The Wells Family
Photo Album


My great great grandparents, Captain Mike Wells, circa 1870, and his wife, Christina Johnston, in the late 19th century. Both were from Nova Scotia; he was from Guysborough, she from adjacent Antigonish.
Click here for a family tree starting with Captain Mike's grandfather, Michael Wells(born circa 1770) of Wexford, Ireland. A much more complete and updated version is available at ancestry.com.
Click here for an interesting story told by their son, my great grandfather Edward Michael "Pa" Wells.

Captain Mike also had a brother, Captain William N. Wells, who was lost at sea on January 29th, 1897. Capt. Wells, master of the schooner Helen G. Wells, washed overboard from the schooner on LeHave bank. He was a widower, 48, a native of Guysboro, N. S., and left eight orphaned children. CLICK HERE For Captain William N Well's Death Notice, Guysboro Gazette, 1897.

This info from downtosea.com, a site devoted to Gloucester shipwrecks.



This picture is of the SILVA FAMILY, late nineteenth century. It shows a formal setting, and probably dates to 1895 or 1896. The father is Joaquim Silva, the wife is Frances Clara (Cordoza) Silva, and their four children are a son, Manuel, and three daughters, Caroline "Aunt Carrie," Helen (Nana Wells, my great garandmother) and Mary "Aunt Mae." Joaquim and Frances Clara, called Francesca, emigrated separately from the Portugese Azore Islands; certainly from Saint Michael, possible one came from Faial. They settled in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Dot Wells Ryan, born in 1908, knew both of her Silva grandparents. Dot once told me that Grampa Silva had a hole in the flesh of his back, into which a young child like Dot could insert her fist up to the wrist. (!)
The story goes he had fallen into the mouth of a dead whale, whose teeth gouged out a hunk of his flesh. That's it for now. - Ken Ryan, 1999


(right) Edward "Pa" Wells (son of Captain Mike and Christine) with one of his 14 kids in 1923. Click here for the story of his 1903 fishing voyage on the James A. Garfield, narrated to Joe Cahill, a social worker for the State of Alaska and resident in Anchorage. Joe verified that he originally typed the narrative of the Schooner Garfield at Pa Wells request, but that the taped narrative already had been recorded. Joe reports there are many Wells relatives in Alaska. He knows a Caleb Wells, who traces his genealogy back to the Wells families of Guysborough, Nova Scotia.

(above) My great-grandparents Edward "Pa" Wells and Helen "Nana" Wells in 1963.

"It seems Joe Cahill and Pa Wells made a trip to New York City in the 70s. They were looking for a particular barn where, during the Revolutionary War, a Michael Wells, approximately ten years old and a drummer boy with a Yankee army, was captured and held prisoner by the Redcoats. According to Joseph's recollection of Pa Wells tale, after having been held prisoner a period of time, the British offered freedom to any prisoners who enlisted (agreed to be impressed?) in the British Navy. Young Wells took them up on this offer and served aboard a naval vessel, which later went aground in the Bay of Fundy, which, perhaps, was the introduction of the Wells family into Nova Scotia." - Ken Ryan 1999


More Pa Wells photos: (left)The '49 picture in South Boston includes Nana & Pa, Peggy and Mickey Gobbi, Anna and Shorty Norton(my grandparents).
(right)The '70 picture includes several youngsters, Pa and Nana Wells, and Anna Norton.

Annie Wells (b. Abt. 1877), a sister of Pa Wells and a registered nurse. She committed suicide but I know not the year of death.


A photograph (and resume) of late Archbishop Neil MacNeil, born in Antigonish, who became Archbishop of Vancouver, B.C. early this century, then Archbishop of Toronto, Ontario. He died in 1934. The Archbishop was reported by Pa Wells to be his COUSIN.
Reportedly our family link is through the Bishop's mother ELLEN MEAGHER. Uncle Jim Wells has memories of Pa Wells naming the Archbishop as a cousin through the Meaghers. Unfortunately we have no hard evidence linking the names WELLS and MEAGHER. If you've any information linking these names please email cronin@fas.harvard.edu.
The MacNeil information came from Most Reverend Colin Campbell, the present Bishop of Antigonish Diocese, Nova Scotia, which includes Guysborough.


Judith Giffin shared with me three diary entries for the year 1895 from the diary of James Patrick Dillon (1939-1911), her great grandfather and keeper of the White Head Light from 1864 to 1897. His father and predecessor as light keeper was Patrick Dillon (ca. 1814-1867), a native of Windgap Parish, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Judith says of the Wells/Dillon connection:
The reference to “Aunt Judy” in the entries below has always puzzled me, but it makes sense if the mother of John Wells and widow of William Wells was Judith Dillon; the diarist truly referring to his aunt as opposed to following the village practice of referring to respected elderly woman as Aunt so and so. Judith Dillon apparently died 11 June 1895. The below entries mention both Judith Dillon and her son John Wells(b abt 1835).

Jun 9 [Sunday] Light wind S.E. Foggy in afternoon. Boat came down after to me to go up to John Wells. Aunt Judy dying. I went and remained there till evening then came to island with Hawes and his 2 boys. John had been way all night and all today till about 6 P.M. Ira Graham came to island with him.

Jun 10 [Monday] Ira Graham here to breakfast with John. After that the boys landed him at Fairweather. John & Alf up harbor. John was talking of getting a trawl, but didn't. They brought word that Aunt Judy a little stronger.

Jun 11 [Tuesday] John & Alf went over to factory at 9 a.m. and returned at 2 P.M. After that John went up harbor and got back at Sunset, and then went with Alf to Raspberry and stayed away all night. Aunt Judy died this morning about 8 a.m. In the forenoon of today I got things ready to go drop a Killock away outside but had no help.


The Wells Family at the beach in 1923. At the left with the straw hat is Frances Clara Cordoza Silva, my great-great-grandmother and the mother of Nana Wells, my great-grandmother who is center foreground. Additionally, I'm fairly sure the young lady left rear is Dorothy Wells Ryan, who would have been fourteen in the summer of '23. My grandmother, Anna, at age eight or nine, is likely one of the young girls in the picture- I think she's second from the right, wearing a hat.


Uncle William Wells with my grandmother, young Anna Wells (Norton), age 13, in 1927.


Thanks so much to cousin Ken Ryan for making these photos and information available.

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