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WELLS, ROBERT BARNARD (1809–1872). Robert Barnard Wells, minister and publisher, was born on August 27, 1809, in the Sumter district of South Carolina. He completed his legal education at Hamilton, Georgia, in 1834. He subsequently practiced law in both Alabama and Mississippi before moving to Texas in 1839. Wells first settled at St. Augustine. He came to Texas with the intention of entering the Texas army. He was commissioned a colonel but his regiment never took the field. While in St. Augustine he converted to Methodism and joined the circuit ministry of the church. His ministry began at Liberty in 1840. From there he was transferred to Washington County, where he served as teacher, preacher, and lawyer. Wells married Mary S. Fisher, daughter of Orceneth Fisher, a prominent Methodist minister, on November 30, 1845. To this marriage were born seven children. In 1846 he was assigned to the Bastrop circuit for a short period. While residing at Brenham in 1847, Wells published the Texas Christian Advocate (later the United Methodist Reporter), the first religious publication in the state. For reasons of health, Wells moved his family to Gatesville in Coryell County in 1854. Here he served as minister, assisted in founding Masonic Lodge No. 197, and organized forces to defend frontier settlements. Wells was for a number of years the only attorney in the county. He turned to publishing once again in 1870, when he established and edited the county's first newspaper, The Frontiersman. Wells died in Gatesville on May 11, 1872.


Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas (Austin, 1963-). M. M. Kenny, "Recollections of Early Schools," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (April 1898). A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

James L. Hailey


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

James L. Hailey, "WELLS, ROBERT BARNARD," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.