WELLS, THOMAS HENDERSON (1917–1971). Tom Henderson Wells, naval officer, son of Peter Boyd and Eleanor (Henderson) Wells (and descendant of Thomas Stalworth Henderson and Wayman F. Wells), was born in Austin, Texas, on June 3, 1917. He attended the University of Texas, Creighton University, and Old Dominion College. He was graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1940. During World War II he served with the United States Navy in the Pacific and was aboard the carrier Hornet when it was sunk in October 1942. He was awarded twelve battle stars for his World War II service and four stars for his services in the Korean conflict; he was also awarded the Bronze Star as a destroyer captain. Wells was executive officer of the Naval ROTC program at the University of Texas from 1952 to 1954 and associate professor of naval science there. He retired from the regular navy as a commander in 1960. He received both his M.A. degree (1961) and Ph.D. degree (1963) from Emory University. He was associate professor of history at Northwest State College, Natchitoches, Louisiana, at the time of his death. Wells's first book, Commodore Moore and the Texas Navy (1960), established his place as an authority on the navies of the South and of Texas. His later publications include "The Navies," in Civil War Books: A Critical Bibliography (1967); a United States Navy pamphlet, The Texas Navy (1968); and his M.A. thesis, published as The Slave Ship Wanderer (1968). The Confederate Navy: A Study in Organization (1971), originally his Ph.D. dissertation, was published posthumously; the work had earlier been awarded the triennial prize by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Wells contributed to the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships and wrote numerous articles for scholarly history publications; he also wrote a weekly column in the Natchitoches Times. He was married to Carolyn McConnell of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 28, 1943; they had seven children. Wells died at his home in Natchitoches, on April 16, 1971, from injuries which he had received in an automobile accident three weeks earlier. He was buried in Pineville Military Cemetery, Alexandria, Louisiana.


Austin American-Statesman, August 28, 1960, April 17, 1971. Daily Texan, December 18, 1951, October 21, 1960. Houston Chronicle, December 11, 1960. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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Handbook of Texas Online, "WELLS, THOMAS HENDERSON," accessed July 22, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwe26.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 11, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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