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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Mrs. Cate Gilbert Wells

Mrs. Cate Gilbert Wells was born in Burlington, May 27, 1863.  Her father, W. Dallam Gilbert, born Feby. 6, 1829, in Cassville, Wis.  His father, a Kentuckian, was a lumber man on the upper Mississippi river and in 1851, Dallam Gilbert, with his brother, John, established a lumber business in Burlington, which is still owned by the family.  He was descended from the Devonshire branch of the Gilbert family, of which Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh, were illustrious members.  W. Dallam Gilbert was married Jany. 5, 1854, to Hetta Wells Merrill, born June 27, 1835, at Plymouth, N. H.  Her father, Stevens Merrill, a Boston merchant, visited California in '49, and returning, stopped at Burlington and purchased the property, Hickory Hill, afterwards selling it to his son-in-law, Dallam Gilbert.  It has since been the home of the family, four generations having dwelt within its old stone walls.  Mrs. Wells received her preparatory education in the Gordon school, afterward attending the New York City school, conducted by Madame Benedict and Miss Chapman, which was followed by two years of travel in Europe and the Orient.  On this journey she met her future husband in Egypt, in the temple of Kamah, on the river Nile --- Charles William Wells, to whom she was married June 8, 1892.  Mr. Wells was born Aug. 28, 1861, in Milwaukee, the son of Charles Kimball Wells, a native of Wells, Me., a Yale graduate and a pioneer lawyer of the firm Wells, Brigham & Upham.  The son was educated in the University of Wisconsin and for seventeen years lived in Chicago, a member of the prominent lumber firm, the I. Stephenson Lumber Co.  He died in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1897.  Three weeks later their little daughter, Catherine, died, leaving only Mrs. Wells and her son, Gilbert, of the family.  Gilbert Wells was born June 13, 1893, the last of the name, which he derives through various royal lines directly from Alfred the Great.  Having completed courses at a preparatory school in Connecticut, and at St. John's Military Academy, in 1914 entered the University of Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Wells has been for eighteen years President of the Burlington Musical Club, beginning with a membership of four, it now has six hundred members.  She is president of the City Federation of Women's Clubs, regent of the Stars and Stripes chapter, D. A. R., which she joined upon the service of Stephen Wells and Joshua Copp.  She represented the chapter at the National Congress, 1914.  She has served as historian of the Iowa Society, D. A. R., and chairman of state program committee.  Is a member of two state committees, I. F. W. C., and was chosen delegate at large to the General Federation at Chicago, 1914.  At the 1913 biennial she was one of three women nominated for the presidency, I. F. W. C.  In 1913, by appointment of the mayor she represented the city of Burlington at the National Convention of the Peace Society.  Mrs. Wells is an accomplished pianist, is fond of society and of humanity at large.  Her beautiful old home, Hickory Hill, has for three generations been a center of Burlington hospitality, and every year is the scene of many brilliant social functions.  It is an interesting bit of family history to note that Mrs. Wells' mother, Hetta Wells Merrill, whose mother's name was Mehetabel Worthly Wells, line of ancestry connects with the line of ancestry of her husband, Chas. W. Wells, through Thomas Wells of Ipswich, Mass. (1635) Deacon and Doctor, and member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston.



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