Wells J Wescott Wells J. Wescott Genealogical Information

Wells J. was killed in a train explosion near Kellogg, Minnesota on July 17, 1920 (see the newspaper article and the pictures of the wrecked train). He was 22 years old and left a wife, Ora Anderson Wescott, and three small children ages 4 to 6 months. Ora was born in Wells, Minnesota, had been raised in Hastings and had also taught at the school house, District 42, near the Wescott farm. Mary Ann Youngkrantz talked about her big brother.

"Ora always lived in town, they always lived in town. My parents got the farm for them, but Wells wanted to go on the railroad. Jim Stevens started the same day at the roundhouse. He'd tell about the crazy things they'd do. Wells and his pals would steal a train and run over to Lakeville to get liquor because Farmington was dry; they were 16 or 17 year old kids.

Wells wasn't interested in farming at all, I don't know why. I don't remember my brother. He was married and gone when I was little. I was 9 when he died. I remember the night he died. We didn't have a phone and a neighbor came to tell my folks about the accident. Ora was living in an apartment in town above one of the stores; she had been told about the explosion and wanted them to come for her.

We had a little pony, and there was a terrible storm. It was one of those black nights in July, lightning going all around and the wind blowing hard. I had to ride my pony all the way to my Aunt Nena's (Nena Cockbain Thomas, sister of Mary Ann Cockbain Wescott). She lived on the farm on Cedar and 109th. I had to tell them to come and stay at the house so my folks could go to the hospital with Ora to see my brother before he died. It was threshing season, and we had to feed the threshers. My Aunt was so mad that they sent me alone. I was so scared and so was the pony, he wouldn't go --- I had to walk him. They took the car and got Ora and went to the hospital where he was. As soon as they got there he raised his hand toward them and died. It was an open casket funeral but he looked terrible, the whole right side of his face was all black, I'll never forget that."

On Aug. 31, 1920 Ora Wescott went to probate court. She stated that her husband died without a will, leaving as his heirs Ora A., Grant C., Ora M. (Marie), and Wells L. (Bugs). The value of the personal estate was $200, there was no property, and she had filed a claim for damages against the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. Her Father-in-law was named administrator of the estate.

On February 20, 1920 acting as administrator, Wells Hale was awarded $12,000 from the CM&StP Railroad for causing the death of Wells J. Ora received about $11,500 after funeral expenses for her and her children. With some of this money, she bought a house in Farmington. Wells Hale invested the rest of the money For her --- down payments on the additional Farm land that he acquired.

Ora worked as a seamstress to support her children and she took great pride in their accomplishments. Living in a small town, there were a lot of adventures. Wells L. told of playing on thin ice (of course he was told not to), falling in and running downtown to the nearest pot bellied stove to warm up and dry out before going home. The run-in with the skunk, the fire-crackers on the Fourth of July, helping their grandparents on the Farm. All happy memories.

On October 4, 1923, Ora went back to court stating "the income from the moneys... has been invested and does not produce sufficient revenue to maintain and clothe" her children. She had doctor and hospital bills from the children, and she needed more money from the estate. There was only $100 that hadn't been invested and Wells H., as guardian of the estate, was directed to pay over all the un-invested money.

In all this legalese, and in Wells Hale's defense, he consistently tried to build the farm for his heirs. He helped feed the family with food produced on the farm, the grandkids were out there regularly. He was planning for their future. The timing of his death, with the depression contributing greatly, caused them to lose it all.

After Wells Hale's death, C. B. Whittier was appointed guardian of the estate. On November 8, 1935 Ora was back in probate court requesting that she be named as her children's guardian. In the same petition she stated that more than $2000 were wrongfully appropriated by her father-in-law and never returned to the estates of her children. A $15,000 performance bond had been filed and she filed a claim against it and C. B. Whittier as guardian who had not acted properly. Included in the papers is a paragraph that states she received an unspecified amount of money from the sale of the farm. (Dating the farm sale in the area of 1934 or 1935).

Ora moved with the children to Minneapolis in 1935. Grant and Marie had both graduated from high school that year and were ready for college. She helped her children through college by purchasing a boarding house near the campus of the University of Minnesota. Later, she purchased a second, larger, boarding house at 1115 4th Street SE and, in 1946, at the age of 54, Ora Wescott died in her sleep. We've included her obituary as it appeared in the Dakota County Tribune.

Wells J Wescott 1898 Wells Jay on April 3, 1898 Wells J Wescott 1899 Wells Jay in June of 1899

Wells J Wescott 1905 Wells Jay in 1905 Wells Jay, Mary Ann and Walter  Wescott in 1912 Wells Jay, Mary Ann Wescott Youngkrantz and Walter Grant Wescott in 1912

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This Page was last updated on August 18, 1996