Saturday, March 6, 2004

Ruth Wells, 96, teacher, history buff


Founded historical groups

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLLEGE HILL - Because of Ruth Jones Wells, the history of Colerain Township, College Hill and northern Hamilton County will be preserved.

"She collected history and disseminated it," said her close friend Betty Smiddy of West Chester. "She was passionate about collecting, and she saved so much of the correspondence of people who are now gone."

Smiddy added: "Even though she didn't have kids, she had a lot of children in a different respect. She influenced a lot of people, including kids."

Mrs. Wells died Tuesday of kidney failure at Llanfair Retirement Community in College Hill. She was 96.

She had been the oldest continuous College Hill resident, having moved there in 1910 when she was 2 years old. She lived much of her life in the house her father built.

In 1927, she graduated from Hughes High School where she studied the cello. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and taught piano in her home.

After her husband, Ralph, died in 1950, Mrs. Wells returned to UC to earn a master's degree in education.

She began her teaching career in North College Hill schools in 1953.

Later, in 1960, she moved to Northwest schools, serving at Taylor, Struble and Houston elementary schools, where she taught history and music. She retired in 1978.

Mrs. Wells helped found both the College Hill Historical Society and The Coleraine Historical Society. She was a newsletter editor for the Hamilton County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogy Society, the College Hill Historical Society and the Coleraine Historical Society. She also was a history columnist for the Hilltop News.

"My interest is in preserving whatever historical heritage is left in northern Hamilton County. I feel it is vitally important for young people to know something of their background," she said in a 1973 Enquirer article.

Mrs. Wells wrote the book Colerain Township Revisited, 1774-1794 and also received the Hamilton County Recorder's Office Griffin Yeatman Historical Achievement Award for individual achievement of historical preservation in 1995.

After a mugging in 1977, she was left nearly blind. But that did not stop her from helping organize neighborhood block watches in College Hill. She was also the editor of the College Hill Journal and the Colerain Pageant, served on the College Hill Town Hall committee and was president of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society.

Survivors include a nephew, William W. Foster of Springfield Township, and another long-time friend, Christene Jefferson of Mount Healthy.

Services have been held.

Memorials may be made to the Coleraine Historical Society, P.O. Box 53726, Cincinnati, OH 45253.

E-mail kandrew@enquirer.com




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