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AO History

Joins the Organization In 1864

Photo taken in lobby of AO Main Plant (still standing after Demolition)


Taken from the Optical Journal-Review, June 15, 1933

The year before the Civil War ended, a lad of eighteen arrived in Southbridge with meager resources but a wealth of ambition. This youth was George W. Wells, who, having offered his services to his country and been rejected, obtained work in the little optical shop, started in 1833 by William Beecher.

The career of George W. Wells began in this small way. All through the turbulent post war years, his character formed and his aspirations took root. Faith, above all other qualities, directed the drama of his success. George Wells at once visualized the opportunity in optics. With others, he formed the organization that is known today as the American Optical Company. His faith in the future of the optical business started the onward march that took optical manufacture out of the small back shop and put it in the foremost rank of American industries.

George W. Wells’ obsession was the improvement of the optical business - its progression to rightful consequence, its expansion to rightful proportions. He was opposed - criticized - downed, but like a cord he came right up again.

Almost from the start, his energy, his desire to improve the business, his faith and courage, marked the turn of the tide and the onward struggle of optics toward scientific direction.

A great vision, based on practical ideals and a deep knowledge of his own work, kept George Wells on the right track toward the goal of his youth. He entered the optical field when the craft was raw, unseasoned - when the materials were crude, the workmen untrained. His work was that of the trail blazer.

Slowly, patiently, George W. Wells built up en entire community of Optical craftsmen. Families - including his own - whose pride today has been strengthened by three generations of achievement. Frequently cautioned against over-expansion, time and progress invariably vindicated his judgment.

In 1912, the great optical leader passed away at the age of sixty-six. He left behind a half century of progress, during which he had lifted the business from a little shop employing thirty-five people to a mighty manufacturing plant.

For the perpetuation of his ideals, he had trained three able sons, men in the prime of life, who had then been associated with him for twenty years.

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