Main Steet Cemetery

John Manning Wells

Born: November 30, 1848
Died: April 3, 1932



John Manning Wells and Arvilla Bond Wells married in 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. John was from England and Arvilla was from Naperville and they met at a dance at the Pre-Emption House in Naperville. John worked as a farmer but after the Chicago fire he also was a brick maker as Chicago needed many bricks. By 1875 they made their home in Downers Grove and started a family. Over the years John had many jobs, including village clerk and collector, real estate, loans and insurance and manager of the DuPage County Forest Preserves. The year 1883 was a sad one for the Wells family with the death of their 5 year old daughter Gracie and a few days later the mother of John, Sarah Wells, died. Perhaps some illness took them together. They are buried near each other in the cemetery.

The loss of daughter Gracie inspired John to take an interest in the Girl Scouts of Downers Grove. So in 1926 he organized the building of a cabin to be used by the Girl Scouts in Maple Grove Forest Preserve. The scouts never forgot his kindness and in 1982 some 50 years after he died they raised money to place a tombstone on his grave. The cabin built in Maple Grove is long gone but his life is still remembered. Arvilla lived until 1937 and is buried with her family. Arvilla lived to celebrate the Centennial of Downers Grove in 1932 but John died a few months before the celebration.

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