells' plans to build a "city of 40,000 people in five years" than anybody else. The first chapter of the story, written more than fifty years ago, told how Wells interested a group of farmers from Fayette county in his scheme. Now you can take it from there -
Two miles north of Hezekiah S. Bundy's big farm, most of which Harvey Wells had taken under option, lay the pretty village of Hamden in a bowl, ringed around by high hills. It was just inside the Vinton county line and at the end of the Portsmouth Branch, which was all of the Scioto & Hocking Valley Railroad ever built. It was soon absorbed by the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad (now part of the B. & O. system).
Hamden was a railroad town then, its people friendly folk, and they took Harvey Wells in and encouraged his grand schemes to create a city of 40,000 people in five years.
So Harvey made Hamden his headquarters, and thumbed his nose at Jackson ever after. That summer of 1873 kept him busy shaping up his new town. He engaged Richard Craig of McArthur, the Vinton county surveyor, to plat 1000 town lots, using for the purpose 270 acres of his 1000-acre Bundy land. Much of the land was planted in corn, and immediately south of his town site and on the railroad was the shaft that Harry Willard, a young man in his 20's, was sinking to the lately discovered coal seam, preparatory to building Milton Furnace.
Many counties west of Jackson Co. especially up in the Pickaway Plains were hungry for coal. And the prospects of being able to get coal so near awakened their interest. So Harvey Wells went to Washington C. H. and invited a delegation of business men and farmers to come by train from Fayette county to Hamden.
He asked me to go with him to meet them on an early morning train. He had carriages waiting. About ten men got off. We took them immediately over the hill to the land. We showed them how nicely it lay for a townsite, and took some of the newly found Wellston coal from the open shaft. It burned readily.
All the time Harvey was talking-he was a great talker and most persuasive. Finally the oldest man in the party spoke up. I think he was a banker from Washington C. H., and he said:
"Mr. Wells, you have misrepresented this property."
There was a dead silence. Nobody else said a word. He had turned ice water on the whole plan. Then the old banker broke the silence.
"You presented this property to us and we find it much better than you described. We will take it on your terms. Get your deed ready at once. We have told our attorney who is with us to apply for a charter for the Wellston Coal & Iron Co.
"Just complete the survey of lots, make your maps, and we will pay all the bills, and remember, call the new city Wellston."
But Harvey hadn't reckoned with what was going on in Wall Street, a thousand miles away.
Mr. Wells had organized his Wellston Coal & Iron Co. staked off 800 of his town lots, platted and recorded his town site, broken ground for a new store and office building, began his coal works and contracted for two large iron furnaces.
All this happened in the long-to-be-remembered year of 1873. The surveyor had begun in December but in September Jay Cooke failed. Now Cooke was no common fellow. He had come out of the west to become the biggest banker in America. He was the very prince of bankers, and during the Civil war was financial agent for the United States Government.
When Cooke failed in a Wall Street panic, it set everybody to talking, and all kinds of stories were told. Soon hundreds of banks were failing all over the country, involving business everywhere.
Now the promoters of Wellston, that is Harvey Wells' partners, were not big financiers. They were little fellows, one ex-state senator, two ex-representatives, two judges, a former member of Congress, two bank cashiers and one bank president, one ex-colonel and three ex-privates. All these from Fayette county around Washington C. H., and everybody owned a farm or two except Harvey Wells.
Times tightened up and soon there was no money in circulation with which to do business. But nothing could stop Harvey Wells, a genius at organizing and promoting with a vision that carried farther than most other men could see.
He had incorporated his company for $500,000 capital stock, and held one-third for himself. The capital was backed by Bundy lands, underlaid by rich minerals. The ground floor was 18 shared at $8,000 each, or $1444,000. While I was in no sense a promoter, I was on the inside, and by hard knocks got it paid for.
Of course, we expected to make a lot of money, just like Harvey Wells did. But the panic in Wall Street had finally reached Main Street in Wellston. Then they lowered the boom on Harvey and creditors overtook his plans even before he got fairly started. But that's another story, I'll keep for next week's paper.
So Wellston was born. Harvey Wells, who had come from Wilkesville with a vision of a "New Pittsburgh of the West," had contracted to buy 1000 acres of the Bundy Farm from Congressman H. S. Bundy, later to be father-in-law of Harvey Wells and John C. H. Cobb. Wells interested a group of well-to-do landowners at Washington C. H. in his plan, and they agreed to put up the money to get things going.
Mr. Wells planned to drive a shaft to the Wellston vein of coal, to build a twin-furnace with two stacks, in the north end. In these Mr. Cobb was a close observer and an investor. Let him tell the story:
So Wellston was born.
Harvey Wells engaged Richard Craig of McArthur to survey his proposed town, 1000 lots to be sold to complete the financing of the town. In the first survey 800 town lots were platted, and Harvey Wells retained 200 of these for himself.
Soon he had sunk his shaft to the coal and erected a mine tipple. Nearby his two furnace stacks were rising in the north end, and he had given contracts for a large office and store building.
The furnace was put in blast and immediately was producing pig iron from ore mined on the hilltops around Wellston. Coal from the mine was being shipped to the good markets west of Wellston. Wells' backers, whose wealth was far more than a million dollars, were planning to build other furnaces on a big scale.
But one thing Harvey Wells and his financial supporters couldn't forsee.
The panic that followed the Civil War period was already on the way. Then came the failure of Jay Cooke in Wall Street. He was the biggest banker in the United States. When he went down it looked like everyone else would fail too. Wells' backers had endorsed notes, and they were pinched for cash. Wells' creditors were closing in. He had already started a big three-story hotel with 70 guest rooms on West Broadway and it was almost completed when he ran out of funds. For years thereafter the unfinished hotel was only partly occupied like a mere roominghouse.
In September, 1871, all the furnaces in Jackson County and most of the mines posted notices that read: "Hereafter we must pay with scrip, we have no cash."
Wells lost his 200 townlots that had been valued at $200 each. They were sold by his creditors by the sheriff on the court house steps at $20 each. As one worse year followed another, they took his furnaces and all that he had.
But all these troubles didn't keep him in the Slough of Despond. Soon he was thinking up new ways to keep Wellston growing, to bring prosperity to the town and its people, that bore his name.
Ophir Furnace had been built a few miles west of Coalton, but it was a failure because there was no coal for fuel and little iron ore to fill the furnace. So Wellston bought it for $10,000 on credit, moved it to Wellston, and rebuilt it on the east side of the Mulga Road where 20 years or more later, the Lehigh Portland Cement plant was built.
A little later the panic engulfed this furnace which he had named Eliza, for his bride, youngest daughter of H. S. Bundy. With all his upsets and backslides, Harvey never forgot the main issue: How to keep Wellston growing by first getting more industry here to keep people busy and prosperous.
That was what made Wellston the best community in Ohio and the fastest growing even while it was hardest hit by the Wall Street panic. And to the day of his death 20 years later, Harvey Wells' every move was to achieve this end.
In the earlier years, the need of another railroad was keenly felt in Harvey Wells' town. Everybody could see that it was very important to get a railroad to the west and northwest. So four of us, Harvey Wells, Horace L. Chapman of Jackson, Allen Austin and I went to Dayton to see what could be done about it.
We talked with the Board of Trade over there, and they were enthusiastic. They wanted our coal and our trade. So the Dayton & Southeastern R. R. was incorporated to build a narrow gauge railroad from Dayton. I put in $1000 and got $10 back. But that didn't matter, but what did was that Wellston got another railroad.
It is now the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Ry. (later acquired by the B.&O. Ry.) Within a few years its narrow gauge track was widened to a standard gauge. In the years that followed it hauled millions of dollars worth of Wellston coal and Wellston iron to distant markets.
This railroad was projected to reach Sailsbury in Meigs county, and it had to cross three townships to move its eastern terminus there. Wilkesville, Salem, and Rutland. But it stopped out in Milton Twp.; about the county line.
Then our committee went to Springfield , and interested them up there in a railroad to tap this rich territory. So the Springfield, Jackson, & Pomeroy R. R. was chartered and I was one of the incorporators. It never reached Pomeroy, but was built from Springfield to Jackson, up to Wellston, and south to Ironton on the Ohio River.
Who can measure the worth of these three railroads to this new city, and who can appraise the wealth brought here even to this day by Harvey Wells' untiring effors.
Through all his misfortunes, discouragements and losses, most of Wellston's business best businessmen stood back of Harvey Wells and gave him loyal support. When they were unable to invest money, they at least have him new heart to go on. Of course, always there were a few then, as now, who called him a "Rainbow Chaser" but they didn't count.
One of the first permanent settlers here, a man who did much for Wellston too, once said to me: "I wish Harvey would make a million dollars for himself sometime." I asked him why and he explained: "Why then he would spend the whole million trying to make Wellston a bigger and better city."
Don't we need more of that kind? Harvey had still another plan, and he made it come true, as I will tell you next week."
In my last chapter of The Story of Wellston, I wrote not so much of Harvey Wells' triumphs as of his disappointments. They were hardly of his own making. While his new town of Wellston was now a bright spot on the map of Ohio, all the rest of the state, in deed the whole nation, was overwhelmed by a post-war depression and prostrated by the great panic of the 1870's.
Harvey Wells had been blocked in every move during 1878 and most of 1879, after his creditors had taken his townlots and his new twin furnaces. But nothing could keep Harvey down. One day he announced this to a waiting Wellston:
"Everything is all right now. I've got Eliza Furnace. I've got my town lots back. I'm going to rebuild Eliza into a bigger furnace. I'll sell my town lots for small cash payments and let the buyers work out the balance at my furnace."
Sure enough, he did just that, despite the doubts and misgivings of his critics and fault-finders, who said it couldn't be done, and that Wells was no better than any other windbag. But he foiled them.
"Sure we are hard up," he told the skeptics. "But look at Cincinnati with 20,000 men idle and their families hungry. Sure we have a few empty houses in Wellston, and the new Bundy Hotel is deserted before it's finished." But he did rebuild Eliza Furnace, he did sell his lots and soon Wellston was going strong again. Now we come to one of Harvey Wells' shrewdest moves:
He bought 200 acres of land south and east of town - what is now south Wellston. He split it up into town lots, mapped and recorded them, and then announced his new plan. He would sell these lots in the new Pavey's addition (named for a Fayette county farmer who was his big associate in those early years.)
He would build a nail mill in the fork between the railroads. No sooner said than he started the Wellston Nail Mill, a brick building 85 by 30 feet in size, and he filled it with cutting machines that stamped out nails the proper shapes, as they had always been made. There was an influx of nail-makers, coming from Ashland, Ky., where there was a nail mill.
But one thing Wells couldn't forsee that a new method of making a better kind of nail was only a few months ahead. The first wire nails were put on the market, the kind of nail we now use, and nobody thereafter wanted cut nails.
Wells' nail cutting machinery lost all its value in a few short months. He could only junk it, and he had no monet to re-equip the wire making machines for the new kinds of nails. The nail mill was shut down, but some of the nail makers liked Wellston and stayed here, like the Talbott family (whose third and fourth generations are still here.)
It was a total loss to Wells and his backers, but to Wellston it had some value still. After the Nail Mill was idle for several years and had become a rookery for bats and birds, C. K. Davis financed a Portland cement plant. And in the old building the Alma Cement company operated with an output of 1600 barrels a day.
(Editor's Note: Since then a second Alma cement plant was built on the same site. Through amply financed, it too had to quit, because the freight charges for hauling lime and coal from Oreton made the cost prohibitive. Harvey Wells' Eliza Furnace also had to quit after it was operated a year or two by his brother-in-law, John C. H. Cobb, who wrote these reminiscenses.)
In the same way (as Mr. Cobb resumes) the twin furnaces in North Wellston left a deep impresson Wellston. For 40 years they were operated, not by Mr. Wells, but by his successors, making pig iron, outputting coal and giving work to full complement of men who were among our best citizens.
But Harvey hadn't shot his last bolt when by the fortunes of industry his nail mill quit, because people no longer wanted cut nails. There were still greated plans in Harvey Wells' prolific mind, about which I will tell you in my next chapter.
In the early '80's, Harvey Wells was an ardent devotee of an ample water supply. That was when Wellston's first standpipe was built and mains were laid. He also wanted electric lights at a time when they weren't known outside the larger cities. How far this foresight reached is indicated by this incident:
During the troubled years of the 1880's when we were recovering from the panic of the late '70's, Eliza Furnace blew out, because the price of pig iron would not pay for making it. Milton Furnace banked its fires for repairs and to await higher prices too.
Harvey Wells had obtained an option on 200 acres of additional land and had mapped it onto 16,000 lots, a big city on paper. He had stirred up some prospects of a large investment among men of money in Chicago, and they were to visit Wellston soon on a tour of inspection.
But then the water supply failed. Old dependable wells dried up and Wellston without water was dead enough. What could be done about it? Apparently nothing.
Just then an underground lake burst into the workings of the Wellston No. 2 mine. The shaft was a little west of the present B. & O. station. The mine was flooded and all the pumps were put to work. But the water gained and a 6-inch double acting pump was rushed in from Cincinnati.
Soon water like a deluge was covering the surface where paved streets have since been laid. It was as if a second Moses had smitten the rock and water was flowing down into Meadow Run in south Wellston. The water mains and the standpipe were filled.
It started Harvey again. He ran around to every user of a steam engine and urged them all to get busy.
"Whoope 'er up next Tuesday and give it all you got," he pleaded. "My people are coming Tuesday, make it look busy. I've got a deal on, bigger than all the others put together."
Well, next Tuesday came and so did the money men from Chicago. Wellston has never boomed so hard before and never since. Everybody was steamed up. The visitors were impressed and left with the assurance that they would be heard from again. But great bodies move slowly.
It was not until the following spring of 1887 that we got action. One day circulars were printed and scattered about town. They were headed in big bold type: "Harvey Wells' Big Deal Goes Through. Public Meeting on Broadway Tonight. Everybody Come."
The people gathered in front of the newspaper office where The Telegram was later printed (the present Dr. F. S. Scott building). From the balcony over the office the chairman called the meeting to order. Mr. Wells was introduced, but was too overwhelmed by emotion to speak.
Hon. Wells A. Hutchins of Portsmouth, a former congressman, had been brought here by some thoughtful citizen, and he was presented. He made a good speech, explaining that a man named Reed from Chicago had obtained $350,000 in New York to be put in Mr. Wells' hand to pay for his land and to get things going.
They did so with a rush as Wellston started a boom such as no other Ohio town ever experienced. I haven't space for it here, but next week I shall recall those stirring times when we had an influx of spectators when town lots sold like they used to do in the Florida craze. It was a great era.
Harvey Wells' new town, which had been started in Hezekiah Bundy's cornfield 12 years before, bogged down in a nationwide depression where banks were failing and business everywhere was at a standstill. In this cataclysm, Promoter Wells had lost his furnaces and his fortune. Unwilling to accept defeat, he brought forth a brilliant plan to boom Wellston and lift it by its bootstraps out of the morass of despair and depression into the sunlit peak of prosperity. In short he was going to boom the town.
Already he had obtained promises of support from Chicago, after his prospects had come and looked over the situation. But it was not until Wells A. Hutchins of Portsmouth, a former Congressman, came back from Chicago with with $350,000 in new money that the wiseacres and faultfinders in Wellston were hushed.
Soon the wild enthusiasm in Wellston spread abroad and as reported in big city papers which told how this town of 5000 would soon be a city of 40,000. Indeed, before we knew it the boom was upon us. So began the Big Boom, sparked by Francis Hinckley, a Chicago capitalist, who it was rumored had made his fortune by selling the broken-down street car line he owned to the Rock Island R. R. which wanted it for an entry into the heart of Chicago.
Be that as it may, Hinckley had found money and he was backing Harvey Wells to the limit. Soon speculators, promoters and brokers were flocking into Wellston in such numbers that the old Bundy House (now the Rogan Hotel) could hardly find rooms for them all.
A special article in the New York Evening Telegram, dated July 16, 1887, described the Wellston boom in such glowing terms and at such length there is hardly enough space to print it all. It was carried under this headline:
"Wellston Capital of Ohio's Great Iron Center - Coal, Iron and Limestone in Abundance - Immense Capital behind the Deal."
Then followed a column and a half about Harvey Wells' plan to build 18 large industries: furnaces, nail mills, rolling mills, foundries, a gas plant, new hotels, a municipal waterworks, electrical power plant, several business blocks and four miles of street railways.
Ambitious, wasn't it? But most of these industries go a fair start, even though never finished. He had estimated that they would provide employment for many men and the town would have 30,000 population within a short time.
The New York newspaper then gave a few details of Harvey Wells' deal with eastern capitalists. With money obtained in Chicago he first paid $300,000 for 300 acres surrounding Wellston, and proposed to plat this into 13,000 town lots.
Of these he would offer 3000 lots for sale at $200 each, to be paid for when his plans for 18 industrial plants took form. He proposed to make lot-buyers safe by having them appoint a committee of their own to select the best 3000 lots which they could choose.
The remaining 10,000 lots would be held by the company to be organized and sold later for other developments.
Many projects were financed at that time by selling town lots which were chosen by lottery, each man taking what he happened to draw. In that way Harvey Wells financed his first nail mill, Supt. George M. Powell of the Wellston schools financed his new flour mill on South Pennsylvania Ave., by selling $46,000 worth of lots in his Powell subdivision.
Wells then organized his Consolidated Coal & Iron Co. with an authorized capital of $4,000,000, a lot of money for that time. Half of this stock was to be taken by ten Wellston men who gave enthusiastic support to Harvey Wells' ambitious project.
These men were H. S. Willard, T. J. Morgan, Theodore Fluhart, George O. Richardson, Rodney W. Goodard, Joseph Gooding, D. Edwards, J. B. Boyd and Thomas F. McClure, who with Wells made the ten local subscribers. Their subscriptions averaged $20,000 each.
(When Mr. Cobb wrote this 50 years ago, he noted that three of the men were then dead. Now all have long since been gathered to their fathers.)
Commenting on these local stockholders, the New York Evening Telegram said: "These are the best and most enterprising men in Wellston. They have made fortunes already in ten years by developing the minerals under the ground around this young city.
"For instance, Theodore Fluhart, who came from Wilkesville to be a clerk has accumulated about $300,000 now, and bids fair to become a millionaire." (Editor's Note: He did and died in Dayton a very wealthy man.)
That fall and winter about $400,000 worth of town lots were sold, mostly to substantial buyers. But time was passing. By the time the deeds and mortgages and lot subscriptions had been made ready for delivery in New York to secure a loan of $600,000 one of those occasional squeezes hit Wall Street.
So the big moneyed men backed out and Harvey Wells' dream faded once more. But all was not lost to Wellston. This small City had been given widespread advertising over the Nation. People everywhere had read about it and talked about Harvey Wells' big project.
Since then about half of his plans have been carried out, the City's population has almost trebled, and we have several new industries, as I shall tell you about next week.
Last week we left Harvey Wells, founder of Wellston, much dismayed but not case down nor discouraged, because his Hinckley deal had flattened out. New York and Chicago capital that had been promised according to contract didn't come, because times had tightened up again and Wall Street wasn't letting loose of its money.
Immediately Harvey Wells turned to something of greater promise, which was destined to become probably the biggest deal he had yet made and of far-reaching importance. It was the outset of an era in which many electric traction lines were being built.
Why not a traction line running into Wellston was his question now. He chartered a new corporation, the Wellston & Jackson Belt Railway Co., of which he was president. He proposed to build a railroad from Wellston south to Jackson nine miles, and to McArthur north from Wellston in the opposite direction, a distance of 18 miles between the two county seats.
When a friend asked him why he wanted to do so much for Jackson whose leading men always ridiculed his plans and set up blocks in his road. "I believe in returning good for evil" he said, and went on with his plans.
He needed money in Wellston to have engineering surveys made, to tie up the right of way and to get franchises through the cities and villages. H. S. Willard, J. C. Clutts, and others who had helped him before, put up the money for these prelimary expenses. With his usual energy he was making rapid progress.
Meanwhile he had sounded out certain capitalists in Chicago, without getting any binding commitments. Yet men of big business had learned to have confidence in Harvey Wells, to know that his failures had been caused by conditions beyond his power, and that some of his schemes panned out with signal success.
About this time his surveyors began driving stakes along the proposed route between Dundas and McArthur, a short three mmiles, but parallel to the Hocking Valley's Ohio river branch between Logan and Pomeroy. The railroad people pricked up their ears and asked: Is he going to put us on a side track? And where is he going from here?
About that time Wells got a polite invitation from the Hocking Valley R. R. management to come to the general office at Columbus and they sent him an annual pass.
The next week Harvey was at Columbus and called. They asked about his plans. "Well, if it works out as I am confident it will, we will extend on north through Logan to Columbus," he assured them.
They suggested they might help him since they believed it was a sound proposition and a workable plan. He told them about his negotiations in Chicago and New York, but said the situation was still wide open.
So the Hocking Valley Ry. financed the deal, kept Harvey on the pay roll at the small salary of $50 a month and let him keep on as president. It must be remembered that he had lost almost everything in the Wall Street panic.
Besides his health was failing and shortly after, his sudden death removed him from his labors. But his plans were carried out. The railroad built a railroad branch from Dundas to Wellston and on to Jackson, making Wellston's fourth railroad.
About that time an early an influential settler in Wellston remarked to Hon. Martin L. Van Pelt, Wellston attorney and the county's legislator in the General Assembly: "If Harvey dies, so then will his Belt Line and Wellston will get no railroad out let to the North".
Think of that! Nobody to take his place, the one indispensable man in the town he had planned and built.
The end came on Oct. 22, 1896. It was 3 o'clock in the afternoon. He had been in a coma for hours in an upstairs bedroom in the Wells residence on the hill (later the Kessler property). Around the bedside waiting were his sister, Mrs. Mary Wells Potter, andher husband, John Potter; a cousin, Frank Wells; his son, Harry Wells, and two motherless little daughters, H. Anita and Laura O. Wells, aged 8 and 6; and this writer (John H. C. Cobb) who was his brother-in-law, a comrade in the Civil War, and an associate in some of his most ambitious plans.
At that hour, without a struggle, he answered the last roll call, at the age of 52.
Because he was our youngest soldier, we had hoped he would be the last to go.
Judge J. W. Laird of Jackson was invited to deliver the funeral oration. He had been Harvey Wells' attorney, he knew him as few others had known him, and he was familiar with his faults and failings - and who hasn't them. All this Judge Laird told us and then pointing to the lovely hills, to the growing town, to the mines and furnaces and mills, to the homes established for happy families, he declared there are his monuments all around that will stand forever in witness of his love of this community.
The last song was sung by Stephen J. Long and John W. Hank, a distant cousin of Abraham Lincoln. There was a heart-felt silence, then a muffled sigh and a suppressed sob in the mighty throng.
With gentle hand he was borne to the cemetery where Slowly and sadly we laid him down From the field of his fame fresh and gory, We carved not a line and we raised not a stone But we left him alone with his glory.
- John C. H. Cobb