Ralph Lester Wells was born in Newlyn, Cornwall, England on 12 December 1909.
He was the son of Arthur Henry Wells (b. 1883), a railway conductor originally from London, and Addie Dart Trevaskis (b. 1883), a dressmaker from Cornwall who had married in 1907. He had one sibling, his elder sister Joan (1908-1933).
Ralph's father had emigrated to Akron, Ohio in 1910 with his maternal uncle Adednego Trevaskis (1877-1934) where they gained employment and lived at 279 Arch Street. Ralph, his mother and sister would be shown on the 1911 census living at 24 Alma Place, Heamoor, Penzance, the home address of his maternal grandparents. By April 1912 Ralph and his family resided at Nevada Place, Heamoor.
To join his father in America, Ralph, his mother and sister boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 29103 which cost £23). Accompanying them to the dock had been his uncle William Wells (b. 1890) who would later be joining the family in Akron. The family had originally been booked to travel on the Oceanic but were transferred due to the coal strikes.
Whilst aboard his mother made the acquaintance of several other Cornish families, including Mrs Agnes Davies and Mrs Emily Richards and their families, and it could be surmised that Ralph spent his time playing with Mrs Davies' son John and Mrs Richards' sons William and Sibley.
Addie and her children were well asleep when the ship struck the iceberg and she awoke to a tremendous jolt. She heard a commotion and a friend yelled "Dress quickly: there's some trouble I believe, but I don't know what it is." She dressed herself and her children but found attempts to make it to the upper decks difficult as several familiar passages were now locked. Once they reached the boat deck they were guided to lifeboat 14, in which they departed. Mrs Wells described the boat as being so crowded that she could only stand held her children in her skirts to keep them dry. On the Carpathia, Mrs Wells refused to sleep below and supposedly they slept on deck.
Upon arrival in New York the Wells family were met in New York City by his father and his uncle Abednego who had travelled from Akron. They spent the night of the 19th at the Star Hotel, 57 Clarkson Street before journeying to Akron.
In America Ralph gained two siblings, Arthur Lovesy (1918-2008) and Charles Owen (1921-2002) and would live in Akron for the rest of his life. He later worked as a shipping and receiving clerk at George J. Myer Manufacturing, a machine parts producer. Socially, he was a member of the Eagles Aerie 2238 and later president of the Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles.
He was married in Summit, Ohio on 6 January 1950 to Colina Troutman, née McDonald. Colina had been born in Scotland in 1915, came to the USA in 1923 and was married to an American, Lee Troutman (b. 1915), a machinist, and with him had two children: Sherry Lee (b. 1936, later Johnson) and Wilbur (1937-2007). What became of Lee Troutman is not certain. Ralph and Colina had no children of their own.
Ralph died suddenly on 27 September 1972 aged 62. He was buried in Mt Peace Cemetery in Akron. His widow Colina later died in 2007 aged 92.
Articles and Stories
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser (1912)
Akron Beacon Journal (1912)
Link and cite this biography
(2016) Ralph Lester Wells Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #598, accessed 30th April 2016 09:40:20 PM)
URL : http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/ralph-lester-wells.html
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