Local History Collections

Collection ID: 285
Location: LH - 366

(Description ID: 595685)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

Wells David Ream



Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content



The Wells D. Ream materials were donated in 2009 by Deborah Lalonde.

Biographical Sketch

Wells David Ream was born September 22, 1881 in Townsend Township, Sandusky  County, Ohio.  He was the last of five children born to Elias Ream and Sarah (White) Ream.  He enlisted as a private in Co.1 of the Sixth Regiment of Infantry of the Ohio Volunteers on June 23, 1898.  Through the summer his company was stationed in Chickamauga, Georgia and relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee in the fall.  On December 23, 1898, the company received orders to move to Cuba as part of America’s invasion forces.  By early January, they were stationed in Cienfuegos, Cuba.  The regiment spent a brief time in Sagna La Grande before returning to Cienfuegos.  Sherwood Anderson, the famous author and Clyde, Ohio native, was a member of the same patrol.  Ream was not involved in any combat and was discharged on May 24, 1899. 

Ream was a railroad engineer on the Nickel Plate Railroad.  He married Ida Ortner daughter of Ferdinand Ortner and Ida Sick on February 26, 1907.  They had six children: Howard Wells born March 27, 1908; Ida Sarah b.ornMay 7, 1910; Wilma Dell born April 20, 1913; Charles Elbert b. July 13, 1915; Alma Jane b. September 9, 1918 and Elsie Mae born December 7, 1922.  After Ida’s death on November 13, 1952, Wells David married Rebecca Bridget Perry on April 8, 1955 in Bellevue, Ohio.  She was born April 12, 1886 to James Perry and Mary Agsten.  Wells David Ream died December 24, 1969 in Bellevue, Ohio.

Elias Ream, father of Wells David, was born September 11, 1820 in East Buffalo, Union County, Pennsylvania.  He moved to Ohio with his parents around 1834.  Though his parents moved to Hampshire, Illinois in 1843, Elias remained and married his first wife, Harriet Hafner on December 26, 1844.  Together they had three children: Jeremiah Frederich, Hiram A. and Charles R.  Elias worked as a farmer in Groton Township, Erie County, Ohio, through 1860.  Following Harriet’s death after 1860, Elias married Sarah Ann White on January 1, 1862 in Murty’s Corners, Townsend Township., Sandusky County, Ohio.  Together they had five children: Hattie, Wallace J., Myrta, Leila and Wells David.  Sarah died April 22, 1897 and Elias died shortly after on July 3, 1897.

Scope and Content

The central part of the collection is a series of letters written by Wells D. Ream during the Spanish-American War. They date from the summer of 1898 to the fall of 1899. Most were written to his sister Myrta.  A number of letters to his brother, Wallace, and his future wife, Ida, are included as well.  Writing from the various locations during his time in the army, Ream offers a glimpse into life as a soldier during the Spanish-American War.  Ream’s letters discuss a wide range of subjects, including the daily life of a soldier, impressions of both the Spanish soldiers and the Cuban civilians, and the many differences between life in Ohio and Cuba. 

The letters are divided into three sections: those written while at Chickamauga, Georgia, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Cuba. In addition to the letters are newspaper clippings regarding W.D. Ream’s life following the war, particularly veteran celebrations etc.  Of note is a picture (negative included), reprinted a number of times, of W.D. Ream with members of his company, including Sherwood Anderson.  Various documents regarding Ream’s discharge and pension petition are in the collection as well. 

A number of letters from Sherwood Anderson’s biographer, William Alfred Sutton, are included, from the 1940s.  An English graduate student at The Ohio State University, Sutton completed his doctoral dissertation entitled, “Sherwood Anderson’s Formative Years (1876-1913),” in 1943.  According to their correspondence, Sutton visited Ream and his family during his research for the project.  While the majority of the collection, largely Ream’s letters, only span 1898 and1899, various materials on his continued connection with Sherwood Anderson as well as Ream’s life as a veteran span until his death in 1969.


Acc. 5769

1. W.D. Ream Correspondence Summer 1898

            To Wallace Ream June 8

            To Wallace Ream June 26

            To Myrta Ream June 28

            To Wallace Ream July 19

            To Myrta Ream July 21

            To Wallace Ream July 26

            To Myrta Ream August 4

To Myrta Ream August 11

2. W.D. Ream Correspondence November-December 1898

            To Myrta Ream November 8

            To Myrta Ream November 21

            To Myrta Ream December 8

            To Myrta Ream December 18

            To Ida Ortner December 18

            To Wallace Ream December 23

To Leila Ream December 26

3. W.D. Ream Correspondence January 1899-May 1899

            To Wallace Ream January 9

            To Ida Ortner January 17

            To Myrta Ream January 29

            To Myrta Ream February 7

            To Ida Ortner February 11

            To Wallace Ream February 22

            To Myrta Ream March 2

            To Ida Ortner March 10

            To Myrta Ream March 14

            To Myrta Ream March 31

            To Myrta Ream April 8

            To Myrta Ream May 9

            To Myrta Ream May 12

4. Spanish-American War Documents:

            Newspaper article noting enlistment of W.D. Reams

            W.D. Ream’s discharge notification

            Ream’s Declaration for Pension

            J. A. Sipher correspondence regarding pension, June 26, 1922

            Verna Rhoda correspondence regarding pension, March 29,1934

5. Correspondence with William Alfred Sutton

            March 17, 1943

            November 30, 1943

            May 29, 1944

6. Family History:

            Generational Study beginning with Elias Ream

            Copy of W.D. Ream’s Birth Record

Family Photograph Bellevue, OH 1931

            W.D. Ream’s will, March 29, 1969

            Correspondence regarding Ream’s finances, January 7, 1971

            Copy of W.D. Ream’s Death Certificate

            Photographs of Ream’s family gravestones

            Various Notifications of Ream’s death 1969

7. War Veteran Articles

            Negative and Copy of Photograph including Reams and Anderson

Nickel Plate Road Magazine July 1949 (copy)

            Nickel Plate Road Magazine October 1954 (copy)

RFD News June 12, 1967, vol. 10 Number 1 (original and copy)


8. Miscellaneous Correspondence 1898-1908

            Homer Thompson to Myrta Ream December 2, 1898

            C. R. Callaghan to W.D. Ream 1907

            W.D. Ream to Myrta Ream June 3, 1908