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Two Thurstons

Do you ever feel like many many genealogists took all of the information found on two individuals, threw it in a bag and pulled out one individual? That’s how I feel with my Thurston Wells research.

My ancestor, Thurston Kennedy Wells, was 11 years old when his father, Ozias Wells died in 1832. The family was living in Madison County, New York. When Thurston was 16 years old, his mother, Mary Kennedy Wells, migrated to Calhoun County, Michigan. Thurston was likely living with his mother in Calhoun County in 1840.

In 1850, a Thurston Wells is listed on the Madison County, New York census as a 30 year old carpenter. A year later, Thurston married Sarah Hall in Madison County, New York. Around 1857, Thurston, Sarah and their son, Francis moved to Kansas where another son, William was born. Sarah likely died in Kansas as Thurston and the boys are listed on the 1860 census in Lykins County, Kansas without her.

In 1861, Thurston marries Salome Crandall in Van Buren County, Iowa. Two children are supposedly born in Eaton County, Michigan. It is in Michigan where I believe a second Thurston Wells enters the picture.

This second Thurston Wells married Mary Miles on 20 Nov 1857 in Lapeer County, Michigan. Census records show Thurston, Mary and their children living in Lapeer County, Michigan in 1860, 1870, and 1880. Of their three children, their son, Olin, is the easiest to follow.

A search of Ancestry for trees with an Olin Wells born 1862 and dying in 1943 results in 25 trees, including mine. Of the 24 other trees

  • 5 trees do not have a father for Olin Wells
  • 12 trees list a Thurston Kennedy Wells as the father of Olin Wells
  • 14 trees with a death date of 1893 for Thurston Wells (or Thurston Kennedy Wells)
  • 14 trees show Thurston or Thurston Kennedy Wells dying in Woodson county, Kansas
  • 6 trees included Sarah Hall as a wife of Thurston Wells
  • 8 trees included Salome Crandall as a wife of Thurston Wells
  • 16 trees included Mary Miles as a wife of Thurston Wells

Analyzing these trees, one might conclude that Thurston Kennedy Wells (1821-1893 of Woodson county, Kansas) is the father of Olin Wells of Michigan. However, that conclusion implies that Thurston Wells was a bigamist. Below is a comparison of their life events.

YearThurston Kennedy Wells (1821-1893)Thurston Wells of Michigan
1851married Sarah Hall in Madison County NY
1853son Francis Owen Wells is born in NY
1857son William Hall Wells is born in Kansasmarried Mary Miles in Lapeer County MI
1858wife Sarah Wells likely dies – possibly in Kansasdaughter Mary Jane Wells is born in Genesee County, MI
1860K. T. Wells and sons, Franklin and William are on the census in Lykins county, Kansas
1861married Salome Crandall in Iowa
1862son Freddie L Wells born in Michiganson Olin Thurston Wells born in MI
1863draft record for Thurston K Wells in Eaton County MIdraft record for Thrstin Wells in Lapeer County MI
1866daughter Mary Wells born in Michigandaughter Clarissa Wells born in MI
1868daughter Anna Wells born in Iowa
1870Salome and Annie, Frank and William living in IowaThurston Wells on 1870 census in Lapeer County Michigan with wife, Mary, and children, Clarissa, Oliver and Mary J
1871family moves to Kansas
1873daughter Nettie Wells born in Kansas
1880Thurston Wells on 1880 census in Lapeer County Michigan with wife, Mary and children, Mary J, Olin T and Clarissa O.
1885T. K. Wells on 1885 Kansas census in Woodson County, KS with Saloma, Anna and Nettie

I haven’t located a burial or death record for the Thurston Wells of Michigan. However, I did locate a biography in the History of Lapeer County, Michigan.

Thurston Wells was born in Attica, Genessee County, N.Y., in 1819. Lived there until 1854, when he came to Michigan. he remained in Pontiac for a short time and in the fall of that year bought forty acres of land in section 3, Rich, to which he afterward added eighty more. His farm now consists of eighty acres having sold forty. Since he has been in Rich he has been a lumberman as well as a farmer. He was the first actual settler in the township and the trip from Piersonville, in Marathon Township, to his land took a week to accomplish, a journey that can now be made in less than two hours. In coming to his land he had to follow sections lines and cut his way through a dense wilderness, being the first pathmaster in this section, an office he has since held. He was married in 1856 to Mary Miles, a native of Grand Blanc, Genessee County, Mich. They have had four children, of whom three survive. The eldest, a daughter named Jane, was born in 1858, and is now a Mrs. George Cole, of East Saginaw. The two others a son, Olin, born in 1862, and a daughter Clara, born in 1866; live at home with their parents.

History of Lapeer County, Michigan: with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. (Chicago: H. R. Page, 1884), p. 210; digital image, Internet Archive (www.archive.rog : viewed online 31 May 2021.

Thus, I believe that these are two separate men.

  • Thurston Wells (1819-?) of Genesee County, New York and Lapeer County, Michigan.
  • Thurston K(ennedy) Wells (1821-1893) of Madison County, New York, Lykins County, KS, Van Buren County, Iowa, Calhoun County, Michigan and Woodson County, Kansas.

Below is a summary of what I have gathered about Thurston Wells of Lapeer County, Michigan.


Thurston Wells1 was born in 1819 in Genesee, New York, United States.2

He lived in Concord, Erie, New York, United States in 1850.3

He lived in Pontiac, Oakland, Michigan, United States in 1854.2

Thurston  purchased  in 1854 in Rich Township, Lapeer, Michigan, United States.2

He married Mary Miles on 20 Nov 1857 in Lapeer, Lapeer, Michigan, United States.2,4

On 29 Jul 1858, Mary Jane Wells was born in Mayville, Chautauqua, New York, United States.1,5

He lived in Lapeer, Michigan, United States in 1860.6

On 15 Feb 1862, Olin Thurston Wells was born in Lapeer, Michigan, United States.7

He registered for the military draft  in 1863 in Lapeer, Michigan, United States.8

On 16 Oct 1866, Clarissa Wells was born in Michigan, United States.

Thurston lived in Rich Township, Lapeer, Michigan, United States in 1870.9

He lived in Rich Township, Lapeer, Michigan, United States on 8 Jun 1880.10

ENDNOTES:

        1. Michigan, Marriage Records 1867-1952, Mary Jane Stringham, 1889; database on-line, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed online June 2017). Original Source: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division ov Vital Records and Health Statistics.

        2. , History of Lapeer County, Michigan: with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. (Chicago: H. R. Page, 1884), p. 210; digital image, Internet Archive (www.archive.rog : viewed online 31 May 2021.

        3. 1850 U.S. Census, Erie County, New York, population schedule, Concord, Erie County, New York, page 70 Image 26 of 102, family 544, Freeman Bailey; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 31 May 2021); NARA microfilm publication M432

        4. “Michigan, County Marriages, 1822-1940,” database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 31 May 2021), Thurston Wells.

        5. “Michigan, Death Records 1867-1952,” database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 31 May 2021), Mary Jane Arrand.

        6. “Maryland, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1772-1890,”Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online (31 May 2021), Thurston Wells; Jackson, Ron V., Maryland Census, 1772-1890.

        7. Social Security Administration, “Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database on-line, Ancestry, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/60901/ : viewed online 31 May 2021), Olin Thurston Wells.

        8. “U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865,”, [RecordType], Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 1 June 2021), card for Thistin Wells, Rich,Lapeer, Michigan; citing Consolidated Listsof Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865, NM-65.

        9. 1870 U.S. Census, Lapeer County, Michigan, population schedule, Rich Township, Lapeer County, Michigan, page 8 (image 8 of 13) Image [Image] of [ImageTotal], Household 50, Thurston Wells; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online June 2017); NARA Microfilm publication T132

        10. 1880 U.S. Census, Lapeer County, Michigan, population schedule, Rich Township, Lapeer County, Michigan, ED 180, Page 12 (image 12 of 24), household 91, Thurston Wells; digital mage, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online June 2017); NARA microfilm publication T9