Saturday, September 9, 2017

Walter C Wells

Photographer: W. C. Wells
Marengo, Illinois

Walter Chester Wells
(16 Jan 1831 - 25 Oct 1908)

Timeline sources: US census, city directories, newspaper items as noted; 05 Dec 1902, "Marengo Republican-News" short biography;

1831 Jan 16

Sinclairsville, NY, Walter Chester Wells is born to Gustavus Vass Wells and Hannah Matilda Warner
Wells family moves to Geauga County, OH
attends school in Geauga County, and Plainsville, OH, where he also learns the art of the Daguerreotypist
1852 Jun 03
Ashtabula, OH, Walter Wells marries Orlinda Sinclair Barrows
Marengo (IL) Republican News, news item says Wells opens first permanent gallery in the county

1860 Jul 24
Marengo, IL, US census as Daguerrian artist
1862 Aug 06
Marengo (IL) Republican News, news bio, Wells enlists as private in Company D, Ohio Regulars
1865 Sep 01
Wells is discharged from army service and returns to Painesvile, OH
Circa 1866
Wells buys a 120 acre farm in Jo Daviess County IL but apparently does not stay long. He opened studios in Warren and Apple River
1880 Jun 09
Warren, IL, US census as photographer and artist
1882 Jan 27
Marengo (IL) Republican news item says Wells is thinking of moving from Warren,IL, to Marengo, IL
1882 Dec 01
Marengo, (IL) Republican news item says Wells has moved to Marengo, IL
Marengo (IL) Republican several ads for studio “first door east and north of the Baptist Church

Marengo (IL) Republican several large ads for studio north of Baptist Curch
Marengo, IL, Wells becomes vice president of the First national Bank of Marengo
1894 Dec 21
Marengo (IL) Republican news item says Wells studio is at the northeast corner of Clark and Washington
1900 Jun 09
Marengo, IL, US census, occupation as “photography”
1900 Oct 05
Marengo (IL) Republican news item says W C Wells has sold his equipment to “Syndey” Rowe
Rockford, IL, city directory NOT listed
1905, 1907
Rockford, IL, city directory no occupation listed’ res 806 Court
Rockford IL, city directory NOT listed
1908 Oct 25
Rockford, IL, W C Wells dies of pneumonia at age 77

It appears Walter Wells was a photographer from about 1850 to about 1903. He worked with the Daguerreotype until the popularity of the cabinet card started in about 1863. While he had small galleries in some small towns, his main established studio was in Marengo, IL. There is some indication he also had a gallery in Rockford, IL, after his move there around 1904, but probably not as his health was failing by then.

The cabinet card at the top was probably finished between about 1885 and 1900. The style of the card was popular in the same time period.

Marengo (IL) Republican - 27 Jan 1882

Marengo (IL) Republican - 01 Dec 1882

Marengo (IL) Republican - 31 Jul 1885

Marengo (IL) Republican - 24 Aug 1885

Marengo (IL) Republican - 21 Dec 1894

Marengo (IL) Republican - 12 Dec 1890

Marengo (IL) Republican - 05 Oct 1900

Marengo (IL) Republican - 20 Sep 1901

Marengo (IL) Republican - 30 Oct 1908

Not the one you were looking for?
Here's the photographer's INDEX by name. Listed here are all the Cabinet Card photographers of the 19th century found in LOST GALLERY. This is a work in progress. For a look at the original postings go to LOST GALLERY.


  1. I discovered Walter Chester Wells while researching 105th Ohio volunteer infantry. He was a photographer in both Marango, Illinois and Painesville, Ohio.
    Here is a link to his wikitree profile:

    1. Great lead! I'll reopen the file on this page and have a revision in a day or two. Thanks!


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