Family finds the legacy of Horace Wells Jr.

  • From left, Susan Cress, Johanathan Wiesenuegel, and Aaron Townsend look at their grandfather’s “As We See It” column in the bound volumes of The Courier News. - Ken Leinart

  • Descendants of Horace Wells Jr, from left, Robert Wiesehuegel, C.L. Townsend, Ione Townsend, Wendy Townsend, Nathan Townsend, Adam Townsend, Henry Townsend-O’Neill, Miles Townsend-O’Neill, Noah Townsend, Aaron Townsend, Susan Cress, Jonathan Wiesehuegel, Lacy Wiesehuegel, Renee Wiesehuegel, and Laurel Cress. - Ken Leinart

Somewhere in the musty tombs of The Courier News “morgue,” amongst the old headlines and photographs, there are memories.

It’s a mixed bag of memories, to be sure.

After all The Courier News is a newspaper and within it bound volumes dating back to the 1930s is bad news, as well as good news.

But for the family of the man who made it his life’s work to make sure that bad news had the same coverage as the good news, well …

Descendants of Horace Wells Jr. — grandchildren and great-grandchildren — visited The Courier News last Thursday. It was part of a family reunion “trip” that took them by the old Wells home in Clinton, to Green McAdoo Cultural Center and Museum, and to The Courier News.

The grandchildren could see the difference in the building at 233 N. Hicks Street as it stands now, from what it was when they were children and visiting their grandfather.

“Oh my gosh, it was so noisy,” said granddaughter Susan Cress. “There were all of those printing presses back there and it seems like they were always running.”

Another remembered the speed at which Horace Wells could build a newspaper page from letterpress printing blocks.

“He’d reach down and grab a block without even looking at it, he just knew where everything was, and man he was so fast,” said Aaron Townsend.

Letterpress blocks aren’t used anymore. And The Courier News prints two counties away, so there are no presses at all.

But there is the work, the memories, the words.

Wells wrote a weekly column, “As We See It” and it was in those words — his words — that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren relived the man and found his legacy.

Wells wrote about everything. He took on segregated schools and said it was time they stopped being the norm.

He scolded leaders when they failed to lead and praised them when they did what was right.

He wrote about his family.

“As We See It,” was the window into the soul of Horace Wells Jr. It was his vision of his community and his vision of his world and he shared it every week.

So while a grandson read about the goings on with the Wells family in one issue, another read about the injustice of “separate but equal.”

The family smiled.

They cried (a little).

They laughed.

While the bound volumes in the morgue of The Courier News may hold mixed memories for many, or may just be a glimpse into history, for the descendants of Horace Wells Jr. they were a way to reach back and get to know the man all over again.