THE TUNIS* WELLS FAMILY HISTORY

( As compiled by Dave Wells - since November 1983)

*The name Tunis is used to identify our particular Wells family because he was the earliest known ancestor for a long time, and because his name is unique enough to be easily identifiable

view my other Ancestral Lines


RICHARD WELLS (my 5th-great grandfather) settled a plot of 318 acres on the Potomac River in Frederick Co, Virginia. The area, called the "Northern Neck", was granted to Lord Fairfax by King Charles II. Lord Fairfax in turn granted it to his tenants for 10 shillings per 50 acres, plus 2 shillings per hundred acres each year in rent. Richard's land grant was surveyed while he lived there on 19 Dec 1751. One of the chain carriers for the survey was a William Wells. The land warrant was never issued to Richard. On August 1, 1769 the Frederick Co. (VA) Court appointed Thomas Applegate to administer Richard's estate, and Tunis Hood, John McLaughlin, James Hawthorn, and Mathew McKay to appraise his property. Subsequently the original deed was issued on 15 June, 1770 to Tunis Wells, his "only Son & Heir at Law". Richard's age, place of birth, wife, and activities prior to settling in Virginia are currently uncertain.

However, recently with the advent and application of DNA testing for genetic markers, the Wells Family Research Association has contributed information that traditional research might never uncover, but which provides intriguing clues as to our family origins. It has been found that descendants of Peter Wells are related to Richard. Peter had 4 sons (Cornelius, George, John, and Henry), lived in the area of Schoharie Co, NY about 1800, and later migrated to Dundas, Ontario, Canada. Peter’s exact relation to Richard is not clear (a nephew?), nor whether Richard came from New York to Virginia; or whether they both originated from some other location. But it does give another direction to research in finding our Wells family roots.

Sources:


TUNIS WELLS was first recorded as having received the land grant of his father's property on the Potomac in Frederick Co, Virginia. On the same day (15 June, 1770) he leased the land to George Chapman. His place of birth is unknown, but he must have been born around 1747, as he had to be at least 21 to inherit the land in 1769, and, when he sold the land in 1772 both he and his wife Sarah signed the document. By then it was in Berkeley Co, VA, - currently West Virginia. According to land records he settled in Washington Twp, Westmoreland Co, Pennsylvania in 1772 (which became Fayette Co in 1783, and Jefferson Twp in 1839). On June 15th, 1780 a tract of 400 acres was recorded for Tunis Wells. It was surveyed on Feb 4, 1785 and he received a land patent for the tract on Big Redstone Creek on Feb 27th, 1790. His wife Sarah, died around 1785 by which time they had 6 children according to the census and the "History of Fayette County, PA." by Ellis (1882). By 1787 he was remarried to Margaret Williams, with whom he had another 3 daughters and son James by 1800, when his three oldest children had already reached adulthood and moved to Henry Co, KY. Tunis and Margaret subsequently had their last 2 daughters, plus Joseph (1803) and Jacob Jennings (1805) before Tunis died in 1809. His will was written 19 June, 1809 and recorded 11 Dec, 1809 in Uniontown. He died on his Washington Twp farm and was buried in the Dunlap's Creek Churchyard, as was Margaret. The family was said to have been Scotch-Irish and devout Presbyterians, possibly on his wife's side.

Children of Tunis & Sarah Wells:

Richard

abt 1775

1840

Nancy, Elizabeth Mary

William

 

 

 

Sarah

 

 

 

Nancy

 

 

 

Rachel

 

 

 

John

17 Dec 1779

9 Oct 1853

Deborah

Children of Tunis Wells & Margaret Williams:

James

1787

24 Jun 1848

Mary Margaret Scarborough

Mary "Polly"

abt 1788

after 1865

Isaac Downs

Elizabeth "Betsy"

7 Jun 1795

4 Jun 1864

Samuel Scarborough

Margaret

27 Dec 1797

27 Feb 1852

James Coulson

Rebecca

aft 1800

 

 

Joseph

19 Apr 1803

28 May 1877

Anna Shaw

Jacob Jennings

1805

17 Sep 1876

(see below)

Charlotte

28 Feb 1808

26 Feb 1886

Richard Huskins

Margaret raised the children and then lived with her son Jacob for a while, prior to his departure for Ohio, then lived on her own again. She, Joseph, James, and John continued to live in Jefferson Twp, Fayette Co where she died in 1845. Joseph continued running the family homestead until his death in 1877 and was survived by his wife, Anne and son James.
The original house and barn, along with about 100 acres are still being used for farming, and were owned by the Chalfant family when we visited in 1991.

Sources:


JACOB JENNINGS WELLS was born in Fayette Co, Pennsylvania in 1805. He was apparently named after Jacob Jennings, an outstanding local doctor and minister. He married Maria and had 3 children, Joseph (1830), George W. (1832) and John (1835) in Fayette Co. On March 14, 1835 he sold his 50 acres of their father's homestead on Big Redstone Creek to his brother Joseph for $1,000.
They moved to Guernsey Co, Ohio later that year, where they had James A. (1838), and Robert B. (1839). Maria either died there or they were divorced, because in April, 1846 he married Elizabeth Watson and they had Samantha (1847), and Newton (1849). He was a farmer, and by 1850 he owned about 120 Acres ($2,000) of land in Monroe Twp, Guernsey Co. They had his last child, Sarah (1851), the same year his second wife, Elizabeth, died - probably in childbirth. Later that year he sold his land in preparation for moving on again.

Children of Jacob Jennings & Maria Wells:

Joseph

12 Jul 1830

13 Aug 1872

(see below)

George W.

Oct 1832

9 Jan 1908

Ann E. Logsdon

John

1834/1835

8 Jan 1863

Evaline M. Nicodemus

James Alexander

8 Apr 1838

28 Aug 1907

Lydia C. Logsdon

Robert B.

4 Jul 1839

8 Apr 1874

Melissa J. Kimmell


Children of Jacob Jenning Wells & Elizabeth Watson:

Samantha Maud

1 Jun 1847

28 Apr 1918

Luke D. Porch

Newton

25 Feb 1849

25 Apr 1912

Irene Barnes

Sarah

Apr 1851

30 Apr 1931

Lorenzo D. Brentlinger

He moved to Knox Co and married Sarah Knouse in Morrow County in November, 1851. In 1860 he was living in Middlebury Twp, Knox Co and had land worth $2,700 and $605 of property. Three of his sons served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and all three died before him. In 1870 he was living in Berlin Twp, Knox Co with his wife, plus children Newton and Sarah as well as grandson Jacob (John's son). His farm was then worth $3,060 and he had $580 worth of personal property. By that time his son James had migrated to Iowa, and within a few years the families of three other children also went there. He died in Knox County on Sept 17, 1876, was buried in Forest Cemetery at Fredericktown and was survived by his wife, Sarah. George, the oldest surviving son administered his estate. Jacob and Sarah both have fairly impressive (large) headstones - pointed and 5-6 ft tall.

Sources:

 


JOSEPH WELLS, Jacob's oldest son, was born on July 12, 1830 in Fayette Co, Pennsylvania. He grew up there and moved with the family to Guernsey Co, Ohio in 1835, where they lived until 1851, and then moved to Knox Co. On March 26, 1854 he married Sophia Elizabeth Noble (born 16 Aug, 1833 in Westmoreland Co, PA) in Knox County. Their oldest son, George, was born 22 Feb 1855. A second son, Jasper Newton was born 27 July 1856 but no further records of him occur in either the 1860 (but neither did Joseph Miller) or 1870 census records, suggesting that he died young. The youngest son, Joseph Miller Wells, was born on the 30th of July 1859 in Fredericktown, Ohio.

Children of Joseph Wells & Sophia Elizabeth Noble:

George Washington

22 Feb 1855

19 Jul 1923

Jasper Newton

27 Jul 1856

died as a child

Joseph Miller

30 Jul 1859

5 Mar 1929

He worked on the farm of a John W. Elliott from 1859 thru the time of his enlistment in 1864 according to an affidavit in his pension records, but it appears that this was in addition to his own farm. In 1860 they were living in Middlebury Twp, Knox Co. where he farmed land worth $250 and had $470 worth of property. In February, 1863 he and Joseph Scarborough witnessed the sworn statement of his father Jacob, for the pension benefits of Jacob's grandson, Jacob M. Wells (son of John Wells). On May 2, 1864 he enlisted in Co K 142nd Regt. of the Ohio Nat'l Guard Volunters under Captain Charles S. Tyle for 100 days. He apparently contracted a lung disease while serving, and was discharged at Camp Chase in Columbus, OH on Sept 2, 1864. Statements in his pension file state that he was not able to do more than 1/2 the work of an able bodied man from that time until his death. Also, that he complained of lung disease and rheumatism, and had a bad cough. In 1865 he moved to Mt. Vernon and started a small grocery business for about a year. He then moved back to the farm. By 1870 his farm was valued at $1,500 and he had $150 of property.
He died of consumption in Fredericktown on Aug 13th, 1872 with his half-sister, Sarah Brentlinger, present according to the "History of Knox County, Ohio" (pg 832) and his pension records. He was buried in Fredericktown by G. W. Sargent - undertaker.
In 1880 his wife, Sophia, was listed as widowed with their son Joseph in the Middlebury Twp census, and a county history has them living together there in 1882 as well. Sophia was remarried to Isaac Shroder in Feb, 1882. Her correspondence with the government about pension benefits for herself and Joseph Miller indicates she was still in the area thru 1886. No subsequent information has been found as to her residence or death.

Sources:


JOSEPH MILLER WELLS, Joseph's youngest son, was born in 1859 in Fredericktown, Ohio. He was living at home with his mother until 1882. He married Ida Ellen Moats on Feb 8th, 1883 in Mansfield, Richland Co, OH. They lived in Knox County and had Clarence M. (1883), Melva Estella (1885), Omar Newton (1887), and Josie Sophia (1889) there. In 1890 they moved to Perry Twp, Morrow Co., where he rented a farm. They had their remaining children there: Iva Mae (1891), Frank (1893), Bessie Sarah Rebecca (1896), Oliver Lewis (1898), and Robert William (1901).

Children of Joseph Miller Wells & Ida Ellen Moats:

Clarence Marion

1 Jul 1883

7 Jun 1956

Melva Estella

3 May 1885

18 May 1940

Omar Newton

18 May 1887

16 Apr 1966

Josie Sophia

6 Nov 1889

4 Oct 1970

Iva Mae

27 Oct 1891

13 Jul 1982

Frank "B. F."

8 Oct 1893

9 Sep 1981

Bessie Sarah Rebecca

8 Mar 1896

21 Jul 1957

Oliver Lewis

22 Jan 1898

6 Jun 1979

Robert William

8 Mar 1901

21 May 1987

He went by his middle name, Miller, possibly to avoid confusion with his father, and many people knew him only as "Millard".
On 22 June 1908 he bought an 80 acre farm in Perry Twp, Richland Co. from G.J. Ewers, and the next day, on June 23rd his wife Ida, died of cancer in Fredericktown. His daughter Josie helped keep the children together as a family and acted as a mother to them following Ida’s death. He also lived on a farm south of Batemantown in Knox Co.
He was married a second time to Mary E. (Stafer) Lake, a widow from Mt Vernon in 1913. He was living in Middlebury Twp at the time, listed as a farmer. They were divorced in 1917. After retiring in 1919, he worked in Fredericktown as a handyman. He is said to have been a man of short stature, with only one eye in his later years (cause unknown).
In 1920 he was living in his home on Grant St in Fredericktown, age 56 and listed as Millard J. Wells. He was widowed, working as a laborer in a foundry. Joseph married a third time in Jan 1920, right after the census, to Mary Elizabeth (Zolman) Sillivan, a widow of Fredericktown. That marriage lasted only until Oct 1922, when they were divorced.
He was married a last time, to Mary Roth in 1923 and lived with her in Fredericktown until his death on Feb 5th, 1929 of bronchial pneumonia after 5 years of myocarditis. He is buried in North Fork Cemetery, near Waterford, OH.


Sources:


FRANK WELLS, their 3rd son, was my grandfather. His birth certificate shows his birth as Oct 8th, 1893 in Perry Twp, Morrow Co. but his family and all other documents list the date as Oct 25th. Also, he went by the nickname of "B.F." (Benjamin Franklin), although his birth certificate lists his name simply as Frank. In 1908 his mother (Ida Ellen) died of cancer in Fredericktown, and by 1910 the family had moved to Perry Twp, Richland Co, Ohio.
When he married Edith Grice in 1914, he lived in Fredericktown and his name was listed as Frank V. Wells. They moved to the Bellville area where Raymond J. (1915), Ella Juanita (1917), Thelma Irene (1920), my father - Jason Grice (1922), and Betty JoAnn (1930) were born. In the 1920 census he is listed as Frank B. Wells. At one time he was in business with logging trucks, but went bankrupt. He spent most of his life farming, and sold farm implements for a time, while living on various farms near Bellville.

Children of Frank Wells & Edythe Grice:

Raymond J.

24 Apr 1915

24 Aug 1984

Juanita Ella

12 Aug 1917

31 Dec 2002

Thelma Irene

26 Jul 1920

16 Feb 2013

Jason Grice

7 Aug 1922

3 Oct 2004

Betty Joann

21 Jul 1930

11 Jan 2015

Frank inherited a Cherry Dresser (which my son currently has) through his father's will in 1929. They moved to Jelloway around 1950 and lived there the rest of their lives. Edith changed her name to Edythe somewhere along the line, apparently as a personal preference. She died of a heart attack in 1975 and is buried in the Bellville Cemetery. Frank was a foreman for Knox Co. Highway Dept before his death in 1981. He also is buried in the Bellville Cemetery.

Sources:


This summary covers my direct Wells ancestors© (Copyright 1998-2015). To browse thru my direct-line ancestors from among the 10,000 people in my database, just look thru either of the following pages and select the name of interest:
Index or
Surnames


If you have additional information, think you may be related, or have any questions - please contact me. Thanks, Dave

Other Wells resources you might check are:

  1. A branch of our Wells Family by Karen Cullen
  2. Some of our Wells Ancestor Family Photographs by Richard Samford
  3. Wells Family Research Association - and DNA Study with BYU!
  4. Wells Family Genealogy Forum
  5. Wells Message board (RootsWeb)
  6. Roots Surname List
  7. Wells Surname List

The information on this page was collected and recorded using Reunion on an Apple Macintosh computer

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