Erastus Wells came to Missouri from New York where he had been orphaned at age fourteen. He quit school to become a clerk in Watertown and Lockport, New York. He was just twenty when he arrived in St. Louis with $140 in his pockets – savings from his New York jobs that had paid a maximum of twelve dollars a week. He later became a congressman and a leading figure in westward settlement. He is important to Missouri because of his work in transportation.