THE TUNIS WELLS FAMILY HOMESTEAD

The original Wells homestead was built by Tunis Wells between 1790 and 1798 on his land along Big Redstone Creek in Fayette Co. It was willed to his wife and then passed to his son Joseph Wells who lived there until his death in 1872.

Tunis Wells settled in Fayette Co, PA in 1772 on a tract of 400 acres on Big Redstone Creek shown on early maps as "Tunas". It was granted to him by the Commissioners at Redstone Old Fort (Brownsville) on 18th Dec, 1779 and recorded on June 15th, 1780. On Feb 4, 1785 it was surveyed to him, and a land patent for the tract was issued on Feb 27th, 1790 as recorded in the PA State Archives (Book #16, pg 163). It cost him 3, 10 shillings, sixpence.

He subsequently sold 194 Acres to James Laughlin on 1 June 1790 and another 6 Acres to William Jones on 30 May 1806. The deeds and land records are found in Fayette County records:

Deed Book B

pg 358

Deed Book C

pg 2

Deed Book F

pg 268

Deed Book 2

pg 96

Deed Book 3

pg 38

In his will (Book of Wills - Vol 1, pg 92 - recorded 11 Dec 1809) Tunis left 76 Acres to his son, John Wells, and another 50 to his son, James Wells. He also bequeathed 100 Acres to his wife, Margaret, until her remarriage or death; at which time Joseph and Jacob would receive 50 Acres each. James and Jacob both sold their 50 acres to their brother, Joseph Wells for $1,000 each on March 14, 1835 (Vol 4, pg 63).

On Aug 31st 1811 the 76 Acres was deeded to John and his wife Deborah per the instructions in Tunis' will. On Aug 17th 1813 John and his wife, Deborah sold their 76 Acres to Thomas McKee for $685.80 (Book J, pg 160).

Thus, when their mother Margaret Wells died on 1 Mar 1845, Joseph became owner of the remaining 150 Acres of the original homestead thru inheritance and prior purchase.

Joseph and his wife Anna sold the coal and mineral rights of the land, including the nine foot Monongahela Coal Vein (also known as the Pittsburgh coal seam) to the Redstone Coal Company on October 16th 1874 (Book 29, pg 255). In his will, Joseph gave his wife the family homestead (approx 150 Acres) until her death, at which time it was to pass to his son James and subsequent heirs.

It would have passed to their son, James Wells - had he not died on 10 Jun 1892 - before his mother (Anna). James left his holdings to his wife (Ellenor) during her lifetime, to be divided among their children upon her death.

Mary Ann Wells, widow of Clyde W. Wells conveyed her interest to Alva Wells by deed on 13 Dec 1927 (Book 476, pg 453) and her daughter Mary Jane Wells conveyed her interest via her guardian J. Espey Sherrard to Alva Wells on 19 Dec 1927 (Book 488, pg 198). Thus by the time Alva A. Wells died in 1944, he owned 40% of the homestead which Joseph Wells had passed down. Alva willed the land to his children Paul C. Wells, Ada Belle Guseman and Jane DeYarmon equally - Fayette Co Will Book 38, pg 167. It appears that his fourth child, James W. Wells, died prior to this, as he was not named in the will.

Subsequently, Albert G. Wells and Helen Wells Loeffler (heirs of William C. Wells, and grandchildren of Joseph and Anna Wells) deeded their interests in the land back to the rest of the family on 16 July 1946 (Book 633, pg 502). Likewise for Clyde Wells, sole heir of James A. Wells, and all heirs of Ada Wells Chalfant; except Otis W. Chalfant, who conveyed his interest in the land to the rest of the family a week later, on 26 July 1946 (Book 639, pg 39). This consolidated the original 150 acres from Joseph and Anna under the ownership of Alva's three remaining children.

On 4 April 1947 Paul C. Wells, his wife Helen, Ada Belle Guseman, her husband Robert, and Jane DeYarmon - a widow jointly sold the entire homestead of 156.7 Acres to Emory J. and Linnie C. Carroll of Redstone Twp for "the sum of one dollar and other good and valuable considerations in hand paid". The deed is recorded in Fayette Co Deed Book 634, pg 481.

We visited Fayette County in 1991 as part of my research and went to the original farmhouse. The verbal information I obtained is that the majority of the land remained as a single parcel until recently. The owner, Alfred Chalfant told me it had stayed in the Wells family until into the 1900's. He thought Jane DeYarmon was a Wells descendent, and that she sold it to a Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson was killed by a tree that he was cutting which hit him in the chest and his family let the property deteriorate after that. They subsquently sold the home along with 127 acres to Alfred Chalfant, then the current owner, and his wife Isabel (RD1 Box 326 Grindstone, PA 15442). They had done some repairs, removed a side porch which was damaged by fire, and given 2 pieces of the land to their sons. The barn was in need of work.

The original maps show 3 buildings on the site, but at present there is only the house and barn. The other building may have been a blacksmith shop, as Tunis did have a blacksmith, but Alfred did not know.

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