James Ira Wells was born in Blount County, Alabama, on August 10, 1827. He is believed to have moved to Clark County, Arkansas in 1875. He was a farmer. His parents were Thomas C. and Betty Wells. His three brothers were William, Thomas and Benjamin.
James enlisted in the U.S. Army at Huntsville, Alabama, on May 14, 1847, to fight in the Mexican War. He served with Co. H, 13th Regiment, U.S. Infantry.
After the birth of George Tom Wells, James Ira Wells joined the Confederate Army. His record reads: Enlisted Alabama September 1862 at Camp Forney, Company D, Murphy's Battalion, By Captain White. He served with D. McKeller's Company, in White's Cavalry. His Regiments took part at Fort Morgan, Chickamauga and Murfreesboro. Later he served with Company H, 15th Confederate Calvary. Wells was awarded the "War Badge" for his service in the Confederate Army. Wells' Regiments served in the Mobile and Pensacola area, then moved to Louisiana where it fought at Tunica. They guarded the approaches to Mobile late in the War. In the last month of the War, the 15th fought at Claiborne where most of the men were captured, at Demopolis, Alabama.
After the war and the births of David and Harriet, Jame's wife passed away.
He then married Elizabeth Eliza "Bettie" Cagle on February 22, 1885. He had three children at home and she had six. "Bettie" was the daughter of Frances Biggers and Sarah Jane Culp Hill.
Even with his three children and her six children, the Wells continued to grow, with the additions of: Robert Lee "Bobbie" Wells Gathright Chipman; Susie Edna "Sue" Wells Benham; Samuel Ira "Sam" Wells; Bedford Forest Wells; and Lillie Bell Wells Hazelwood.
James Ira, the father of thirteen children, had worked as a farmer all of his life. He died on September 26, 1894, when his youngest child was eight months old. He had served two wives and two nations and lived a very full life. His descendants can be very proud to call James Ira Wells father, grandfather, great grandfather, and so on.
(Taken from the program for the Grave Marking Service that was rendered to James Ira Hayes on August 5, 1995 at the South Fork Cemetery, Gurdon, Arkansas, by members of the Col. Robert G. Shaver Camp #1655, Sons of Confederate Veterans.)