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Bringin' the Ole Girl Back to Life

Harrie Wells (1878-1925) of Maysville, Kentucky, came to Greenville to take charge of the Sommer Families undertaking business in 1904. The Sommer family had established the business in 1875. In 1907 he married Lourene Middleton (1885-1973) and, when Louis Sommer died in 1910, Wells, who owned one half of the business, purchased the other half from the Sommer family in 1915.

In 1917 they built the home at 419 South Main (across the street from the Greenville Public School administration building). In 1921 they built a modern funeral home on Main Street. Harrie, a member of First Presbyterian Church and the City Council died suddenly in 1925. All the stores in Greenville closed during the funeral. The Presbyterian Church was filled to capacity, and hundreds had to stand outside. Two hundred autos were in line to the cemetery.

Lourene Wells took over the management of the family business. She became a president of the Mississippi Funeral Directors Association and a member of the advisory council of the National Funeral Directors Association. She served as president of both the Greenville Business and Professional Women’s Club and the Pilot Club. She also headed the Washington County PTA and was state treasurer of the Kings Daughters of Mississippi.

Lourene Middleton Wells was a member of the DAR and American Legion Auxiliary. As a member of the Baptist Church she taught a class of boys in the Chinese Mission. Her children were John Edward Wells (1908-1985) and Bertie Lourene Wells (1912-1992). Bertie married Cecil Glenford “Glen” Bolton (1904-1993). Bertie taught school at Greenville High School. Glen Bolton was a professional baseball player. He began his career with the Cleveland Indians, then the New Orleans Pelicans and on to the Western Division League in Denver. He returned to Greenville in 1934, managing the Greenville Bucks’. After his baseball career he spent time at Milan Arsenal during World War II. He began working for the Wells Frame Shop and Wells Funeral home as director. The Wells home on Main Street stayed in the family from its construction in 1917 until 1995. June 2009 Anthony Staples acquired the property and proceeded to bring the ole girl back to life.

The Historic Preservation Commission feels this is a great example of what can be done with a well built home full of history to preserve that history for future generations.

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