Biography of John Wellwood
Most Wellwood families which came to America were from Ireland, but not the Wellwoods of Mexico, NY. They showed up in the 18th century in Rhode Island. At that time there were very few immigrants who did not originate from England marrying into old line English families. The social restraints were very strong.
Since the Wellwood’s arrival from Europe cannot be located, the earliest record which can be directly linked to Oswego County, NY can be found in the Tanner Family Association’s lineage book about the John Tanner descendants. This book identified Esther Tanner, born 10 May 1788 in Hopkinton, RI as marrying John Wellwood.
John and Esther had 3 known children: James, John and Nathan Place. One of them was lost at sea, probably young John. Nathan Place Wellwood was supposed to be in Mexico, but no record of him can be found.
The Tanner story began about 1660 in London when the press gangs grabbed up a 14-year old lad and put him aboard an English vessel headed for New York. Once landed the boy escaped and fled to RI. This story survives although some serious researchers believe that a Tanner came with the first Baptists landing with Roger Williams.
Whatever the truth Tanner purchased land in Westerly in 1693. He married 3 times. The last woman was Elizabeth Colgrave (?). They had 6 children. The oldest was Francis Tanner who had 2 sons. The younger son was Joshua, born 27, 1757, in South Kingston, RI. He married Elizabeth Sheldon. They had 10 children. The sixth child was Esther Tanner who married John Wellwood.
John and Esther did not arrive in Mexico until 1838. Their presence was noted by every major writer of Oswego County history. A section in South Mexico was called Wellwood. There were many family members. There was and is a Wellwood Cemetery. The Wellwood family participated in local life, both town and church, for close to 100 years but next to nothing certain remains about them. If it were not for the Wellwood area and the cemetery they would likely be forgotten.
A major factor in losing this family was the lack of participation in the various census enumerations. Census takers skipped over this part of town in the early days. Not one Wellwood was counted in the 1840 0r 1850 Oswego County census. Later records seem incomplete with some persons hard to find because the recorder spelled their name as Welwood [sic]. Thus the family record now remains fragmentary. To eliminate some false trails, this group of Wellwoods were all born in New York, not Ireland or Canada.
In the 1860 Mexico census there was one Wellwood listing on p. 489:
J.A. Wellwood 48 Farmer NY
Sally 45 wife NY
Esther 72 mother RI
John 16 son NY
Emma 8 daughter NY
This family lived next door to the Remington’s also a well-known group in the Wellwood area. The maiden name of Sally, J.A.’s, wife was Remington. Daughter Emma died age 15 in 1867. She was buried at the Wellwood Cemetery. Esther died in 1868 and was likewise buried at the Wellwood Cemetery, age 80. The value of J.A.’s real estate was $5,000 making this household above average for the area.
This family’s listing in the 1870 Mexico census was as follows:
James Wellwood 65 farmer
Sally 62 wife
The next two farms were owned by the widow Lydia Remington and then Leroy and Ann Remington. The third farm down the road was then owned by
John Wellwood 27 farmer
Helen 24 wife
Henry 19 farm laborer
The total real estate value of James and Sally’s farm had dropped to $2,000. Their son John’s farm had a value of $3,000 in real estate suggesting his father had transferred land to him. The maiden name of John’s wife was Helen Griffin. They married in 1866. She lived to 1934 when she was buried at the Mexico Village Cemetery. Her husband, John, died in 1894, age 50. He was buried in the Wellwood Cemetery.
In the 1880 Mexico census John and Helen were still living.
Helen was enumerated as Ella. The couple’s one child, Grace, later married ________ Hardie. She was buried in the Mexico Village Cemetery with the Hardie family between 1903/07.
In another household Edwin and Lucretia Griffin housed 70- year old James Wellwood whose wife, Sally Remington had died in 1879. She was buried at the Wellwood Cemetery, age 63. James died 1902, age 91. He probably lived in Colosse during 1888-93 or maybe longer.
There was another child of Esther and John Wellwood not included in the Tanner listing, a Joshua Wellwood born ca. 1818. He was still living with his mother, Esther, age 62 in Greenwich, Washington Co., NY in the 1850 census as yet unmarried. The Wellwood Cemetery contains the grave of the wife of Joshua Wellwood, Margaret who died in 1872, age 40. This couple had 3 children according to a family Bible record now in the possession of the family. The children’s names were Henry H., Mary Elizabeth and Sary Jane. According to LDS records Henry H. was born 16 August 1852, Mary Elizabeth on 21 March 1854 and Sary Jane on 15 January 1855. All births were in Greenwich. The mother’s full name was Margaret Morehouse.
Mary Elizabeth Wellwood married on 19 March 1878 in Fulton, NY John W. Groff. Henry H. Wellwood married Grace Lenore Getman on 21 August 1879 at Volney. In 1880 they were residing in Palermo, NY. Henry and Grace had a daughter, Grace L. born 17 May 1882 who died in 1960. They also had a son, Wayne H. Wellwood, born 27 July 1897 in Palermo who became the father of Henry Wellwood. In the 1920 census Wayne H. Wellwood, age 22, was living with his new wife, Cora Holly, age 21, in Fulton, NY. Wayne was then a machine operator. He died in 1963. There are living descendants.
The Wellwoods belonged to the First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of South Mexico which was also called the Wellwood Methodist Episcopal Church. This church was organized 1 March 1849. Later 8 memorial windows were installed. Two honored Wellwoods: John and his daughter, Grace Wellwood Hardie.
In the 1830's enough of a settlement had grown up to receive a name - Hagar's Settlement or Hagarstown, probably from the family name of Gardner Hagar. Later this name gave way to South Mexico which, in about 1890, was changed to Wellwood to honor James Wellwood who had settled there in 1838.