2. John Murphy WELLS was born on 7 Apr 1897 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Pedigree Chart).

Click for more picturesHe was baptized on 6 Jun 1897 in St Michael's, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Baptized by John K. Murphy.  Sponsors: William S. and Martha W. Harvey.  He was confirmed on 27 Nov 1912 in St. Michael's, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

   Daughter Esther writes "I remember from Dad's stories about his childhood that his father was in some kind of construction business--making row houses, I think, and that the business went downhill.  When Dad was a child, he went to Cousin Lizzie's {Murphy} private school (learning a little French while he listened to the older students reciting in the back of the room).  Dad was the first of the family to go to a public high school.  He was also the first of the sons who had to earn his own way through college (although Frances would have paid for him to go to seminary to become a priest.)  I remember Dad's telling how they would paint their legs with shoe black to cover the holes in their knee socks (that they wore with knickers).    When I asked him about his mother, he said he didn't really remember much about her.  When she died, the little boys (including him) were not taken to the funeral.  He said he remembers his father as an old man--always as an old man."

He was a choirboy in St Michael's Church, Germantown. 

Central High SchoolDiploma: Central High School, Broad and Green Streets, Philadelphia, John Murphy Wells, Bachelor of Science, June 23, 1915. Richard B. Wells presently has possession of this document.


Dec 1915, received mail at YMCA, Wilmington, Delaware.

Jul 1916 to Jun 1917, received mail at Riverside Club House, Pennsgrove, NJ.

Nov 1918, mail addressed to 1428 South Penn Square. Very sick with the flu. Beginning in an Army camp in the Midwest, the epidemic, a/k/a Spanish Flu caused 675,000 deaths in the US and spread around the world. Symptoms included a rapid buildup of fluid in the lungs.

Worked for Dupont at Old Hickory Powder Plant, Nashville, Tennessee. Mail also addressed to Jacksonville Tennessee, Nov 1918.

Graduated from U of Delaware, Class of 1923.

John and Madlin - Newlyweds





John Murphy Wells was married to Madlin Bowman Jones in April 1924.  Address listed in the U of Delaware Alumni Directory of March, 1925 is 243 East Upsal Street, Mount Airy, Philadelphia, Pa.







Madlin Bowman Jones was born about 1901 in Bethel, Delaware.

Madlin Bowman Jones


Madlin first appears, listed in the 1910 census of the Jones family, as Lulu M. Quillen, a boarder, age 7, born in Delaware, with parents both born in Delaware.  The 1920 census lists her as Madeline Jones, adopted daughter, age 18.  She was actually adopted by Dr. Willie T. and Florence V. Jones Jan 5, 1924 at the age of twenty two, in Georgetown, Sussex, Delaware at Orphans' Court, changing her name to Madlin Jones.  We do not see her listed in the 1930 census of the Jones family as she was apparently off to Women's College.





Dick and Jack with their mother, Madlin, in Keokuk, overlooking the Power House,
[Spring of 1930?] (Photo by JMW)
Dick, Madlin, Jack

Children were:

Jack and Dick John, UncleWill, and Boys, Sept 1936  Dick, Dad, Jack

child i. John Thompson Wells was born on 10 July 1925 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He married Rosemary Patricia SCHMOKER July 27, 1949.  John passed away peacefully on March 15, 2005, and was inurned at Arlington National Cemetery on May 18, 2005 with full honors. (More photos)  Rosemary passed away on January 3, 2012.  She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and John's ashes were moved to be buried with her in Section 59, Site 4857.  Location is South from the main entrance on the East side of Eisenhower Drive.
child ii. Richard Bowman Wells was born on 21 April 1929 in Burlington, Iowa.

 Dick Wells, May 1939 - 10 years old 

Living in the family home, and the pressures of securing a suitable job, coupled with Madlin's failing health found them headed for the Midwest, accepting the assistance of the Crist family in Woodburn, Iowa. When John's health improved they moved to Burlington, Iowa where he worked for a cabinet maker until John was hired by the electric company and they moved to Keokuk, Iowa.  Those were difficult times and he found himself sweeping the floor of a substation until finally convincing the company to make better use of his engineering skills.

Madlin wrote letters to Aunt Bertie during those years in Iowa.  She became very ill and returned to Delaware to be cared for by family members.  She died of tuberculosis in September 1934.  She was buried in Laurel, Delaware.

John M. Wells:

Created a "diary" of events and thoughts, 1933 - 1935.

Wrote a column for the Hamilton Press; "Hunches", 1936 - 1937.

Was a charter member of the X-Club, in Keokuk. Limited membership was by invitation only. Prepared papers on many subjects which were then discussed and commented on by peers.

Bought 421 Oak Street for $2,000 in 1938. Admitted to son, Dick, age 9, that he had gone into debt to make this purchase. He did not approve of buying on time.

Was an electrical engineer and worked for the same company from December 1929 to April 1964. His office was located on the upper level of the "Power House". He refused a promotion at Union Electric that would have required relocating family to Missouri.



John Wells was a prolific correspondent as evidenced by his letters to his brother Arthur and other siblings.  His carbon copy "Dear Boys and Girls" letters to his children, all pounded out on a vintage folding typewriter that featured three cases, are legendary. More of his writings will be published on this site in the future.

He joined with other townsmen in 1955 to form new school district and prevent the building of the high school in the country between Hamilton and Warsaw and busing of students.

Always voted for the man, (if he was a Republican.)

 John Murphy Wells died on December 30, 1985 in Hamilton, Hancock, Illinois.  He was cremated and his ashes spread over the 'playground' area of 421 Oak Street in Hamilton, Hancock, Illinois. There is no marker.



He was married to Dorris Esther WILLOWS on 1 Jun 1935 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mrs. Dorris Esther Wells Mr. John Murphy WellsOn the way back to Keokuk on June 2, 1935, they stopped by Lacey Keosauqua State Park in Van Buren County, Iowa.  Instead of living in Keokuk, John had quietly moved their belongings to a rental house on 5th Street in Hamilton where the family of four began their new life together.  They lived in this house until moving next door at 5th and Oak.  In the fall of 1938 they were able to purchase 421 Oak Street, which was to become their home for the rest of their life.




Photo provided by EF
Summer of 1936 - Des Moines                                                  50th wedding anniversary - 1985 - (Photo by John Kammerer)

3. Dorris Esther WILLOWS was born on 28 Sep 1915 in Keokuk, Lee, Iowa.  (Pedigree Chart).Dorris Esther (Willows) Wells
 10th St, Keokok

Dorris Willows wrote a series of English papers while attending Drake College in 1933-34.  In her later years she tried her hand at artwork.  Read more about Dorris E. Wells in her own words.  See some examples of her photography efforts.

   Besides scouting, she has served on Hamilton's library board, and a news correspondent for several Hancock County newspapers. She also enjoyed serving her church, painting, photography, education, travel, music, knitting and nature. - Montebello Health Care Center newsletter of Dec, 1996.

Dorris Esther Wells died on April 29, 2000 in Keokuk, Lee, Iowa.  She was cremated and her ashes spread on the Mississippi River at Gray's Point along the River Road that she loved to travel.  There is no marker.

Children were:

 John M. Wells and Esther, Bobby, Pete      The Three Siblings

child i. Esther Frances WELLS was born on 16 Dec 1936 in Keokuk, Lee, Iowa. She was baptized in 1937 in Keokuk at the Unitarian Church, on Easter.

What is that he's holding on his lap??At home in front yard of 421 Oak - 1939.Weeding Tomatoes, July 4, 1951

child1 ii. Robert Murphy WELLS

childAbout 1948 iii. Peter Scott WELLS was born on 7 Sep 1944 in Keokuk, Lee, Iowa.  Peter passed away at a much too early age on January 10, 2009 in The Woodlands, Montgomery, Texas.







  Esther - Pete - Gma Huff - Bob -  Fall of 1945