Research can be fun. When I first joined the Odd Fellows back in 2007, I found in one of the back rooms a framed tribute to Dr. Wells. It was written in 1924. If you know anything about 1924, know that people put lots of thought into what they were going to write, and the result was some eloquent, but often very long sentences. Here is the first sentence of the tribute, which is 88 words long:
The day is gone; the evening spent; the time for the dawn of the morrow is close at hand; I am experiencing a melancholy moment, and a spirit of frank friendliness impels me to do in death that which would have been a pleasure to do in life: say something in grateful appreciation of the kindly counsel, parental advice and mutual help always extended by the sincere heart and willing hand of a great and good man to the soul oppressed regardless of sex, color, or creed whatsoever.
(If you are interested in seeing the entire text, click here.)
He must of been an important person, I thought, and so I began to do some research. I looked no further than the Odd Fellow’s Charter for our Lodge (Oriole Lodge No. 47,) which was written October 14, 1897. It hangs on the wall above where the Nobel Grand (i.e. the current President) sits. There was Dr. Wells’ signature as one of the founding members of our Lodge!
And so I sought the advice of the wise Mr. Google! Here is what I found:
Dr. Wells was the second Mayor of Hyattsville. He was elected in 1902 – unanimously! Every one of the 108 votes cast was for the local physician. A resident of Ward 2, Dr. Wells had previously served as a town commissioner and a councilman, and he’d go on to serve as a Maryland State senator. He continued to be Mayor until 1906. He was duly elected as a Democratic State Senator in 1912. He served until 1913.
Hyattsville underwent a building boom during Dr. Wells’ term as Mayor. A large public school was constructed in the City on Gallatin Street, where the park stands today. (Right across from the Odd Fellows, and Yoga Space!)
In 1903, two prominent Hyattsville men, J. Harris Rogers (a noted inventor) and Dr. Charles A. Wells, purchased land for development in what was to become Edmonston. Rogers’ land, consisting of about 70 acres, was called “East Hyattsville.” Wells’ tract, which was known as “Palestine Farm,” consisted of about 90 acres and was located between the river and the railroad tracks. The former Edmonston Elementary School, which faced Wells Avenue (now Decatur Street), was located on land which comprised part of the Palestine Farm. Rogers and Wells began to sell lots on their respective subdivisions, although their approaches were different.
Wells reportedly had several houses built on his properties to entice prospective customers to buy his lots. Rogers, on the other hand, sold only the lots and the purchasers constructed their own homes.
By 1915, Edmonston Elementary School was built along Wells Avenue. Reportedly the cornerstone for the school was purchased from a stone yard in the District of Columbia by one Harry McLeod and transported by the Tooneyville Trolley to Bladensburg Road, where it was transferred to a wagon and brought to the school, which had three rooms.
I also found the following when looking up information about historic houses:
Designated Historic Site in Hyattsville
P.G. 68-10-31 Wheelock House
4100 Crittenden St.
The Wheelock House is a good example of late Victorian domestic architecture. It stands on a lot in Hyatt’s Addition to Hyattsville, the earliest (1873) subdivision of the community that became the City of Hyattsville. This land was re-subdivided in 1902 by Dr. Charles A. Wells, a physician and developer of Hyattsville. In 1905 Wells sold this lot to Charles C. Wheelock, and in the same year Wheelock built the handsome frame house with its principal pedimented facade reminiscent of earlier Greek Revival style urban dwellings. The house is a visible and prominent landmark in the town of Hyattsville.
So, there it is. The joy of doing research. When I was writing my book, Yeshua’s Incredible Journey, I did lots and lots of research. It was almost more fun than writing the book. For those of you that are curious, my book is with an editor that is doing a final content editing. After that, I will make the appropriate changes, send it back for a final line edit, and I will at long last be ready to offer it to you. Some time in 2017 is my goal.
Have a happy New Year, my friends, and I look forward to seeing a lot of you at Yoga Space in 2017.