James Wells was born about 1840 in Mississippi.
According to an online exhibit published by the University of Chicago Library, he was the father of Ida B Wells. 
James was a carpenter. He and Elizabeth Warrenton, the mother of Ida B Wells, were enslaved persons on the property of Spires Bolling in Holly Springs, Mississippi.
After the emancipation and the end of the Civil War, he and Elizabeth were legally married and used their new freedom to become politically active, attain some economic success, and get schooling for their children. James Wells continued his training in the building trade, and became a skilled and successful craftsman.
James, Elizabeth, and their youngest son died in a yellow fever outbreak in 1878.
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