Tragedy in 1949

Birth: Dec. 12, 1945
Mitchell County
Iowa, USA
Death: Jan. 10, 1949

Mother Dies Trying to Save 3 Children

OTRANTO, IOWA — A mother gave her life Thursday in a vain effort to save the lives of three of her five children. She was Mrs. Harold Wells. 24, who ran into her furiously blazing home in an attempt to rescue her children.

She and the youngsters Harold Gary, 4; Barbara Ellen, 3, and Leslie Keith, 19 months, perished in the flames.

Mrs. Wells had gone to the post office a half block away and it is believed that she saw smoke coming from the home while she was there and rushed back to save her children, and was quickly overcome by smoke.

The home, newly refurnished last year, burned to the ground. The fire started about 3:15 p.m.

Charles Crane, Otranto, a laborer who was working at the schoolhouse across the street, saw Mrs. Wells run into the house and crossed the street to try to help her.

He and George Ransom, a Rose Creek, Minnesota farmer, arrived at the scene about the same time. The men said they heard the cries of the baby and Ransom entered through a door and found the child lying on the floor.

He smashed a window and handed the infant out to Crane. The rapid spread of the flames prevented further rescue attempts.

Roger Campbell of Otranto rushed the baby to St. Olaf Hospital at Austin, Minnesota but the child died soon after arrival.

The bodies of Harold and Barbara, burned almost beyond recognition, were found about 7:30 in the kitchen.

Mrs. Wells body was found shortly before 6 p. m. in what had been the doorway leading from the livingroom into the kitchen. Wells, who operates a farm a half mile northwest of town in partnership with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Horace G. Wells, arrived home shortly after the fire broke out.

Vern Wells, 6, was in school at the time and the Wells’ other child, David 5., was playing in the neighborhood.

Firemen from St. Ansgar and Carpenter fought the blaze and prevented it from spreading to otter residences. The cause of the fire had not been determined Friday.

Mrs. Wells, the former Margie Stevenson, daughter of Lynn and Nellie (Seavy) Stevenson, was born May 27, 1924, at Riceville and graduated from Chester High School.

She was married to Harold Wells in October, 1941, at Grand Meadow. Minnesota. The couple lived near Riceville until March, 1945, when they came to Otranto and established the partnership with Wells’ parents.

Harold Gary was born December 26, 1944 at Riceville.

Barbara Ellen was born December 13, 1945, at Otranto and Leslie Keith was born June 3, 1947, at Otranto.

Surviving besides the husband, Vern and David, are the maternal grandparents of the children, Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Stevenson, Elma; paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Horace G. Wells, Otranto; great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. M. G. Stevenson, Maple Leaf, Iowa, and Mrs. Henry Erion, Elma, and great great grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Mak Svoboda, Protivin.

The bodies were taken to the Schroeder & Houg Funeral Home at St. Ansgar.

[Waterloo Courier, Friday, January 7, 1949]

Family links:
Harold Arthur Wells (1917 – 1985)
Marjorie Leone Stevenson Wells (1924 – 1949)

Harold Gary Wells (1944 – 1949)*
Barbara Ellen Wells (1945 – 1949)
Leslie Keith Wells (1947 – 1949)*

*Calculated relationship

Saint Ansgar Cemetery
Saint Ansgar
Mitchell County
Iowa, USA

Taken from Find a Grave.

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