Originally a resident of Louisiana, Appling S. Wells later removed to Florida where his political and business fortunes were realized. He was a member of both houses of the Florida legislature and later held a seat on the Florida State Railroad Commission for nearly a decade.
Appling Speaks Wells was born in the Parish of Claiborne, Louisiana on October 6, 1867, the son of Daniel Appling and Caroline Ambrose Beard Wells. Little is known of Appling's early years and education, but at some point in his twenties removed to North Carolina. He married in 1889 in the town of Columbia to Ms. Caro Belle Lester (1871-1942). Thirteen children were born to this couple, and are listed as follows: Thomas Lester (1890-1955), Bonnie Sinclair (born 1891), Bessie Leigh (1893-1974), William Mitchell (1895-1897), Cornelia Jackson (1896-1900), Ada Belle (1898-1899), Appling Speaks Jr. (1899-1926), Lora Mae (1900-1987), Cora Patrick (1903-1973), Helen (born 1906), Pauline (born 1908), Blossom (died at birth in 1910) and Charlie (died at birth in 1912).
The Wells family resided in Mississippi before removing to Florida in the late 1890s, eventually settling in the city of Tallahassee. In 1906 Appling Wells was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives from Leon County, officially taking his seat in January 1907. He served two terms in the state house, and in 1912 won election to the Florida State Senate, serving here until 1917.
After leaving the senate, Wells maintained a low profile until 1921, when he was named to the Florida State Railroad Commission. His service on this board extended until his death at age 63 on December 16, 1930 in Tallahassee. He was survived by his wife Caro and was later interred at the Oakland Cemetery in Tallahassee. Also buried in Oakland is famed U.S. Senator (and later Representative) Claude Denson Pepper (1900-1989), who served over 40 years in both houses of the U.S. Congress.
The rare portrait of Wells shown above and below were located via the Florida Memory archive website, which has proven to be a great repository for finding information on past members of the Florida legislature.
This new portrait of Appling Speaks Wells was located in a 1917 Florida Blue Book in May 2013.