Alexander Wells was the fifth of the six children of James (2) and Ann Wells whose births are recorded in the Register of Births of the St Paul's Episcopal Church of Baltimore Maryland. I am counting him as the second generation Little Wells in North America. This leaves James (2) (16xx – 1771) counted as the first generation even though there is an unproven argument that James (2) was himself second generation, the son of the 1667 immigrant also named James Wells (1) (16xx – ca1681). The argument supporting the father/son relationship connecting James (1) to James (2) was given in the previous paper entitled, THE "LITTLE WELLS IN NORTH AMERICA- THE IMMIGRANT ANCESTOR." That paper included a discussion on what is known about the lives of James Wells (1), (Part 1) and James Wells (2), (Part 2).
In preparing this document for posting I have preserved much of the original text of the Alexander Wells portion of a Family History Summary which the authors wrote in 1969. However, I have found it desirable to reorganize and rearrange and in some places, recompose the original writings. In addition I have added new material from research available from the Authors files, and connected the subject people to certain historical events effecting their lives.
Also the original authors’ citations of sources falls short of the requirements of a modern professional research paper. I have included here all sources as cited by the authors. I have continued their system of simply inserting the source citation in the text bracketed by parenthesis. Additional citations added by me to provide source information that they neglected to provide comes from the Authors research files. Citations added by me can be recognized by the use of italicized type. See Appendix A for further discussion on the source material for this paper.
Alexander Wells was born, March 12, 1727 in Baltimore County, Maryland. (Source: St. Paul’s Episcopal Parish, Register of Births, Baltimore, Maryland, on file at the Maryland Historical Society Library. Alexander was the fifth of the six children of James Wells (2) and his wife Ann whose births are recorded in the St Paul’s register.
(Ed. Location of the library is not given, but there are elsewhere in the notes evidence that the library is in Baltimore, Md.)
Alexander Married: Leah Owings on July 12, 1753. (Source: St. Thomas Episcopal Parish Records: Garrison Forest Church, Baltimore County, Md). Leah Owings was born ca. 1728.
(Ed. The location of these records too is not stated. They are most probably at the previously mentioned Maryland Historical Association Library thought to be in Baltimore. If not, the Maryland Hall of Records at Annapolis.)
Leah was the daughter of Captain Henry Owings (1692 – 1763) and his wife, Helen. Helen was probably, Helen Stinchcomb (ca.1702 – 1763). The couple was married about 1719. The Owing's home plantation, Long Acre, was in Baltimore County. Leah had six siblings, several of who will be mentioned later as associates of Alexander Wells. (Ed. Source: Informal record of 1960’s interview with an Owings family researcher).
Some of the children of Alexander and Leah Owings Wells are listed in the records of St. Thomas Parish – Garrison Forest Episcopal Church –Baltimore County, Md., as follows:
There were other children of Alexander and Leah Wells who were not recorded at St. Thomas. These children included Helen Wells, born July 25, 1775. She was married November 10, 1795 to her first cousin once removed, Richard Wells. The existence of this daughter is proved by a Deed dated October 16, 1797 under which Alexander and Leah Wells transferred a tract of Washington County, Pa. land known as "Stillton" to Richard Wells and his Wife, Helen. The document recited as consideration, "5 shillings and the natural affection which the said Alexander Wells beareth toward his said daughter and for the better maintenance and support of the said Richard and Helen."
(Ed. Source: Washington County Deed Records, Deed Record Book, I.N., Page 37, Washington County, Pennsylvania, Courthouse.).
Also there was another child named James Wells and possibly another son named, Richard Wells?
(Ed, No source is given supporting the existence of the children named James and Richard. The Richard Wells who married this Helen Wells was the son of Thomas Wells who readers of the previous paper will recognize as a son of James Wells (2) and his wife Ann. The son/father son relationship of this Richard and Thomas Wells is known in the WFRA data base as expressed in "Littles" file sent to me from Orin Wells Jan, 1998.
"Richard" was a common Wells name during this period including: "Richard (1), son of James (2): Richard (2a) Son of Thomas Wells, grandson of James (2):Richard (2b) known as "Graybeard," son of James (3) and a grandson of James (2); and Richard (2c}, son of Richard (1) sometimes styled Richard, Jr. a third grandson of James (2) named ‘Richard.")
FAMILY LIFE IN BALTIMORE COUNTY
Very little is known about the day to day life of Alexander and Leah Wells during their long residence in Baltimore County. Between 1754 and 1763 they had six children and added up to three more by 1775.
The Baltimore County seat of Alexander and Leah was a 407 acre plantation known as "Wells’ Inheritance." It was located near what is now Garrison, Md., almost in the present (1969, Ed.) suburbs of Baltimore. In addition Appendix B notes 12 additional Maryland land patents issued to Alexander Wells between 1750 and 1773. Most of these tracts were located in Baltimore County.
(Ed.: I do not find specific support in the research files for the conclusion that Wells Inheritance was the principal Baltimore County residence. It was acquired relatively late and there are 8 or 9 other Baltimore County properties noted in Appendix A. Also my analysis of the deed issued on sale of "Wells Inheritance" in 1780 indicates the property included 607 acres, not 407 as stated by the authors.
The only indication in the files supporting the conclusion that this plantation was the principal family seat, lies in the amount of consideration received for it when the tract was sold in 1780. "Thirty thousand pounds, current money," suggests a rather substantial property and the sales conveyance mentions the inclusion of "buildings, improvements, emoluments and advantage," perhaps indicative of a productive home plantation. And Alexander Wells was further identified in the deed as "Alexr. Wells, farmer."
Source: Baltimore County Land Records, Liber W.G. #E, Folio 352 – 354 Maryland Hall of Records, Annapolis, MD).
There is no real information as to how Alexander managed this substantial estate or how the plantation was operated. Since as we shall see in the next section, Alexander must often have been away to his western properties leaving him little opportunity to manage an operating plantation. It might have been managed by his sons and worked by his sons supplemented by black slaves or indentured servants. But there is no real evidence that Alexander owned slaves. There is one association with an indentured servant in the following 1764 Maryland Gazette advertisement:
Ran away from the Subscriber, living near Soldier’s Delight, in Baltimore County, on the 9th of June last a Servant Man named David Wickenden, an Englishman, about 5 Feet 6 Inches high, about 30 Years old, thin Visage, dark Complexion, dark brown Hair, has a speck in the Sight of his Eye of a palish blue, floops a little in his Walk, is fond of Liquor, much given to chewing Tobacco, and is a notorious Rogue. He is well known in Baltimore and Ann-Arundel Counties, having served Mr. Henry Dorsey on Elk Ridge 7 Years. He is fond of Plowing or driving a Team. Whoever takes up the said Servant, and brings him to the Subscriber shall have the above Reward, paid by
(Ed. Source: Copied at the University of Texas Library - NEWSPAPER ROOM — from Micro Film of the MARYLAND GAZETTE (of) ANNAPOLIS MARYLAND: Micro Film Reel, 5 — Issue No. 974 — ~_Thursday, January 5, 1764
The Alexander/Leah Wells family must have enjoyed a rather happy colonial life of relative abundance and community respect,
(Ed. The next Section of this paper will cite sources showing that between 1772 and 1782 Alexander Wells acquired land and built and operated gristmills and a distillery in Washington County Pennsylvania west of the mountains. Other sources will be cited showing that Alexander Wells maintained his residence in Baltimore County until 1782. The author’s concluded, that Alexander spent most of the warm months away from the Baltimore County residence during this period, conducting his business in the west.)
Alexander Wells was appointed Captain of Maryland Militia June 6, 1776.
Thursday 6th June 1776: "Commissions issued to the following persons appointed Officers of the Militia in Baltimore County to wit; Alexander Wells, Capt., Thomas Owings, Lt., (1st), Richard Sutherland 2(nd) Lt." (Source: See Md. Archives, Vol. VII, No page number given).
Alexander Wells may not have seen action during the Revolution. He was 45 years old before it began. The several DAR applications mentioned in the notes seem to have relied on the record of his son, Henry as the qualifying ancestor. There is, however, the following, evidence of his taking a formal oath supporting Maryland complete with a renunciation of loyalty to England and King George:
Friday 10 April, 1778. Present as on yesterday, Peter Moor of Annapolis, Samuel Owings, Thomas Owings and Alexander Wells of Baltimore County- took Oath of Fidelity and Support of this State according to the late act & certificates,
(Ed. Source: Archives of Maryland Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1778 – 1789: Volume 21, P-26, Dallas TX Public Library, No page number given. The previous citation given as Md. Archives, Vol. VII), may well have come from this source only Vol.. VIII that the authors accessed at the Dallas Public Library.)
Though Alexander Wells had begun the acquisition of Land in the West as early as 1772, the actual move of the family from Baltimore County was delayed until about 1782. The plantation known as "Wells’ Inheritance" was sold April 27, 1780 to Jonathan Hudson in consideration of 30,000 pounds current money in hand paid. The deed signed by Alexander Wells indicates his residence as Baltimore County Maryland.
(Ed: Source: Baltimore County Land Records, Liber W.G. #E, Folio 352 – 354 Maryland Hall of Records, Annapolis, MD)
A second deed signed by Alexander Wells November 29, 1781 selling a property known as "Wells Delight" in Frederick County to Samuel Owings reads, "Between Alexander Wells in the province of Maryland. So the family apparently remained in Maryland until that date.
(Ed. Source: Liber W.G. #G, Folio 480 – 481, No record name is given. The Photostat copy in my possession is not stamped Maryland Hall of Records. It is possible this came from the Maryland State Land Office or some other repository.)
However, on Jan. 9, 1782, when he gave power of Attorney to Thomas Owings to sell his remaining Maryland Property, this document describes Alexander Wells as being "Formerly of Baltimore County in the State of Maryland, but now of the county of Washington in the State of Pennsylvania." So the move must have been completed by that date.
(Ed.: Source: Record Unidentified, Liber W.G. #H, Folio 305 – 306, Again the Photostat in my possession is not stamped, Maryland Hall of Records and the record name is not identified. It is possible this Photostat came from the Maryland State Land Office or another repository.)
As early as 1772, Alexander Wells began to acquire land and property in Washington county, Pennsylvania. He was one of the earliest, if not the first, of the pioneer settlers of Cross Creek township, as he came here prior to the year 1772, and located a very large area of land. He came from Baltimore, where he had purchased soldier’s rights from men residing in that city.
(Source: History of Washington County, (Pennsylvania), by Boyd Crumrine-1882, "Cross Creek Township:" "Early Settlements, no page number).
Since Alexander and Leah’s formal change of residence to Washington County did not come until 1782, for a full decade, Alexander must have been away during much of the warmer months.
Among the grants to Alexander Wells in the new country that he very probably hoped would remain part of Virginia, but which became part of Pennsylvania, were:
(Ed. Source: Apparently the source for the above named property grants is the previously cited, History of Washington County, (Pennsylvania), by Boyd Crumrine-1882, "Cross Creek Township:" "Early Settlements," Page number not available... Also among the Authors’ research papers are copies of seven land patents issued to Alexander Wells apparently copied from originals at the Virginia State Library, Richmond Virginia. Three of these are issued in the name of John, Earl of Dunmore as Royal Governor, four are issued in the name of Thomas Jefferson as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. All are based on rights of soldiers serving in the French-Indian war under a royal proclamation issued in 1763.
The subject land is located in the West in the Cross-Creek area that later became a part of Pennsylvania. Virginia claimed this area, but after negotiations it became a part of Pennsylvania. Apparently earlier land patents issued by Virginia were recognized. These patents do seem to support the statement credited above to the 1882 Crumrine book that Alexander Wells had been buying rights to Western lands from soldiers living in Baltimore County.)
Mills. The Mills, always referred to in the plural form, were gristmills for grinding grain into meal or flour using waterpower. Boyde Crumrine in his 1882 History writes:
Alexander Wells built the first Mills in this section of Cross Creek Township in 1775, at the Junction of the north branch of Cross Creek with the main stream. These mills were operated by himself in 1796, when the ‘Western Telegraph,’ published on Jan. 11th of that year, contained the following advertisement of his property: "I will sell sixteen hundred acres of land with my mills, and the property on which I live."
(Ed. Crumrine, Boyde, History of Washington County, 1882, page number is not available)
In his letter written in 1897 by Samual Wells, son of Darius Wells, wrote: the following which was copied from an extract of a newspaper publication by H. G. Wells of Kalamazoo, Michigan, viz. Sept. 8, 1882:
He (Alexander Wells) erected the first grist mill in that part of Washington County, Pa., and tradition says that flour was boated from this Mill down Cross Creek (via the Ohio and Mississipi Rivers) to New Orleans.
(Ed. Source: I did not find material relative to the Samual Wells letter in the author’s research notes cited above. It may have come from one of the secondary sources.)
Wells Fort. : Wells’ Fort was built on the land of Alexander Wells, called ‘Mayfield’ (1780) on the waters of Cross Creek, near the Junction of North and South Forks, in Cross Creek township, Washington County (Pennsylvania) (Once, Virginia):.
Besides being a refuge for the families of the settlement it was also a defense for the Mills which stood a few rods to the West of it and was one of the earliest built in that part of the country, Mr. Wells having settled there in 1773.
In April and May 1782, the inhabitants in the vicinity of Well’s Mills petitioned Gen. Wm. Irvine, commander of the Western Department, at Fort Pitt, to send a few men to help garrison this fort and defend the Mills. There were eight or ten forts and blockhouses and posts dependent on the mills for their supplies of flour.
(Source: Albert, G.D., The Frontier Forts of Western Pennsylvania, (page number, etc. is not available).
The Distillery. Alexander Wells installed and operated a distillery on his land in Washington County. E, T. Heald in his Thesis tells us:
The distillery owned by Alexander Wells at Cross Creek was the largest in Washington County and the next to largest in the three counties of Washington, Fayette and Westmoreland in 1785-86.
(Source: Heald, Edward T., Bazaleel Wells- Founder of Canton & Steubenville – c/r 1948 (Page number is not available, Ed.)
(Ed. The ‘Whiskey Rebellion: of 1794 was the first serious constitutional crisis facing the new Nation. It was the result of the policy of the Federalist, Washington administration designed to generate cash to pay the cost of the national government. A new tax on corn that had to be paid in cash became law. The effect was felt most severely on settlers in the new areas west of the mountains since the principal product of the region was whiskey produced from corn and hard cash was all but unknown on the frontier. Another complaint of the settlers was the lack of an effective federal defense against the Indians.
Shades of "76", the settlers rebelled complete with some of the old slogans. Federal tax agents were met with "tar and feathers" and threats of the lynch rope. The ideal of secession was raised. The federal army numbering a total of about 5,000 officers and men was in Ohio on an Indian campaign. President Washington called out the militia determined to suppress the growing separatist movement. Fortunately for the nation the Indian campaign resulted in a timely victory. Also early in 1795 word was received that John Jay the American minister in England had successfully negotiated for a British withdrawal from certain frontier posts that the Settlers suspected was the source of the Indian trouble. The threatened sedition gradually quieted and passed.
Since Alexander Wells was most certainly at that time a western distiller, there can be little doubt where his sympathies lay. Perhaps this was a factor in the decision a few years later to sell the Washington County mills and distillery and move to Brook County Virginia.
John and Mary Wells Doddridge, A first-cousin of Alexander Wells, Mary Wells, had married John Doddridge who was among those who settled in the same neighborhood as that in which the Well’s Mill and Fort were built. John and Mary Doddridge are said to have settled in that region in the spring of 1779
They had among other children, the famous orator and U.S. Congressman from Virginia, Philip Doddridge of whom Daniel Webster said, "Philip Doddridge was the only man I really feared in debate."
Another son of John Wells and Mary Wells Doddridge was the early pioneer Episcopal Minister, Rev. Dr. Joseph Doddridge, who wrote, Notes Of The Settlement and Indian Wars, concerning this region. Mary Wells Doddridge died Nov. 30, 1776) when he was just a lad, and Joseph writes in his book:, "My father then sent me to Maryland with a brother of my grandfather, Mr. Alexander Wells, to school." He goes on to tell of the trip over the mountains on their way back to Baltimore County Maryland. (This is further evidence that Alexander Wells remained a resident of Maryland at least until 1776)
(Source: Doddridge, Rev. Dr. Joseph, Notes Of The Settlement and Indian Wars, Publication date and Page numbers are not available, Ed.)
Richard Graybeard Wells. Among the first permanent settlers in the area was Richard "Graybeard" Wells who emmigrated from Baltimore County in 1772. He was born in Baltimore County, Md October 25, 1742. Graybeard acquired land in the area and built a fort.
(Ed. Richard Graybeard Wells was the son of Alexander’s older brother, James (3), 1716 - 1797). The Graybeard fort according to Forrest, Earl B, History of Washington County Pennsylvania, Vol 1, 1926, P-54 was in what is now West Virginia, 6 miles Northeast of the Alexander Wells Fort in Washington County. According to this source, troops were stationed at both forts during the Indian wars. While West Virginia generally lies South of Pennsylvania, local border variations appear to exist which would make a northeast course possible)
Graybeard Wells made frequent trips east for supplies to Bedford County, Pa. Where he met Edith Cole who he married in 1776. Graybeard deemed it too dangerous to bring his wife to Cross Creek instead spending his winters in Bedford going solo to Cross Creek in the spring. (Ed. Alexander’s annual moves each year between 1772 and 1782 are thought to have followed a similar pattern).
Edith died February 17, 1783. There were two children, a son, Jesse, and a daughter named Jemima. Graybeard brought the children to the Cross Creek fort in 1785. In 1797 he purchased 217 acres of land on the Ohio River opposite Stubenville, and a few years thereafter began the operation of a profitable ferry service from that property. Graybeard Wells died September 24 1831 and is buried at the farm
(Source: this account generally is from, Doddrill, Carlin Frederick, History of Cross Creek and Harmon Creek Country, 1938, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia: Reference W 378.7543, Hist. D.-667.From Chapter II, "Early Settlers Page number not available)
Also a paper announcing a meeting of the Tri-State Historical Society on August 18. 1940 on the Bert Wells farm (passed to him from its original Wells owner, Richard Graybeard Wells}, included the following historical sketch.
Richard Wells who settled this farm in 1772 was generally known as "Graybeard" to distinguish him from two others named Richard Wells who also settled claims only a few miles away. He was a native of Baltimore County, Maryland, being born there October 25, 1742. In 1772, when he was 30 years of age he emigrated west and settled four hundred acres of land in what was the Youghiogheny county, later Ohio County, Virginia. It is now Brooke County, W. Va., this farm comprises 115 acres of the original 400. The balance of the original tract lies north and to the west of this farm. It is bound on the east by the Pennsylvania state line.
(Ed.. There were at the least two other Richard Wells in the Cross Creek area at this time. They were Alexander’s Brother, Richard Wells (1722 – 1816) and Richard’s son, Richard Wells, Jr. (1752 –1812) . Also there is evidence that Richard Graybeard’s father, James (3) Wells, also had moved west to the area.)
Bazaleel Wells. Bezaleel Wells was the youngest son of Alexander and Leah Wells. He was the son who became the proprietor of and founder of both Steubenville and Canton, Ohio. Living in Steubenville he was for many years owner of one of the largest woolen mills in America and also had ownership interests in large flocks of sheep. Bazaleel Wells was elected a member of the Ohio State Constitutional Convention in 1802, and he was elected State Senator from Jefferson County Ohio, in the first session of the State Legislature. (Source: Bazaleel Wells Founder of Canton & Steubenville, by Edward T, Heald – c/r 1948).
About the mid-1790’s Alexander Wells began to dispose of his Washington County property holdings. Under date of Jan. 1, 1795, Alexander Wells deeded "Stillton to Richard Wells and his wife, Helen." As was mentioned earlier in this paper, Helen was a daughter of Alexander & Leah.. The deed was in fact a gift reciting as consideration "five shillings and the natural affection which "the said Alexander Wells beareth toward his said daughter."
(Source: Washington County Deed Records, Deed Record Book, I.N., Page 37, Washington County, Pennsylvania, Courthouse)
On October 16, 1797 Alexander Wells sold another tract of Washington County land on Cross Creek described as the track "on which Henry Wells lately lived. This unnamed tract included 294 acres. It went to Nicholas Tillingtrost of Washington County for $2,353. This is the first appearance of the dollar sign in this history, but of more significance to this paper, the residence of Alexander Wells and wife Leah was stated as "Brooke County, State of Virginia" This dates the move as between January, 1795 and October 1797.
(Source: Washington County Deed Records, Deed Record Book I.N., Page 746, Washington County Pennsylvania Courthouse)
One additional land sale deserves specific mention; On March 20, 1798 Alexander and Leah Wells deeded their Washington County properties known as Mayfields and the Cliffs to Richard Wells and his wife Helen. Consideration was stated as 2,500 pounds, Pennsylvania currency. These were Alexander’s and Leah’s Washington County seat on which were located the mills and the fort. (
Source: Washington County Deed Records, Deed Record Book I.N., Page 745, Washington County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.
(Ed. The Nicholas Tillingtros deed dated October 16, 1797 seems not to have been recorded until the time of the Richard Wells conveyance in `1798. The two were recorded by the Clerk (I.N.) within one day of one another on April 11th and 12th, 1798. The research notes give no suggestion of why Nicholas Tillingtros delayed the recordation of his deed.)
Alexander Wells died December 9, 1813. He was buried at a Wells’ Family burial site apparently at or near the Washington County. Farm. He was 86 years old at the time of his death. Leah Wells survived her husband just a bit more than a year dying January 20, 1815. She too was buried at the same site as Alexander
Ed. Source: The Authors mentioned a letter from a named local resident,"who has the monuments." I do not find this letter in the research notes. The letter apparently confirmed the death dates given above from a "local historian" who had read the inscriptions. I do find a 1964 picture of Mrs. Arnold in front of the broken fragments of the tomb stone’s of George Plumber, died Oct 3, 1865 and his wife Leah, died 1845. This was a related Well’s family. The text by the authors describes the site as the "Wells Grave Yard –Knox Hill, near Avilla, Pennsylvania."
The last Will of Alexander Wells was made Nov. 3, 1812 and proven Dec. term 1813. It made the following disposition of the remaining property:
As to all such worldly estate as I may die possessed of I do Will and-bequeath the same to my loving wife Leah Wells, to hold during her natural life for her support and maintenance. And I do will, bequeath and devise all such part of my said estate both real and personal as shall remain after the death of my said wife to my Grandson, Nathaniel, son of Henry Wells to be delivered and paid by my said Executors to the said Nathaniel after the decease of my said wife..........."
Alexander's large land holdings had mostly been sold some to his children as well as outsiders; but considerable had been given to certain of his children during his lifetime. The Brooke County records confirms that most of the property remaining for his grandson, Nathaniel Wells, after Leah's death in 1815 consisted of town lots in Wellsburg Va.
(Ed. See Appendix C for further comments on the character of the Alexander Wells estate. Six town lots were apparently sold at a public sale of estate property. Other than that, I did not find other support in the research files for the Town lots character of the remaining property. The demands (liabilities) against the estate substantially exceeded the proceeds from the public sale. Therefore, we can not be sure that there was any remainder left for Nathaniel.)
The bequest of this property was probably very welcome to Nathaniel Wells as he married Barbara Markley on Jan. 30, 1814, the month after his grandfather's death. It is thought that Alexander had remembered him to the exclusion of everyone else, partly because, so far as we can find, he had never given Henry Wells, (Nathaniel's father) any land though he had sold some land to him. Alexander had given some of his children a great deal of land. It is also thought very probable that Alexander had contributed financial aid to his son Bezaleel Wells in his purchase and development of the land on which he built Steubenville, Ohio. This conclusion follows from the sale of large amounts of land during the last years of the 1790’s just as Bazaleel embarked on his major projects.
(Ed.,: Sources have previously been cited showing land gifts to other children. I see no firm source for financial support to Bazaleel Wells in the notes though there are references to other land sales. I conclude that the ideal of financial support going to Bezaleel Wells while logical, was the conclusion of the Authors. The material included in Appendix B indicates sons, Henry, and Bazaleel and son-in-law, Richard had monetary claims against the Estate.)
Also Samuel Wells (son of Darius left us the following information. Nathaniel Wells kept a grain and produce warehouse at Wellsburg for several years." Since Nathaniel was only 22 years of age at his grandfather's death, it is clear that Samuel Wells is speaking about the years from about 1814 or shortly before, to about 1819 when Nathaniel and Barbara moved to Licking County, Ohio. We believe it very probable that Nathaniel had been helping his grandfather in this Warehouse for the last few years of Alexander's life, and by reason of this relationship he was named the sole beneficiary to the remainder of the estate at Leah’s death in 1815,
Ed. Source: I did not find material relative to the Samual Wells letter in the author’s research
notes. It probably came from one of the secondary sources cited previously.)
When Alexander Wells died in 1813 as a 2nd or perhaps 3rd generation North American, his family roots in the continent had been established for more than a century and possibly for as much as a century and a half. He would appear, based on his property holdings and family position, to have achieved a revolutionary war version of what we late 20th century Americans sometimes refer to as the "American Dream." By the standards of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, he and his family had access to considerable material wealth and had obtained a position of respect within the community.
I see in his life a real picture of life on the western frontier. In fact the frontier lifestyle seems more apparent in this generation than in the life of his father, James (2) Wells or even his possible grandfather, James (1) Wells. Yet both of these ancestors had lived in Baltimore County at a time when they were on the frontier. I suppose this picture comes from the need to build Wells Fort a few rods from the residence and the need for the 8 to 10 blockhouses in the area as mentioned in the petition for an army contingent to man the fort. I suppose it comes too from the known historical fact that the first mid-17th century settlers in the Maryland Chesapeake Bay colony while subject to the many hardships of early settlers in a virgin land, found their area relatively healthy with Indian neighbors inclined to be peaceful. This was in marked contrast to the situation across the bay in the Jamestown and tidewater Virginia settlement. There the life expectancy of new settlers arriving during the first 75 years was less than a year and the Indian situation required a constant defensive posture.
I think in any case that I can judge the generations of Alexander Wells, his childern and grand childrem in the Washington County area, the last of my Wells ancestors who lived a life on the real American frontier. From this time on we became increasingly connected to the town and city in an ever-growing trade and business orientated lifestyle.
The source material used by the authors in the preparation of this paper included both primary and secondary documents. Primary material consisted of historical documents created by participants in their lifetime. Here the surviving instruments of this type include records maintained by government and church organizations. These include land deed transactions, probate records and other legal records. Church recordings generally relate to birth, death and marriage also fall within this category.
The author’s principal shortcoming with respect to citing primary sources is their failure to describe the full name and location of the record they are citing. They simply give the book and page number (in some records from the Latin , liber and folio designations). Fortunately I have in most case been able to add the record description available from the photostatic copy or other facsimile copy in the research files. In other cases I have had to deduce the name of record from the nature of the instrument, i.e., "Deed Records of Washington County.", etc
The secondary source materials used in this paper are published books and articles by earlier authors. These are generally identified by title and author name. Article citations in addition include the name of the periodical. They hardly ever cite page number and never give publisher data of books. The Editor cannot correct this deficiency. The books should be identifiable and locatable through a FTP search of the catalogs of the library of Congress or other major research libraries.
Another secondary source is informal interviews with other 1960’s researchers. Most often their record is simply an informal memorandum or transcript of the interview. In deference to privacy considerations for these people some of whom are still living, I have cited these sources as "Interviews with other Researchers" without identifying the party by name.
Source: Copied. from Card. Indexes of Patents and. Surveys, etc. · in Maryland State Land 0ffice, Annapolis, Maryland, in 1963 and. 1964: Appendix B included by the Editor.
The personal property appraisal filed with the court by the three appraisers, John Doddridge, James Marshall, and John Brown showed a total value of $361.40. Among the 65 listed items were included furniture, kitchen utensils, and various items of household goods. Some of the more interesting items were an eight-day clock, the most valuable single item appraised at $75, a flax hatchet, and yes, there was a musket and a spinning wheel. Also listed were a large family Bible (that’s the item we need today), a pocket hymnbook, a dozen old books, and a dozen gin bottles (full or empty? The record does not provide and answer). Finally were listed a few farm items including a large hand saw, one lot of old tool, a cow and a mare.
All of the property in this inventory is personal property, no real estate is listed here.
(Source: Inventory Book No. 1, Pages 130-132, Brooke County, Virginia (Now West Virginia) The record in this lnstance should be the probate Record or something of like effect, Ed.). Another list is an Inventory of the Sale estate property and an Inventory of Demands against the estate. Richard Wells signs this document.
The sale brought considerably less than the appraisal estimate, only $236.6975 (the .6975 should be read as sixty-nine and three-quarters cents). This sum included the sale of what appears to be six lots described as "6 lots of ground, No’s. 309, 310, 450, 451, 471, and 472." They went for only $100 to a Solomon Connell. This is the only mention of real estate that I have found in any of the estate documents in my possession.
The Inventory of Demands Against the Estate listed eighteen demands for a total of $1,011.74. Included among these claims were amounts due sons, Henry ($405.00) and Bazaleel ($89.22) and Brother or nephew. Richard ($117.00)
There is no material showing of how these demands were paid or whether they were paid at all. This leaves unanswered the question of how much, if anything, did grandson, Nathaniel realize from his residual bequest?
(Source: Inventory Book No. 1, Pages 179 – 181, Brooke County, Virginia (Now West Virginia) Agin this record should be the probate Record0).
Appendix C is by the Editor from his analysis of the sources cited.
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Conclusions Drawn From the Arnold Research Notes.
Is James Wells (1) the father of the James Wells (2), 16xx - 1771 the known patriarch of the Little Wells clan? I think the records and other evidence given above lead to the following conclusions:
Recent Research Developments.
Recent traffic on the Little Wells Mailing List has centered on records showing the existence of a Stephen Wells in the North Neck region of Virginia during the early years of the 18th century. This is the northern part of the state that lies between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.
Remember the 1950's researcher, Mrs Montgomery had theorized that Joseph Wells moved to this area to live on land which he managed for his wards, the orphaned children of a Rowland Thornborough who died in Baltimore County in 1696. While to date there have been no records found relating to Joseph Wells or James Wells, there are land, marriage, birth, and death/estate records showing the existence of a Stephen Wells in the area during the first two decades of the 18th century.
There is the record of a marriage on December 3, 1677 between a Stephen Wells and an Allice Howard. This early date would seem to be too early for the groom to be the son of James Wells (1). but there is another record of another wedding in the early years of the 18th century between a Stephen Wells and an Elizabeth (Williams) Settle. The bride was the widow a Francis Settle Jr. A son of this couple also named Stephen Wells (Jr.) joined with his half brother, Francis Settle, III in a deed conveying a tract of Richmond County land "where-on Thomas Williams lately deceased resided." (Source: Marriages of Richmond (County) Virginia 1668-1853, Compiled and Published by George Harrison Sanford King, Fellow, American Society of Genealogists Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1964).
In a book entitled Virginia North Neck Land Grants, 1694 - 1742, Compiled by Getrude E. Gray, 1994, there are three entries that might pertain to the Stephen Wells who married Elizabeth Settle. These are in Lancaster and Northumberland Counties, both North Neck Counties. Finally from An Index of Wills Recorded In Local Courts of Virginia, 1632 - !899, compiled by Clayton Torrence, 1995 we find that this Stephen Wells had died about 1718. There is the record of a probate of the Estate of Stephen Wells in Northumbria County in 1718 and an Inventory of his estate filed in Richmond County in 1723. To date there has been no report of the content of this Will or Inventory from current researchers actively involved. Possibly some clue of the identity of this Stephen Wells connecting him to the Baltimore County family of James Wells (1) may be in these documents if they can be found.
There are also records of the children of Rowland Thornborough in the North Neck area during the early 18th century. These include the 1726 marriage of John Thornborough to an Elizabeth Tayloe (op. cit., Marriages of Richmond County Virginia, Page 205) Also earlier in 1716 Rowland Thornborough married Catherine (Samaford) Baylis (ibid. P. 209). The latter record specifically identifies this Rowland Thornborough as "the second son of Rowland Thornborough (16?? -1696) of Baltimore County. Clearly the groom in this marriage was the Rowland Thornborough who as an orphaned minor is thought to have been the ward of Joseph Wells. Yet no record of a Joseph Wells or a James Wells living in these North Neck Counties during this period has been reported.
There is another report taken from Maryland Calendar of Wills, Vol 2, Page 111, giving some details of the Will of the Rowland Thornborough of Baltimore County who died in 1696. The Will is dated 25, July 1695. The terms divided the 900 Acre Baltimore County Thornbrough seat known as Selsad on the North branch of the Patapsco River between his three sons, John, Rowland and Francis. The eldest son, John was to have as his share land nearest Jones falls. A codicil dated Dec 25, 1695 gave daughter, Jane the use of 100 acres out of son Rowland's share and Daughter, Ann the use of 100 acres out of Francis's track. But there is no mention of the minor status of these children and disappointingly, there is no mention of the appointment of Joseph or any one else as their guardian.
The wife of the Rowland Thornborough who died in 1696 based on the Arnold's Research Notes was named Ann. She survived her husband and the Research Notes also sometimes refer to her "Extx of Rowland Thornborough." I take the term, "Extx" to mean, Executrix of the Will, A LittleWells-L post dated August 25, 1998 gives information of her remarriage on 10, March, 1697:
John Royston Married Anne, widow and Extx of Roland (sp) Thornborough. (Source: Maryland Indexes, Marriage Records, MSA S 1527).
While the John and Rowland (Jr.) Thornborough whose early 18th century marriages in the North Neck Virginia area were reported above are clearly identified as the children of the Rowland Thornborough mentioned in the Arnold Research notes, there have been no reports of new records of the key characters, Joseph and/or James Wells in the area during this period. In particular there has been no report of a marriage of the daughter of the deceased Rowland Thornborough named "Ann" to James Wells or any one else. In summary as of this date there are no new records from this source identifying the 1690's James Wells of Baltimore County as the same person as the 1716 James Wells (2) living in Baltimore County with his wife, Ann. This leaves the issue as of today pretty much unchanged by the new North Neck discoveries with the connection of the 1668/69 immigrant named James Wells (1) to the Little Wells family as its immigrant ancestor, little more than just an interesting possibility. It can not be completely ruled out, but neither can much confidence be attached to the connection. Further Research Possibilities.
The research of the North Neck Virginia records is not yet complete. Most of the material reported to date comes from published indexes and computer data bases. There have really been no reports based on the details of the primary documents themselves. In particular the 1718 Will of the Stephen Wells active in the North Neck Counties should be sought. Also the estimate filed in Richmond County in connection with the settlement of this estate might provide evidence of a connection to James Wells (1).
In addition the 1950s researcher, Mrs Montgomery, mentioned a record of the Death of a Joseph Wells in the North Neck Area. Records from these Counties may yet be available that will help connect James Wells (1) and James Wells (2) as father and son.