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William Edwin Wells
William Edwin Wells (1863 - 1931) was secretary, treasurer, and general manager of the Homer Laughlin China Company from 1896 until 1930. He rose to these positions after Homer Laughlin sold his company to Marcus and Charles Aaron. As his full obituary states below, Wells was very active in the community. He frequently wrote and delivered speeches to area high school graduations, political organizations (especially when dealing with tariffs which had a direct impact on the pottery industry), patriotic events, fraternity orders, and pottery meetings. Wells was often the toastmaster at large dinners and celebrations, particularly at country clubs and other golfing venues.

Wells delivered over ninety such speeches between 1905 and 1930. He graduated in from Steubenville High School in Steubenville, Ohio with perfect 100% grades in arithmetic, English literature, moral philosophy, trigonometry, astronomy, and Latin, 96% in geography, and 94% in chemistry. He was able to work in quotes from various historical sources, scientific disciplines, and literary classics into his speeches. The table at the bottom of the page contains links to over thirty of his speeches given in the tri-state area. Of particular note are the ones from 1917 and 1918 which center around World War I.

Special thanks to the Homer Laughlin China Company for making all of the materials on this page available for viewing.


Full obituary from The East Liverpool Review, September 19, 1931:

W. E. Wells Sr., 67, spokesman for the American Ceramic Industry, tariff expert, philanthropist, civic and industrial leader, died at his home in Newell Heights Friday night at 5:30 from a cerebral hemorrhage which he suffered at his office at the Homer Laughlin China company shortly before noon.

Plants of the Laughlin company in Newell will be stilled Monday out of respect for the man who rose for the position of bookkeeper to the chairmanship of the world's largest manufacturers of semi-porcelain. Funeral services will be conducted at the Wells home Monday at 2 p.m., in charge of Rev. Isaac L. Wood, D. D., pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Niles and formerly of East Liverpool, assisted by Rev. M. Rudolph Miller, pastor of the Newell Presbyterian church. Burial will be made in Riverview cemetery.

Active pallbearers, principally his business associates, will be Harry W. B. Spore, W. L. Smith, J. L. Thompson, M. Lester Aaron, J. F. Rigby, J. G. Pittenger, C. V. Beatty, and George B. Fowler. Honrary pallbearers will be H. N. Harker, R. W. Patterson, John T. Wood, R. L. Cawood, Edward L. Carson, A. V. Bleininger, Harry Walker, E. M. Knowles, George C. Thompson, F. B. Lawrence, T. A. McNicol, and H. J. Taylor of East Liverpool and Newell; H. D. Wintringer of Steubenville; Herbert Brenneman of Arroyo, Marcus and Charles Aaron of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Wells had just dictated a letter in his office when he became ill. He was placed in an automobile by other officials of the Laughlin company and taken to his home where he was attended by Dr. V. E. McEldowney of Newell. The pottery manufacturer lapsed into unconsciousness from which he failed to revive.

He was born in Brooke county, W. Va., where his great grandfather, Richard Wells, took up a 640-acre homestead site in 1776. His grandfather, Nathaniel Wells, was a member of the Virginia legislature in 1849-50 and also a member of the Wheeling convention which took steps to separate the state. Another of his ancestors, William Atkinson, fought in the war of 1812 and was with Perry in the battle of Lake Erie.

Mr. Wells was educated in the Steubenville public schools and later was associated with a Steubenville drug company. In 1889 he answered the advertisement of Homer Laughlin, East Liverpool pottery manufacturer, for a bookkeeper. He became head of the company in 1896 when Laughlin's holdings were sold to the Aaron interests of Pittsburgh.

Feb. 1, 1930, Mr. Wells relinquished his office of secretary and general manager of the company to his son, Joseph M. Wells. In recognition of his services, the post of chairman of the board of directors was created by the company for Mr. Wells. He has been active in the affairs of the company since retiring as general manager.

For 27 years Mr. Wells was chairman of the labor committee of the Unites States Potters' association which negotiated wage agreements with the National Brotherhood of Operative Potters. His eldest son succeeded him in this place two years ago.

Under Mr. Well's guidance the Homer Laughlin China company has grown to 25 times its original proportions. After the Aarons entered the business the company erected two additional plats in the East End of East Liverpool. In 1905 the company purchased land in West Virginia, where the industrial town of Newell was founded largely through the efforts of Mr. Wells. Two plants [nos. 4 and 5] were erected there. Later three modern tunnel kiln shops [nos. 6, 7, and 8] were built in Newell.

Two cities -- Wellsville, O., and Wellsburg, W. Va. -- were named for the Wells family and the W. E. Wells high school in Newell, to which Mr. Wells and the Laughlin interests contributed $30,000, was erected in his honor. He also contributed to a $30,000 fund for the City [East Liverpool] hospital.

Because of his interest in the Y.M.C.A., he was referred to as the "father" of the movement in East Liverpool. During the war [World War I] he was chairman of the east Liverpool War Chest committee and a member of the "Four-minute Men" organization. He was also active in educational affairs and a member of the board of education here before moving to Newell.

Besides his service as chairman of the labor committee of the United States Potters association, he was president of the organization during 1905 and 1906.

In the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Wells served several terms as director and was national council for many years. He served on the Virginia-West Virginia debt commission, was a member of the Ohio Valley Waterways Improvement association and West Virginia manufacturers' association and chairman of the West Virginia Republican state convention in Fairmont in 1912.

He was one of the organizers of the East Liverpool Rotary club, and served as a director for several years and was chairman of the public affairs committee.

Mr. Wells was president of the Potter's National bank and director of the Edwin M. Knowles China, North American Manufacturing, Newell Water & Power company , Newell Construction company and Newel Bridge and Street Railway companies, all of Newell, and the Potter's Mining & Milling company of East Liverpool.

He held memberships in the East Liverpool Country club and the Oakmont Country club of Pittsburgh. His principal recreation was golfing.

He was a member of the American Ceramic society and the Masonic and Elks' lodges, being a former exalted ruler in the latter, and the Buckeye club. In faith he was a Presbyterian and in politics a Republican.

Mr. Wells is survived by his widow, Elizabeth Mahan Wells, and three sons, Joseph M.; State Senator W. Edwin, Jr. , and Arthur A. Wells, all of Newell; one brother, Herbert of Colliers W. Va., and two sisters, Mrs. Foster Walker of Steubenville and Mrs, Neil Alexander of Lynchburg, Va.

Funeral services will be conducted by the Elk's lodge at the Wells home Sunday at 7 p.m. The family requested that flowers be omitted. Friends are asked to call Sunday afternoon or night.



W. E. Wells enjoying his favorite pastime.

Left: W. E. Wells' high school diploma, dated June 16, 1882.
Right: W. E. Wells' wife, Elizabeth and their three sons (l-r); Edwin, Arthur, and Joeseph

W. E. Wells' wife, Elizabeth, died on Tuesday, December 19, 1933. The following ran in The Evening Review the next day:
Mrs. Elizabeth Mahan Wells, widow of the late W. E. Wells, chairman of the board of directors of the Homer Laughlin China company, died in her house in Newell Heights Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. after several months' illness.

Mrs. Wells was born in Brooke county, W. Va., a daughter of the late William B. and Margaret Mahan. She was educated in the Seminary for Girls at Steubenville. She came to East Liverpool in 1890, a year after her husband accepted a position as bookkeeper for Homer Laughlin China company which then operated a small plant along the River road.

The family moved to Newell in 1907 shortly after the erection of the Nos. 4 and 5 Laughlin plants in West Virginia. She was a member of the Newell Presbyterian church and the missionary society. She was also a member of Bethia Southwick chapter, Daughters of American Revolution, and the New Century club.

She is survived by three sons, Joseph M. Wells, W. Edwin, and Arthur A. Wells, all of Newell, executives of the Homer Laughlin China company; four sisters, Mrs. William C. Crawford of Pomona, Cal., Mrs. William K. Cummings of St. Petersburg, Fla, and Misses Luella and Grace Mahan both of Steubenville, and seven grandchildren.

Funeral services will be conducted in the home Friday at 2 p.m. in charge of Rev. W. B. Kosack of Ford City, Pa., former pastor of the Newell Presbyterian church. Burial will be made in Riverview cemeteary.

Friends are requested to call at the wells home Thursday afternoon and night.

Details of Elizabeth Wells' funeral were given in the December 21, 1933 edition of The Evening Review:

As a mark of respect, a few departments of the Homer Laughlin China company's plants in Newell will suspend operations Friday afternoon during the funeral services for Mrs. Elizabeth Mahan Wells, widow of the late W. E. Wells, head of the company for many years, who died at her home in Newell Heights, Tuesday night.

Services will be held in the home at 2 p.m. in charge of Rev. W. B. Kossack of Ford City, Pa, former pastor of the Newell Presbyterian church of which Mrs. Wells was a member.

Pallbearers will include Charles F. Goodwin, secretary-treasurer of the United States Potter's association; J. Donald Thompson of the sales force and Lester Aaron, treasurer of the Homer Laughlin China company; C. V. Beatty, East Liverpool building contractor; F. B. Lawrence, secretary of the North American Manufacturing company; H. B. Barth, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce; W. H. Vodrey, attorney, and H. N. Harker, pottery manufacturer.

Burial will be made in Riverview cemetery.


Speeches written and delivered by W. E. Wells
Date
Description
Link
December 3, 1905 Elks Lodge 339. Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Eight pages. View
Circa 1907 Kenilworth Country Club introductions. Eight pages. View
November 12, 1912 "Labor Report, United States Potters Association." Pittsburgh, PA. Three pages View
July 1912 "Address to Western Glass and Pottery Association." Pittsburgh, PA. Three pages. View
1913 Atkinson Reunion. Four pages View
June 26, 1914 "Ohio Reunion of the G.A.R. at ELO." East Liverpool, Ohio. Two pages View
December 8, 1914 Report of Labor Committee of the United States Potters Association. Washington, D.C. Nine pages. View
December 5, 1915 "Memorial Address B.P.O.E." Bellaire, Ohio. Six pages. View
December 12, 1915 "Western Glass and Pottery Association Dinner" at the Fort Pitt Hotel. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Three pages. View
1916 "As Chairman of State Convention of West Virginia Republicans at Wheeling." Wheeling, West Virginia. Three pages View
May 24, 1916 "Dedication New Elks House" Three pages. View
March 1916 Pinehurst Tri Whistle Dinner. Five pages. View
March 8, 1917 Pinehurst golf course (North Carolina). Three pages, plain letter size. View
April 11, 1917 United States entering World War I, delivered at the Presbyterian Church. Three pages. View
July 28, 1917 "Flag Presentation to [Company] E. 10th Reg" WWI related. Three pages. View
April 1918 WWI and Liberty bonds. Wheeling, West Virginia. Four pages. View
Spring 1918 To the Boys of East Liverpool. East Liverpool High School. Three pages. View
August 1918 WWI and Liberty loans. Canton, Ohio. Three pages. View
Circa 1918 "Speech to returned soldiers of Elks - at the end of the Great War" (WWI). Two pages. View
1919 ELO Elks. East Liverpool, Ohio. Two pages. View
1920 American Legion speech. East Liverpool, Ohio. Two pages. View
1920 Labor speech. Cleveland, Ohio. Again in 1923 at Wheeling West Virginia Rotary. Four pages. View
February 8, 1920 "The Right Attitude of the Employer." Lincoln American Alliance. Cleveland, Ohio. Three pages. View
November 11, 1921 "Dedication of Monument to Elks who severed in Great War [WWI]. Wheeling, West Virginia. Three pages. View
March 14, 1922 Tri Whistle Dinner. Three pages. View
June 6, 1922 ELHS Commencement. East Liverpool, Ohio. Five pages. View
February 13, 1924 Elks with Grand Lodge Officers. One page View
May 4, 1924 "Romance of Pottery" at Atlantic City, New Jersey and again in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in July 1924. Six pages. View
July 19, 1924 Oakmont Country Club. Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Four pages View
August 1924 "Oakmont Country Club, Presentation of H. C. Fownes' Portrait." Three pages. View
December 10, 1924 Toastmaster at United States Potters Association. Waldorf Hotel, New York. Three pages. View
January 20, 1925 "Percy Frost Memorial at Elks House." Two pages. View
September 21, 1928 "Group 8 - Ohio Bankers Association at ELO Country Club" East Liverpool, Ohio. One page. View
October 1928 "Introducing Sen. [Guy D.] Goff at Wheeling Rally" Elks' Auditorium, Wheeling, West Virginia. Two pages. View
Date Unknown "Address at Commencement of Nurses, the First Class to be Graduated at ELO Hospital" East Liverpool, Ohio. Four pages. View
Date Unknown "A Memorial Day Address at ELO before the Great War to the G.A.R." East Liverpool, Ohio. May 30th. Six pages. View
Date Unknown No title. Body mentions East Liverpool Rotary on two occasions. Two pages. View
Date Unknown "An Old Elks Memorial Address" Three pages View

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