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WELLS, JAMES B. (ca. 1812–1880). James B. Wells, Texas naval officer, was born about 1812 in Georgia. He was a New England Puritan by descent and was educated in Boston. After sailing out of Boston on merchant ships, he was the captain of a steamboat on the Red and Mississippi rivers when he learned of the Texas Revolution and joined the fray with a company of men he raised. After the battle of San Jacinto he made use of his seafaring experience by serving as a lieutenant in the Texas Navy and as sailing master of the Brutus. He is best known for his destruction of a Mexican supply depot at Cox's Point. In 1837 Wells became the first commandant of the new navy yard at Galveston; but, as such officials were poorly paid, he soon left government service and settled on St. Joseph Island, near the site of present Aransas Pass, where he became a successful cattle raiser and where he remained until his death in 1880. He and his wife, the former Lydia Anna Dana Hastings Hull, were the parents of James B. Wells, Jr.


Harbert Davenport Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

"WELLS, JAMES B.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.