J. B. WELLS, dealer in wood and coal, at Osceola, was born August 14, 1838, in Belmont County, Ohio. His father, Isaac Wells, was a carpenter by trade, and J. B. learned the same trade, which he followed for several years. His mother was Provy (Byers) Wells, a native of Maryland. In 1853 the family started for Iowa, coming by way of Alexandria, Missouri. While at this place the father died. The family then came to Clarke County and settled on Otter Creek, in Osceola Township. Here the family separated. The mother had died one year previous to their leaving Ohio, and J. B. was thus early thrown upon his own resources. His first work was to carry mortar for the plastering of the old court-house, which is still standing, but abandoned. He rented a farm one year, and after putting in a corn crop, sold that and moved to Osceola, where he engaged in carrying the mail from Osceola to Afton. In the fall of 1856 he went to Nebraska, remained three years and returned to Osceola. Later he again went to Nebraska, thence to Denver, Colorado, returning to Nebraska, and, finally, came to Mahaska County, Iowa. In 1861 he enlisted in Company C, Thirty-third Regiment Iowa Infantry, as a private soldier. He was promoted to First Orderly Sergeant, then to First Lieutenant, and in 1864, to Captain of his company, in which rank he served until the close of the war. He was mustered out July 17, 1865, at New Orleans. He took part in the battle at Jenkins’ Ferry, April 30, 1864, Helena, Arkansas, July 4, 1863, and many small engagements. At Jenkins’ Ferry he received a gun-shot wound through the right thigh, for which he receives a pension. After being honorably discharged, Mr. Wells went to Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and remained there until the fall of 1866, engaging in auctioneering and subsequently ran a meat market and grocery, then removed to Osceola and worked at his trade one year; then followed teaming for about three years, after which he again turned his attention to his trade. Later he took a trip to Old Mexico (in the interest of the Knott’s Mexican Silver Mining Company), then returned to Osceola and engaged in the stock and grain business, shipping to Chicago and Peoria. This he continued until 1881, when he commenced dealing in wood and coal. He discontinued the cattle and grain trade. He is located on Main street, one half block from the southeast corner of the square. He is doing a thriving business. In 1865, Mr. Wells married Miss Harriet S., daughter of John Chick, of Oskaloosa. They have two children, – Nellie F., wife of Charles H. Currier, cashier of the Osceola Bank, and Grace, who lives at home. Mr. Wells has served as township clerk, four, and as trustee two years. He is a member of the Odd Fellows order, the Good Templars, the Grand Army of the Republic, and V. A. S.
SOURCE: Biographical and Historical Record of Clarke County, Iowa, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1886 p. 339-40