Presented by JAMES R. WELLS, with Linda Cunningham Fluharty.

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     Spanning a period of over one hundred and fifty years beginning in about 1777, my direct ancestors and their children settled and farmed land along the Ohio River through five generations. From Brooke County in the North to Pleasants County in the South, they raised their families, farmed the land, and became relatively prosperous from their efforts.

     Several towns along the Ohio River were founded by and/or named for members of the Wells families. These include:

  • Wellsburg, WV - named for Charles Wells
  • Wellsville, OH - first settled by William Wells
  • Steubenville, OH - founded by Bezaleel Wells
  • Sistersville, WV - established by Delilah and Sarah, daughters of Charles Wells
  •      Following is a brief record of these families. I have chosen to begin with Charles Wells since he was the first ancestor to arrive in the Ohio Valley. The ancestral line traces back three more generations to John Wells who was born in Baltimore County, Maryland in about1675. John Wells is considered to be the progenitor of the Wells line known as “The Big Wells”. His ancestry has not been clearly established. John died in Baltimore County in 1721. Several of John Wells descendants were born and raised on a 2,000+ acre estate known as Wells Manor, which was located in St. Paul’s Parish in Baltimore County.

    (Note – there is another Wells family line, sometimes referred to as “the Little Wellses” that also settled in the Ohio valley. That line traces back to James Wells, born in England in 1640, who arrived in Maryland in 1669)

    Charles Wells, 1745 - 1815

    Abstracted from History of the Pan-Handle - West Virginia, 1879; page 356.
    Amended & augmented by James R. Wells.

         CHARLES WELLS, son of Benjamin and Temperance Butler Wells, was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, April 6, 1745. He met and married his first wife, Michal Owings, in Baltimore County. They were married December 27, 1764. Michal Owings, born 2 Feb 1745, was the daughter of Joshua and Mary Cockey Owings. Charles and Michal's first seven children (see below) were all born in Baltimore County, Maryland during the period 1765 - 1776. The remaining three children were born in Virginia after they moved there from Maryland. Michal Owings Wells died May 17, 1783 in Ohio County (now Brooke County), Virginia.

         Mr. Wells was one of the early pioneers of the Northern Panhandle. He settled on Buffalo Creek, about two miles from the Pennsylvania line, north of the creek, around the year 1777. His brothers, William, Absalom, Caleb, and Amos also settled in the county about the same time.

         Following the death of his wife Michal, Charles Wells married Elizabeth Prather on July 24, 1784. Elizabeth Prather, born July 1, 1765, was the only daughter of Charles and Ruth Tannehill Prather. Charles Prather was another early settler in the area. In 1788, Charles Prather purchased four hundred acres on the Ohio River from the Cox brothers. In 1791 he had it surveyed and laid out to be a town. In 1792 he secured a charter from the State of Virginia and named it Charles Town. The area at that time was part of Ohio County, Virginia. In 1797, as the population increased, a new county was formed, Brooke County, named for Governor Robert Brooke. The new county extended from Short Creek on the south to the top of the panhandle. Dissatisfaction of the people in the northern part caused Hancock County to be formed in 1848.

         The legislature of the State of Virginia passed an act December 27, 1816 to change the name of Charles Town to Wellsburg. The new name was in honor of Charles Wells, who married Elizabeth, the only daughter of Charles Prather. Mr. Wells represented Northwestern Virginia in the Virginia State Legislature eight years, between 1789 and 1816.

         After his second marriage, Charles sold his land in Brooke County and moved to Tyler County, Virginia, around1803. There he purchased a large tract of river bottomland that initially became known as Wells Landing. He became wealthy in both land and stock and gave his children farms as they married and settled. The beautiful bottom, where Sistersville now stands, was given by Mr. Wells to two of his daughters, Delilah and Sarah, who afterwards laid out a portion of the land for a town and called it Sistersville.

         Mr. Wells' family became one of the most remarkable in Northwestern Virginia, for their number and stature, as well as wealth and influence. He had by his first wife ten children, by his second wife he had twelve, making a family of twenty-two children, fourteen daughters and eight sons. All these children grew to years of maturity and most of them married and raised large families. They principally all settled in the Ohio valley and now with descendants, constitute the numerous families of Wells, Russells, McCoys and others from Steubenville to Parkersburg, principally on the Virginia side of the river. They all, male and female, grew to an exceeding large size, were athletic and healthy, their weight ranging from two hundred to two hundred and seventy five pounds. They were noted for their family friendship and a habit of visiting among themselves, often going in companies of ten to twenty and spending weeks in visiting from place to place among friends. It became a by-word among steamboat and river men, on seeing a company of men and women coming to the boat "there comes the big Wellses." They were known by all the boatmen, from Pittsburgh to New Orleans.

         The children of Charles Wells and Michal Owings were:

    1. Rebecca Wells b. 19 Oct 1765
    2. Joshua Wells b. 7 Nov 1767
    3. Temperance Wells b. 1 Sep 1769
    4. Benedict Wells b. 19 Mar 1771
    5. Daughter Wells b. 1772
    6. Absalom Wells b. 3 Oct 1774
    7. Mary Owings Wells b. 19 Sep 1776
    8. Elizabeth Wells b. 27 Apr 1779
    9. Ephraim Wells b. 28 Apr 1781
    10. Michal Wells b. 15 Apr 1783

         The children of Charles Wells and Elizabeth Prather were:

    11. Charles Prather Wells b. 30 May 1785
    12. Nicholas Wells b. 20 Feb 1787
    13. Ruth Prather Wells b. 30 Mar 1788
    14. Perrigrine Wells b. 18 Oct 1789
    15. Joshua Wells b. 1790
    16. Nacky Wells b. 12 Oct 1792
    17. Sarah Wells b. 20 Feb 1794 - See SARAH WELLS McCOY
    18. Delilah Wells b. 16 Jun 1795
    19. Eli Wells b. 14 May 1797
    20. Twenty Wells b. 23 Nov 1798
    21. Catherine Adams Wells b. 6 Oct 1800
    22. Elizabeth Prather Wells b. 28 Sep 1802



    Charles Prather Wells, 1785 - 1856

         CHARLES PRATHER WELLS was born May 30, 1785 in Buffalo Creek, Ohio County, Virginia. (now Wellsburg, Brooke County, West Virginia). He was the first child from Charles Wells' second marriage. It is not clear whether he left with his father in 1803 or remained in Ohio County until about 1805, when, at the age of nineteen, he followed his father's path down the Ohio River. In either event, it appears that sometime in 1805 he arrived at an area just north of the Wetzel County line where he met and married Rachel Rosanna Nivens McMechen. They were married January 9, 1806. Rachel, born June 1, 1781, was a daughter of James and Hannah Davidson McMechen [also McMahon]. See WILL OF JAMES McMAHON/McMECHEN

         In about 1776, James McMechen had descended the Ohio River valley to a point about 28 miles below Wheeling and took up a claim of 400 acres. This was just three years after George Washington made his journey down the Ohio River (1773). The land became known as Wells Bottom after his daughter Rachel married Charles P. Wells. This farm land remained in the Wells family for nearly 150 years. - See MAP, 1877, SHOWING WELLS BOTTOM.

         Charles Prather Wells died May 3, 1856 at Wells Bottom. His cause of death was listed as "inflammation of the lungs." He is buried in the Wells Family Cemetery in Wells Bottom. See WELLS CEMETERY.

    In his will, Charles divided his land between his sons Rolla and Charles C. and his daughter Rachel. His sons Ephraim and David predeceased him and his other two sons, Lemuel and James had left Wells Bottom and moved to Missouri. Daughter Alivia also predeceased him. -See WILL OF CHARLES PRATHER WELLS.

         After Charles’ death, Rachael continued to live in their farmhouse until she died April 13, 1863.

         The children of Charles Prather Wells and Rachel McMechen were:

    1. Lemuel M. Wells b. Abt 1807
    2. Rolla Nivens Wells b. 1807
    3. Charles Claypole Wells b. 1809
    4. Ephraim Owens Wells b. 1811
    5. Alivia Davidson Wells b. 1813
    6. James Dudley Wells b. 1815
    7. Rachel McMechen Wells b. 1818 - See DEATH OF RACHEL WELLS CRESAP AUSTIN.
    8. David McMechen Wells b. 1820


    Rebecca Wells married James Miller in 1786. Their children were:
    1. Charlotte Miller b. 1789

    Joshua Wells married Nancy Unk. in 1792. Their children were:
    1. Eliza Wells
    2. Charles Wells b. 1792

    Temperance Wells married Richard Talbot on January 20, 1790. Their children were:
    1. Ashah Talbot
    2. Basil Dorsey Talbot
    3. Wells Talbot
    4. Absalom Talbot b. 1779
    5. Elizabeth Talbot b. 1780
    6. Benjamin Talbot b. 1782
    7. Charles Talbot b. 1784
    8. Nancy Talbot b. 1786
    9. Temperance Talbot b. 1787
    10. Ruth Talbot b. 1789
    11. Charles Wells Talbot b. 1791
    12. Providence Talbot b. 1792
    13. Richard Hardesty Talbot b. 1794
    14. Michal Talbot b. 1796
    15. John Dorsey Talbot b. 1800
    16. Ethelinda Talbot b. 1802
    17. Ephraim Talbot b. 1804

    Absalom Wells married Helen Owings on January 28, 1798. Their children were:
    1. Ephraim Wells b. 1801
    2. Michal Wells b. 1816

    Mary O. Wells married Asa Owings on September 28, 1794. Their children were:
    1. Ambelia Owings b. 1796
    2. John Owings b. 1798
    3. Ephraim Owings b. 1801
    4. Absalom Owings b. 1803
    5. Michal Owings b. 1805
    6. Catherine Owings b. 1807
    7. Asa Owings b. 1809
    8. Charles Wells Owings b. 1812
    9. Mary Owings b. 1816
    10. Rebecca Owings b. 1818

    Elizabeth Wells married Maurice M. Baker, Jr. in 1797. Their children were:
    1. Michal Baker b. 1798
    2. Joshua Wells Baker b. 1800
    3. William Baker b. 1803
    4. Delilah Baker b. 1806
    5. Ruth Baker b. 1807
    6. Peregrine Baker b. 1808

    Elizabeth Wells also married Jacob Weakley in 1811. Their children were:
    1. Absolom Weakley
    2. Catherine Wells Weakley b. 1812
    3. Daughter Weakley b. 1817

    Michal Wells married Unk. McGuire on June 6, 1802.

    Nicholas Wells married Rachel Witten on January 7, 1810. Their children were:
    1. Ruth Wells b. 1810
    2. Acheus Butler Wells b. 1813
    3. Catherine Adams Wells b. 1815
    4. Rachel Wells b. 1819
    5. Narcissa Doddridge Wells b. 1820
    6. Philip Witten Wells b. 1823
    7. Sarah Delilah Wells b. 1826

    Benjamin (Peregrine) Wells married Mary Ruffner on March 21, 1821. Their children were:
    1. Octavia Wells b. 1823
    2. William Wells b. 1824
    3. Mariah Wells b. 1826
    4. Catherine Wells b. 1828
    5. Laura Wells b. 1829
    6. Charles Wells b. 1837
    7. James S. Wells b. 1838

    Sarah Wells married John McCoy on April 22, 1817. Their children were:
    1. C. A. McCoy
    2. Charles Prather McCoy b. 1818
    3. William Joseph McCoy b. 1819
    4. Sarah Delilah McCoy b. 1820
    5. Benjamin Franklin McCoy b. 1822
    6. Catherine Russell McCoy b. 1825
    7. Thomas Jefferson McCoy b. 1827
    8. John B. McCoy b. 1832
    9. Elizabeth McCoy b. 1835

    Delilah Wells married Robert Grier in 1817.

    Eli Wells married Nancy Neff on November 23, 1820. Their children were:
    1. John Wells b. 1823
    2. Maria Wells b. 1825
    3. Barney Wells b. 1829
    4. Ephraim Wells b. 1831
    5. Wylie Wells b. 1832
    6. Dorinda Wells b. 1836
    7. Friend Wells b. 1837
    8. Amanda Wells b. 1838
    9. Christopher Wells b. 1840
    10. Martha T. Wells b. 1843
    11. Temperance Wells b. 1845

    Catherine A. Wells married Joshua Russell in 1818. Their children were:
    1. Charles Wells Russell b. 1818
    2. J. Thornton Russell b. 1820
    3. Samuel S. Russell b. 1824

    Elizabeth P. Wells married William Russell on June 17, 1819. Their children were:
    1. Elizabeth Russell b. 1820
    2. Mary Ann Russell b. 1822
    3. Frances Russell b. 1822
    4. Joshua Russell b. 1827
    5. Ruth C. Russell b. 1827
    6. John Thornton Russell b. 1829
    7. William Russell b. 1831
    8. Frances Russell b. 1832
    9. Catherine Russell b. 1839
    10. Eli Wells Russell b. 1844


    Rolla Nevins Wells, 1807 - 1871

         ROLLA NIVENS WELLS was born at Wells Bottom on June 10, 1807. He was first married to Mary M. Riggs on October 9, 1823. Mary M. Riggs, daughter of Samuel and Lucy Tomlinson Riggs, was born on August 10, 1811 at Fishing Creek, Wetzel County. She died on February 20, 1835.

         Following Mary's death, Rolla married Drusilla McMahon on February 17, 1836. The marriage occurred at the farm of Joseph Tomlinson, Drusilla's uncle. Drusilla McMahon was a daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Tomlinson McMahon. She was born on November 25, 1815 at The Austen Farm, Wells Bottom, Marshall County, WV. Drusilla McMahon was Mary Riggs cousin. Rolla Wells died July 8, 1871 at Wells Bottom. Drusilla died on 24 Feb 1898. - See DRUSILLA BUKEY McMAHON WELLS.

         The children of Rolla Nivens Wells and Mary M. Riggs were:

    1. Elizabeth D. Wells b. 1831
    2. Mary Isabelle Wells b. 1834

         The children of Rolla Nivens Wells and Drusilla McMahon were:

    3. Ephraim Owings Wells b. 1837
    4. Charles P. Wells b. Nov 1838
    5. Amanda T. Wells b. 21 Dec 1841
    6. Lucy H. Wells was born on 29 Nov 1842
    7. Henry C. Wells b. 5 Oct 1844
    8. Georgianna H. Wells b. 27 Sep 1845
    9. Friend C. Wells b. 7 Mar 1848
    10. Mariam C. Wells b. 27 Jul 1850
    11. Susanna T. Wells b. 27 Jul 1850
    12. Rachel Alivia Wells b. Oct 1854
    13. Joseph Tomlinson Wells b. 18 Apr 1856


    Lemuel M. Wells married Eliza Ann McMahon on June 30, 1835. Their children were:
    1. Rachel McMechen Wells
    2. Lucy Wells b. 1842
    3. Elizabeth Wells b. 1844
    4. Eliza Wells b. 1846
    5. James McMechen Wells b. 1848
    6. Lemuel T. Wells b. 1855

    Lemuel M. Wells married a second wife, Elizabeth Thornley. Their children were:
    1. Job Thornley Wells b. 1862
    2. Emma J. Wells b. 1865

    Charles Claypole Wells married Ann Scott on May 23, 1852. - See DEATH OF CHARLES CLAYPOLE WELLS

    Alivia Davidson Wells married Benjamin Tomlinson Thistle on May 6, 1838.

    James Dudley Wells married Jane Prather on May 8, 1838. Their children were:
    1. Charles P. Wells b. 1841
    2. Nancy Wells b. 1842
    3. Adeline Wells b. 1847
    4. Rachel Wells b. 1850

    Rachel McMechen Wells married Unknown Austin. Their children were: 1. Daughter Austin
    2. Daughter Austin
    3. Ella Austin

    Rachel McMechen Wells also married Benjamin Cresap. Their child was:
    1. Elizabeth Cresap


    Charles P. Wells, 1838 - 1920

         CHARLES P. WELLS was born at Wells Bottom November 6, 1838. He first married Mary Belle Leap on October 20, 1864. The wedding took place in Wetzel County. Mary Belle Leap, born January 4, 1846, was a daughter of Robert and Nancy McCloud Leap of Wetzel County.

         Following the death of Mary in 1874, Charles P. Wells married Martha Nesbitt. They were married in 1875. Martha Nesbitt, born in Ohio in August, 1846, was a daughter of James and Caroline Nesbitt.

         The children of Charles P. Wells and Mary Belle Leap were:

    1. Turner A. Wells b. 15 Oct 1865
    2. Clark Leap Wells b. 25 Dec 1867
    3. Georgianna Wells b. Jan 1870

         The children of Charles P. Wells and Martha Nesbitt were:

    4. James Nesbitt Wells b. 30 Jan 1876
    5. Rolla Nivens Wells b. 3 Nov 1877
    6. Charles Kennedy Wells b. 3 Nov 1879


    Ephraim O. Wells married Virginia Unknown. Their children were:
    1. Ella Wells
    2. Gertrude Wells

    Friend Cox Wells married Adelia E. Robinson in 1877. Their children were:
    1. Samuel R. Wells
    2. Sarah D. Wells

    Mariam C. Wells married David Arrick. Their children were:
    1. Maude Arrick b. 1873
    2. Otho Price Arrick b. 1874
    3. Percy McMahon Arrick b. 1876
    4. D. Harry Arrick b. 1885
    5. Roy Wells Arrick b. 1887
    6. Mariam Arrick b. 1890

    Joseph Cox Wells married Evaline Morgan. Their children were:
    1. Drusilla L. Wells
    2. Maude Wells


    James Nesbitt Wells, 1876 - 1949

         JAMES NESBITT WELLS was born at Wells Bottom on January 30, 1876. He was married to Agnes T. Halpin on April 20, 1907. Agnes Halpin was born February 24, 1875 in Zaleski, Ohio. She was a daughter of Robert and Mary Anne Higgins Halpin. - PHOTO

         James N. Wells and his brothers were the last generation in my family tree to carry on the farming tradition. He and his wife Agnes moved from Wells Bottom to 312 10th Street in Moundsville sometime in the 1920’s, possibly due to failing health. He suffered from diabetes for over twenty years prior to his death and eventually lost his eyesight from it. However, I believe there may have been a more noble and forward-looking reason for the move. Recognizing that their sons were not destined to become farmers, James and Agnes may have moved in order to make it easier for their sons to attend and succeed at High School. In 1927, son Charles P. (next generation) became the first Wells to ever graduate from Moundsville High School.

         James N. Wells continued to own the farm at Wells Bottom, leasing it to others to work, until 1942 when it was sold along with several other farms as part of an industrial development along the Ohio River. - See WELLS BOTTOM.

         James N. Wells died from a heart attack on August 6, 1949. He is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, New Martinsville. - See OBITUARY OF J. N. WELLS - OBITUARY 2. - Following his death, Agnes lived at the home of her daughter, Martha Wells Dial at 915 Sixth Street in Moundsville. She died September 9, 1955 following a fall in which she fractured her pelvis. She is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, New Martinsville. - See OBITUARY OF AGNES WELLS - OBITUARY 2.

         The children of James N. Wells and Agnes T. Halpin were:

    1. Charles P. Wells b. 1 May 1908 - See DEATH OF C. P. WELLS.
    2. Robert Halpin Wells b. 24 Mar 1910
    3. Mary Martha Wells b. 1913


    Turner A. Wells married Emma Bell Martin December 2, 1886. Their children were:
    1. Mack P. Wells b. 1 Nov 1887
    2. Ralph C. Wells b. 10 Jul 1889
    3. Jessie Wells Brown b. 26 Apr 1891
    4. Frank H. Wells b. 1893

    Clark L. Wells married Cora B. Parsons February 28, 1892. Their children were:
    1. George K. Wells b. 1 Feb 1893
    2. Hazel Wells Cummins b. 11 Jan 1895
    3. Leslie O. Wells b. 8 Feb 1897
    4. Robert C. Wells b. 19 Jan 1899
    5. Cecil R. Wells b. 8 Feb 1903
    6. Cecelia Wells Hughes b. 8 Feb 1903
    7. Mary Margaret Wells b. 7 Apr 1907

    Georgiana Wells married J. M. Loveall. Their children were:
    1. Charles Loveall b. 1906

    Rolla N. Wells married Mary B. Hardy May 18, 1909. Their children were:
    1. Catherine Wells b. 1913
    2. James P. Wells b. 1914
    3. William Wells b. 1918

    Charles K. Wells married Jennie B. Chambers in 1916. Their children were:
    1. James Wells b. Unk.
    2. Charles N. Wells b. 1917
    3. Martha Wells Bach b. 1918


    Robert Halpin Wells, 1910 - 1953


         ROBERT HALPIN WELLS was born on the J. N. Wells farm, Wells Bottom, Marshall County on March 24, 1910. He was married to Maxine Mason (See DESCENDANTS OF SAMUEL MASON) on June 16, 1939 in St Francis Xavier Church, Moundsville. Maxine Mason, born June 16, 1915, was a daughter of Archibald Mason (See DEATH OF ARCH MASON) and Georgia McKimmie.

         Robert Wells attended Moundsville High School, graduating from the Commercial Course in 1928. He lettered in baseball in his junior and senior years and also played basketball. Following graduation, he was employed at the Fokker Aircraft Company in Glen Dale, WV. The 1930 U.S. Census lists his occupation as "bookkeeper". He remained at Fokker until the closure of that operation in 1931. In 1934, he entered West Liberty State College. He received his Standard Normal Degree in August 1936 after which he taught school in Marshall County. It was during this time that he met Maxine Mason who also was a teacher in Marshall County. Their betrothal was announced in the spring of 1939. At that time, Robert was employed at the West Virginia State Penitentiary. Following their marriage, Robert and Maxine lived on Jefferson Avenue immediately across the street from the penitentiary. Sometime in the mid-1940’s they moved to a new home at 1511 Seventh Street, Moundsville.

         In December of 1939, Robert Wells was appointed to serve as secretary to the warden of the penitentiary, Leo Collison. In 1943, he became the manager of the business office of the penitentiary, a position he held until his death.

         Robert Wells was a member of the Young Democrats Club. He became well known both in Marshall County and across the state for his work in support of Democrat Party candidates. He served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1951 and 1952.

         Robert H. Wells died unexpectedly on February 28, 1953 in Charleston, West Virginia.

         He was in Charleston on official business for the penitentiary. The cause of death was diabetes. He is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, New Martinsville. - See OBITUARY OF R. H. WELLS - OBITUARY 2.

         The children of Robert H. Wells and Maxine Mason are:

    1. James Robert Wells
    2. Martha Anne Wells
    3. Mary Theresa Wells
    4. Elizabeth Jane Wells


    Charles P. Wells married Grace Raymer in 1932. Their children are:
    1. Patricia Joan Wells
    2. Jean Wells Foster

    Martha Wells married Ruel Dial August 14, 1945. Their children are:
    1. Mary Agnes Dial Carroll
    2. James Dial


    Wells Bottom
    Wells Family Reunion, 1886
    Death of Nicholas Wells
    Drusilla Bukey McMahon Wells
    Fokker 1
    Fokker 2
    Get Out the Vote, 1952
    Boy Scouts at Valley Forge, 1957
    Moundsville High Basketball Team, 1928
    James N. & Agnes (Halpin) Wells
    100th Birthday of Grace Raymer Wells
    Bio of James S. Wells, Grandson of Charles (1745-1815)
    Moundsville High Class of 1933 Reunion, 1958
    Obituary of Agnes Halpin Wells - Obituary 2
    Obituary of James N. Wells - Obituary 2
    Obituary of Robert H. Wells - Obituary 2
    Moundsville Male Chorus, Oglebay, 1957
    Farm of Rolla N. Wells, Wells Bottom, 1877 - (Joe Ward)
    Indian Mounds, Wells Bottom, 1871 - (Joe Ward)
    Wells Bottom, 1926 - (Joe Ward)
    Wells Bottom - (Joe Ward)

    [Webpage by Linda Fluharty.]