Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Harry E.& Elizabeth (Saunders) Wells


Harry Edward Wells was born 25 November 1858 in Oxendon, North Hamptonshire, England and died 22 November 1935 in St.Helens Private Hospital, Macquarie Street, Hobart, Tasmania. Harry Wells married Elizabeth Saunders on 8 November 1887  in St.John's Church, Launceston, Tasmania.

Harry Edward Wells was one of 8 children born to Thomas Wells (1832-1908) & Eliza Ann (Bootheway) Wells (1831-1910) who married in November 1853. George Ambrose Wells born 19 August 1854, Herbert Thomas Wells born 19 September 1856 and died July 1935, Sarah Ann Wells born 23 March 1862, Charles William Wells born 8 April 1864, Arthur Edward Wells born 12 July 1868 and died 26 February 1869, Ellen Elizabeth Wells born 13 July 1869, Mary Jane Wells born 7 February 1871.

Harry Wells (25 November 1858-22 November 1935) and Elizabeth (Saunders) Wells (16 June 1862- 19 October 1950) had 3 children: Beatrice Helen Louise Wells (9 September 1888 - 8 November 1983), Winifred Alice Wells (20 September 1890 - 20 November 1969) and Gladstone Gordon Thomas Wells (2 December 1896 - 3 December 1982).

Beatrice Helen Louise Wells was born 9 September 1888 in Formby (now Devonport) in the District of Mercy, Tasmania, Australia. Beatrice married Leslie Stuart Macdougall (1877-1949) on 9 September 1912 at "Railway Reserve", Hobart, Tasmania. Beatrice died 8 November 1983 in "Trewint" Nursing Home, Noble Park, Melbourne, Victoria.

Winifred Alice Wells (known as Wyn) was born 20 September 1890 in Leith/Ulverstone, Tasmania. Wyn married Arthur Melville Tregear (1880-1949) on 8 November 1911 at "Station House", Zeehan, Tasmania. Wyn died 20 November 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria.

Gladstone Gordon Thomas Wells (known as Glad) was born 2 December 1896 in St Marys, Tasmania.  Gladstone married his cousin Dorothy Mary Cook (1898-1983) on 25 December 1919 at "Railway Reserve", Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Glad died 3 December 1982 in Woburn Sands, England.

Elizabeth & Harry Wells with their first born Beatrice in 1888

Beatrice (10), Winifred (8)  & Gladstone (2) Wells in 1898

Harry & Elizabeth Wells celebrate their 25th wedding anniversay with Beatrice & Leslie Macdougall, Gladstone, Winifred & Arthur Tregear on 8 November 1912

How Harry met Elizabeth and life thereafter

Information gained from "My Grandmother - Elizabeth" by Enid Dennis, written 1987.

Elizabeth  Saunders, aged 25 years, was working as a Cook in the "Big House" in Oxendon and went along to the village Church. Harry introduced himself with a bunch of red roses. He was 29 and had spent all his adult life in the service of the British Railways. He enjoyed his work but dreamed of  far away places. Letters came from his cousins in Melbourne, Australia.
One day Harry broached the subject of marriage with Elizabeth, laced also with an exciting adventure.  He had accepted his distant cousin's proposal to enter their Melbourne millinery factory as a third partner. It meant a seven year term overseas and could only bring success financially.  Elizabeth accepted, at first with some trepidation, to a marriage in Australia when her enthusiastic suitor settled into new employment and accomodation.
Harry followed his dream and sailed on Barque "Clyde" for Australia, arriving in Melbourne 8 May 1887. The promise of work in Melbourne did not eventuate, so Harry went to Tasmania and got employment in the Tasmanian Railways. 

Harry Wells sailed on Barque Clyde 1887

Elizabeth followed six months after the departure of her man, travelling in the new steamship "Liguria", incredibly small by present day standards. The voyage took two months, sailing through the Suez, and Elizabeth experienced violent storms and days spent in the agony of seasickness.

Elizabeth Saunders sailed on SS "Liguria" leaving England on 18 August 1887 and arriving Williamstown on 30 September 1887.

I have the journal Elizabeth's sister Alice compiled from letters sent home.  A couple of quotes from that journal:
24 September 1887 ".....We first saw the land of Australia at Cape Leeuwin like rocks dimly seen in the far distance on the port side ...."
25 September 1887 ".....I could have enjoyed another week or two on board for I have this week felt well.  I had more than four weeks of seasickness like many more. The moon was shining brightly, the air was cold...."

Adelaide was the first port of call following the long Indian Ocean span.  Here a letter was delivered to Elizabeth by the Purser and she read it incredulity. The prosperous millinery firm it seemed was little more than a myth and the business faced insolvency.  In desperation Harry had sought and found employment with a field which he knew so well.  The Tasmanian railways were being developed through the Emu Bay Company to the north and west from Launceston along the Bass Strait coastline.

"It could be hard, dear Lizzie" Harry wrote "Nothing of it will be like the comforts we knew back home, but I will never fail you. Sometime, when things get easier for us again, we will return.  I promise that, if it is your wish.  I am a Signalman at a place called Formby (now Devonport).  It's very small but beautiful.. I have rooms with a pleasant landlady who will help you I know.  We will live close to the Mersey River and I cross it every day by rowboat to reach the Railway yards.  I am so sorry that you must wait three weeks in Melbourne, for there is an epidemic of small pox in North Tasmania.  My cousin Mary, will meet you at the Port of Williamstown and you must stay with her until I send for you".

The young love which had brought these two people together across the world and now somewhat in adversity culminated in their marriage at St.John's Anglican Church, Launceston on 8 November 1887.  That afternoon Harry took his bride proudly back to Formby.  Theirs was a true affection which grew stronger with the years.  It weathered many hardships in strange places.  Challenge is the essence of good workmanship in whatever field it is found; it was wide open for the young Wells couple.

St John's Anglican Church, Launceston where Harry & Elizabeth Wells married on 8 November 1887

Elizabeth cooked and kept house as nearly as she had been accustomed to doing, but with the rude implements at hand, an open hob-fire, camp oven, kerosene cans, oil lamps and candles.  Later, as two little girls joined the family, she sewed and mended with all the joy of motherhood, using a Wertheim hand machine which had accompanied her on the voyage.  In their nineth year of marriage a son was born.  There had already been three moves - to Leith, Campbell Town and St Marys, each a promotion.  Harry was now Stationmaster at this north east mountain township of St Marys, with a railway house provided.  The Station House was somewhat isolated from the rest of the homes.  Quite often swagmen and women of gypsy lifestyle would free ride on the country goods trains, only to be discovered at this terminus. Harry frequently sent these rejects of humanity to the Station House for a meal before hustling them on their way.  The two little girls would watch in wide-eyed wonderment from the safety of the kitchen doorway.

St Marys Railway Station, Tasmania in 2005 (built in 1866 and about to be restored)

There was no longer talk of the seven year promise.  Both husband and wife were far too aware of the precious security of employment. They were a happy unit, an Australian family.

As noisy rejoicing and fireworks heralded the Boer War's relief of Mafeking in May 1900, the Wells family were busy moving again.  This time to the Bass Strait seaside town of Ulverstone.  Another home, another school and friends, another Church in which to worship.  Every year, at Christmas, there  were special treats, something extra to care for and treasure all the coming year.  Every Christmas season also, gifts of money were sent to the ageing Grandparents at Simpson and Oxendon to share their bounty and to show that God had seen fit to prosper the family well.  Over the years many hundreds of letters were exchanged.

The Wells family at "Station House" in Ulverstone, Tasmania 1904

"Station House" at 62 Victoria St, Ulverstone, Tasmania in 2012

In 1905 Harry Wells was appointed Station Master at Zeehan, the third largest town in the island and at the height of the great mining boom of the West Coast.  The area was rich in silver, lead and tin.  The town of 10,000 inhabitants was entirely involved in some way with the prosperity of the mines or supporting those who did.  With vast deposits of gold and copper also at Queenstown there was a continuous movement of rolling stock, passengers and freighters to and from the many mines in the mountains.  Zeehan Station House stood on a rise overlooking Peasoup Creek with a wide vista of the town and valley.  It is still there today, in good condition, weathering the lashings of rain forest storms.  The busy mother taught her now grown daughter to cook and sew as she had done.  They had lessons in piano, violin and painting. The boy was progressing well at school.

Zeehan Railway Staff  - Harry Wells appointed Station Master in 1905 (seated centre)

 "Station House" at Zeehan, Tasmania in 1906

"Station House" in Zeehan, Tasmania in 2005

A final move came in 1912 with a promotion to the top, Station Master at Hobart. This included a lovely attic style house in an old world garden, promise of a lengthy stay, superannuation, and maybe on retirement, a holiday overseas to meet once again the loved ones who for almost forty years had been linked only by sea mail.

Harry Wells retired as Station Master at Hobart, Tasmania in 1924

"Railway Reserve" Hobart, home for Elizabeth & Harry Wells 1912-1924

Harry Wells was Station Master at Hobart Railway Station, now home of ABC. Photo taken 2005

With their family married, Elizabeth and Harry turned to extensive reading, lectures at the nearby University and their beloved gardening.  Harry's retirement came in 1924 at sixty five years.  Harry and Elizabeth had purchased two new travel bags, suitable clothing and every weekend they visited the great ships in the port, a search for good value travelwise.  At last a choice was made, it would be the next trip around.  Then Elizabeth, wise in the ways of home economy, began to doubt.  It would mean returning to a rented house and possible illness in old age.  Was this right when a small freehold home could be purchased immediately, their very own portion of Australia?  Also the loved parents in England had all died.  Once again security and its privileges won and the holiday voyage was cancelled.

On the outskirts of the city of Glenorchy, with fine views of the magnificent mountains and Derwent River, the couple bought a neat bungalow home with sufficient depth of land to start the market garden they both lived to love and enjoy. 

It proved to be a clear and prudent choice.  By the late 1920s and early 1930s vast changes were springing into life.  There was continuous talk of frightening price rises, rumours of economic failures and unemployment, a depressant gloom unknown before in our good, green land.  It was even more so in Britain, Europe and America.

Macdougall family visit Harry & Elizabeth in Glenorchy, Tasmania in 1926

Harry & Elizabeth loved gardening in their retirement.

Wells retirement home at 8 Grove Road, Glenorchy, Tasmania in 2005

Strictly honest and generous Harry Wells lived to reach his seventy-sixth year.  Elizabeth, still shy, still clinging all her life to the sombre black gowns and white high-laced collars of the past, went to live with her younger daughter, also in Hobart, until her own gentle death in 1950 at the age of eighty-eight years.  Before Glaucoma claimed her eyesight, she returned to a fascinating interest of her girlhood.  She sent to England a request for a set of wooden bobbins, patterns and cottons and made herself a hand straw-stuffer pillow.  On this she wove many many yards (metres) of fine handkershief lace, gifts now held by her descendants with pride.

Harry & Elizabeth Wells at home in Glenorchy

Elizabeth Wells doing her pillow lace work -12 May 1940

Elizabeth Wells at home in Glenorchy
Elizabeth Wells at "Penrhyn"

Elizabeth Wells was not one of the many Australians who will go down in history as a memorable public figure, a Caroline Chisholm, Mary Reibey, Daisy Bates or Lady Cilento.  She was a very private, upright, gentle woman who stayed to play her fine Christian part in our Australian heritage and who loved this great land and became one of us.

Harry Edward Wells 25 November 1858 - 22 November 1935 and Elizabeth Wells 16 June 1862 - 19 October 1950. Buried in Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania.

Beatrice & Leslie Macdougall


Beatrice Helen Louise Wells born 9 September 1888 married Leslie Stuart Macdougall born 4 March 1877 on 9 September 1912 in Hobart.  Beatrice & Leslie 3 daughters: Winsome Lorne Macdougall born 22 July 1913 in Hobart, Dorothy Glaed Macdougall born 18 August 1918 in Hobart and Margaret Elizabeth Patricia Macdougall born 17 March 1920 in Hobart.

Leslie was in the Methodist ministry, which necessitated the family moving from location to location in Tasmania and Victoria.

Beatrice Macdougall 18 January 1924

Leslie & Beatrice Macdougall with Winsome, Dorothy & Margaret 15 January 1923
Macdougall family 1 January 1937
Macdougall family February 1942

Winifred & Arthur Tregear


Winifred Alice Wells born 20 September 1890 married Arthur Melville Tregear born 27 June 1880 on 8 November 1911 in Zeehan.  Rev.Leslie Macdougall officiated at the marriage and Beatrice was a Bridesmaid.   Arthur & Winifred had two children: Enid Margaret Tregear born 2 December 1915 in Hobart and Kenneth Melville Tregear born 5 October 1918 in Hobart.

Arthur and Leslie were friends and it was Arthur who introduced Leslie to Beatrice on a train from Zeehan to Burnie.

Winifred Tregear

Arthur & Winifred Tregear with Enid & Ken

Enid & Walter Dennis with John, Olwyn, Suzanne & Rae

Ken & Maurine Tregear with Denise, Yvonne & Lynette

Gladstone & Dorothy Wells


Gladstone Gordon Thomas Wells born 2 December 1896 married Dorothy Mary Cook born 6 June 1898 in England on 25 December 1919 in Hobart. Glad met his cousin Dorothy in England while there on active service in WW1. Beatrice and Enid were flowergirls. They did not have any children.

In 1926 Glad was appointed to Pacific Mandated Territories in Rabaul New Guinea. He worked in New Guinea until he retired in 1956. Glad and Dorothy retired in England, living in Rugby near family and later in Woburn Sands.
Gladstone Wells was in the Australian Army February 1916 - July 1919

Gladstone Wells enlisted in WW1 for Service Abroad on 23 November 1917
Dorothy & Glad Wells in April 1950

Joy & Peter Olney and family visit Glad & Dorothy Wells in Woburn Sands in 1978

Beatrice and Winifred and their young families


Grandma Wells, Beatrice with Winsome, Dorothy & Margaret. Winifred with Enid & Ken at Penguin on 5 March 1921

Beatrice & Winifred and children at Hampton 12 March 1925

Dennis & Tregear children

Elizabeth Wells with her Great Grand Children

Four generations - Elizabeth Wells, Beatrice Macdougall, Winsome Petfield, Joy Petfield 4 November 1946

Great Grandma Wells with great grand children Joy, Ross, Dawn & Anne 25 October 1947

Four generations - Elizabeth Wells, Winifred Tregear, Enid Dennis & baby John born 24 December 1941

Four generations - Elizabeth Wells, Winifred Tregear,  Ken Tregear & baby Denise born 16 February 1943

You might like to take a look at Saunders Family Archives to learn more about Elizabeth Wells and her family. The Macdougall blogs will also be of interest.

If you see anything that needs correction, or have something to add or comment on, please contact the author Joy Olney by email - joyolney@gmail.com

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