Source: North Manchester Journal, July 16, 1896
OBITUARY AND BIOGRAPHICAL
Sketch of the Life of Rev. Hugh Wells, whose Death Occurred on July 9th.
Rev. Hugh Wells was born in Highland county, Ohio, Dec. 22, 1812, and passed to his final rest in North Manchester, Ind., July 9, 1896, aged 83 years, 6 months and 17 days.
The subject of the above notice came with his parents to Marion Co., Indiana in 1830, when he was eighteen years of age and settled on some land west of where the city of Indianapolis now stands. Besides aiding his parents to clear up a farm, teaching school during the winter, he began to preach to some Lutheran people in the country around them as early as 1845 or 1846. He became a member of the Miami Lutheran Synod, Germantown, Ohio, in 1847, having traveled there on horse back. In April, 1848, by advice of some of the ministers of the Miami Synod he was induced to call a meeting of the few scattered Lutheran ministers in Indiana with a view of organizing a Synod in this state. A meeting was called in October, 1848, at Indianapolis, where Rev. Wells and five other clerical brethren organized the Ohio Branch Synod. For seven years he preached for and organized many Lutheran churches in the county and adjoining counties in which he lived, baptizing their children and administering to them the sacrament of the altar. His work during these years was mostly of the missionary kind for there was great need of this kind of work and he seemed so well fitted for it. His work along this line was a great success, for not only were many weak churches strengthened and encouraged but many new organizations effected. There were no rail roads where he labored in these years, so a faithful horse carried his master from place to place in all kinds of weather and condition of roads and seldom failed to meet an appointment. Forty-nine years ago last May, he came on horse back from Indianapolis to North Manchester to aid in the dedication of the first Lutheran church here. In 1852 he moved from Ladoga, Hendricks county, to Columbia City which he made his home and central point of his ministerial labors. Soon after locating in Columbia City he took charge of the church there which Rev. Franklin Templin had organized, built a house of worship and served several years previous. He served North Manchester church in connection with Columbia City from 1852 to 1859. The Manchester charge became a separate pastorate about this time, so Father Wells gave all his time to Columbia City and Coesse which he served till 1869. From 1869 to 1871 he served as pastor of the church in Van Wert, Ohio, the only period during the forty-one years of the North Indiana Synod he was not a member of the same. In July, 1871, he again took charge of the church at North Manchester, in connection with the church at Silver Lake, which charge he served till 1881, and this closed his active work of the ministry in the church. Although having laid aside the work of the active ministry in 1881, his services were often demanded in the various pastorates he served, and brethren in different parts of the church frequently called upon him for aid and when health would permit his services were cheerfully given. He preached his last sermon in North Manchester, May 23, 1896, on the occasion the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the Lutheran church of this place, yet he attended public service in the church three weeks before his demise. The following note to his children written shortly before his death would indicate the bent of his mind to the end: "Remember that your father lived and died a Christian; and his last advice is that you all follow him as he followed Christ, and meet him in heaven." His last illness was brief, but severe, the asthma aggravated by lagrippe, caused great suffering but his mental acumen was unimpaired, his will power strong as ever. His physical strength continued up to the last, for only three hours before his death he arose from his bed unaided and sat up to take some medicine. But on Thursday morning last the Angel of Death came and said to him "it is enough, come up higher" and the spirit of this faithful servant of God took its fight to Him who gave it. And in that serenity of spirit, that fullness of faith and triumph of hope which characterized his past life, he passed the dark valley, when the Sun of Righteousness, full robed and resplendent with divine glory, broke upon his vision. He now rests from his labors and his works to follow Him. The many churches he has been instrumental in erecting through great effort and sacrifice are monuments to his memory, but through his godly life he has erected monuments in the hearts of the people which shall stand for good when all other monuments will have crumbled to dust.
"Servant of God, well done;
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter the Master's joy."
On Sunday morning, July 12th, the funeral services were held in Zion Lutheran church attended by a very large concourse of people, all the other churches in town having suspended their services in order to attend his obsequies. The writer of this conducted the services and spoke from the words in Math. 25:32; "Well done good and faithful servant, etc." Revs. C.H. Rockey of Shepherdstown, W.Va. and E.W. Erick, of Spencerville, old friends of the deceased, followed with comforting and instructive words relative to the life of the deceased. The singing by the choir of the familiar hymns selected by the family was impressive, and the anthem "Lead Kindly Light" was extremely touching and brought tears to the eyes of many. The church and his accustomed seat, were appropriately draped and the floral offerings in the church and on the casket were significant of the life and character of Father Wells. He was the father of sixteen children eight of whom are living, well respected and circumstanced in life; six of whom with the mother were present at the funeral and lovingly prepared the remains for burial. After the services at the church, the remains were tenderly and solemnly laid to rest by the side of his son Hugh in Oak Lawn cemetery amid the sorrow of a devoted family and the heart sobs of many devoted friends.
We extend to the widow and children of Father Wells our sincere condolence in this their time of sorrow, with the hope that they may feel that their loss is his eternal gain.
North Manchester, July 14, 1896.