When researching your ancestors, have you encountered a biography that has a grain of truth to it, but has some of the facts confused?
That is my case with the biography of Thurston K. Wells found in Woodson County Historical Society’s publication “In the Beginning”.
The Thurston K. Wells Family
Thurston K. Wells was born Feb. 26, 1821 in Sullivan, New York. His parents were Ozias and Mary Kennedy Wells. Thurston spent his early life in Michigan and Iowa. He was a log sealer or woodsman and injured his knee with an ax and he was unable to serve in the Civil War.
Thurston was married twice. He was married first Mar. 20, 1861 in Van Buren, N.Y. but his first wife’s name is not known. They had 2 sons, Francis Owen Wells and William Hall Wells, both being born in N.Y. State.
After the death of his first wife Thurston evidently went to the state of Michigan. He was married to Salone Crandall. Their first three children’s, Freddie L., Mary A., Anna M. Wells were born in Michigan, but their youngest daughter was born in Woodson County, KS., Feb. 5, 1873.
Thurston K. Wells and family must have came to Woodson County about 1871. He took a claim of 80 acres of land from the State of Kansas, in the north half of the N.E. quarter of Sec. 22, Twp. 24, Range 15. This would be five miles north of Yates Center and on west side. Here Thurston probably with the help of his son Francis O. Wells. They had worked together in the timber in Iowa before coming to Kansas, where Francis helped build the railroad from Neosho Falls to Yates Center.
Thurston Wells received the Patent for his 80 A. of school land Aug. 15, 1876, when he fulfilled his five years of living there in their cabin. Thurston died June 3, 1893.No author, “The Thurston K. Wells Family,” In the Beginning (Woodson County Historical Society), Vol. 19 (#73): page 8.
Aspects of this biography may be accurate, but the information regarding his marriages is not. First, the date of 20 March 1861 is the date of his second marriage. This marriage was to Saloma Crandall and occurred in Van Buren County, Iowa.
Thurston K. Wells Affidavit of T. K. Well
March 19th 1861
Saloma Crandle Affidavit of T. K. Wells
To the County Court of Van Buren County IowaIowa, Van Buren County. Marriage records v. A-C 1837-1861. Film #967640 DGS 4309553. Saloma Crandle, 19 Mar 1861 Book C: page 221; digital images, FamilySearch http://www.familysearch.org : viewed online 1998.967640 DGS 4309553
This certifies that on the 20th day of March AD 1861 at Mr. George
Tuttles in said County according to law and by authoriaty I duly
joined in marriage Mr. Thurston K. Wells and Miss
Given under my hand the 20th day of March AD 1861
Eld. David Thomson
Even though many records indicated that Thurston was married and had two sons before his marriage to Salome Crandall, locating a marriage record has proven difficult. However, another researcher provided a clue to a short news story. This one sentence news story provides more details about Thurston’s first marriage.
Married“Married,” Chittenango Phenix (Cazenovia, New York), 21 May 1851, page 3; digital image, Advantage Preservation – The Cazenovia Public Library (http://cazenovia.advantage-preservation.com/ : viewed online 30 May 2021).
In this town on the th inst, by Rev. George Colgrove, Mr. Thurston K. wells and Miss Sarah A. Hall, all of this town.
This newspaper account provide the name of Thurston’s first wife and the date of their marriage. This information helps piece together not only the life of Thurston Kennedy Wells, but also that of his sons, Francis Owen Wells and William Hall Wells.