E(LEAZAR) M(ATTHEW) P(ORTER) WELLS 1793-1878
- MM 1817, St. John's (Hartford)
- Member 1835, St. John's (Boston)
- DDGM, District 1 (Boston), 1844
- WM St. Paul's (Boston), 1846
- Grand Chaplain 1832-1843, 1859, 1860
- Deputy Grand Master, 1845
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXXII, No. 2, February 1873, Page 63:
HELP THE POOR.
The cold weather at this season of the year bids us remember the poor, which, indeed, the benevolence of this community is not backward to do. In this connection it is proper to state the interesting fact that our large-hearted Brother, the Rev. E. M. P. Wells, of St. Stephen's Church, daring the years of his ministry, has distributed $175,000 to the poor. This amount has come to him as freewill offerings of small as well as large sums, the widow's mite as well as the rich man's gift, and always without personal solicitation. St. Stephen's Chapel and St. Stephen's House, both of which were destroyed by the late fire, have for many years been a home where the poor, of whatever denomination, could apply for both spiritual consolation and physical relief, and from which none were ever turned aside unrelieved. Dr. Wells, though driven away from his old home, is still pursuing his benevolent labors, and may be found at No. 11 Oxford St., for the present, where donations may be sent as heretofore.
From Biographies of Grand Chaplains, compiled by John T. Heard; Proceedings Page 1873-300.
"He was born in Hartford, Conn., August 4, 1793. Was initiated into the Masonic Fraternity, 1814, at the age of 21 years, by St. John's Lodge, in his native city. He was District Deputy Grand Master of First District, Massachusetts, in 1844; Deputy Grand Master in 1845; and served on Committee on Charity in 1855, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1867 and 1868.
The following is copied chiefly from the Memorial of the Cincinnati Society: —
James A. Wells was an original member of this society. The subject of this notice, being his oldest son, succeeded his father as member of the society. He served in the State troops of Connecticut in the war of 1812; and afterwards entered Brown University, but from which he was expelled for refusing to give information respecting a poor classmate whom he accidentally saw engaged in a trifling piece of fun on a tutor. A few years after, the faculty of the University having been changed, the Degree of A.M. was conferred on him, and he was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of that institution. He was licensed as a Congregational minister, March 18, 1823, having studied theology at the Bangor institution. He officiated several months at Plymouth, Mass., but declined an invitation to become the minister of the parish. In 1824, 1825 and 1826, he was the missionary at Calais, Maine, during which time ho also gathered a congregation at Eastport.
He was ordained deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church by Bishop Brownell, of Connecticut, the 7th of June, 1827, at Trinity Church, in Boston. After officiating six months at Christ Church, Gardner, he was invited to take charge of the House of Reformation in Boston; but while at Gardner ho organized Trinity Church at Saco, Maine. He remained at the House of Reformation during six years, until he was requested to found the Farm School on Thompson's Island, Boston, in 1834. In 1835, he established a school of his own at City Point, called "The School of Moral Discipline." Here ho worked hard for many years, until his health and strength completely failed him, when he sold out the establishment. During this period he resuscitated St. Matthew's Church, which had been long shut up, and the edifice disused. After a year's rest his health was restored, and he was invited to take charge of the City Mission in Boston, for which the Hon. William Appleton built a beautiful stone church, consecrated as St. Stephen's Chapel, Oct. 5, 1846. In connection with the chapel, Dr. Wells established St. Stephen's House for the temporary relief of the sick and suffering; obtaining for the purpose, by purchase, the house and lands adjoining the church belonging to the estate of Charles Brown, Esq. After securing the means for the payment of this purchase, he gave a deed of the property to the chapel on the 20th of January, 1847. The great fire which occurred on the 9th of November, 1872, destroyed the house and church with their contents. To show the benevolent character of Dr. Wells' mission no better evidence can be adduced than to present his last report of his ministration. It is as follows : —
REPORT OF ST. STEPHEN'S HOUSE.
To the Contributors for the Relief of the Poor: —
It is just one year this morning, Nov. 10, since the great fire of last November was controlled, and the burning besom was stayed. The House, where we had sheltered the outcasts, fed the hungry, nursed the sick, clothed the naked, and supplied the destitute, was then only a heap of ashes. Alas! alas! the dear, blessed church, too, where, ever since the day of its consecration, we had, without one day's omission, worshipped our Father, good and bad, "high and low, rich and poor, one with another; "we there had sung and prayed, taught and hearkened to God's Word, baptized and communicated with each other in the Body and Blood of Our Master, married the rising generation, and buried the bodies of those whose work was done, committing their souls to God. In an hour all was as if nothing had been, only that the story thereof was written in the books." Hardly was a shred saved from church or house for a memento. Much might have been and ought to have been saved; and I would have done it, had I been permitted. I had not believed that the fire would be allowed to cross to our side of the street. As soon, however, as I saw it was likely to do so I started to begin the removal. I had hardly begun when some friends came in and insisted that I should leave the house. I knew there was no personal danger; the gateway where they had entered would, indeed, soon have become dangerous to pass; but I had a spacious passage at the back of the house through which all that was important could have been removed safely, and where I and my men could have retired. My friends, however, were not aware of this, and with the help of a police officer they COMPELLED me to retire. I think it was cruel and unlawful; I reflected, however, that though I knew I was in no danger, they thought that I was, so I suppressed my displeasure, and, gently as I could, yielded to their kind intentions and good-will.
The silly stories that were told of my taking my Bible and prayer-book, and sitting down to die with my house, are too ridiculous to require serious contradiction. I was sorry, however, to be thought to be of those who use the Bible and prayer-book as a charm to keep off danger. For many years I had used them in hours of peace and quietness to fortify my mind against the hour of danger and trouble. Do people who know me think so wickedly of me as to suppose that I would basely commit suicide? Do they think that, after so many years of hard work and persevering endurance, I could sit down and cry like a child over a broken plaything? Please think of me as being more of a man and a Christian. The loss was a very severe one, and if it had been an enemy that had done it, I could not have borne it calmly; but, as I fully believed it to be the visitation of my ever-wise and kind Father, I had not a word or thought of complaint, nor a tear to shed. I went on with my work, and in three days after the fire I had opened a continuance of St. Stephen's House at 14 Oxford Street, where its works of mercy to the poor and the wicked have been continued to this present. Hundreds of men out of employment flocked into the city, expecting to find abundance of work where there was such a scene of destruction; but the severity of the winter soon set in and checked the work, and hundreds of sufferers were dependent for existence on public relief. During the severity of the winter, I often had to furnish one hundred meals per day, leaving the persons to get their dinners at the soup-houses. I also furnished lodgings, clothing, shoes, fuel, flour, and other groceries; rents, aid for the sick, and funerals, for my old and well-known families. This help to families I have continued, and the meals and lodgings I have furnished as necessity required.
I thank God, and I thank you, too, good friends, who have given me the means of supplying these wants. God Almighty bless you therefor. It is a great blessing to me to be furnished with the means of relieving the distress and want which I am so constantly coming in contact with. I cannot comfort myself as the French woman in the frog-market did, when Professor Silliman, of Yale College, seeing her take the live frogs by the hind legs, and cutting them in two, while the fore legs with the head hopped off from the knife, demanded of her, "Is not that cruel?" She replied, "O sir, they do not mind it, they are used to it every day." She did not reflect that it was herself, and not the frogs, that were used to it. When I began this work among the poor I was told that I should soon get used to the suffering and wretchedness of the poor, and that it would not trouble me. I answered, that if the work thus hardened my heart it would prove to me that I was not fit for the work, and I would give it up. We must feel for and sympathize with the poor if we would do them good effectually. My feelings have grown more keen rather than less so.
Your kind donations have, however, not been sufficient to continue this work until now. I have been obliged, therefore, to expend several hundred dollars from my own purse to supply the deficiency. This, as you know, has been my usual way; but it is no longer possible to continue this. I have now no income nor property. I resigned my salary on the first day of January last. I have worked on in my professional duties, and sometimes I have accepted compensation; but I have generally preferred working where making it free made it twice a blessing. Most of the means used from my own purse have been the voluntary, unexpected gifts for my own use, from my friends. 0 God, bless them in this world and through eternity!
I will now tell you what I have received, and how I have expended it. Your donations are as follows: — (Here followed a list of donations amounting to $5,395.38.) Six hundred dollars of the above was given for my own personal use, but I felt almost sure that those who had so kindly given to me would forgive me for imparting it to those who, poor as I was, were more needy than myself. If, in the foregoing lists of donations there is an omission or an error, you will do me a favor to inform me of it. Donations are not acknowledged in newspapers, except the donor requests it. A receipt is sent to each donor, if known, unless it is delivered in person. Any begging note, except for work, with my signature appended, is a forgery. The foregoing donations have been expended as follows: — (Here are inserted the expenditures amounting to $5,395.38.)
I have now showed you how much I have received, and how I have used it. None of you, I feel sure, would regret your gift if you had seen but one-quarter of the comfort it gave to the comfortless and the wretched; how many pangs of hunger it cured; how many shivering, benumbed ones it animated into activity and strength; how many sick it restored to health; how many, many it blessed. My God, I thank thee that I have thus been made the messenger of thy children's mercy to their poor brothers and sisters! I suppose this is to be my last, my farewell report. It is painful to think so. We have worked together for thirty years. It is sad to stop the work. But from the smallness of the donations this year, it may be thought that I am too old to continue the work; and if so, I will yield to your decision. I trust that in another world we may look over what we have done together, — look over our little doings here, — and praise Him who sitteth on the throne that we have been allowed to do something in the great work of Jesus Christ Our Lord, which will then fill heaven with hallelujahs. I shall never forget your aiding me in this work of "good-will to men." I have for years daily prayed to Our Father to make you happy and prosperous in doing good. I shall still be happy to act as your servant to the poor for Christ's sake, if any of you have occasion for my services, until the Master says, "It is enough."
During these thirty years that you and your predecessors have worked with me, you have sent me, to use for those for whom our dear Lord died on the cross to save, — if they would be saved, — $146,702.50. This has all been given voluntarily. Not a dollar has been asked for individually. How many thousands have been blessed thereby! Rejoice, ye givers! Ye have given — I trust ye have given to the Lord, in giving to these, least of his creatures ! Over $25,000 of this I have given by saving a little every year from my salary, and by a little gain from extra work, or from that which has been bequeathed to me by friends whose work was done, of whom I trust the Lord Jesus has said, " WELL DONE ! "
God Almighty bless you. Farewell.
Your servant to the poor for Christ's sake,
E. M. P. WELLS.
ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRE, NOV. 9 and 10, 1873.
From Proceedings, Page 1878-166:
"The Committee of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts appointed to prepare Resolutions relative to the decease of our venerable and Right Worshipful Brother, E. M. P. Wells, a Past Deputy Grand Master, respectfully report the following: —
"The life of E. M. P. Wells, a Past Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, terminated on earth on the first day of December, instant. It is a complete volume, filled with good works. Prolonged to the utmost verge of mortal existence, it shone brightly to the last. He was never wearied with well-doing, but labored continually and lovingly to relieve the distress and soothe the sorrow of his fellow-beings. In looking back upon his long earthly career, in which his Christian and his Masonic life were so beautifully blended, we find nothing to lament, nothing to mourn. He has fulfilled his mission. He has left a brilliant example to the Brethren; and we shall always remember with gratitude his manly form, his commanding presence, and his kindly deeds. Therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts desire to pay their sincere and grateful homage to the memory of their Venerable Brother and Past Deputy Grand Master, Eleazer Mathew Porter Wells, who for many years, by his constant attendance, gave dignity to their body and authority to their counsels; who honored Masonry by a holy and unblemished life; and who, in unaffected humility and with godly sincerity, exemplified practically in his own person the combined beauty and excellence of FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY.