Judah Wells and Temperance Meacham

(Nelson’s parents, our 3rd great-grandparents)

Judah Wells was born on December 12, 1767, in Colchester, New London, CT, to Simeon Wells and Lydia Knight. Judah married Ethelinda Otis on December 29, 1791. The marriage probably took place in Ethelinda’s home town of Norwich, New London, CT (16 miles from Colchester). Sometime around 1795, Judah and Ethelinda moved from Connecticut to Canaan, New Hampshire and bought a farm. Several Wells relatives had already begun farming around there.

In 1814, Ethelinda died and Judah married Temperance Meacham, the 17 year old daughter of Samuel Meacham and Phebe Main. Her parents lived near Canaan.

Around 1814 to 1816 Judah, Temperance, and kids left New Hampshire and moved to the Finger Lakes region of New York - Onondaga County. By 1820, Judah and family had moved to Conneauttee, Erie County, PA and to nearby Washington Township in Erie County. The 1830 US census (June of 1830) showed them in Conneauttee. After that, there are no official records for Judah or Temperance.

Some family lore that I have run across states that in 1830 or soon thereafter, having converted to Mormonism, they moved to a Mormon community in or near Kirtland, Ohio. That would have been a move of 80 miles or so. The lore says that they died of smallpox in Kirtland. I did find that there was a nearby cholera outbreak in 1832 and a smallpox outbreak in 1833.

The conversion is probably accurate since there are Mormon records for two of Judah’s children. Their daughter Lydia converted, married her cousin Lewis Meacham, moved to the Mormon colony in Nauvoo, Illinois, and then in 1852, as part of the James C. Snow Company, went by wagon train to what is now Utah. They were early settlers of Provo.

Judah’s son by his first wife, Jonathan Sawyer Wells, was a convert as well. He married, farmed, and had 6 kids in Washington Township, Erie County, PA. Around 1843, the family moved with his wife’s family to the Mormon community of Nauvoo, IL. They went to Utah in 1850 as part of the Aaron Johnson Wagon Train Company.

Tracking Judah Wells and his Kids

In an effort to verify or discount Judah and Temperance as being Nelson’s parents, I gathered more information about Judah, his wives, and kids – where they were born, where they lived, and where they died.

Judah Wells (b: 1765 Colchester, New London, CT, d: 1833 Kirtland, OH)

Also ran across this reference to smallpox in Kirtland in April 1833: "13th meeting of praying & fasting and broke bread. Visited the sick & rebuked the disese (sic) in the name of the lord"* An epidemic of smallpox had broken out in that vicinity this seems to have been a special fast called in consequence of the calamity. *John Murdock "Diary", MS, p26. LDS Church Historian's Library, Salt Lake City

First wife: Ethelinda Otis (b: 18 Aug. 1766 NH or Ct, d: 1814 NH)

  1. Otis Wells, 7 Dec 1792, Colchester, New London, CT
  2. Judah Wells, 27 Jan 1795, Colchester, New London, CT
  3. Reuben S. Wells, 1 Jan 1797, Canaan, Grafton, NH
  4. Sarah Wells, 1 May 1799, Canaan, Grafton, NH
  5. Erastus Wells, 1 Jan 1802, Canaan, Grafton, NH
  6. David Newton Wells, 3 Jan. 1805, Canaan, Grafton, NH -1870
  7. Jonathan Sawyer Wells, 3 Jan. 1805, Canaan, Grafton, NH – 27 Jul. 1867
  8. Lyman Harrison Wells, 1807-1885 (7 Jan 1807, Canaan, Grafton, NH)

Second wife: Temperance Meacham (b: 1797 Canaan, Grafton, NH, m: 1814, Canaan, Grafton, NH), d: 1830’s, Kirtland, OH)

  1. Mary Ann Wells, b. 4 Jul 1815-?
  2. Nelson R. Wells
  3. Lydia Wells, b. 6 Aug. 1817, (Skaneateles? Marcellus?), Onondaga, NY
  4. Russell Wells, 1823-1891 (19 Dec 1822?)
  5. Almira Wells, 1825-1846
  6. Lucinda Wells, 1827-?