Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
History of Bradford County by H. C. Bradsby, 1891
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Chapter LIV - Wells Township
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History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches

By H. C. Bradsby, 1891

CHAPTER LIV. Wells Township 
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WELLS (with Springfield and Columbia) was taken from the township of Smithfield, in 1813, and named in honor of Henry Wells. It occupies a rolling and well-watered farming district, situated between the headwaters of Seeley, South and Mill creeks; bein g north by New York, east by South creek, south by Columbia, and west by the county of Tioga, and was originally covered with a heavy primeval forest of beech, maple, hemlock, pine and other timber.

The first permanent white settler was Rev. John Smith, familiarly called "Priest Smith." About 1792 he came with his family and Con


necticut title, and located on what is now known as the Beckwith farm. He was a man of learning, and the first Christian minister in this part or the county, and new-comers would Journey long distances, by marked trees. to hear him preach. He eventually moved to Kentucky. Two other families, one or both by the name of Reeder, followed Smith, and built their cabins where there is the village of Wells; one was opposite the residence of C. L. Shepard, and the other where John Roy lives. In 1795, Rev. Daniel Thatcher organized a Presbyterian Church at Elmira, and constituted the adult members of these three families a branch of the same This was the first religious organization hereabouts, but did not long continue, for the Reeders soon moved away. They left a little grave where C. L. Shepard has his garden, which probably indicates the first death in town.

Lemuel Gaylord purchased and located where Mr. Pedrick 'is now, near the State line, in 1800. Mrs. Gaylord taught the children of her neighbors gratis, at her own house, which was the first school. Sol-omon Judson came from Greenville, N. Y., in 1803, and located on grounds vacated by the Reeders. His children were Ithamar, Samuel, Isaac, Sarah, Marv and Jane. The aged parents were buried on the farm of John Roy ;Ithamar had a house for the entertainment of strangers, and for religious worship, a little above Shepard's store, but finally went to Ohio. Samuel and Isaac, after giving name to Judson Hill, went west. Two of the elder Judson's daughters reside in the village of Wells. Deacon Silas Waldron arrived in 1804, and. after assisting the Judsons for a time in holding reading and prayer meetings, returned again to Connecticut. John Osgood moved into the center of the town in 1804. His children were John, Sarah, William, Elizabeth, Levi, Mary. Thomas, Caroline, Shubael, Merrill and Esther.

Samuel Edsall came in 1805, and located in the south part of the town. Adam Seeley had made a little beginning for him. Mr. Edsall's children were Permelia, Jesse, Richard, Charles, Barton, Lemira, -James, Lewis, Seeley and Jackson. This was the beginning of the remarkable immigration from New Jersey, which continued to such an extent that in 1850 one-half of the inhabitants of the town were from that State.

Shubael Rowlee arrived from New Jerse y in 1807. His children were Shubael (who was a justice of the peace for twenty-two years). James, Peter, George, Jonathan, Ananias, Patty and Elizabeth, About this time Benjamin Seeley and Esquire Hyde located at Aspinwall. Soon after, Zephaniah Knapp settled half a mile north of IT de; he being from Orange county, N. Y. The wilderness rapidly filled up with such men as Samuel and William Ingalls, Thomas Warner and his sons -Truman, James and Hiram -James Gordon, Ralph Bovier, David Griswold and others.

The first death of an adult was that of Peabody Keyes, who, soon after moving to the village of Wells, slipped on the ice, and dislocated his neck, December 25, 1813. A boy in the same neighborhood had


died previously; Solomon Soper's daughter had been scalded to death, on the occasion of a logging-bee at Samuel Edsall's in 1810.

Peter 1'. French came from Washington county, N.Y. in 1824, and built the first lumber-mill. in town same year. His children were James, Seabury G., George W., Mary Ann William, Charlotte and Lyman. In 1826 he had a weekly mail established between Elmira and Mansfield, his sawmill giving name to the first postoffice. Previous to this, the inhabitants were dependent on Elmira for news from the outside world.

Schools were established as soon as settlements were formed, the first being near where Albert Seeley lives, the next where Albert Judson resides, then at Aspinwall, Judson Hill, Rowlee's and other localities. Religious meetings were held from the first in the northwest part of the town, as we have seen Rev. Benjamin Oviatt came into the vicinity of the line between Wells and Columbia in 1819, and labored with great success. The first converts, consisting of twelve males and twelve females, were added to the Baptist Church, which had been organized at Sylvania in 1812 or '13. In 1821, however, the Baptist Church of Columbia and Wells was constituted, at the house of ,Tames Seeley, with forty-seven members. The entire additions during Elder Oviatt's service of three years were ninety. The present regular Baptist Church of Columbia and Wells had its origin at the Haven school-house, April 3, 1846, and their house of worship was erected in 1853.

The Methodists field meetings at the house of Samuel Ingalls, where David Fries resides, and afterward formed a class at Judson Hill, where they built a church in 1865. They have classes also at other points. A Presbyterian Church was organized at Wells by Rev. M. M. York and Rev. Simeon R. Jones, March 3, 1821, which became extinct in a few years. The North Church of Wells was constituted at the State line, November 22, 1836, and their house of worship has been moved to the village so as to accommodate all societies. The present Presbyterian Church of Wells and Columbia was organized at the schoolhouse in Aspinwall, February 22, 1832, and their meeting house was built in 1839. Rev. Joel Jewell has labored in the ministry of the gospel in the towns of Wells and Columbia for a period of thirty-five years , which is longer than any other minister has served in this portion of the county.

There is no mining in Wells; no manufacturing save that of butter. In 1877 the number of milch cows was 1487. John Brown sold that year, as the product from three cows, 903 pounds of butter, besides the milk and butter used in his family.

Revolutionary patriots of Wells: Shubael Rowlee, diedJuly, 1, 1829; Solomon Judson, d December 12, 1836, aged 86; Thomas Warner, died March, 1840, aged 84.

Veterans of 1812: Nathan Shepard, Sr., Win. S. Ingalls, Shubael Rowlee, Jr., John Fitzsimmons, Strong Seeley, Amos Baker, William Osgood, Theophilus Moore, Israel Moore, Partial Mapes, SarIls Barrett, Jesse Edsall, Richard Edsall, Joseph Capron and Thomas Ferguson.


In the Mexican War was William R. Wilson, who was in the regular and volunteer military service over fourteen years.

Wells Village has two stores, two blacksmith shops. an undertaking establishment, a cooper's shop, one hotel and a cheese box factory. ASpinwall has one store, one blacksmith shop, an Odd Fellows hall and one church. Daniel Strong owns a feed and cider mill, situated near the center of the township. There is also a creamery, owned by Warner & Grego,, situated near Aspinwall.

The preceding was scanned from the Bradsby book and interpreted by OCR software by Joyce's office staff. It was edited and formatted by Joyce M. Tice. Financing for the out of pocket costs of producing this page was provided by the gift contributions of web site guests who are listed on the sponsors page. Our gratitude goes out to them for helping to cover some of the costs of generating this web site. 
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