Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
1878 History of Bradford County by Craft
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History of Bradford County 1770 - 1878

The Reverend Mr. David Craft

Wells Township

Retyped by Bruce Preston


WELLS (with Springfield and Columbia) was taken from the township of Smithfield, in 1813, and named in honor of Henry Wells, of Wellsborough, N. Y.

After it had parted with South creek and a part of Ridgeberry, Wells was left but little more than 7 miles long from north to south and 4½ wide from east to west, but it would be difficult to find an acre so uneven, rocky, or marshy as to be untillable. It occupies a rolling and well-watered farming district, situated between the headwaters of Seeley, South, and Mill creeks; being bounded 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." He came from Dighton, Mass., to the Genesee country, as the owner of lands, in 1790 or 1791, and organized at Canandaigua the first Presbyterian or Congregational church in western New York. About 1792 he came with his family and Connecticut title, and located on what is now known as the Beck-with farm. He was a man of learning, and the first Christian minister in this part of the county. "The word of the Lord was precious in those days," and newcomers would journey long distances by marked trees to hear him preach. He eventually moved to Kentucky; but when he returned on a visit a crowd assembled to hear him again proclaim the gospel. Many eyes were filled with tears as he read, in his own inimitable manner, that hymn of Watts,--

"Like sheep we went astray,

And broke the fold of God,

Each wandering in a different way,

But all the downward road."

Two other families, one or both by the name of Reeder, followed Smith, and built their cabins where we have the village of Wells; one was opposite the present 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.

Solomon Judson came from Greenville, N. Y., in 1803, and located on grounds vacated by the Reeders. His children were Ithamar (then married), Samuel, Isaac, Sarah, Mary, and Jane. Tile aged parents were buried on the present farm of John Roy; Ithamar had a house for the entertainment of strangers, and for religious worship, a little above where Shepard's store stands, but finally went to Ohio. Samuel and Isaac, after giving name to Judson Hill, went west. Two of the eider Judson's daughters still 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 centre of the town in 1804, from Tully, N.Y. His children were John, Sarah, William, Elizabeth, Levi, Mary, Thomas, Caroline, Shubael, Merrill, and Esther.

Samuel Edsall emigrated from Sussex county, N. J., in 1805, and located in the south part of the town. Adam Seeley had come in from the same place, and 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 the inhabitants of the town were from that State, or from the adjoining county of Orange.

Shubael Rowlee arrived from New Jersey 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 Hyde; he being from Orange Co., 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, Dec. 25, 1813. A boy in the same neighborhood had died previously; and Solomon Soper's daughter had been scalded to death, on the occasion of a logging-bee at Samuel Edsall's, July 4, 1810.

Peter P. French came from Washington Co., N. Y., in 1824, and built the first lumber-mill in town the same year. His children were James, Seabury G., George W. Mary Ann, William H., Charlotte, and Lyman. In 1826 he had a weekly mail established between Elmira and Mansfield, his saw mill giving name to the first post-office. 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 Aspinwa!l, 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 James Seeley, with forty-seven members. The entire additions during Elder Oviatt's service of three years was ninety. This flourishing society was ground to powder between the Old-School Anti-Mission division and Old School Anti-Mission division and the Disciples. The present regular Baptist Church of Columbia and Wells had its origin at the Haven schoolhouse, April 3, 1846, and their house of worship was erected in 1853.

The Methodists held meetings at the house of Samuel Ingalls, where David Fries resides, and afterwards 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, Nov. 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, Feb. 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 twenty-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.

Wells is noted for its patriotism.


Shubael Rowlee, died July 1, 1829.

Solomon Judson, died Dec. 12, 1836, aged 86.

Thomas Warner, died March, 1840, aged 84.


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


William R. Wilson. This man was in the regular and volunteer military service over fourteen years.

Besides the above, there was one special family. Gershorn S. Davis went into the 7th N. Y. for three months to guard rebels at Elmira, and his eight sons went into four different regiments. Lewis, Edson, Charles, and Thomas returned; but John, George, William, and Samuel never came back.

The muster of soldiers from this town, which will be found in another place, numbers 113, of whom 20 died or were killed in battle.

F. G. Morrow, M. D.

Erin, the land of the shamrock, gave birth to the paternal ancestor of the subject of our present sketch. Hamilton Morrow, at the age of fourteen years, emigrated from his native land, Ireland, to America, and when about twenty-one years of age settled in the township of Herrick, Bradford Co., Pa., on thc farm on which he still resides, and which he has brought from a state of wild nature to its present good state of cultivation. In the year 1839, when he was twenty-eight years old, he married Jane Walker, of New Milford, Susquehanna Co., Pa., and with her lived in harmony and domestic peace for thirty-five years, rearing a family of seven children to maturity,--three sons and four daughters, three other children dying in infancy.

The duties devolving upon the father and mother in the nurture and support of such a family, added to the struggles and toils consequent upon the reduction of the forest to well tilled fields, were no light task; but the duties were none the less conscientiously fulfilled. As the children arrived at a suitable age they stepped into the line with father and mother, and assumed their share of the daily burden of the home life. The subject of this sketch being the eldest son, was of course the first to respond to the call.

October 27, 1873, one of the daughters, Mary Jane, died, and on Sept. 29, 1874, the family circle was again broken by the death of the mother, dearly loved by her family and friends.

Dr. Morrow was born in the township of Herrick, August 22, 1845. From a tender age until twenty years old he assisted his father on the farm, attending the district school a portion of the time. He then pursued his studies at select schools in Herrick and Camptown, and also at the Susquehanna collegiate institute at Towanda, and under private instruction prepared himself for a classical course. After pursuing a collegiate course for a time in Lafayette college in Easton, Pa., he relinquished the same and taught school for a few months, and then began the study of medicine with Dr. T. F. Madill, of Wysox. He remained with this skillful preceptor for the usual time, and attended two full courses of lectures in Jefferson medical college, Philadelphia, graduating therefrom March 9, 1872.

On the 19th of the same month, he commenced life in earnest by marrying Miss Hannah Scott, daughter of John H. Scott, of Monroe Township, Bradford County. She was born Feb. 29, 1848. Her father was born near Bethlehem, Pa., in the year 1800, and married Catharine E. Harris, of Berwick, Pa., in 1830, and soon after removed to Monroe. They reared a family of six children, two sons and four daughters; the sons, two of the daughters, and father are still living in Monroe, except Dr. Morrow's wife. Her mother died in 1864.

Dr. Morrow began the practice of his profession April 19, 1872, at Le Raysville, but soon after sought a more promising field at Warren Centre, where a good measure of success has attended him, he having at the present time an extensive practice. Two bright and promising children, Lizzie and Charley, gladden the doctor's household, born at Warren.

End of Chapter

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