Dr. Henry L. Wells
Article in The Jeffersonian
Dean of Guernsey County Physicians, to Be 81
One of this area esteemed physicians, Dr. Henry L. Wells, known a “father” of the Cambridge Rotary Club Crippled Children Program and whose unselfishness in serving others and interest in community affairs are noteworthy, reaches an important milestone Thursday.
He will be 81 then. He has been a practicing physician over 54 years, longer than other person active in the profession in Cambridge and Guernsey County.
Father Practiced Here
Dr. Wells was born in Newark, Ohio, Dec. 3, 1878, the son of Dr. Levi and Mary Ann Morrison Wells. Dr. Levi Wells opened an office in Cambridge in 1879, when Henry was three months old. The father, still remembered with deep respect and affection by old citizens, was a typical country doctor whose income was, at times, meager but who left a heritage more valuable by far than a large estate.
Dr. Henry graduated from Cambridge High School in 1898, worked his way through medical colleges in Cleveland and interned at City Hospital, Cleveland. In 1905, he returned to Cambridge and began practicing with his father. In those pre-automobile days, roads in Guernsey and adjoining counties were practically impassable in winter and Dr. Henry, following in his father’s footsteps, traveled with horse and buggy or on foot. He owned and operated one of the first automobiles in Cambridge but, because of the many perils of the road in those days, he was frequently told to “get a horse.” Upon one occasion, a well known Quaker City man named John R. Hall, complained to Henry’s father that “your boy will kill himself driving in his auto at a speed of at least 15 miles an hour.”
Enlisted In Army
In World War I, he enlisted in the army and was stationed at Camp Dix. Returning to Cambridge, his practice developed into one of the largest in Guernsey County. In his long career, he has delivered some 2500 babies. One of them was delivered in a trailer near where Andrews Motel now stands on U.S. Route 40 west of town.
Built Own Hospital
Always interested in the medical care of people, in 1921 he built a hospital which he named and dedicated to his father and mother. However, attention to hospital details deprived him of the opportunity to visit the many people who called for him and he sold the Wells Hospital in 1933. In later years, he was very active in the establishment of Guernsey Memorial Hospital.
At one time, Dr. Henry, his father and his brother, Dr. Ross, a dentist, shared office space in the same building.
On Nov. 4, 1908, he was married to the former Bessie Pickens at a home wedding at Scotch Ridge. They are presently residing at 819 Lakeside Drive. To this union were born two sons, Dr. Arthur Wells, is a prominent Cincinnati surgeon, and Paul L. Wells, deceased. They have six grandchildren, Henry, Frederick and Judy Wells of Lore City R. D. 2 and John, Tommie and Diane Wells, all of Cincinnati.
His office nurse, Mrs. Kathryn Burger McNees, started working with Dr. Wells at Wells Hospital in 1921 and worked there for six years until her marriage. She later came back with Dr. Wells in 1937 and has been with him ever since.
Dr. Henry holds the Congressional Medal of Merit, the certificate for which was signed by former President Harry S. Truman. He has also received citations for his work as a civilian during World War II from two former presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.
One of the greatest pleasures in the life of Dr. Wells is to see children, once thought hopelessly crippled, walking and finding careers for themselves in all walks of life. He receives numerous Christmas cards each year form former patients, some of whom he cannot recognize because they have married and changed their names.
Dr. Wells has been active in work with veterans of the area and is greatly interested in their welfare. Richard A. Williams, local VA contact representative, has this to say of Dr. Wells:
“The veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean War join together in their praise of Dr. Henry Wells who has helped them in time of emergency, regular examinations and out-patient treatment. Dr. Wells is a truly blessed and consecrated man.”
As for Dr. Wells, his innate sense of modesty will only permit him to say, “I feel very highly rewarded with the respect and confidence that the community seems to have in me.”
Perhaps this explains why so many of his patients are proud to call him “friend.”