The drowning death of Alfred

Cheryl Morales provided this obituary of J.W.’s child Alfred Wells in a boating accident. It was published in a magazine at Cornell University, where young Alfred was a student. — BW


The sad death of Alfred T. Wells by drowning was the second fatality of this kind to happen to a member of the class of ’03 during the past summer. The accident occurred at North Escanaba, Michigan, on Aug. 22, [1900].

Young Wells was just returning from a sail on his yacht with his sister and some friends, when the yawl which they were towing broke loose, and drifted rapidly away. Wells started to swim after it, although the high wind had made the water rough, but before he had gone far the long duck trousers he was wearing weighted him down, and he called for help. Some sailors from a nearby barge reached him in a boat, and Wells grasped the oar extended to him. He was too exhausted to hold it, however, and sank, the sailors making no further effort to save him, though the water was only a few feet deep.

Young Wells was a native of Menominee, Michigan. He entered the course in mechanical engineering here, but in the middle of the winter term left the University to join a surveying party which was at work in the neighborhood of his home, hoping in this way to gain some valuable practical experience. He was to have returned to Cornell this fall.

Although a quiet lad, young Wells possessed those qualities which made sincere friends for him among the members of his class who knew him best. Not daunted by the fact that his work came unusually hard to him, he went at it with a courage and determination that promised success, and won him the honest admiration of those who understood the difficulties under which he labored. Earnestness and sincerity of character such as he possessed are not found so often that their loss is not felt. Young Wells was twenty-one years of age, and a member of the Sigma Phi fraternity.